Benjamin Bikman, professor of physiology and developmental biology, delivered the Forum address on Tuesday. He discussed “the plagues of prosperity” that result from insulin resistance and how we can overcome those problems to improve our health.
“We are sick,” Bikman said to introduce his topic of insulin resistance. Many common illnesses are caused or exacerbated by insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the most common disorder worldwide. It is central to hearts, brains and body fat.
One of the reasons insulin resistance is so common is because of incorrect perspective, Bikman shared. The focus in insulin resistance has become glucose rather than insulin. However, the connection to problems such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, migraines and body fat become more apparent as focus is redirected to insulin.
Understanding insulin and insulin resistance is not all negative, Bikman cautioned. “Just as our lifestyle is a cause of so many of our chronic diseases, it can also be the cure,” he said.
In order to control metabolic health, people must control insulin, which depends on diet. To do that, Bikman suggested adjusting macronutrients to favor sources of energy that have the smallest effect on insulin. He suggested three ways to favor those energy sources:
- Control carbohydrates. They dramatically elevate insulin, often for several hours.
- Prioritize protein. Protein increases insulin slightly over normal levels for a time.
- Stop fearing fat. Fat consumption has no effect on insulin.
To understand his advice about macronutrients, Bikman recommended following his process to conviction:
- Find out for yourself. Read scholarly articles and do your own research.
- Test what you learn. When you think you’ve found an ideal lifestyle to fight insulin resistance and its related complications, try it for a month.
- Be patient. It takes patience to endure the initial discomfort that comes with any change.
Bikman also cautioned that members of the LDS faith are not immune from the “plagues of prosperity,” or the chronic diseases that stem from insulin resistance. Members of the LDS faith have dietary guidance in the form of the Word of Wisdom, but that does not prevent them from eating foods that spike insulin.
“After all, how often do we gather, surrounding a table filled with ice cream and brownies, then offer a prayer of gratitude, including a supplication that the food ‘bless us with health and strength?’” he joked.
There is no such thing as a perfect Word of Wisdom diet, he warned. The only direct guidance given to members of the Church is the short list of habit-forming substances that modern prophets have outlined. Members should not judge each other’s interpretations, but they should examine the Word of Wisdom for the valuable information it can provide.
“We will certainly not be judged by our body size, but perhaps partly by how we treated our bodies,” Bikman concluded.
“May we appreciate that our bodies can be a tool to help us develop divine attributes that prepare us for eternal progression.”
Next Devotional: Lori Wadsworth, MPA program director and professor of public management
Lori Wadsworth, MPA program director and professor of public management, will deliver the next BYU Devotional on Tuesday, July 31, at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.