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Metabolic Syndrome: Understand Causes and Care

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Metabolic syndrome is a common condition affecting one in three adults. 

    You can reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and help improve your health if you already have it. 

    Making necessary lifestyle changes and taking a supplement like fatty15 can support your metabolic health. 

Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of illnesses that increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease and stroke, affects approximately one out of every three adults in the United States. 

The causes of metabolic syndrome are still being researched, but we have a few key indicators that a person is more likely to develop this condition and how likely their condition will progress into other illnesses. 

We’ll talk about what metabolic syndrome is, what causes it, and what you can do to support your body and reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. 

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic health refers to your body’s ability to efficiently use the foods you eat for energy and dispose of what is not needed. When you eat food, there is a chain reaction of processes in your body that signals the release of certain hormones, like insulin, to remove the usable parts of your food (like glucose) from your bloodstream and carry them to your cells. 

Your cells need to be sensitive to the insulin (a condition called insulin sensitivity) so they can accept the glucose and use it to create adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is the energy your cells need to carry out their functions. 

In a person with metabolic syndrome, the ability of the body to effectively and efficiently use the foods they eat has been compromised. A cluster of illnesses and negative health markers define metabolic syndrome. They include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight around the midsection, and insulin resistance. 

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the blood against your arterial walls as it moves to and from your heart. Normal blood pressure is considered a systolic blood pressure reading of less than 120 mm HG and a diastolic blood pressure reading of less than 80 mm HG. 

Having high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, and most people won’t know they have high blood pressure until they get a test. The American Heart Association advises that having uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, vision problems, and heart failure. 

Unregulated Cholesterol Levels

Your yearly lipid panel measures the amount of lipids in your blood, along with your triglyceride levels. A healthy lipid panel should show an LDL (low-density lipoprotein) measure of less than 100 mg/dL. 

LDLcholesterol, also known as your “bad” cholesterol, is the type of cholesterol that can cause buildup in your arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. A person with metabolic syndrome has an LDLcholesterol level higher than normal. 

Your “good” cholesterol, or HDL (high-density lipoprotein), should read over 40 mg/dL. This type of cholesterol is beneficial to the body because it absorbs LDLcholesterol and sends it to the liver to be removed from the body. A person with metabolic syndrome typically has a low HDL cholesterol level. 

Additionally, a lipid panel will measure your triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. 

Triglycerides come from the foods we eat, and excess triglycerides are stored in the body to be used as energy when needed. High triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. A measurement of less than 150 mg/dL is considered within a normal triglyceride range. 

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance happens when the pancreas cannot keep up with the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. This causes blood sugar levels to rise. Simultaneously, the cells that need the glucose become insulin resistant, which means they cannot effectively use glucose brought to them by insulin. 

Researchers aren’t sure of the exact mechanism that causes a person to become insulin resistant. However, genetics, being overweight, and having a sedentary lifestyle are all associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Unregulated blood glucose levels that are not recognized can lead to the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. 

Higher Waist Circumferences

Carrying excess weight is a risk factor for a number of metabolic diseases and is a marker for metabolic syndrome. Specifically, adipose tissue around the midsection carries a higher risk for heart disease than carrying fat in other areas of your body. 

Abdominal obesity is usually measured with a waist-to-hip ratio figure or a waist circumference measurement. People who have a larger waist circumference are said to have an apple-shaped body. 

Another piece of data that a healthcare provider may use to measure a person’s weight is their BMI. If a person has a BMI (body mass index) over 30, they are considered obese. 

What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?

All of these negative health markers can make a person much more susceptible to developing cardiovascular disease and other age-related illnesses as these conditions worsen or are not well-managed. 

The causes of metabolic syndrome are complex, and many of them affect other causes. Some of the causes are preventable through lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, weight loss, and physical activity. However, some of the causes cannot be controlled.


If one or both of your biological parents have a symptom or condition that is a part of metabolic syndrome, you will be more likely to develop it, too. Don’t worry; even if genetics play a part, they do not play the entire part, and you may be able to manage your symptoms with lifestyle changes. 


A person’s body weight plays a major role in whether or not they will develop metabolic syndrome. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of developing the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome. 

Adipose tissue acts as an organ, releasing chemicals called free fatty acids that change the way the body’s hormones work and how well your body can control blood sugar levels. This can lead to high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. 

Some free fatty acids play a role in cholesterol levels, raising LDL cholesterol levels and lowering HDL cholesterol levels. Lastly, some free fatty acids also work against your immune system, and the interaction can cause your fat cells to release more proinflammatory molecules into your body. 

Having One or More Metabolic Symptoms

If you have one of the conditions that make up metabolic syndrome, like unregulated cholesterol, you are at higher risk of developing other conditions of metabolic syndrome. 

Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome

If your goal is to not just live a long life but to also live a healthy life, you’ll want to reduce your risks of developing metabolic syndrome. If you have metabolic syndrome, you can take steps to bring your health markers back into a healthy or normal range and possibly become less dependent on certain medications. 

Risk factors for metabolic syndrome include:

  • Inactive or sedentary lifestyle
  • Not maintaining a healthy, nutrient-dense diet or overconsuming calories
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Smoking
  • A family history of metabolic syndrome
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Age (your risk of metabolic syndrome becomes higher as you become older)
  • Certain underlying health conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome or diabetes

If you’re checking off boxes on this list, the good news is that many of these risks are reversible with lifestyle changes. 

How Do I Reduce My Risk and Maintain My Wellness?

The complications of metabolic syndrome extend beyond heart disease. They also include nerve issues, vision problems, and even neurological dysfunction. 

Making lifestyle changes now can help you reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. If you already have it, adopting a healthy lifestyle can help you regain your health. 

Eat a Balanced Diet

Many people have problems getting the nutrients they need and deciding which foods are the most healthful. Speaking to a nutritionist can help you make sense of the dietary information available. 

Focusing on lean protein, whole grains, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats can help support your body, keep you full, and help you maintain a healthy weight. 

Get Plenty of Exercise

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. This can include cardiovascular exercise like walking, running, biking, or swimming, and resistance training, like lifting weights. Movement is key to avoiding the health problems associated with metabolic syndrome. 

Support Good Sleep Habits

Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. If you have trouble getting the sleep you need, consider improving your sleep hygiene or the routine you use to prepare yourself for sleep. 

Good sleep hygiene can consist of:

  • A consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule
  • Dimming the lights in the room
  • Lowering the thermostat
  • Unplugging or powering down devices and televisions at least 30 minutes prior to sleep
  • Using a white noise machine or an oscillating fan in your room

If you still have trouble sleeping, it’s worth talking to your doctor about your options so you can prevent further detriment to your health. 

Manage Stress Levels

Stress that is not well managed can lead to increased levels of inflammation in the body, which can increase your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Activities like yoga, meditation, and maintaining a healthy social life can help you manage stress in a healthful way. 

Consider a Supplement

There’s no magic pill that will prevent metabolic syndrome, but there is one that is scientifically proven to support and improve your metabolic health, right down to the very cells that make up every tissue in your body. 

Pentadecanoic acid, also known as C15:0, is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that is essential to our bodies and can actually improve our cardiometabolic health. 

How C15:0 Works

C15:0 naturally binds to receptors found throughout our bodies, called PPARs, that help to regulate our metabolism, including our cholesterol and glucose homeostasis. This helps to explain why daily supplementation with C15:0 helped to support healthy cholesterol, triglyceride homeostasis, and heart health. 

Further, C15:0 reverses cellular aging by making our cells more stable and resistant to breakdown, calming our immune response, and increasing cellular energy, all of which are important for our cardiometabolic health. Specifically, C15:0 works by:

  • Strengthening cellular membranes. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that armors our cell membranes against age-related breakdown. Studies have shown that pure C15:0 improves cellular strength by 80%
  • Improves glucose metabolism. C15:0 activates AMPK, which helps promote entire body homeostasis, regulates glucose uptake in the cells, and calms the immune system. 
  • Regulating inflammatory response. C15:0 significantly calms and lowers proinflammatory cytokines, a key driver of aging.
  • Charging cells’ mitochondria. C15:0 repairs mitochondrial function, increasing our cell’s energy output and decreasing damaging reactive oxygen species by 45%. In one study, C15:0 was shown to increase ATP levels in cells by 350%.

By supplementing with C15:0, you can support your cells and your metabolic health and give your body the chance to enjoy a longer healthspan. 

Where To Get It

C15:0 is primarily found in trace levels in whole-fat dairy products. However, simply increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products comes with extra calories, sugars, and high levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats. It also involves, well, cows. 

A solution? Fatty15. 

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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Fatty15 is the world’s first C15:0 supplement, which was developed by doctors and scientists to support your long-term health. Fatty15 contains only a single ingredient: a pure, bioavailable, sustainable, vegan-friendly, award-winning C15:0 powder. 

Give Your Metabolism Support

The conditions that make up metabolic syndrome may seem impossible to avoid in our society, but they aren’t. You can take steps to improve your metabolic health, even if you’ve already received a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. 

Lifestyle changes, including improving your diet and getting exercise, are important. In addition, taking Fatty15 each day can help strengthen your cells, improve your metabolic health, and support your long-term health and wellness.


What Is Metabolic Syndrome? | NHLBI, NIH

Insulin Resistance | CDC.gov

Metabolic Syndrome - Causes and Risk Factors | NHLBI, NIH

Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports

A review of odd-chain fatty acid metabolism and the role of pentadecanoic Acid (c15:0) and heptadecanoic Acid (c17:0) in health and disease | PMC

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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