Many Diseases, One Cause

This short video is well worth your time, because in it Dr. Eric Berg outlines many diseases that are typically treated with different medications, but which have one significant underlying cause.

In Why We Get Sick, Dr. Ben Bikman also highlights the central role of insulin resistance in many of the diseases and conditions that are afflictions of affluence. To understand it better, read my review of his book and see a video featuring Dr. Bikman.

Here’s another analogy you might find helpful, which I first heard from Dr. Jason Fung:

If you drink alcohol, you eventually develop a tolerance, which means you need to consume more to get the same effect.

The same is essentially true for any drug, whether legal or not. That’s why people sometimes overdose on narcotics (opioid crisis ring a bell?), because as the amount they need to take to get the effect increases, eventually it approaches the toxic threshhold.

Insulin resistance originates in a similar way. By constantly eating throughout the day, especially carbohydrate-laden goodies, we keep our insulin levels high.

Insulin is a hormone that essentially acts like a drug, and just as we build up tolerance to the effects of drugs because of repeated exposure, a similar thing happens with insulin.

It takes more insulin to do the same work. We get resistant to the effects of insulin.

That’s why a low-carb, ketogenic diet is such a powerful tool, especially when combined with intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating.

Just as you can detox from a drug and undo tolerance, by eliminating the stimuli that cause you to overproduce insulin you can restore insulin sensitivity.

If you’d like to get started on reversing insulin resistance, reducing your intake of sugar, processed, refined carbohydrates and starchy foods is probably the most important thing you can do.

I’ll discuss a strategy that’s a close second in my next post.

To get these updates on a regular basis you can subscribe by email, or follow me on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, where I’ll also be posting links.

If you find this information helpful I hope you’ll share it on your social channels using the buttons below.

Five Reasons I Love My WGU MBA

Yesterday was a joyful occasion for Lisa and me, as I received notification that the final paper for my Capstone course had passed muster and that I have completed all program requirements for my Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from Western Governors University (WGU).

That this news came on the 21st anniversary of my first day working at Mayo Clinic made it even sweeter. I celebrated by playing a round of golf with my brother Mark and sons Jacob and Joe, and then we had a family cookout with steaks and brats.

I started the MBA program on Dec. 1, 2019 with no inkling of the upheaval that would be starting just a few months later. It was quite a journey, and in retrospect I can see lots of personal growth from the experience.

As a life-long learner who is interested in trying new things and always looking for ways to improve myself, I had been somewhat skeptical of formal education.

I have taken (probably inordinate) pride in how I’ve been able to advance with my highest degree being a B.S. in Political Science. I’ve also been able to count on a good laugh in my presentations as I note how B.S. and Political Science kind of go together.

I guess I will have to come up with a new joke.

Some of my previous reluctance to go for an MBA had related to costs, but the WGU model is an excellent value. Here are five reasons why I recommend it :

  1. Affordable tuition. For the MBA in Healthcare Management the tuition is $4,180 per six-month term, and a pace of three courses per term is the standard expectation for satisfactory academic progress. At that rate you can get the degree in four terms for a cost of around $17,000.
  2. Flat-rate tuition. If you complete more than three classes in a term, you pay no additional tuition! In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WGU extended our term by a month last year. As a result, I was able to finish seven courses in my first term, which enabled me to get done one term early, and with pro-rated tuition for the last term. It took 16 months altogether, including a two-month term break in July and August.
  3. Competency-based learning. To pass a course, you need a rating of either Competent or Exemplary in each of the learning objectives, as demonstrated by performance on objective exams, papers, presentations or a combination.
  4. Benefit from demonstrating what you already know. At age 57 and with 35 years of career experience, I was familiar with the subject matter for several of the courses. That’s what enabled me to finish some of them quickly, after reviewing the course materials and completing the assessments.
  5. Optional Lectures and Cohorts. For some courses it was helpful to have lecture recordings I could review, and I also participated in some live cohorts, but they’re not required. No one takes attendance. They’re strictly a resource to use if you find them helpful.

While I still strongly believe in lifelong self-motivated learning outside of formal education programs, I found the rigor and accountability of the WGU MBA a helpful stimulus to my growth. It made me do some projects I would never have considered if they weren’t part of the program.

My daughters Rebekah and Ruthie introduced me to WGU a few years ago, as they had found it a great way to get their B.S. in Nursing after having finished a community college R.N. program.

So consider this your WGU introduction. Lots of different programs are available, and if you’re looking to get a college or graduate degree, I highly recommend this option.

Weekend Watching: Explaining the Obesity Epidemic

The following video presentation by one of my Health Sherpas, Dr. Jason Fung, provides one of the most succinct explanations for why we have an epidemic of obesity in the United States, Canada and other western countries.

We knew the causes of obesity, and how to treat it, 150 years ago. For the next 100 years after that it wasn’t very common.

Fifty years ago hardly anyone went to the gym to work out, and only maniacs went running.

And yet obesity, at least by today’s standards, was non-existent.

Since then obesity has more than tripled, as has the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

This video explains how it happened.

We didn’t get fat because we were lazy or lacked willpower.

We didn’t get fat because we failed to follow the experts’ dietary advice.

We got fat because we did follow their advice.

If you’re like me, learning this will probably make you at least a little bit angry.

We’ve been part of a giant dietary experiment for the last 50 years, with little evidence to support the official government recommendations.

Since then, the evidence against the dietary guidelines has been piling up.

Dr. Fung cites the studies and brings the evidence.

You need to watch this:

By doing essentially the opposite of the U.S. dietary guidelines, my wife Lisa and I have reclaimed our health. I’m 60 lbs. lighter than I was at my peak, and Lisa’s down at least 50 lbs.

On May 19, 2020 I weighed in at 208.8 lbs, my first time below my goal weight of 210, and the least I had weighed since President Reagan’s first term.

I’ve been below my goal weight for more than 10 months, and this morning I was at 204.6.

And yet the “experts” tell us that sustained weight loss isn’t achievable.

That all diets eventually fail.

That’s as wrong as the dietary advice that got us into this problem in the first place.

Lisa and I are living proof that a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet can lead to sustained weight loss, and Rebecca Williams has had a similar experience. John Bishop has made most of his progress with intermittent fasting, and he’s experimenting with low-carb now, too.

Through sharing our stories online, we’ve helped others get started on their journeys too.

My point (and Dr. Fung’s): If you’re struggling with overweight or obesity, it isn’t because you’re lazy or lack willpower.

We didn’t overcome our weight issues because of our superior virtue or willpower.

We learned some basic lessons about metabolism that made losing weight a lot easier. You can read all about it through the posts on My Health Journey.

If you’re at least a little interested in how you might be able to do this, too, check out my #BodyBabySteps page, where I’ve mapped out the shortcuts I would take if I were starting this over again.

Or if I were you.

If you scrolled past it without hitting play, I hope you’ll at least take time now to watch the video of Dr. Fung.

From a health perspective, it would be among the best investments of your time I can imagine.

To get these updates on a regular basis you can subscribe by email, or follow me on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, where I’ll also be posting links.

If you find this information helpful I hope you’ll share it on your social channels using the buttons below.

Start the #3DayCancerPreventionFast in Ketosis

Yesterday I shared the results of my #3DayCancerPreventionFast that allowed coffee with a bit of cream, as compared with a previous water-only version of the same fast.

Despite having two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream in my morning coffee, twice each day, I achieved 27 hours of Glucose Ketone Index (GKI) <1, and at least 85 hours of GKI<3.

Results were close to what I did with water-only, and my different exercise pattern explained some of the lag in getting to my GKI targets.

My wife Lisa did the same fast, and her results were even better:

She had GKI<1, the highest therapeutic level, for 60 hours, and has had GKI<3 for about 100 hours as I write this.

As my daughter-in-law would say, Lisa smashed my face!

Note also the significant difference between her results on the coffee and cream version of the fast as compared with the water only.

Some key observations:

  • Her GKI was much higher at the start of the water-only fast. This was because her last meal before that fast was taco salad with chips, along with two cinnamon rolls with frosting.
  • In the coffee and cream fast, by contrast, she was in nutritional ketosis from the start, and was below 3 on the GKI at just 16 hours, a full 10 yours earlier than on the water fast. She reached GKI<1 at 25 hours, almost a full day ahead of what she had done in January on the water-only fast.
  • The big lesson here is that coming into a fast already in ketosis dramatically improves the results, to the point that even with up to four tablespoons of cream per day her readings were far better than those when she started a water-only fast from a high-carb state.

Importantly, we supplemented magnesium and sea salt daily throughout the fast to keep electrolytes in balance, and broke the fast with a small meal of scrambled eggs, bacon, cream cheese and guacamole to prevent refeeding syndrome.

Lisa and I both found this fast immeasurably easier than a water-only fast, both because of the taste of cream and also because we didn’t get the caffeine-withdrawal headaches.

We may try a black-coffee version of the fast sometime, but with results like this that are relatively easy I think including a little cream will be our standard practice for the preventive fasting.

Check out My Health Journey for the full story of our health improvements, and my #BodyBabySteps for an approach to how I would do it if I were starting today, based on what I’ve learned.

To get these updates on a regular basis you can subscribe by email, or follow me on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, where I’ll also be posting links.

If you find this information helpful I hope you’ll share it on your social channels using the buttons below.

#3DayCancerPreventionFast: Water-Only vs. Coffee with Cream

I have undertaken several extended fasts for cancer prevention, and in January Lisa joined me for our first joint #3DayCancerPreventionFast.

Because we wanted to ensure that we were reaching the optimal therapeutic level of ketosis, we did a water-only fast that first time.

To gauge the fast’s effectiveness, we took blood glucose and ketone measurements several times each day using our Keto-Mojo meters, which provided a Glucose Ketone Index (GKI) score.

On a Standard American Diet (SAD), ketones are essentially nonexistent because glucose levels are high, and therefore insulin levels also are elevated. The liver produces ketones from fatty acids in the bloodstream, but this only happens when insulin levels are low enough to allow fat cells to release the fatty acids.

Professor Thomas Seyfried developed the GKI score to compare the levels of glucose and ketones in the bloodstream. A GKI less than 3 is considered a high level of therapeutic ketosis, while the highest level is <1, which is what Seyfried seeks to achieve in studies treating cancer patients.

Since Lisa and I are seeking to prevent cancer instead of treating it, we decided to set two GKI targets on our #3DayCancerPreventionFast:

  • At least 72 hours with GKI<3 (High Level)
  • At least 24 hours with GKI<1 (Highest Level)

In our January water-only fast we easily met those goals, as I had 44 hours of GKI below 1 and more than 70 hours below 3.

Lisa and I completed another three-day fast on Tuesday, but this time we allowed ourselves coffee with two tablespoons of cream, twice per day.

If we could make this accommodation while still reaching our GKI targets, this would make our monthly three-day fast much easier.

Here’s a graph of my GKI values for the water-only fast (blue line) as compared with the coffee + cream fast (green line):

One additional difference between the two fasts is that the first time I did an intense cardiovascular workout at about the 18-hour mark, while for the second I ran two miles when I was 26 hours in to the fast.

Both had the effect of raising blood sugar levels in the short term, breaking down liver glycogen in the first instance and through gluconeogenesis in the second, while also burning some of the ketones I was already generating.

Because I burned the ketones during my run they were no longer in my bloodstream, which temporarily boosted my GKI. This meant that in the second fast I was delayed by about 7 hours in getting below 3 GKI.

Still, I reached a GKI of 3 at the 36-hour mark, and stayed well below it for the next 64 hours. (In fact, my GKI this morning was 1.5, so I’ve had 76 hours so far in high-level therapeutic ketosis, and I had 27 hours below 1.)

Here’s a comparison of my ketone levels over the course of both fasts. Another key difference is that this time I went into the fast with higher ketone levels.

Three Lessons and a Caveat:

  • Lessson 1: It’s good to start a fast already in dietary ketosis. For this week’s fast I was at GKI of 4, while I was at 15.3 when I started the water-only fast in January.
  • Lesson 2: Intense cardio the morning after beginning a fast is better than doing it later in the afternoon. It burns through liver glycogen and accelerates progress of the fast.
  • Lesson 3: Starting in ketosis and having a small amount of cream with coffee made this fast pretty easy. I really wasn’t very hungry, and I didn’t have caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
  • Caveat: I don’t know that GKI<1 for 24 hours and GKI<3 for 72 hours are the right targets. Given the purpose of our fast, to accelerate autophagy in healthy cells and to put serious stress on (and hopefully kill) any cancer cells by depriving them of glucose, those seem reasonable to me. If you think different targets are appropriate, I’d like to hear your reasons in the comments below.

What’s next? When we do this again in April, I will plan to be sure I’m well into dietary ketosis as I’m starting the fast, and will do the intense cardio exercise early on the first morning.

Tomorrow I’ll share Lisa’s experiences in the two versions of the #3DayCancerPreventionFast.

To get these updates on a regular basis you can subscribe by email, or follow me on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, where I’ll also be posting links.

Check out My Health Journey for the full story of our health improvements, and my #BodyBabySteps for an approach to how I would do it if I were starting today, based on what I’ve learned.