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Insulin resistance: BYU professor warns against “plague of well-being”

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Insulin resistance: BYU professor warns against

Ben Bickman remembers when the light came on.

He received his doctorate from the University of East Carolina in Nutritional Biochemistry. His research included studying two groups of rodents that were fed the same number of calories. But only one group had artificially elevated levels of insulin, a hormone that controls glucose or blood sugar.

When they weighed the rodents at the end of the study, both groups weighed equally. But those who injected insulin had much more fat and less muscle mass.

In dietary folklore they were obese.

Did it make sense? “No, if you followed the pure laws of thermodynamics, which say that obesity is clearly a matter of excess calories,” says Bickman, “if that’s true, then what happened should be impossible.”

But it happened, and “I couldn’t help but see it,” Bickman says. “At the time, I knew that what I thought I knew – that obesity and the metabolic problems that accompany it are solely a consequence of the calorie imbalance – was inaccurate.

His view on obesity has become “while calories matter, hormones matter more”.

Bickman’s path was set. A three-year fellowship in Asia at Duke National University in Singapore only confirmed his findings: the key to curbing obesity and thus the many diseases it causes – including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, migraine headaches, erectile dysfunction Alzheimer’s disease. and more – it’s insulin.

More precisely: insulin resistance. If the food we take into our body overloads the hormone to such an extent that it cannot do its job effectively, then problems begin.

And what is the best way to control insulin resistance?

The answer is not in medication and doctor visits, Bickman says, but in staying away from foods that make insulin work overtime. Basically it means carbs – all the chips, pastries, bread, pasta and other starches that make up so much of the 21st century diet.

The list of “bad carbs” is long – it includes “basically everything that comes in a barcode package” – but avoid these foods and your body’s insulin factory will feel like you’re on vacation in Aruba.

On the other hand, you can eat all the proteins and fats you want.

Here is Gospel Bickman teaching at BYU since entering the faculty in 2011.

If you call it a crusade, he won’t mind because he calls it that.

“It became a crusade when I became a professor and realized that my main task was to teach students who study to be practicing doctors – nurses and doctors. I realized that I have the opportunity to help them learn how insulin resistance works and its importance in chronic diseases. Instead of just prescribing hypertension medication (if they practice), I hope they remember my lesson and say, “Hey, let’s improve your insulin resistance.”

Other than that, he wants the world to know.

Painfully aware that most of his published research will be read only by other scholars, in 2016 he immersed himself in social media, making several videos on YouTube and appearing in podcasts.

He had no idea what tsunami was going to trigger.

It turned out that in a world where type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc., are the leading causes of suffering and death, there were many willing to hear what he wanted to say. Over the past six years, his videos have garnered millions of views, leading to an invitation to talk about insulin resistance literally around the world.

One such invitation came right here at home when BYU in 2018 asked Bickman to address all students at its weekly forum. Since then, his speech “Why the Prosperity” has become a hit on YouTube.

In this speech, Bickman also mocks his finger on the culture of Latter-day Saints in which he is immersed. Noting that research shows that the Latter-day Saint community is the most obese and most diabetic of any religious group in the state, he said:

“How often do we gather around a table filled with ice cream and cakes and offer a prayer of thanksgiving, including asking for food to bless us with health and strength? Although I believe Heavenly Father has a sense of humor, it can push him too far. ”

Does he see progress? On the one hand, he stopped answering his office phone because so many people who saw his performances, heard his podcasts, read his book (“Why We Are Sick”) or went to his website and tried his food substitutes HLTH code, gethlth.com) call to tell him how much it helped.

On the other hand, after years of resistance to recognizing the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets, the American Diabetes Association officially announced in 2020 that a low-carbohydrate diet could lower glucose levels in diabetics.

And then there’s a study he and his colleagues recently completed with a clinic in the Utah Valley. The study involved 11 middle-aged women who had just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Women were offered a choice: first, to leave the office with a prescription for diabetes medication, which they would actually take in increasing doses for the rest of their lives. Or two, switch to a strict, low-carb, high-protein, high-fat diet.

All 11 chose the second option. Within 90 days “their average glucose levels went from the diabetic range to normal. They not only cured diabetes, but also significantly lost weight and improved blood pressure.

“The food we eat is either a culprit or a cure,” says BYU’s persistent insulin guru, “it either makes us sick or improves us.”

Correction: In an earlier version, Ben Bickman’s book was incorrectly defined as “How We Get Sick”. Correct title: “Why we get sick.” In addition, the caption to the photo mistakenly identified Bickman as an associate professor. He is an associate professor.

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