What is Metabolic Syndrome?

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Julian Whitaker, MD

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that includes high blood pressure, abnormalities in blood lipid and blood sugar levels, and abdominal obesity. This surprisingly condition common condition, which affects at least half of American adults, dramatically increases the likelihood of developing diabetes and heart disease.

It Starts With Insulin Resistance

The underlying “wrench in the works” of people with metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance, and it involves the way the body handles glucose and insulin.

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, resulting in chronically high levels of both insulin and blood sugar.

It’s obvious that this would take a toll on the pancreas and increase the risk of diabetes, but what about the other aspects of insulin resistance?

Beyond Blood Sugar

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, nutritional protocols, and therapies we offer at Whitaker Wellness.

The Whitaker Wellness Way

If you have metabolic syndrome, get a handle on your weight (I suggest trying the mini-fast). Eat a high-fiber, low-glycemic, Mediterranean-type diet, and exercise most days of the week. Take a potent daily multivitamin plus at least 2 g of fish oil and 2,000–5,000 IU of vitamin D per day. To lower blood pressure, drink 12 ounces of Low Sodium V8 Juice and take 200–300 mg of CoQ10 and Balance3, as directed. For elevated lipids, take ¼ cup freshly ground flaxseed and 500–1,500 mg of niacin daily. Finally, if you snore or have daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea.


  • To learn more about the treatment of metabolic syndrome at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call (866) 944-8253.


  • Adams JS, Hewison M. Update in vitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Feb;95(2):471–478.
  • Drager LF, et al. The impact of obstructive sleep apnea on metabolic and inflammatory markers in consecutive patients with metabolic syndrome. PLoS One. 2010 Aug 11;5(8):e12065.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email