Tens of millions of Americans are suffering with metabolic syndrome—the precursor to type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is name given to describe a group of risk factors that increase your chances of developing not only diabetes, but also heart disease and stroke. They include abdominal fat, hypertension, abnormal lipids (high triglycerides and low beneficial HDL cholesterol), and/or borderline high blood sugar. Fortunately, you can beat metabolic syndrome by addressing its underlying cause: insulin resistance.
Given how common metabolic syndrome is, insulin resistance is surprisingly misunderstood. Here's an overview:
After your digestive system has broken down the food you eat into its basic constituents, nutrients enter the bloodstream. The presence of glucose (sugar) prompts the pancreas to secrete insulin, which signals the cells to let nutrients inside.
Unfortunately, inactivity, poor diet, and particularly excess weight reduce the cells’ sensitivity to these signals, so the pancreas is forced to churn out more and more insulin in order to get the message across. This results in chronically high levels of both insulin and blood sugar.
It’s obvious that this would take a toll on the pancreas and be one of the top type 2 diabetes causes, but what about the other aspects of insulin resistance and symptoms of metabolic syndrome?
Elevated insulin levels thicken the blood vessels and affect kidney function, which contribute to hypertension. They also promote fat storage and shut down fat burning, so more and more fat gets socked away, particularly in the abdominal area.
Blood lipid levels also remain elevated, which triggers systemic inflammation and imbalances in hormones that affect appetite and energy utilization. This perpetuates the vicious cycle of insulin resistance and weight gain.
Unfortunately, the fallout doesn’t end here. Insulin resistance is linked to increased risk of fatty liver disease, gout, polycystic ovary syndrome, memory loss, and some types of cancer. But there’s an upside. Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome respond rapidly to lifestyle changes and nutritional therapies.
Top 5 Metabolic Syndrome Treatments
- Get a handle on your weight. The best way to do this is with intermittent fasting (morning exercise, no food before noon, and sensible eating the rest of the day), which turns on fat burning like there’s no tomorrow.
- Eat a high-fiber, low-glycemic, Mediterranean-type diet. Research has shown that this type of healthy diet is effective at addressing (and preventing) all of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
- Exercise most days of the week.
- Take a potent daily multivitamin, plus other supplements that have been shown to be effective for metabolic syndrome. I recommend starting with 2–6 g of fish oil, 2,000–5,000 IU of vitamin D, 200–300 mg of CoQ10, 500–1,500 mg of niacin, and 300 mg of GreenSelect Phytosome green tea extract, taken daily, in divided doses. If you discover you need extra support, you may need to add other supplements that lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, or that help to promote weight loss.
- Check for sleep apnea; it’s truly shocking how often the two conditions go hand in hand—and how seldom sleep apnea is diagnosed or treated. If you snore or have daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea.