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The Potbelly Syndrome: How Common Germs Cause Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease Paperback – December 7, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Russell Farris is a retired artificial-intelligence researcher who spent most of his life solving problems for the U.S. Navy. After suffering a heart attack in 1998, he began to apply his problem-solving skills to the study of heart disease and related illnesses.

Per Marin, M.S., Ph.D. is a distinguished scientist, physician, and clinical teacher from Sweden. He has been writing about obesity since 1985, and many of his eighty-two publications deal with the effects of cortisol on weight and health.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Health Publications, Inc.; 1 edition (December 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159120058X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591200581
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Katherine M. Poehlmann on October 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This information-packed book explains the many effects of a naturally occurring stress hormone called cortisol. When the brain needs glucose (blood sugar), cortisol takes glucose from the cells of the muscles and liver, routing it to the brain. The inability of these cells to respond is called "insulin resistance". People with insulin resistance (e.g., those with Type 2 diabetes) must eat more food to obtain the required glucose. The surplus glucose is converted to abdominal fat. When this cycle happens frequently, the result is a potbelly.
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Cortisol is one of three important natural products of the adrenal glands. Cortisol is always present in the bloodstream, so even small changes in stress result in corresponding changes in cortisol levels. Chronic infections can also stimulate the production of cortisol to levels high enough to cause insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes - four conditions associated with the "potbelly syndrome", a term coined by the authors.
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Corticosteroid medications used to treat inflammations and autoimmune diseases introduce more cortisol into the bloodstream, resulting in increased appetite and weight gain. These drugs also lead to various forms of serious heart disease and high blood pressure because they tip the healthy cortisol balance. Thyroid deficiencies may be blamed for health problems that are really the result of excess cortisol.
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This book recommends specific steps to treat chronic hypercortisolism. It provides dozens of useful references and is well footnoted. The title chosen is unfortunate, because the important words "obesity", "diabetes", and "heart disease" don't turn up in a keyword search because they are buried in the subtitle.
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Format: Paperback
This book does an interesting job of describing the problem, but don't buy this book thinking that it will tell you how to lose weight. As the author says on page 124, "There is no safe, effective, and proven way to lose weight. . . . I believe that most cases of abdominal obesity, and perhaps most cases of any kind of obesity, can be traced back to chronic infections. If this is correct, then the best way to fight obesity will be to fight chronic infections. This is, needless to say, an unproven theory." The author holds out the hope that in the future, sophisticated medical treatment will be available. For now, the author recommends reducing stressors: avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, air travel, television, etc. The author also recommends some changes that are easier said than done: marry the right person, live within your means, trust God, and so on. And if you have depression, get that cured somehow. None of this advice has actually made my potbelly any smaller.
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This book describes the relationship between infection and cortisol and their effect on our health; heart health and metabolic syndrome in particular.

Chief of the infections discussed is that induced by Chlamydophila Pneumoniae (distinct from the well known Chlamydia). According to the author, this bacteria is "not a rare parasite, it is one of the most common germs on the planet". The author claims that this germ is one of the major sources of inflammation and heart disease.

The author presents an original and provocative theme throughout the book; namely, feed back loops. Here is an example:

Germs trigger acute phase response - leads to inflammation - leads to release of cortisol - leads to success of some germs that do well with cortisol - leads to another acute phase response.

Another example is the claim that hypercortisolism and atherosclerosis "cause each other". A six step loop process is described in support of the claim.

The book is original, well written, highly readable and provocative. I would recommend it to anyone interested in heart health, metabolic syndrome and cortisol.
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Whoa! I thought that I was healthy, Russell Farris and Per Marin will change how you look at your world. At least I can say that. This book is a wake-up call for people who can't seem to figure out why they are depressed, overweight, or constantly craving that sugary donut. This book has changed my thinking more that any other so called "diet" book out there. The relationship between how we deal with stressors (sugar, caffeine, catastrophic thinking, etc) is much more important than ANY other single thing we do for our health. You will never lose weight if you don't change your lifestyle to include more relaxation techniques. Period, end of story! Thanks Mr. Farris, and Dr. Marin!!!!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Finally, a book that covers theory about obesity, diabetes, heart disease that makes sense. Very well written and caters to both the non-medically trained reader and doctors as well. After reading dozens of books on the subject and mostly increasing my confusion, this one brings it all together and really makes sense. Not difficult to read or understand yet thorough and detailed enough to give hope for people suffering from the curse of the modern age, syndrome X. Highly recommended!
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This book is very interesting. It talks about chronic infections and how it relates to many different illnesses. If you are dealing with something the docs can't put their finger on this may help resolve the issue however sometimes it's hard to find a doc that is willing to work with you. I find that with most docs it is only their way and they will not investigate other options. I feel if you are dealing with a long term illness it is worth looking into.
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