Be kind to your Pancreas or Die

The Pancreas is a critical gland that is rarely discussed, but its health or sickness determine yours to an amazing degree.  It is located just behind and below the stomach.  It is essential in the digestion of food, and the proper processing of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for use by your body along with a thousand other functions.  It is an amazing gland.  And as Dr. Benjamin Bikman points out, by taking care of your pancreas, you are taking care of every cell in your body, as it services them all.

“Insulin Resistance” is a not well-known, but serious health disorder of the pancreas.  Surprisingly, 85 % of the adults in the US may have it.  Because my family genetics have a tendency for hypertension, and one of the symptoms of insulin resistance is high blood pressure, I was particularly interested in learning more. Thus, I would like to share some research on the pancreas that could save your life, or at least prolong your life and this research has helped me tremendously.

What we Eat and How it is Processed by the  Pancreas

Every time you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises which causes the pancreas to release a surge of insulin, to process the glucose generated.  If you eat proteins, the insulin release is a lot less.   If you ingest healthy fats, your insulin doesn’t surge at all, and you have stored it for energy use later.  I have learned that good fats are very good for you!  The more you study the digestion process, you see it is a marvelous process and gives evidence of Intelligent Design.

So, as we continuously eat carbohydrates throughout the day , we create a big problem causing “Insulin Resistance.”  I will explain, thanks to the work of Dr. Bikman:

Insulin Resistance is the Most Common Health Disorder

Professor Benjamin Bikman has shown in his game-changing research at BYU that too much insulin in the blood, which is called “insulin resistance” plays a major role in all chronic diseases.  In other words, all chronic diseases are made worse by having this health disorder.  You can see why I had the title be: “Be Kind to Your Pancreas, or you will Die!”  I need to point out that by following Dr. Bikman’s guidelines in his book, Why We Get Sick, (WWGS) you are really being kind to every cell in your body along with the pancreas.

Bikman shares that, “insulin resistance is the most common health disorder world-wide, and it affects more people – adults and children – each year than any other.”  As mentioned above, “85 % of all US adults may have it.” (p, xv WWGS)

How Do I Know I Am “Insulin Resistant?

In his book,  He asks,  “How do I know if I have it?”  To get a sense of your own risk level, answer these questions: (p. xviii WWGS)
·        Do you have more fat around your belly than you’d like?
·        Do you have high blood pressure?
·        Do you have a family history of heart disease?
·        Do you have high levels of blood triglycerides?
·        Do you retain water easily?
·        Do you have patches of darker-colored skin or little bumps of skin (“skin tags”) at your neck, armpits, or other areas?
·        Do you have a family member with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes?
·        Do you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS, for women) or erectile dysfunction (for men)?

He then points out that, “If you answered “yes” to one question, you likely have insulin resistance.  If you answered “yes” to any two questions (or more), you most certainly have insulin resistance.

Insulin Resistance Is On the Rise

A paradigm shift is needed to understand why “insulin resistance” is so common, on the increase, and why it is so important to understand.  He gave an excellent talk at BYU explaining “insulin resistance.”  The Plagues of Prosperity | Benjamin Bikman – BYU Speeches.  In other words, from the title of his talk, our abundant lifestyles have led to this disease being so common and being on the increase.  As he says, it is a subtle and a most serious health disorder, and most don’t know they have it.

I am still learning from Bikman and others. And I highly recommend you read his book, but for those of you who may not have that opportunity, I will do my best to give you an explanation.

What Is Insulin Resistance?

The opposite of resistance is conductance.  In terms of “insulin resistance,” we can take the opposite point of view and call it insulin conductance – how well the cells are receiving insulin’s most important functions.  So insulin conductance is the opposite of the disease; it is moving toward health.  The great thing about Professor Bikman’s work is that he has found the great significance of the problem and also gives the solution.  How to move toward conductance.

So, insulin conductance translates to our cell’s sensitivity to insulin – how well the cells in our body are receiving insulin’s most important functions.  Amazingly, insulin services all the cells in our body with a thousand different functions.  It is both a hormone and a protein.  In a healthy person, the cells happily receive the services of this hormone.  As Bikman says, “Insulin regulates how a cell uses energy, changes its size, influences the production of other hormones, and even determines whether cells live or die.” (p 5 WWGS)

Why We Get Sick

As Dr. Jason Fung shares in the Foreword of Bikman’s book, “Why We Get Sick connects the dots between insulin resistance and problems of the head, blood vessels, internal organs, and more, to create a startling picture of why chronic conditions are on the rise and what we can do about it.”

I have improved my eating and exercise habits to take advantage of what I call the Bikman approach to a healthy lifestyle.  Because, hypertension runs in my family, taking what I learned from Dr. Bikman, in four days my blood pressure went from 159/99 down to 128/80; you can imagine how happy that made me, as I have been fighting this problem and its issues for many years.  My resting heart rate dropped as well from 65 bpm to 56 bpm.  I have always exercised, so I typically have a healthy heart rate.

Some of the simplified suggestions to go to insulin conductance, where you make the cells of your body happy by giving them a rest as they need it, he suggests for your diet: “Low carb; control proteins, and eat good fats.”   Our son, Nathan, who told me about Bikman’s book, has a good suggestion.  Have the carbs you like in one meal a day, and enjoy proteins and healthy fats for your other meals.  Nate, also suggest enjoy your sweet treats on the weekend with family and friends.  I enjoy my carbs!

Bikman has a whole chapter on the importance of exercise.  In America, the insulin resistance health problem is driven in large measure by our continual diet of high carbohydrates.  Most Americans are addicted to sweets.  Sugar is in most processed foods, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is found in almost all soft drinks as well as in a number of processed foods.

As Michael Pollan shares in his book,  Omnivore’s Dilemma, the liver doesn’t know what to do with HFCS and turns it into fat.  HFCS dulls the satiated sense.  This may be one of the main drivers for the obesity epidemic since most soft drinks use HFCS as a sweetener.  My wife and I avoid it like a plague when we are shopping.  HFCS is FDA-approved, but is a slow poison.  Sugar is a slow poison as well and contributes in a major way to the insulin resistance problem.

When constantly digesting foods such as sugary drinks, such as soda, juices, sports drinks, processed foods, and baked some goods, your blood sugars soar, your insulin spikes to counterbalance heavy blood sugars.   Any carbohydrates, like white rice, bread, and pasta can also cause insulin spikes.  Hence, the all too common disease “Insulin Resistance” from the improper diet and lack of exercise decisions in our prosperity!

Basically, all carbs get turned into glucose in our digestive process to provide the fuel our body needs, and insulin helps us use it in the right way when we are in a healthy insulin conduction mode (homeostasis).  Bikman shares in the several chapters of his groundbreaking book, Why We Get Sick, how different parts of the body become insulin resistant and how this major health problem ties to all of our major chronic diseases.  Then he shares what can be done about it.

An example is type 2 diabetes.  The medical community and those who have this disease typically measure the blood sugar with a glucometer or in a blood test.  If it is too high, they bring it down by injecting insulin.  What Bikman’s findings show is that injecting insulin is like “giving another glass of wine to an alcoholic.” Administering that moves them toward death, not life and many of the medical community have not learned this yet.

What is the Solution to This Problem?

Bikman’s insights show that the type 2 diabetes epidemic could be turned around and stopped by some straightforward lifestyle changes.  And his solution applies to a large degree with all the chronic diseases. It’s never too late to change your course and save your life, or at least prolong your life.  We live in the most exciting time in the history of the planet: enjoy the ride and look to Him who is over all, where we find peace, love, and joy, and not fear.

David W. Allan

PS   Following what I have learned from Dr. Bikman and over the years: I have one carb meal a day; the rest are controlled proteins and healthy fats.  The best choice is to have your carb meal be dinner and eat your proteins before the carbs, as the body better processes the carbs that way.  Avoid all vegetable oils, except for tropical oils like coconut oil, palm oil, and avocado oil, for example.  Many of these non-tropical oils are commonly used in processed foods and those foods should be avoided.   Avocados and most nuts are excellent foods and provide healthful fats.

The body naturally increases blood circulation to the stomach, etc. to bring about proper digestion.  Then exercise after carb consumption to burn the glucose is good.  The body converts carbohydrates into glucose in about 1-2 hours.  Eat fruits, don’t drink them, to get the bulk and maximum benefit the Lord designed; in the same light eat “whole foods” — not processed, preferably organic, and especially preferred if home grown and organic.  Be well hydrated.

Dr. Bikman suggests two tablespoons of apple-cider vinegar in a glass of water morning and night.  Our friend, Dr. Fred Bohman suggests to, “drink your food, and eat your drink.  Chew your food 29 times until it is liquid, and chew your drink so your saliva can mix well.”  Then the stomach and the pancreas best know how to process it.  The pancreas dumps different digestive juices depending on whether the food is carbs, protein, or fats.  ENJOY THE IDEAL MEAL!

Dr. Bikman has several talks on the internet.  I have listened to several.  The one he gave at Brickenridge, CO, is particularly interesting: Dr. Benjamin Bikman – ‘Insulin vs. Ketones – The Battle for Brown Fat’ – YouTube.

If a person has “insulin resistance,” this can be measured with a blood test, which can be done by those who have the facility — your doctor for example.   Such a test is not that convenient and costs money.  Dr. Bikman suggests a much simpler  test, “Ketones, in the context of insulin resistance, are most useful because they’re an inverse indicator of our insulin levels — they simply tell us how we’re doing keeping our insulin in check.” (p. 162 WWGS)  When we are in a healthy state of  ketosis, we breath out and urinate out ketones which can be measured easily with a ketometer — to know our state of ketosis.  This is the process of burning healthy fats.  I bought a meter for $38 that directly measures the ketones in my breath.  Now it is easy for me to know I am in a state of healthy insulin conductance — making all my cells happy.  I deeply appreciate Dr. Bikman’s enormous contributions.