We are sick. Around the world, we struggle with diseases that were once considered rare. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes affect millions each year; many people are also struggling with hypertension, weight gain, fatty liver, dementia, low testosterone, menstrual irregularities and infertility, and more. We treat the symptoms, not realizing that all of these diseases and disorders have something in common.
Each of them is caused or made worse by a condition known as insulin resistance. And you might have it. Odds are you do—over half of all adults in the United States are insulin resistant, with most other countries either worse or not far behind.
In Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease—and How to Fight It, internationally renowned scientist and pathophysiology professor Benjamin Bikman explores why insulin resistance has become so prevalent and why it matters. Unless we recognize it and take steps to reverse the trend, major chronic diseases will be even more widespread. But reversing insulin resistance is possible, and Bikman offers an evidence-based plan to stop and prevent it, with helpful food lists, meal suggestions, easy exercise principles, and more. Full of surprising research and practical advice, Why We Get Sick will help you to take control of your health.
The book presents research to connect how many chronic disorders share the common origin of insulin resistance. Diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are recommended to reverse or prevent insulin resistance and reduce the risk of these conditions.
Some highlights include:
- How Insulin Resistance Increases Blood Pressure: excess aldosterone (salt and water retention), vessel wall hypertrophy (walls thicken), narrowing, lack of nitric oxide, dyslipidemia.
- “In a healthy state, when we eat salt, the body senses the increased salt and ‘turns aldosterone off’ so the kidneys excrete salt and water; this ensures normal blood pressure.”
- “The World Health Organization defines the metabolic syndrome by two main criteria: first, the patient must have two of either high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, central obesity, or low levels of protein in the urine; and second, the patient must have insulin resistance.”
- “Ultimately, hormones determine what the body does with the fuel we eat and store—whether it is making more muscle, making bigger bones, making more fat, dissipating it as heat, and so on.”
- Cortisol and Bad Fat: “We generally store fat in two areas on our bodies: beneath our skin, called subcutaneous fat, and around our internal organs, called visceral fat. Cortisol is known to cause insulin resistance directly, but it also selectively drives visceral fat to grow more than subcutaneous fat, creating an unhealthy metabolic state.”
- Waist-to-Hip Ratio: Divide waist measurement by the hip measurement. The number should be below 0.9 for men and below 0.8 for women.
- Lifestyle factors that affect insulin resistance include air pollution, cigarette smoke, monosodium glutamate, petrochemicals, pesticides, sugar and artificial sweeteners, lipopolysaccharides, too little salt, starvation, sleep, and sedentary living.
- “In fact, any kind of physical activity can help to combat insulin resistance because it removes glucose from the blood without involving insulin.”
- “Restricting carbohydrates was perhaps the first modern documented intervention to control diabetes and weight, accepted as fact throughout Western Europe in the early and mid-1800s.”
- “Scientists at the Weizmann Institute found that a person’s gut bacteria determined the glycemic load of a food, and that some people had a fairly minor response to things like ice cream, while others had dramatic glycemic responses to common foods like wheat bread.”
- It’s Time To Take Action: eat better; get your insulin measured; get help; stay informed.
Drawing both on Dr. Bikman’s own research and the latest medical literature, Why We Get Sick analyzes what insulin resistance really is, what causes it, and what to do about it (hint: cut the carbs!). The book is both a definitive explanation of the pathogenesis and mechanisms of insulin resistance and a practical manual for improving one’s own health.