What is this?

It goes by a few other names – insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, syndrome X, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) etc. This is a cluster of conditions including hormonal imbalance, infertility, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat especially around the waist, and high triglyceride levels – these increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

What is the cause?

Insulin resistance. Normally the digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into sugar (glucose). Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps sugar enter the cells so it can be used as fuel. In people with insulin resistance, cells don’t respond normally to insulin, glucose can’t enter the cells without more and more insulin being produced.

What are the effects?

Higher than desirable levels of insulin as the pancreas produces more as the body becomes more and more resistant to it. Insulin is inflammatory and has a growth hormone effect. At these levels insulin increases your risk of developing: inflammatory disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, fatty liver, depression, anxiety, etc, the list goes on.

Diagnosis

Elevated fasting insulin levels — 5 mmol/L or higher

Additionally according to the guidelines used by the American National Institutes of Health, you have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these traits or are taking medication to control them:

Large waist circumference — a waistline that measures at least 89 centimeters for women and 102 centimeters for men

High triglyceride level 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or higher of this type of fat found in blood

Reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — less than 1.04 mmol/L in men or less than 1.3 mmol/L)in women of this “good” cholesterol

Increased blood pressure — 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher

Elevated fasting blood sugar — 5.6 mmol/L or higher

Body Mass Index is a poor indicator.

What is the treatment?

Managing the above with a suitable diet.

What is a suitable diet?

A well formulated ketogenic diet.