In May of 2016, I had to face the bad news I had metabolic syndrome. I had ignored the symptoms for too long. I was at a high risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. No longer could I stick my head in the sand!
If I didn’t take some drastic measures, I was on my way to diabetes and heart disease.
I did what I do best I dug into the research and came up with a plan. It only took me 9 weeks to cure my metabolic syndrome. My doctor was shocked and said “This just doesn’t happen this fast.”
Maybe cure is too strong of a word its cured as long as I keep up with the plan, so it’s more accurate to say it’s under control.
I’m sharing exactly how I reveresed my metabolic syndrom so that I can help you avoid Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke and all the other seriously bad things metabolic syndrome does to harm you.
Here was my plan that reversed metabolic syndrome.
- Keep blood glucose and insulin low using a Ketogenic Diet. Closely monitor blood glucose and ketones using a glucometer, a Precision Xtra Blood Ketone Monitor and a Ketonix breath ketone device.
- Lose weight specifically lose abdominal fat.
- Take Arginine 3 times a day to increase insulin sensitivity
- Take ALA before meals to remove glucose without insulin
- Take Berberine to lower blood glucose and improve insulin sensitivity
- Take NAC to lower glucose, improve insulin sensitivity and protect my liver.
- Take High-Quality Fish oil (Omega 3s)
1. Ketogenic Diet
The traditional ketogenic diet developed in the 1920 and 1930 was a very high fat (80%), low protein diet first used to treat seizures. I used a more modern version often called a Modified Ketogenic diet with about 30 % calories from protein, 5 % or less from carbs and about 65% fat. To be in ketosis blood glucose and insulin levels need to be low. Keeping insulin low for an extended period allowed my insulin receptors to become sensitive to insulin again.
2. Lose Weight
Study after study shows that losing weight helps or reverses metabolic syndrome. At the start, I weighed 192 lbs, and my goal was 160 lbs. My starting body fat was 29%. That put me in the obese category. I have to admit this was a shock. What’s even more shocking is if I used the newest smart BMI I wasn’t even in a high-risk category. This points out the importance of getting your body fat percentage measured it’s your body fat that counts not your height and weight. My end goal was 17% body fat. I didn’t get down to 17% because my metabolic syndrome was cured sooner than expected at seven weeks at that point I was 22% body fat. Dropping the weight was relatively easy, and I was seldom hungry because the ketogenic diet lowered my insulin levels. When your body has a continuously elevated insulin level, your access to fat stores are blocked, and you are primed for adding new fat. Once your insulin levels are low enough, your body has continuous access to fat stores for energy. Ketosis also suppresses appetite making it much easier to maintain a calorie deficit. Another benefit of ketosis is it helps preserve muscle mass when in a large calorie deficit. I monitored my body fat percentage and lean mass to make sure I didn’t lose precious muscle mass. I used a BodyMetrix Ultrasound system for this.
3. Increase Exercise
The right kind of exercise is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth! A few years ago I broke my leg and made the mistake of not doing anything to maintain my fitness during my 2-year recovery. This is what started my downward slide to metabolic syndrome. After I was able to walk, I was still unable to rock climb or backpack like I used to. I should have joined a gym and use the elliptical machine or at least got out and walked every day.
To cure my metabolic syndrome I used walking, short hill climbs, and weight training. To keep from overtraining (easy to do during a calorie deficit), I used Heart Rate Variability. Heart Rate Variability is used by Elite athletes to know when they can push their workouts or need to recover. I used a Polar HR7 wireless heart rate monitor and an app called Elite HRV. This is a free app and is better than all the paid ones I have tried. It also comes with an excellent PDF explaining how to use HRV.
Arginine has a lot of benefits that will help with metabolic syndrome. Arginine at 3 grams 3 times a day for three months was shown to improve insulin sensitivity in obese insulin resistant subjects. Arginine also helps restore endothelial function and blood pressure. I can benefit from these things also. I was concerned about an insulin release from arginine. Studies have shown that arginine caused an insulin release, but the deeper study revealed that it does only at high intervenous doses. More recent studies have demonstrated that 10 grams given orally did not affect insulin or blood glucose. The previous study for insulin sensitivity used 3 grams per dose because they were under the impression that was the maximum that can be given without an insulin release. I have been experimenting with the dose and monitoring how it affects my blood glucose and ketones. At a dose of 5 grams, 3 times a day arginine raises my blood glucose a slight amount (.3 mmol/L) for about an hour but does not affect ketones. Since arginine does cause a release of glucagon, this is not surprising and not of any concern for me. 5 grams seems to be the optimal level for me causing a Nitrous oxide release and drop in blood pressure.
5. Alpha Lipoic Acid
Studies show that ALA lowers blood glucose and reduces insulin resistance and other components of metabolic syndrome including blood pressure and lipid profile. Some people claim it helps them get and stay in ketosis while eating more carbs. The blood glucose lowering effects are delayed, so I will be taking my ALA before meals. ALA reduces oxidative stress and has been shown to be protective of health in a multitude of ways.
- Reduces oxidative stress in the body via powerful antioxidant activity
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces insulin resistance
- Improves the lipid profile
- Reduces weight
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Improves diabetic neuropathy
- Reduces brain damage after a stroke. Protects against cataract formation
- Improves visual function in glaucoma
- Prevents bone loss
- Removes toxic metals from the body
- Reduces severity of migraines
Berberine is new to me but wow its a powerhouse for metabolic syndrome. Multiple studies confirm its glucose lowering and insulin sensitizing effects. Studies have compared it to pharmaceutical glucose lowering drugs, and Berberine is equal in effectiveness to the drugs but has some added benefits. I’m excited to measure its effects on myself. Berberine alone could be enough to normalize my glucose and insulin. In one study of diabetic patients, 1000 mg of berberine per day decreased fasting blood sugar by 20%, from 7.0 to 5.6 mmol/L (126 to 101 mg/dL), or from diabetic to normal levels. 5.6 mmol/L is right at the cutoff for diabetes its certainly not optimal. Mine was 5.8 at my last checkup so just over normal a 20% drop for me would bring me to 4.6 mmol/L, which is a healthy level. What exciting about Berberine is it works by multiple different pathways.
- Decreases insulin resistance.
- Increased glycolysis.
- Decrease sugar production in the liver. (this is how the drug Metformin works also)
- Slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.
- Increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- May turn on beneficial epigenetics
- Studies even show weight loss in obese or overweight subjects with metabolic syndrome
- Improves lipid profile.
7. N-acetyl cysteine
Another amazing compound is N-acetyl cysteine. I will be taking it for its ability to reverse insulin resistance but also to protect my liver from damage from both fatty liver disease and damage from alcohol. It is so effective at preventing liver damage it is the number one treatment used by hospitals to prevent acute liver failure from acetaminophen overdose. The benefits from NAC are wide-ranging a few of the benefits are listed below. NAC can achieve all of this because of two super powerful effects. First, It reduces inflammation throughout the body. It does this by turning off genes that cause excess inflammation. This is an extraordinary benefit because excess inflammation has been implicated in almost every disease of aging. Second It restores your bodies own glutathione stores. Glutathione stores are reduced with age and excessive stresses on your antioxidant system. Glutathione is like the shields on the starship Enterprise as long as they are at full power your cells are protected. When your glutathione levels get low, your cells are vulnerable to attack. I’m sure you have noticed how people often age very slowly and then suddenly start aging at an accelerated rate. One of the causes of that rapid aging is when you get to a tipping point where inflammation is too high, and glutathione levels are too low. This starts a vicious circle where the damage from the inflammation and reduced antioxidant ability lets the cells get damaged enough to reduce their ability further and cause more inflammation more depletion of glutathione and so the circle goes. NAC can raise glutathione levels stopping the vicious cycle. NAC improves insulin sensitivity in some of the most difficult-to-treat metabolic disorders. Best price for NAC is BulkSupplements Pure NAC (N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine) Powder (250 grams)
- NAC can protect against influenza.
- NAC has been shown useful in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- NAC protects from the effects of exercise-induced oxidative stress.
- NAC replenishes levels of the intracellular antioxidant glutathione (GSH), which is often deficient with advancing age and other stresses.
- NAC regulates activation of genes linked to oxidative stress and inflammation.NAC blocks cancer development at virtually every step in the process, and through multiple mechanisms.
- These two effects give NAC a powerful role in the prevention and treatment of many common diseases of aging.
- NAC has been shown effective in treating stomach infection Helicobacter pylori
8. Fish Oil
Fish oil has many benefits too many to list here there have been thousands of studies on the benefits of fish oil. Over time it makes your membranes more fluid, this makes you cells function better. Fish oil has anti-inflammatory effects, positive effects on metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, lung diseases, neurodegenerative conditions, and cancer. I wouldn’t even consider it a supplement as much as a staple of healthy eating. I won’t be eating industrial seed oils ( they are very harmful) but some pre-bought sauces will have some of these harmful oils that are too high in omega six content. There is a debate about the ideal ratio of omega 6 to 3. It’s safe to say over 4:1 ratio is less than ideal and as low as 1:1 may be ideal. Anthropological evidence suggests we evolved eating around a 1:1 ratio. A few grams of omega three from fish oil will help keep my ratio under 4:1. Fish oil is one area that quality matters. Fish oil is easily oxidized, and when it is oxidized, it does more harm than good. It is best to use fish oil in a glass container (no air permeates glass and no BPA or other chemicals leach). Natural whole fish oil has been shown to be better absorbed than purified fish oils. The only one I use is Carlson Labs Very Finest Liquid Fish Oil it is processed on the boat for maximum freshness with a small amount of vitamin e added as a preservative and tested regularly for heavy metals to ensure purity. I use the one-liter size and pour half into a smaller bottle and preserve the rest until ready to use with inert gas meant for preserving wine but great for oils too.
My Progress and Observation Log
May 24 2016
Fasting Blood Glucose =5.8 mmol/L (104 md/dl)
Fasting Insulin 188 pmo/l (Under 95 is normal 95-125 pmol/L: probably insulin resistant, 125-165 pmol/L: insulin resistant, >165 pmol/L.)
Cholesterol= 8.6 mmol/L (332 mg/dl)
Ldl= 6.39 mmol/L (247 mg/dl)
Triglycerides = 1.7 mmol/L (150 mg/dl)
APO B = 2.0 g/L
Blood Pressure Average 165/112
May 31 2016
Weight 186 lbs (Since I have been on a very low carb diet alot of the weight will be water)
Fasting Blood Glucose=4.8 mmol/L
Blood Ketones ranging from .7 to 1.9mmol/l
Carb Cravings subsided
Blood Pressure Average 155/109 ( a very small probably statistically insignificant improvement but I will take what I can get for now)
June 7, 2016
Weight 185 lbs ( could have added water weight due to the carb up but also could be just only 1lbs of fat loss because this is the end of phase 1 that’s more about ensuring certain adaptations take place.
Fasting Blood Glucose =5.1 mmol/L
Blood Pressure Average 151/101 (Still improving)
The morning blood glucose is up a little I had a night with about 200-300 grams of carbs which took me out of ketosis for a 2 days and morning glucose is higher as a result. There are benefits that occasional but not prolonged spikes in carbs and insulin can have this was not a planned deviation but not a problem long term at all.
Blood Ketones back to 1.2 -48 hours after carb feast.
June 14, 2016
Weight 182 (3 lbs loss) phase 2
Fasting Blood Glucose =4.2 mmol/L
Blood Ketones 1.5 – 4.2
Blood Pressure Average 142/89 ( Huge improvement I have had some reading as low as 117/78)
This week I went to a birthday party had Wine and a lot of food but almost no carbs next morning blood glucose was 4.2 and Ketones was 4.1
June 21, 2016
Weight 179.5 (2.5 lbs loss)
Fasting Blood Glucose = 4.4 mmol/L
Blood Ketones 1.1 – 4.0
Blood Pressure Average 133/85 ( It is looking like I may be able to avoid blood pressure drugs)
Had 2 nights Carb meals without leaving ketosis one was 60 g of carbs from sushi (planned meal with optimal timing) and post-meal glucose never went above 5.2 and morning glucose was 4.5 and ketones 1.7. Second was unplanned after drinking wine and a 1300 calorie thin crust pizza with 100 g of carbs morning glucose 4.5 and ketones 1.1
June 28, 2016
Weight 177.5 (2 lbs loss)
Fasting Blood Glucose = 4.5 mmol/L
Blood Ketones .9 – 3.8
Blood Pressure Average 134/87
July 5, 2016
Weight 175.5 ( 2 lb loss )
Fasting Blood Glucose 5.0 mmoL. (I was camping and backpacking this week and had several days with over 200 g of carbs)
Blood Ketones .7 -4.5
Blood Pressure Average 132/85
July 12, 2016
Weight 174.5 (1 lb loss)
Fasting Blood Glucose 4.8 mmol
Blood Ketones .5 – 3.2
Blood Pressure Average 133/87
July 26, 2016
Weight 176 (1.5 lb gain) I was away on holidays and not in ketosis probably about 2 lbs of that would be accounted for by the water in the stored carbs
Fasting Blood Glucose 5.4 mmol
Blood Ketones 0-.2
Blood Pressure average 145/92
August 2 2016
Weight 171 (4 lb loss)
Fast Blood Glucose 4.5 mmol
Blood Ketones .2-1.5
Blood Pressure Average 121/78
It took about two months to get my Metabolic Syndrom under control. Blood test shows everything improved from Lipid Panel to Fasting Insulin and Fasting glucose not to mention the perk of looking better due to the weight loss.
My blood pressure had been creeping up for a while and had reached the point where I had to do something about it. I wanted to get my blood pressure down, without medication. I had tried the medication route before, and I hated the side effects. When researching alternatives, I found claims that one of the benefits of the sauna was lowered blood pressure; in fact, I found so many fantastic claims for the benefits of sauna use, I wasn’t sure which ones were real and which ones were just hype. I am not one of those people, who believes everything I read, and many of the claims were from websites selling saunas, making the information suspect. Most lacked any reference to scientific papers. I like to know how and why things work and see the science behind it, sometimes, obsessively so. This list of sauna benefits is the result of digging into the science of saunas.