About 5 years ago my health was troubling me as I found it difficult to think
straight, formulate my words, had a lack of energy, motivation for exercise and I was putting on
weight. This didn’t make much sense to me as a former athlete and with my job now as a
strength and conditioning coach, so I am active all day everyday. I decided to get some blood work
done and my triglycerides and HDL were out of the accepted range, which is doubly troubling
considering these reference ranges are based on a sick population as it is. This lead me to look for
answers and I found those answers and that is what I am going to discuss in this article from my
knowledge through my learning through the Nutrition Network which I am now a nutrition Network
advisor and the knowledge of many exceptional researchers, clinicians around the globe that have highlighted the
impact of insulin resistance on our bodies and brain.
Metabolic syndrome has been described as anyone having three of these five symptoms,
increased waist circumference, increase in blood glucose, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low high density lipid proteins or HDL the so called good cholesterol.
In the UK currently it is said that 33% of adults have metabolic syndrome (1), this is not just a UK
problem this is a global problem with high rates of insulin resistance in south east asia, the middle
east, pacific islands, USA and Mexico, which showcases the prevalence of the problem. It is
estimated that nearly a billion people suffer from Insulin Resistance across the globe, (2) yet it is not
In the UK the problem actually could be a little worse, high blood pressure or hypertension is said to
affect 58% of the population (3) which is a critical part of metabolic syndrome and usually the first
sign that something has gone array. While we are not always measuring the other signs, we are
always measuring blood pressure when we see a GP. So if 58% of the population have hypertension
might that mean that 58% have insulin resistance. Why that connection? Metabolic syndrome used
to be called Insulin Resistance syndrome which does a much better job at explaining what is
causing the symptoms, much better than the vague term metabolic syndrome. So if 58% of people
in the UK have hypertension its not much of stretch to suggest they have Insulin Resistance which is
presenting itself as high blood pressure.
Insulin Resistance is at the root of the common diseases we are seeing today such as Heart Disease,
as it is fundamental in contributing to heart Disease and the damage to the vascular system, it would be very uncommon not totally impossible for someone to have heart disease without insulin resistance and hypertension plays into that.
With Cancer, some cancers are not caused but made worse by Insulin Resistance, as it accelerates the growth
of the cancer cells. Fatty Liver, the most common liver problem across the world, directly caused by
insulin resistance and the insulin promoting the growth and the production of fat within the liver.
Type 2 diabetes, with the high levels of insulin known as hyperinsulinemia is trying to manage the high blood sugar levels and causing more cells to become resistant, and Body Fat, you cannot make fat cells grow without insulin being
elevated, regardless of calories consumed.
In addition to these big 5 killers or problems, we have some that range from similarly lethal and
tragic like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, being the most common form and even stroke one of
the most top expenses of the NHS.
Then less lethal but very relevant to a population and particularly heart breaking for a couple we
have the most common forms of infertility.
The most common in women PCOS (more appropriately called metabolic infertility) insulin directly
affects estrogen production from the ovaries and in Men Erectile Dysfunction which may be the first
clinical sign of Insulin Resistance in otherwise healthy men. Due to what IR is doing to the blood
The hope is that a person who is taking medications for hypertension, diabetes, migraine, and fatty
liver etc doesn’t believe that they are all individual problems they are in fact the symptoms of the
same root cause. Once we know this we can then impact that root cause and as Dr Robert Lustig has
suggested in his great book Metabolical, the root cause is not druggable but is foodable. This is because these chronic diseases are disease of the mitochondria the power house of a cell that uses food to produce energy. So while treating the symptoms of these diseases with drugs it never gets to treat the mitochondria, only food can do that.
How do you know if you have insulin resistance? Do YOU have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes
or gestational diabetes, PCOS (women), Erectile dysfunction (Men), fatty liver disease, or skin tags
and dark patches on the back of the neck or under the arms (acanthosis nigricans). The skin can be a
window into the metabolic soul!
If you answered yes to anyone of these then you likely have insulin resistance.
These are signs of an underlying metabolic problem, but most are undiagnosed! This is why the
problem is likely much worse because you could have someone with these skin tags and acanthosis
nigricans and have a normal blood sugar or blood pressure and therefore they are not considered to
have any issues metabolically.
(2) PMID: 29480368