Interview with Dr. Benjamin Bikman, author of "Why We Get Sick" a book in which 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. Many of my patients I have diagnosed with insulin resistance have found this book eye-opening and life-changing.
Interviewer: In our last discussion, you shared how insulin resistance is uniquely terrible for our health and weight, and how it’s become so much more prevalent. What can people do?
Dr. Bikman: Firstly, if you suspect that you’re insulin resistant, you should consult your healthcare professional. However, there are definitive steps we each can take to become more insulin sensitive in our own homes.
Food got us into this mess, and it’s food that will get us out of it. The easiest and best thing to do is to start limiting intake of carbohydrates immediately. Of the three macronutrients, carbs are the least necessary for the average adult and the most problematic for those struggling with metabolic problems. The health and weight challenges were seeing today are mostly because of people eating too many carbs.
Interviewer: Okay, we should control carbs. What else?
Dr. Bikman: We need to prioritize protein. There are competing mindsets on protein, with very little legitimate science behind the arguments. Protein is essential, especially as you age, but it needs to be consumed in conjunction with fat, just as is found in nature.
But the source of the protein is very important. For instance, the plant-based protein trend is not based on good science, but clever marketing.
Not to be provocative, but unless you have a legitimate allergy you should avoid plant protein. You get very little nutritional benefit from plant protein due to the anti-nutrients and incomplete amino acid profile, and independent studies have shown that concentrating the incredible amount of plant matter to isolate the small amounts of protein also concentrates unhealthy levels of heavy metals, which build up in your body and can devastate your health.
The best types of protein are whey, egg whites and collagen. Those have the highest biological value, offer the most complete essential amino acid profile, and support lean and toned muscle, healthy joints, cartilage and bone health.
Interviewer: Control carbs and prioritize protein. Got it. However, you mentioned that we should be eating fat. Won’t that make us fat?
Dr. Bikman: It’s an absolute myth that eating dietary fat makes you fat. In fact, human clinical studies clearly show that it can help make you lean! I spoke in our earlier interview about how the US government in the 70’s made dietary recommendations that changed our food supply. Those recommendations made dietary fat - the very foods that our ancestors valued the most - the villain, and encouraged us to eat FAR more refined carbohydrates.
I’ll put it plainly: Increasing the consumption of healthy fats may be the most important change you can make for your health and weight management. Those healthy fats provide you with needed nutrition for your brain and body, they help you feel satisfied, curb your desire for sweets, and even help train your body to burn excess body fat.
However, not all fats are created equal. Processed seed oils from soy, corn, canola and cottonseed should be avoided as they are particularly harmful, while “fruit” fats (from olives, coconuts and avocados) and animal fats like butter or ghee are uniquely beneficial.
Interviewer: Sounds like we have a clear game plan: Control carbs, prioritize protein and fuel with fats. How can people learn more?
Dr. Bikman: I’ll share more in our last email discussion, but you can learn more about my research and recommendations in my book, “Why We Get Sick”, and I’m active on social media (on Instagram @benbikmanphd and Facebook @Benjamin Bikman) where I share more science. I also contribute regular science articles to the company I co-founded, HLTH Code. You can learn more there at getHLTH.com.