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Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease—and How to Fight It

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A scientist reveals the groundbreaking evidence linking many major diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, to a common root cause—insulin resistance—and shares an easy, effective plan to reverse and prevent it. We are sick. Around the world, we struggle with diseases that were once considered rare. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and d A scientist reveals the groundbreaking evidence linking many major diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, to a common root cause—insulin resistance—and shares an easy, effective plan to reverse and prevent it. 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, 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.


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A scientist reveals the groundbreaking evidence linking many major diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, to a common root cause—insulin resistance—and shares an easy, effective plan to reverse and prevent it. We are sick. Around the world, we struggle with diseases that were once considered rare. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and d A scientist reveals the groundbreaking evidence linking many major diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, to a common root cause—insulin resistance—and shares an easy, effective plan to reverse and prevent it. 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, 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.

30 review for Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease—and How to Fight It

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    Reading health books these days is a lot like going to other people's churches -- every author is convinced that they alone know the true path, that everyone else is wrong, and that they've discovered the key to eternity. I honestly didn't know what to expect when I requested this book but it comes down to insulin resistance here. The author is an associate professor at Brigham Young University with a Ph.D. in Bioenergetics. His fascination is with insulin, and he is one of those authors who rem Reading health books these days is a lot like going to other people's churches -- every author is convinced that they alone know the true path, that everyone else is wrong, and that they've discovered the key to eternity. I honestly didn't know what to expect when I requested this book but it comes down to insulin resistance here. The author is an associate professor at Brigham Young University with a Ph.D. in Bioenergetics. His fascination is with insulin, and he is one of those authors who reminds you of Maslow's instrument, when all you have is a hammer so every problem looks like a nail. Early on, as I began reading that just about every cause of death other than being struck by lightning was caused by secret insulin resistance (even if you are not diabetic), I began cringing and thinking I really hoped this wasn't going to turn into just a keto book. It did. Other than a few nods to things like getting regular exercise (especially resistance exercise) and avoiding some kinds of fats like seed oils, it pretty much turned into a "carbs will kill you" book. Every time I read one of these books I have to stop and think about the many people who historically have the longest lives on earth, who inconveniently have diets very high in foods like white rice and vegetables. Bikman does say that modern problems have made us more vulnerable to insulin, such as air pollution and BPA, but it still just doesn't quite add up to me. That is not to say that I don't appreciate the many ways that a keto diet can be invaluable for some health conditions, especially childhood epilepsy, which is what the Mayo Clinic designed it to treat a hundred years ago, among others. But it's just never that easy to declare there's one lifelong dietary path that will save you and any others will doom you. I myself turned around debilitating CFS (I was so weak that I was unable to stand up long enough to brush my teeth), chronic migraines and a blood-related autoimmune disorder 20 years ago by using a vegan diet and then moving on to a whole foods, mostly plant-based and mostly organic diet (with lots of indulgences and no strict rules) that has kept me in remission and med-free. The cliff notes version of Bikman's recommendations are to test your insulin levels but to pretty much assume you have insulin resistance if you have more weight than you'd like around your belly, skin tags, or a number of other common maladies. He then recommends regular exercise and a keto-like diet (he says you don't need to go into ketosis, just avoid carbs) with mostly fat (NOT from conventionally raised animals or you're doomed), some protein (ditto) and few carbs (the good kinds). He says he is not convinced that fiber matters at all. He also says that sleep is important but you may have a mutation that means you need far less than you think (like 5 hours). The vast majority of the book is spent convincing you that insulin resistance is the cause of just about every modern illness -- Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Then there is a shorter section of how to reverse it. Keep in mind that if you subscribe to his advice, you must avoid conventionally raised animal products and "bad fats" along with most carbs and alcohol. I have to admit that that's less appealing to me than the latest dietary church I wandered into -- this guy, a pig farmer devoted to paleo and keto who couldn't lose his spare tire until he created his croissant and red wine diet. No, I'm not serious, but you have to admit it would be fun. 😉 All in all, this is an interesting read and good to weigh against the many others out there. He offers advice for vegetarians and vegans too, instead of insisting that you need animal products (though he says it can be harder). Some of this is good basic advice for anybody, and if it matches your own beliefs or you are interested in going keto the book will be a great tool. I read a digital ARC of this book for review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Flora

    The first important thing to note is that Ben Bikman based his book on a vast amount of peer-reviewed research and studies - not on his own whims and fancies. The second thing is that he is not trying to sell you any supplements or expensive consultation programmes. You can also be fairly sure that he’s not being funded by any of the big industries. What’s more - he is an expert on insulin resistance, being a biomedical professor who had earlier on stumbled upon the fact that insulin seems to be The first important thing to note is that Ben Bikman based his book on a vast amount of peer-reviewed research and studies - not on his own whims and fancies. The second thing is that he is not trying to sell you any supplements or expensive consultation programmes. You can also be fairly sure that he’s not being funded by any of the big industries. What’s more - he is an expert on insulin resistance, being a biomedical professor who had earlier on stumbled upon the fact that insulin seems to be the one common factor in almost every chronic disease that we are facing today. I am convinced that this book has the potential to change the health and lives of countless people if they would just follow the simple suggestions that he has towards the end of the book, Why we get sick is immensely well-written and easy to understand. I hope every doctor or doctor-to-be would read it so that they can make real improvements in the health outcomes of their patients instead of endlessly supplying medications that often do not ultimately have a positive impact. Everyone who experience chronic illnesses or want to prevent them should also pick up this life-saving book. Highly recommended. Thank you NetGalley and Benbella for the ARC. This is my honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pap Lőrinc

    Insulin was long regarded as the hormone only diabetics should care about - this book takes a more holistic approach of insulin's effect on the brain, the muscles and the cells in general. It's a very technical and very theoretical book - recommendations and "solutions" are only at the very end. It presents the problem in great detail before attempting to give advice. I loved the explanations of why muscle mass is not only an aesthetics consideration (it regulates glucose metabolism without insuli Insulin was long regarded as the hormone only diabetics should care about - this book takes a more holistic approach of insulin's effect on the brain, the muscles and the cells in general. It's a very technical and very theoretical book - recommendations and "solutions" are only at the very end. It presents the problem in great detail before attempting to give advice. I loved the explanations of why muscle mass is not only an aesthetics consideration (it regulates glucose metabolism without insulin involvement), the practical difference between aerobic cardio vs anaerobic resistance training (the latter is better, but only if you're willing to do it), the timing of meals regarding hormone levels (fast for longer periods for the body to rest and become insulin sensitive again) and the effect of synchronous macro digestions to mimic real food ratios (fats + protein are often found together, but rarely contain high carb levels as well). He mentions the effects of salt (some people are sensitive, other can consume it freely), that carbs shouldn't be drunk (since the fibers are usually missing, which would dampen the insulin spike) and that blood pressure should go down once insulin levels are in order. Good general introduction to nutrition, based on evolution and latest researches, ignoring the poor confusing studies done over the past decades that caused all this havoc.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy Maddess

    I was a little disappointed that the mystery of premise was dashed on the first page and ended up DNF’ing this one. I guess this is a case of having a certain set of expectations for the books and having it turn out different, as opposed to not liking the book for what it is. If I had know that this was a 200 page discussion on insulin, I would have picked it up when I was in the mood to read two hundred pages about insulin. However, I thought that this was going to discuss some precursors to ge I was a little disappointed that the mystery of premise was dashed on the first page and ended up DNF’ing this one. I guess this is a case of having a certain set of expectations for the books and having it turn out different, as opposed to not liking the book for what it is. If I had know that this was a 200 page discussion on insulin, I would have picked it up when I was in the mood to read two hundred pages about insulin. However, I thought that this was going to discuss some precursors to getting sick that we neglect such as stress, diet and sleep, and look into the mystery that is mass sickness. It’s disappointing that the title and premise tried to cover this much, because I think many people would happily read this if the title openly admitted that it was strictly about insulin.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kareena

    Personally, I had thought this would be with regards to infectious diseases (my specialty, given that I am an infectious disease epidemiologist). I was wholly disappointed when I began reading that it was about insulin resistance. Overall, having a background in biology, healthcare and public health I thought that this would be the book for me. Little did I know how intricate and in depth this book would go, exploring the possibility of insulin resistance having an impact on a wide variety of hea Personally, I had thought this would be with regards to infectious diseases (my specialty, given that I am an infectious disease epidemiologist). I was wholly disappointed when I began reading that it was about insulin resistance. Overall, having a background in biology, healthcare and public health I thought that this would be the book for me. Little did I know how intricate and in depth this book would go, exploring the possibility of insulin resistance having an impact on a wide variety of health outcomes. As many know, insulin (if resistant or not) does have a huge impact on health outcomes, and this factor of resistance is played out here a lot. I had previously known of insulin resistance but honestly never thought too much of it. I found this to read more as a textbook than a story, and I did not find it as easily digestible in this format. Overall, this novel was well studied and has a lot of factual information for an individual who is interested in the topic of insulin resistance. If an individual is concerned that they might have insulin resistance, there are some useful tips in the novel; however, I would always recommend speaking to a healthcare professional about your concerns before trying any of these interventions or lifestyle changes. A big thank you to NetGalley for the ARC e-book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lael Walters

    This book was chock full of science. I loved that! It is definitely a book I will want to read again to process. You can definitely tell the author is a scientist -- which brings me to my one con - the book is also typical of those written by a scientist in that the recommendations are too loosy goosy. Books written by medical doctors tend to be very specific -- do this, not that. Books written by a scientist tend to try to cover all the possibilities -- some people will react like this, others This book was chock full of science. I loved that! It is definitely a book I will want to read again to process. You can definitely tell the author is a scientist -- which brings me to my one con - the book is also typical of those written by a scientist in that the recommendations are too loosy goosy. Books written by medical doctors tend to be very specific -- do this, not that. Books written by a scientist tend to try to cover all the possibilities -- some people will react like this, others like that -- which is great, I completely agree with it -- but I think would be hard to implement if I hadn't already read other books with similar (but more specific) advice. But if you're looking for science, this is the book for you.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    This book was fascinating, as I hadn't realized insulin resistance could have such an impact on the health of people. The author focused his point on peer-reviewed research and his own experience as a leading expert in his field. This read well, as it didn't feel like I was reading a medical journal and the message the author was writing about is one people need to know more about.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fahad

    Great book If you had to read just one book on general health, I'd recommend this book. While Comprehensive and detailed, it's easy and fun to read. And most importantly being helpful, potentially life-changing. Thanks doctor for this book. And as an Arab, surely this book will be translated (hopefully soon). The insulin resistance topic is getting attention but solutions presented to public are still subpart. This book is surely a big stepping stone to tackling this life threatening condition.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ava Price

    So much information about so many ills of mankind The language and information was very clear and understandable. It gives hope that you can restore your health or keep your health good by following these principles. Much of the information goes counter to what we have been told for 30 years about health, but we have only gotten sicker and fatter following that advice. I had a really hard time putting this book down! I would recommend this to anyone who wants to maintain health and mental functio So much information about so many ills of mankind The language and information was very clear and understandable. It gives hope that you can restore your health or keep your health good by following these principles. Much of the information goes counter to what we have been told for 30 years about health, but we have only gotten sicker and fatter following that advice. I had a really hard time putting this book down! I would recommend this to anyone who wants to maintain health and mental function into old age.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alex Nathanson

    The author makes a strong argument to support the harmful role of insulin resistance as a major factor in the majority of modern chronic diseases. Much of the evidence that he presents is convincing. The book is information dense but still accessible and a quick read. Even readers like myself who think that they have familiarity with the subject could still learn a valuable detail or two.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jill Bowman

    Good book. Lots of great information about insulin resistance: what causes it, how to tell if you have it (probably yes), what to do to change it. I’ve followed Ben Bikman for a few years and already knew most of what is in here - but how wonderful to be able to hold all this information in my hand - and to loan it out to people who MIGHT listen!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alphas Only Please

    Really informative. I have a lot of cancer in my family and some other conditions, and I found this informative and easy to read. Definitely recommend it for a book on health.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Thompson

    Brilliant!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Crăciunoiu

  15. 5 out of 5

    SZ

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rozina D. Smith

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary Beesley Jolley

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donny Lang

  21. 5 out of 5

    Danny

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

  23. 4 out of 5

    Parcalabu Laurentiu

  24. 4 out of 5

    Miss E Wagster

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fatima

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mol

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan Howard

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lams

  29. 4 out of 5

    Claire Schulz

  30. 4 out of 5

    Victor

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