Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • November 2017
Written by 

Insulin resistance, syndrome X and metabolic syndrome

Insulin resistance, syndrome X and metabolic syndrome are terms that are unfamiliar to many. They all refer to the same condition, and are used to give a name to this cluster of symptoms. I tend to prefer the term insulin resistance as it helps most people visualize the problem. Insulin resistance may affect as many as 60 million Americans and yet it is rarely addressed as the cause of many common symptoms. The suggestion is that if you have three or more of the symptoms listed, you should consider the possibility of insulin resistance as a causative factor.

There are a multitude of people who have several of these symptoms and are struggling to get these symptoms under control. The modern medical approach is to prescribe one drug upon another in the hopes of getting the symptoms under control. Getting the symptoms under control may be useful in reducing your risk; however, it rarely gets you closer to being healthier. In order to see the kinds of changes that improve your symptoms and reduce your need for medication, you must look to nature to help the body heal itself.

Even when using natural approaches to healing we can make the same mistakes as doctors. If we only target cholesterol or blood pressure and we miss the cause as being insulin resistance, then we will only be partially successful. You must understand this one important concept: if your symptoms are driven by insulin resistance and you only treat the symptoms and not the insulin resistance, then you cannot be truly successful in becoming healthier.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance describes a condition where the cells of the body become resistant or desensitized to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and acts as the carrier of glucose into the cells. As the cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas will produce more insulin and the excess of insulin causes the cells to become even more resistant to insulin. What follows in the body are dramatic physiological changes, leading to the symptoms described. These symptoms increase our risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. What is hard for many to understand is how these more serious problems spring from insulin resistance and that your diet and lifestyle can reverse these dramatic symptoms.

If you have three or more of the following markers, you should consider insulin resistance as a foundational cause of these symptoms:

  • Central obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen as demonstrated by a greater waist to hip ratio)
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol
    • Men: Less than 40 mg/dl
    • Women: Less than 50 mg/dl
  • Fasting blood triglycerides greater than 149 mg/dl
  • Elevated blood pressure (130/85 mmHg or higher)
  • Insulin resistance as demonstrated by the presence of pre-diabetes (glucose between 101 and 125 mg/dl)

In 2002, the National Institute of Health (NIH) designated insulin resistance as a new target for the prevention of coronary heart disease. High blood sugar is associated with a whole host of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, amputations, pain, depression and autoimmune disease.

What causes insulin resistance?

There is little doubt that the standard American diet (SAD) is a major factor in the development of insulin resistance. On average, more than 50 percent of our calories are derived from high glycemic foods and/or highly nutrient deficient foods, refined sugars, refined and overprocessed grains and other carbohydrates, and the wrong types and amounts of fat.

What can you do?

Diet and lifestyle are critical elements and sometimes the hardest to change. Even when you can’t make a lot of dietary changes you can make some that would be to your benefit. Small changes made over time can add up to some significant benefits. You will also find that as you improve your glucose metabolism you will not crave foods in the same way. As you improve the nutrition that your body receives, your body will respond by being satisfied.

Dietary guidelines for insulin resistance

  • Watch your calorie intake. Log your food intake for a couple of weeks if you really want to know what you are consuming.
  • Avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Limit saturated fat.
  • Increase omega-3 fatty acids, especially fish oil.
  • Increase fiber, especially soluble fiber, with meals to minimize the blood sugar spike.
  • Reduce sugars and refined sweeteners.
  • Reduce refined grains and overprocessed carbohydrates.


Make an analysis of your overall health. If you have three or more of the symptoms described as insulin resistance, then follow a protocol designed to improve your insulin/glucose metabolism. Within three months (and often sooner) you should see significant improvements. 

Steve Lankford

Steve studied and practiced natural health and healing for three years way back in the early 1970s. In 1976, he and his wife Debbie opened Family Nutrition Center, a health food store in Green Bay. Family Nutrition Center is located at 850-A Lombardi Ave. in Green Bay. Family Nutrition Center can help you discover a nutritional program that works. For more information, visit or call 920-432-6886.

Steve is also the host of, dedicated to nutrition and your good health. The mission of the podcast is to explore the science of good nutrition and good health, and to share that with listeners and customers.

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