The Metabolic Syndrome may not kill as fast as Ebola but ~2/3rds of people have it!


What is the Metabolic Syndrome?  In 1977 Herman Haller noticed that people who were having heart attacks had common cluster of symptoms including central obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugars, high serum triglycerides and low HDL Cholesterol Levels (notice LDL Cholesterol the supposed “bad Cholesterol” was not mentioned).  This cluster of symptoms became known as “The Metabolic Syndrome”.  Research since has shown that the metabolic syndrome starts with increased Abdominal fat (Viceral fat – around and in the internal organs of the gut like the liver, kidneys and pancreas).  This causes the release of multiple “inflammatory mediators” that cause “insulin resistance”.  This then leads to the other symptoms of the syndrome and with time inevitably to pre-diabetes and diabetes.  Here’s a quote from the Wikipedia on the Metabolic Syndrome “It is common for there to be a development of visceral fat, after which the adipocytes (fat cells) of the visceral fat increase plasma levels of TNF-α and alter levels of a number of other substances (e.g., adiponectinresistin, and PAI-1). TNF-α has been shown not only to cause the production of inflammatory cytokines, but also possibly to trigger cell signaling by interaction with a TNF-α receptor that may lead to insulin resistance”.  In 2012 the CDC estimated 34.2% of Americans had the Metabolic Syndrome in this Study.  I think the number is much higher as the CDC also just released this report showing that 40% of all adults and 19% of children in the US are obese and anyone categorized as obese is assumed to have the metabolic syndrome.  You can also be thin and have the metabolic syndrome.  This is called TOFI (Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside referring to Viceral fat).

What causes Metabolic Syndrome?  From my extensive study of the literature the only suspect that fits all the data I have seen is sugar.  Here’s a graph of how obesity has followed increase sugar use in the United States.

And here is a graph shows how closely the rise in diabetes has followed the rise in sugar consumption.  That little downward blip in sugar consumption on the end is because the Sugar Industry pressured the FDA into changing how they calculated sugar consumption. I don’t think anyone really believes sugar consumption has gone down recently.  This and the complete body of evidence implicating sugar as the prime driver of the metabolic syndrome may be found in Gary Taubes’ wonderful recent book “The Case Against Sugar”.








What is the financial cost of this Pandemic (worldwide epidemic)?  $245 Billion was spent on diabetes care alone in the US up from $174 Billion in 2007 (a 41% increase in 5 years).  $320 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity can be linked to cardiovascular disease which is also primarily caused by the metabolic syndrome.  According to the World Health Organization the number of people in the world with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.  According to the CDC “More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a new report” Because of this in the United States our Medicare and Medicaid programs will soon be bankrupt without a massive infusion of funds that could significantly impair our economy.  The metabolic syndrome is making more and more workers unfit for work at a younger and younger age.  Likewise they are collecting benefits at a younger and younger age while our pharmacological treatments for diabetes while not curing the condition prolong their lives putting tremendous demands on the system that will down the road render it insolvent.  Everyone in the world needs to wake up to this disaster caused by sugar!  This is an “Iceberg Dead Ahead” Moment in history. 


How can you protect yourself and your loved ones?  If you and/or your loved ones do not have the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome then avoiding adding refined sugar to foods is likely to prevent the development of the metabolic syndrome in most cases.  If you you and/or your loved ones already have the metabolic syndrome then depending on how severe the metabolic damage has become you may need to do one or all of the following:

  • Dramatically limit carbohydrates in the diet (less 20 grams per day), especially sugar

  • Do intermittent fasting with an eating window of 8 hours or less daily

  • Limit protein consumption to around 1.5 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight per day or less

Because the metabolic damage can be permanent you may need to eat this way for the rest of your life.  Some people with mild early symptoms may be able to back off from these restrictions after the goal weight has been reached and the symptoms disappear.  The viceral and liver fat quickly respond to these approaches but sometimes the damage can remain for life the limitations need to continue.

Here is a list of some of the diseases linked to the Metabolic Syndrome.  Click on each disease for the article supporting the connection.

  • CANCER –  The picture to the right lists some of the cancers linked to obesity

  • BLINDNESS –  “Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a leading cause of vision-loss globally. Of an estimated 285 million people with diabetes mellitus worldwide, approximately one third have signs of DR”.

  • AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION(AMD) –  “Studies based on longitudinal cohort, cross-sectional, and case-control associations, reporting evaluation data of diabetes as an independent factor for AMD were included.

  • PERIPHERIAL ARTERIAL DISEASE (PAD) – “If you have diabetes, you’re much more likely to have PAD”

  • GOUT – “There is an article reporting that 86% of patients with gout have metabolic syndrome ().”

  • POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS) – “It has been reported that in the USA almost 50% of women with PCOS present the metabolic syndrome.”

  • NONALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE (NAFLD) – “As with other complications of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance is thought to be an underlying etiology of NAFLD.”

  • OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA) – “Obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA), even in non-weight bearing joints. High levels of adipose tissue-associated inflammation may explain this association.”

  • ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE – “Scarier still, researchers now understand that insulin resistance is the driving force behind most cases of garden-variety Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • PARKINSON’S DISEASE – “There is growing evidence that patients with Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and share similar dysregulated pathways suggesting common underlying pathological mechanisms. Historically insulin was thought solely to be a peripherally acting hormone responsible for glucose homeostasis and energy metabolism. However accumulating evidence indicates insulin can cross the blood-brain-barrier and influence a multitude of processes in the brain including regulating neuronal survival and growth, dopaminergic transmission, maintenance of synapses and pathways involved in cognition”

  • AMPTATIONS – “Most literature indicates that diabetes is the largest cause of “non-traumatic” LEAs. Our findings seemed to indicate that diabetes was the largest cause or indication of total LEAs.”

  • KIDNEY FAILURE/DIALYSIS – “In the United States the two leading causes of kidney failure, also called end stage kidney disease or ESRD, are diabetes (also called Type 2, or adult onset diabetes) and high blood pressure” (both are caused by insulin resistance in most cases).

  • SLEEP APNEA(OSA) – Research demonstrates the likelihood of a relationship between type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), the most common form of sleep disordered breathing. The IDF consensus statement on sleep apnoea and type 2 diabetes aims to raise awareness of the association between the two conditions, which have significant implications on public health and on the lives of individuals.

  • HEARING LOSS – A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease. Also, of the 84 million adults in the U.S. who have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose.

  • PSORIASIS – Patients with psoriasis were more insulin resistant compared with healthy control subjects. This supports that psoriasis may be a prediabetic condition.

  • LOW SPERM COUNT – There is now emerging evidence that male obesity impacts negatively on male reproductive potential not only reducing sperm quality, but in particular altering the physical and molecular structure of germ cells in the testes and ultimately mature sperm. Recent data has shown that male obesity also impairs offspring metabolic and reproductive health suggesting that paternal health cues are transmitted to the next generation with the mediator mostly likely occurring via the sperm.

  • LOW TESTOSTERONE This interesting study documents the precipitous rise in 2 testosterone related conditions associated both with the metabolic syndrome and lower fertility, vitality and sexual performance:  Late-Onset Hypogonadism (LOH, atrophied testicle in late life) and Androgen Deficiency (Not enough Testosterone)

  • ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION – Erectile Dysfunction (the inability to get an erection) has also been linked closely with the metabolic syndrome.

  • UTERINE FIBROID TUMORS (LEIOMYOMAS) – “CONCLUSION:   Uterine leiomyomas may share pathogenic features with the development of metabolic syndrome.”

  • PROSTATE CANCER – If you have your prostate removed for cancer you are 4 times more likely to have it come back if you have the Metabolic Syndrome.  Here’s a quote from the article:  “Patients with metabolic syndrome had a more than four times higher risk of prostate cancer return than those without the syndrome, according to the study.”

  • Enlarged Prostate – The enlargement of the prostate gland with it’s accompanying, painful, difficult  and frequent urination with frequent nighttime awakenings to urinate is seen much more commonly in people with the metabolic syndrome.

  • Glaucoma This new study indicates a low carb, high fat, ketogenic diet can reverse the process that leads to glaucoma which is due to nerve damage.  In this study mice with nerve damage that usually led to glaucoma were put on a ketogenic diet. After just 8 weeks improvement in the function of the damaged nerves that usually lead to glaucoma was seen.  We know a ketogenic diet is great for the nervous system as it can prevent over 50% of childhood seizures and has now shown benefit in reversing Alzheimer’s symptoms. The benefits of low carb just keep growing.  Here’s a quote from the study: “Eight weeks of the diet generated mitochondria, improved energy availability by reversing monocarboxylate transporter decline, reduced glial hypertrophy, protected retinal ganglion cells and their axons from degeneration, and maintained physiological signaling to the brain. A robust antioxidant response also accompanied the response to the diet. These results suggest that energy compromise and subsequent axon degeneration in the D2 is due to low substrate availability secondary to transporter downregulation.”  

  • Early Onset Sexual Maturity in Children – The appearance of sexual markers such as pubic hair, body odor and increased oil production in children called “Adrenarche” a part of the puberty process is driven by male hormones and normally starts around 8 years old for girls and 9 years old for boys.  In children who develop the metabolic syndrome (an ever increasing problem) it tends to happen earlier.  According to the Wikipedia this can be a problem because there are studies showing a higher incidence of a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Disease, a painful disorder causing menstrual irregularities and infertility in girls who experience premature adrenarche and more acne problems in both boys and girls.


How does the Zero Carb diet (a diet of meat, eggs, cheese and butter) I follow fit into solving this problem?  I was a total sugar addict for 62 years.  The literature suggests that total abstinence is the most successful strategy for beating addictions to substances.  Zero Carb in my opinion has been shown to bring health and vitality and it completely elimintates sugar from the diet.

The bottom line is that the health and economy of the world is being wrecked by a substance at least as addictive as heroin or cocaine – SUGAR.  We all need to do something soon or the collision with the iceberg is inevitable!

Discuss Health and Nutrition questions with the Zero Carb Doc a retired Family Doctor.

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