Ep. 139 – Hyperinsulinemia: What You Should Know About This National Health Crisis with Dr. Ken Berry

Your trusted source for nutrition, wellness, and mindset for thriving health.

We are delighted and excited to welcome Dr. Ken Berry back as our guest. He is a board-certified family medicine physician based in Tennessee, and he has dedicated his practice to fighting to end the epidemics of chronic disease caused by hyperinsulinemia. Dr. Berry was one of our favorite guests from 2020, and we brought him back on the show because it is the start of a new year, and we would like to get a fresh perspective on how to get back on track. Today, he will be speaking to us about the recent USDA dietary guidelines, weight-loss stalls, and sugar addiction.

Ken Berry is a certified physician, an Amazon Best Selling Author, and a passionate advocate of health on his YouTube channel where he has over one million subscribers. Along with his online presence, he is active in his community of Camden Tennessee where he has been practicing at The Berry Clinic since 2003. Dr. Berry is known for his direct, no-nonsense approach to health and wellness. After signing with Victory Belt Publishing House this year, Dr. Berry just released the second edition of his best-selling book Lies My Doctor Told Me. He is also writing his second book called Common Sense Keto for Type II Diabetes. He looks forward to working with the real people of the world in continuing his mission to bring an end to the obesity and Type II diabetes epidemics, along with bringing awareness to such issues as thyroid health and hormone optimization. Be sure to listen in today to find out what Dr. Ken has to share about fighting hyperinsulinemia with a proper diet.

“The billion-dollar multinational corporations that sell us this highly ultra-processed food already know it’s not healthy, and it promotes insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, obesity, fatty liver, type two diabetes, and pre-diabetes.”

Dr. Ken Berry


  • Dr. Berry talks about the influence of the major food and beverage companies on the USDA dietary guidelines.
  • How the big food corporations are taking advantage of our evolutionarily passed-on craving for sweetness.
  • Why people are struggling with losing weight.
  • Reclaiming control over your diet is a powerful step that can open many doors for you.
  • Some people become more easily addicted than others to various things, including sweetness. That’s why you need to be honest with yourself if you think you have a problem.
  • A national health crisis is evident due to the vast number of adults in the US who have at least one metabolic syndrome marker.
  • There is a lot of value in using a CGM to monitor your blood sugar, to see your response to specific macronutrients.
  • The kind of damage you cause to your body when your blood sugar spikes above 140.
  • Dr. Berry shares his thoughts about various supplements, like Berberine and Chromium.
  • Dr. Berry defines a proper human diet.
  • A nutritional suggestion for those who don’t have much access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Dr. Berry discusses his position on sleep and stress.
  • What Dr. Berry will be focusing on in 2021. 

Connect with Ken

On YouTube       

On Facebook

On Twitter

Follow Dr. Berry on his rediscovery of the proper human diet. He goes live on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, every Monday at 7 pm central standard time. 

Books mentioned:

Sugar Fat Salt by Michael Moss

Sacred Cow by Diana Rodgers and Robb Wolf

Connect with Cynthia Thurlow

About Everyday Wellness Podcast

Welcome to the Everyday Wellness podcast with Cynthia Thurlow! Cynthia is a mom of 2 boys, wife, nurse practitioner, and intermittent fasting and nutrition expert. She has over 20 years experience in emergency medicine and cardiology, but pivoted to focus on food as medicine. She loves to share science-backed practical information to improve your overall well being and is grateful to be interviewing leaders in the health and wellness field.  Her goal with Everyday Wellness is to help her listeners make simple changes to their everyday lives that will result in improved overall wellness and long term health.   


Presenter: This is Everyday Wellness, a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve your health and wellness goals and provide practical strategies that you can use in your real life. And now here’s your host Nurse Practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow.

Cynthia: Well, today, I’m really excited to have Dr. Berry back. He is a Family Medicine Physician based out of Tennessee, we’ve had him on before, he was absolutely one of our favorite guests from 2020. I brought him back because it’s the start of a new year, and I just feel like with all things that have gone on in the world in the past year that it would really be nice to start fresh and get some perspectives on how to get back on track if you’ve gotten off track. So, welcome this morning. Thanks for carving time out of your busy schedule.

Ken: Thanks so much for having me. It’s pleasure to be back.

Cynthia: Did you and your family have a nice holiday season?

Ken: Yeah, we had a nice, small legal gathering of family and had a really good time. The focus was really more on just hanging out bonding, catching up. We always try to minimize the gift giving and all that kind of stuff, and just really focus on the family over the holidays and we did that and it was great. Would have been nice to go somewhere over the holidays, but hey, there’s always 2021, and we can all just try to forget the year that shall not be named.

Cynthia: Yes, no kidding. It’s funny someone on social media posted a meme and it said, “I’ve done the seven-day subscription for 2021 and I’d like my money back.” So, I think much of the point, 2021 is starting out with a lot of excitement, but one of the things I thought might be interesting and for listeners, they may or may not realize this, when we’re talking about nutritional dietary guidelines here in the United States, I was doing a little bit of research last night. I found it really interesting that the whole concept of the Food Guide Pyramid really started in 1984. There may be people listening who weren’t aware of what was going on in the world in 1984, but I was certainly a teenager and I know, Ken was as well, and thinking about what’s evolved from there that we went from this Food Guide Pyramid to MyPlate in 2011.

Then, now, every five years, the USDA comes out with these new guidelines. So, I thought it might be important to kind of before we dive into what these new guidelines were just briefly talk about the influence of the major food and beverage companies on these guidelines that there’s a very close tie in between money, and power, and politics as it applies to this. So, I was looking at some of the major food companies and what they spend, their ad spent in lobbying money. So, Coca-Cola $8.6 million per year, the meat industry, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but $4.58 million a year. But the processed food industry as a whole is over almost $19 million a year spent on lobbying. You better believe that these companies have largely influenced the guidelines that are available to Americans.

There’s– especially, as we evolve as a nation, and we have escalating rates of obesity, and we’re starting to see diabetes and fatty liver disease even in children and perhaps they made some improvements on the, when I sayimprovements, small incremental improvements, there’s a reduction in added sugars, real focus on children recognizing that childhood obesity is becoming problematic, but they’re still focused on saturated fat being limited, and sodium being limited, and then they mentioned limiting alcohol, which I guess that’s a good thing. But what were your thoughts when you saw that? Do you feel like we’re– It is maybe taking one teeny-tiny step forward?

Ken: Yeah, it is a teeny-tiny step forward because they did address the issue of added sugar for very young children, which I think is vital to address, but then proceeded to ignore all the other nutrition issues that are vital for optimal human growth development function and when I say function, I always mean physical and mental function. It’s very important. The mental often gets left out. It’s obvious from the way the working group was set up and they actually have now admitted that they were not in charge of their agenda, the USDA, they set the agenda. So, even if this working group, this committee had wanted to say, “Hey, let’s really look at the low carb literature” of which there are now hundreds of articles, peer reviewed articles published showing the benefits and the advantage to eating a low carb diet. They couldn’t have taken up that subject because their agenda was set in Washington and obviously if they tried to deviate from that they would have been relieved of duty.

I think some of the blame does lie with the working group. But ultimately the blame lies further up the chain of command as often it does. There is a huge worldwide movement against eating meat. So, you can’t really blame the big meat, if you want to call it that for spending millions of dollars in lobbying in ads, because they are under active literal attack. So, you can’t really blame them. But when you start wondering why Kellogg’s, and Kraft, and Post, and General Mills, and Coke, and Pepsi, why are they spending all these millions lobbying the federal government if they know that their product is safe and healthy, and people obviously love it, right? So, why would they spend that money unless they’d either discovered in their research or have always known that their product is not safe and is not healthy for human consumption? Ultimately, the actions of any big corporation, it legally has to be to the shareholders and to the profits into the stock price. That’s what the board of directors’ work, that’s who they work for, that’s their boss.

If just like back in the 90s, when it was obvious, big tobacco, they knew nicotine was habit forming, they knew that smoking cigarettes cause cancer or increase your risk of developing cancer. They knew this and they had the research, but they didn’t talk about that. Just like they knew that I suspect that the big food, the billion-dollar multinational corporations that sell us this highly ultra-processed food, I think they know this. I think they already know it’s not healthy. It promotes insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, obesity, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes. I think their scientists are well aware of this and I think they probably have the reports. It’d be interesting what a Freedom of Information Act or a subpoena might uncover in their documentation. Wouldn’t that be interesting? So, if you’re a corporation like that, then sure you’re going to spend millions of dollars every year lobbying the federal government saying, “Hey, let’s not talk about that. Let’s focus on other things.”

Cynthia: Absolutely. Well, and I think about a book in particular that I feel like really shifted my perspective as a clinician and human being was Salt Sugar Fat For anyone that hasn’t read that book, it’s an exposé on the processed food industry. So, there are food scientists that their job is to make the foods as addictive as possible. There’s this bliss point, you know, they bring in study groups to determine at what point do people find the substance, whether it’s soda or gosh, some type of new chip, at what point is it truly irresistible. So, you really are at a loss for an ability to not have a desire to continue eating this processed garbage. So, I thought that was really very telling and you know– [crosstalk]

Ken: I think, that’s an excellent book. I’ve listened to it twice on Audible, it’s very good. The author is a little bit behind on the research, but very good book overall. The author really tries to tie the combination of fat and sugar together as, and that is, in fact, the bliss point. The reason humans crave fat is because there are essential fatty acids we absolutely need or we’ll get sick, will suffer, will die ultimately. But there is no essential carbohydrate, no essential starch, no essential sugar. So, when we look and most of all the addiction research has been done in rodents, mice and rats. They can absolutely get rodents addicted to sugar, but also they can get rodents addicted to sweet tastes. So, we can even be non-nutritive sweeteners. They can be saccharin, and the research hasn’t been done on the keto or low carb approved sweeteners. But I suspect that they’re just as habit forming because it’s actually, evolutionarily past on crave for sweetness. Because we need that sweetness in the fall when the fruits ripe and the berries ripe. We need to put on five or 10 pounds of fat. So, we don’t starve to death over the winter.

The big food corporations are taking advantage of that. They know that we have an instinctual drive to eat fat because we need fatty acids. Then we have this instinctual drive to seek out sweet tastes so that we can put on weight for the coming winter and don’t starve to death, and that way we can continue to propagate species. So, the rodent research is very interesting because never has there been a rodent study done that says, “Man, look, when you give these rats access to cocaine or to saturated fat from beef tallow, or bacon grease, or coconut oil, or avocado.” There’s not a single study that shows that you can get rats addicted to fat. No, they love it, they’ll eat it, but you cannot get them to the point where they’ll push the bacon grease lever more than they push the cocaine lever. I’ve never seen a study In rodents. But you can absolutely addict a rat to sugar or saccharin, or in my opinion any sweetener, and they’ll wind up pushing the sweet lever more than they push the cocaine lever.

When this author talks about the fat and sugar together, I think it muddies the water. Because ultimately what you can become addicted to is the sweet taste of any sweetener and highly processed carbohydrates which the more you process them, the more they just become pure sugar. The bliss point is, I wish every American knew about the bliss point. The millions of dollars that the big food manufacturers have spent with food scientists, nutrition scientists, biologists figuring out what’s the perfect blend of salt, sugar, and fat so that essentially, they hack into your biological software. They hack it, basically they put a virus into your code and it just knocks people off the rails, and they wind up living on sweets, and potato chips, and soda because that causes a spike in dopamine and maybe even oxytocin because of this wiring that the big food manufacturers have basically hijacked.

Cynthia: I think it’s really profoundly powerful for people to understand this biochemical process that happens in our brains, in our bodies is a direct result of the consumption of these highly palatable, highly processed foods. Much to your point, I think that whether it’s keto or the paleo community, people will say, “Well, I’m going to have monk fruit or I’m going to have [unintelligible [00:11:38], or I’m going to have stevia because it’s considered to be clean and I get that. There’s a desire to find a cleaner option. But you know, a rose by any other rose is still a rose. So, I like to remind people that whether it’s a keto fat bomb, or 15 scoops of sugar sweetened almond butter, too much of any one thing is not beneficial. I think that the key thing when people are looking at macros is satiety. So, with protein and with fat you can hit this satiety point where you’re just you’re full. You’re like, “I don’t want more food because I’m too full.” But that never happens with carbohydrates. That in and of itself is a huge problem.

Now, one thing that I’ve come to realize after years of working with patients, and now with clients that weight loss, that’s oftentimes the focus at the beginning of a new year, it’s like I’m going to clean up all my bad habits and I’m going to finally get this 5, 10, 15, 20 plus pounds off. I would imagine that you have gotten quite savvy in this area because of your own patients’ struggles and their own concerns. Let’s pivot a little bit and let’s talk about some of the reasons why people can get stuck. So, obviously, dietary input is a huge component of it. I would say it all starts with food, but what are some of the other pieces of the puzzle that could be contributing to why men or women are really struggling with losing weight?

Ken: Well, we’re living through a very trying time. To pretend that this is the worst time in human history, I think, is probably foolish. We’ve been through some catastrophes in our history on this planet. But anytime you’re under stress, you’re always looking for some release, and you’re looking for that dopamine hit, and that oxytocin hit to make you feel better or to make you feel less bad depending. Many of the avenues of positive reinforcement have currently been cut off to the majority of humanity. You can’t go to a family reunion with 200 or 300 of your family members. You can’t go to a conference with all your colleagues and your peers. You can’t do any of those things. I think a lot of people, you’re basically stuck in the house and attached to every house is a kitchen, and in every kitchen is a pantry and a fridge. Eating is absolutely not a bad behavior and that’s one of the many things that people get so confused on. Every time they eat, they beat themselves up. They’re like “I’m a glutton, I’m a bad person, I’m weak.”

Eating is physiologically, that is a normal behavior. That’s a good behavior that you should never be ashamed of eating or feel guilty that you ate. It all comes down to what it is that you just consume. That’s where it lies. Knowing from these rodent models that sugar and other sweeteners are just as addictive, literally, just as addictive as cocaine to rodents. Maybe I hope I said this earlier, but let me say, we have never found a substance that’s addictive in rodents, that is also not addictive in humans. A lot of times the rodent models, they get poo-poo, right? Because they’re like, “Well, that’s a rat. I’m not a rat, I’m a human.” That’s a valid argument in some cases. But in this case, we have never found a single substance that rats become addicted and exhibit addictive behavior to, that isn’t also addictive in human beings. That’s alcohol, nicotine, the illicit drugs, and then sugar or sweet taste.

When people are basically imprisoned from all these other positive outlets that raise your dopamine, raise your oxytocin, being with family, being with friends, hugs and kisses, going to the gym without feeling like you’re under house arrest that sort of thing. A lot of people find the wrong outlet because you can get that dopamine hit. You can get it from cocaine, you can get it from alcohol, you can get it from the other drugs, but you can also get it from sugar and sweet tasting things. I’ll make a confession right here on your show. Over the holidays, my wife, Neisha and our good friend, Melissa, they’re both excellent cooks and bakers, and they made lots of keto treats, lots of keto cakes and pies, and cookies, and fat bombs, and nut clusters, and I indulged more than I should. I’ll be the first to stand in front of the mirror or stand before the public and say, I am a sugar addict, there is no doubt about that. Even with the keto-approved sweeteners, the paleo low carb-approved sweeteners, even now, well into January, it’s still calling to me. I’m like, “I wonder if there’s any of those fat bombs left. Is there other any of those nut clusters?”

A couple of days ago, Neisha and I had to go through the kitchen, the refrigerator, the pantry, and we threw it all in the garbage. Because if it’s in the house under these conditions, I’m going to eat it. I’m going to try not to eat it, but ultimately, I’m going to fail and I’m going to eat it. For me, my weakest time is usually in the evening and so, typically when I’m eating clean for weeks and weeks or months and months at a time, I’m never even hungry in the evening, just not at all. But after just a few days of the low carb, keto sweets and treats, oh, yeah. Last evening, I was like, “Do we have any of that?” She’s like, “Look, you understand this is the monkey on your back talking.” I’m like, “Damn it. Yeah, you’re right. No, you’re right. I’m not really hungry. I’m just craving those sweets.” So, I’m going to have to go through a few days of having zero sweetener in my diet, and then it’ll be effortless again. Once I break that little addictive cycle that was starting– I was starting to reinforce again over the holidays, I’ll be fine, and I’ll never even give a second thought to eating anything or drinking anything with a sweet taste to it.

That’s a really powerful place to be for people who, currently we feel like we don’t really have control over anything in our environment. How many people feel that way? I’m not in control of where I can go, who I can see, who I can talk to, even what I can tweet on social media. I’m antsy, I’m nervous. This is a weird time. But you do have 100% absolute control over the food that’s in your house and the food that you put in your mouth. Reclaiming that control can actually open up avenues where you can have control over other parts of your life as well. But I think for so many people, the first step is to reclaim your proper human diet, stick to that, enforce that in yourself, and then exemplify that for your loved ones and your friends. That’s a powerful step and that’s a step that can open many doors, so that people can have power over other parts of their life as well. But it really starts with the basic biological and physiological functions. If you’re not in charge of those, so for instance if you’re addicted to alcohol right now during this time, guess what you’re doing a lot of? You are drinking every day to try to feel normal because the alcohol has abducted your physiological processes. It makes you feel normal, but you know in your intellectual mind, that ain’t normal.

That’s not normal to have to drink every day to feel normal, or to have to smoke weed every day, or have to snort some powder every day to feel good or to feel normal. You’re not in charge. You have no power over that situation. Currently, you’re a slave to whatever your addiction is and that can include sugar and it can include the other sweeteners for some of us. Just like every biological function, Cynthia, there’s a bell curve. Some people can smoke crack two or three times and then walk away from it never touch it again. Other people if they smoke crack one time, that’s it. They’re addicted, they’re hooked, and it’s going to take months and months and months to break that addiction. Same goes for alcohol, same goes for nicotine. There’s a bell curve for that. You see these lean, healthy 20 something year olds’ on Twitter, yelling at everybody to quit being gluttons and sloths and just, “Walk away, say no to the food, eat less and move more.” But they’re on the other end of the bell curve, where they’re not susceptible to this addiction, to carbs, and to sugar, and to sweeteners. That’s easy for them to say. I’m on the other end of the spectrum. Three or four days of keto sweeteners and my monkey is calling to me again.

Cynthia: I think it’s important for our listeners to really understand that we are humans. Like yes, we are experts in the health and wellness space but I like to talk about the fact I have teenage boys who do have sweet tooth on occasion and will make a dozen cookies for themselves and eat most of them. They’re both athletic and they’re both very healthy, but they on occasion will do that. So, probably between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I probably had two or three days where I had several gluten free cookies. I only in the past couple of months started weighing myself regularly to stay accountable. If I’m telling my clients to do this, I should really be doing this myself. You know, I gained four pounds. I’m sure, it’s just from the glycogen it stores. Four pounds eating cookies and I’m obviously in my latter 40s. So, it just goes to show much to your point, then what was I thinking about every day. Those cookies, I wanted to have more cookies, I needed to make more cookies, I needed to have more cookies, and I finally said to my husband, “We can’t make cookies anymore,” or if we make cookies, I really have to just pretend I don’t see said cookies.” There’s no moderation for me and a cookie. I don’t care how clean it is, I like to eat cookies, and I can’t moderate my intake.

Now, however much to your point, obviously, I’m not going to make chocolate as a comparison to crack, but I could eat a piece of chocolate, and be very happy with a piece of chocolate, and walk away from it, and not eat it excessively. So, for anyone who’s listening who thinks, “Oh, this probably doesn’t really happen.” It does. It even happens to us. But we’re so cognizant and it took me like a week to lose the four pounds and all I did was just clean up my diet and I was amazed at how long it took to lose that four pounds. But four pounds of sugar, and inflammation, and God knows what else my body was just like, “Oh,” and then you’re craving more sugar. So, that vicious cycle perpetuates and continues and I think it’s really important to say that depending on where we are in our life, so obviously, my teenagers 20 somethings, some 30 somethings have a lot more leeway in their dietary indiscretions than you do in middle age and beyond and that’s okay. It’s not a criticism. It’s just an observation. So, I think it’s vitally important for us to be honest with ourselves and that’s really where it starts from like, “Do I have a problem with this substance irrespective of what it is?”

Ken: Yeah, I totally agree and it sounds like you’re on the end of the spectrum where I am, where too much sweeteners and highly processed carbohydrates, and you’re addicted. I think that not everyone, but a large percentage of adults are in that boat. Really, the first thing that has to happen is you have to own up to that and be like, “Yeah, first of all, it’s not fair. I totally agree. It’s not fair.” It’s also not your fault, but it 100% is your problem. The only way you’re ever going to be able to address the problem is to own it, and look in the mirror, and say, “I’m a sugar addict, I’m a sweetaholic,” and also own up to that to your family and friends and say, “Look, you got to stop with the cookies, okay?” Just like to your boys, you’re like, “Yeah, I love you, and I know you love cookies, and you’re able to tolerate it. But you got to keep the damn cookies out of my face. If you’re going to make them. You cook them when I’m not home and you keep them in your bedroom or something. I don’t know-.”

Cynthia: [laughs]

Ken: -and people get this intuitively if someone is a recovering alcoholic, they would never offer them a drink. I think as the concept of sugar addiction and sweetaholic, I think is that gains traction in society, people will become more respectful of this. But currently, people think, “Well, if my grandmother made it, it’s got to be safe. Because my grandmother was very wise and she loved me. She would never make something for me that’s unhealthy, or dangerous, or addictive, or would make me sick.” But the problem is, is your grandmother and your mother, they were fed the same advertising as you’re being fed now. That’s when it really started with our grandmothers. That’s who started seeing all the ads for Crisco, all the ads for Martha White, all the ads for Kellogg’s, and Post. So, they blindly trusted all these advertisements, just as many of us trust these advertisements. But the time has come. There literally is only 12% of the United States population who doesn’t have at least one marker of metabolic syndrome. 88% of adults in the United States have at least one marker if not more of metabolic syndrome. How is that not a huge rallying cry for people all over this country to go, “What the literal hell is going on here? How is it that the majority of us are sick and the federal government doesn’t really seem that interested in the obvious root causes of what’s causing this?”

Again, back to my earlier point, that’s why Kellogg’s, and Kraft, and Coke, and Pepsi spend millions of dollars a year lobbying the federal government so that they can be too busy to really look and say, “Why is 88% of the US population of adults, why do they have one marker of metabolic syndrome?” That’s weird and that’s also I mean is that not a national security risk, is that not a national health crisis? Sure. It sounds like it to me. But it seems that you, and I, and people in this space are the only ones ringing the alarm bell. The only reason that that could possibly be is that the lobbyists in the marketing firms are quite successful and quite good at what they do.

Cynthia: Well, and I think we really have to talk about the fact that a lot of these processed food companies are essentially drug dealers. They are facilitating, manufacturing, and marketing products to vulnerable populations, and it’s all westernized countries. I just think, for me, it was really enlightening very recently to wear a continuous glucose monitor. For anyone who’s listening, yes, metabolically healthy people, really beneficial, and I’ll tell you why in a second. I have been largely, I would say, very protein focused. I’ve done very well with higher protein, moderate fats, carb cycling that has worked for me. No grains, no gluten, no dairy for a long time. And that has worked well for me. I kept trying to figure out, I was like, “I’m another year older and maybe I need to tweak things,” because I’ve come to find out that what may work for you for six to 12 months may not continue working for you. What I found out from wearing continuous glucose monitor is first and foremost with very few variances, my blood sugar is very well controlled, which is a good thing.

However, certain foods that seemed very benign because I do carb cycle and so, I was trying different types of carbohydrates. My functional medicine doc said, “Why don’t you try a little bit of grains, why don’t you try a little bit of this?” Plantains, a plantain cooked in coconut oil and sea salt, or two tablespoons of rice, or some squash, I mean spiked my blood sugars, it was like 150. I know numbers like that. I think it can be very valuable even if you just use a glucometer to monitor your blood sugar to see your own– you’re N of 1, so you’re one individual’s response to specific macronutrients. For me, I do well, again, I still do well with protein and fats, I actually upped my fat intake because I started to find the one thing that kept my blood sugar really stable with a little insulin secretion was more fats, little less protein, and very little carbs. So, too much to what we were talking about, really determining what works for your body, but also being open minded to the fact that you may need to change things up. What works for you, what worked for me almost two years ago after coming out of hospital was full carnivore that wouldn’t work for me right now.

Ken: Yep. I understand and I think everyone would tweak their diet, and play with their diet, and experiment like you’re doing. I think you’re setting an excellent example. I completely agree with you that CGMs or continuous glucose monitors are such a powerful tool. Even for people without diabetes, even for people without pre-diabetes, and I’ve actually saw some kickback on Twitter that it’s insensitive. “If you don’t have diabetes, you shouldn’t have a CGM. That’s just elitist and you’re entitled,” and this is vital. Everyone’s health is important. I think for each individual person, your personal, mental, and physical health is the most important thing in your life. Because if you’re not healthy, you can’t really take care of your loved ones and your family. You can’t take care of your business, if you’re not healthy. It is routine for people, even without diabetes, even without pre-diabetes, when they were a CGM, they invariably report back.

My A1c is5.3, I’m fine, but when I ate that rice, or when I eat that corn, or when I eat that bread or that pasta, my blood sugar went up to 160 or 180. This is in people who are not diabetic or not even prediabetic. Anytime you eat a food that spikes your blood sugar above 140, especially, if you’re not a diabetic, that is a huge red flag, that what you’ve essentially done is you’ve eaten so many carbohydrates in that meal, whatever was in it. The human pancreas is a very powerful organ, very intelligent organ. It’s just amazing what the human pancreas can do. But you actually overrate the ability of your pancreas to control your blood sugar. That is a huge red flag that you ate too many carbohydrates in that meal. You should not do that because every time your blood sugar spikes over 140 whether you’re a diabetic, prediabetic, or not, you’re doing better permanent microscopic damage to every tiny artery in your body. The arteries in your eyes, in your brain, in your heart, in your reproductive organs, in your kidneys, you’re damaging those tiny arteries and arterioles. Some of that damage is permanent.

Indeed, we start to see kidney failure in people who are just prediabetic, they’re not even diabetic yet, but they’re starting to have signs of permanent kidney damage and that’s because of all those meals that spike their blood sugar over 140. So, I think the CGM is vital. Every diabetic in the world should have access to a continuous glucose monitor. Anybody diagnosed with prediabetes or even hyperglycemia needs a continuous glucose monitor so that they can use it to tease out which foods spike me over 140, I need to avoid those foods. They are not healthy for me and if ultimately wearing that CGM and making a list of foods, if that causes you to exclude an entire food group as they say, then that’s not you irrationally excluding an entire food group because you have an eating disorder. That is direct feedback from your pancreas saying, “Hey, honey, every time you eat the bread, and the pasta, and the cakes, and the pies, and cookies, you’re doing damage to your body. That’s probably bad. You probably shouldn’t do that.”

If the CGM uncovers the fact that you should avoid an entire food group which is bread and grains, then you should do that. You should listen to your pancreas because the human pancreas has been doing this job for a long damn time. If it cannot accommodate your blood sugar when you’ve eaten those things, that is clear black and white physiological evidence that you should not eat them.

Cynthia: I think that’s important for people to understand. So, those that are still metabolically flexible like my fasting insulin was last 2.1 and my fasting blood sugars are always in the high 70s, low 80s, I am healthy weight, I exercise, I sleep well, and I still was stunned, I literally probably had half a cup of plantains and I probably had three tablespoons of rice. But I thought rice has definitely been one of those things I haven’t done well with, but so, so important that you find out for yourself. If you can’t afford a CGM and/or your family provider is not willing to write a script, a lot of these companies will let you have one for two weeks for free and then you can decide for yourself what you want to invest in. I myself continued my subscription with my CGM because I wanted to do more experimentation because now I feel like I’m onto something, I’m like, “Okay, I may actually have to go lower carb than I have been for a period of time,” and that’s not a bad thing. It may be that I cycle my carbs and I go in and out of ketosis. But for anyone who’s listening who’s curious about that, I think that’s really very, very helpful, beneficial way. If you’re looking for weight loss, resistance strategies that would definitely be a top one. What are your thoughts on things like berberine and chromium GTF, and some of these supplements that I see especially on berberine, great data in terms of comparing that to Glucophage or metformin that you’re using this with your patients?

Ken: Yeah, I think that berberine, chromium, all these things help, but the question we’re faced with is, “Am I trying to take berberine, and chromium, and cinnamon, and curcumin? Am I trying to take those so that I can eat an inappropriate diet?” That’s a valid question because I think we’re uncovering with the CGMs and with the C peptides, with the fasting insulins, we’re uncovering the fact that there is a spectrum of food that is the proper human diet. It is a low carbohydrate diet. For some of us, like your teenage boys, it may be under 100 total grams of carbs a day and they do just fine. As you get older or if you’re on the other end of that bell curve, and you’re very insulin resistant like I am, then it’s an even lower carbohydrate diet. But I think the evidence is becoming quite clear that low carb whether you’re talking about low carb paleo, just low carb, keto, ketovore or carnivore, those are all on a proper human diet spectrums. My definition of a proper human diet is a diet that gives you all of the amino acids, and fatty acids, and vitamins, and minerals that your body needs. And is low carb enough so that you don’t spike your blood sugar, so that you don’t have an elevated C peptide, and so that you don’t have an elevated fasting insulin.

In that spectrum is a proper human diet for you. Some of us like your teenage boys can get away with more carbohydrates. Some of us like me, I’m 52 now, I have to be as low carb as I can get to keep my weight where I wanted, to keep my waistline where I wanted, to keep my mental and physical clarity and strength where I wanted, and to keep my metabolic physiological markers like A1c, C peptide, and fasting insulin, and my CGM ratings. If I want to keep all those things at optimal levels, I have to be almost zero carb and I don’t think everybody needs to be that. But I think everybody needs to know where they currently fall on the proper human diet spectrum. Because no one, no human on the planet is it healthy for you to eat a bowl of Special K with skimmed milk and drink a glass of orange juice and have two pieces of whole wheat toast.

Cynthia: Like dessert, dessert, dessert, dessert, dessert.

Ken: That is not the proper human diet, that will invariably spike your insulin, your blood sugar, your levels of inflammation, it will store fat inside your abdomen, in your liver, and even in your pancreas. That is not part of the proper human diet. Is it fine to have it as an occasional treat on your birthday, and anniversary, and Christmas? Sure. Just like it’s okay to have a couple of mixed drinks on your birthday, and Christmas, and anniversary. But it does not mean since you had two drinks over your birthday, and you didn’t die that doesn’t mean, “Okay, I’ll just have two drinks every day.” That would be dumb. And it’s dumb to eat these foods, these highly ultra-processed Frankenfoods, fake foods that the big corporations try to sell us because they make 1,000% market profit on them. That is not part of a proper human diet and they always ultimately lead to chronic disease, suffering, inflammation, and ultimately an early death.

Cynthia: It’s interesting, I started watching a series that I’ve watched before. I trained in Baltimore and so, I have an affinity for Baltimore and the series is called The Wire. I’ve watched it more than once. Usually, every couple of years, I get kind of reminisce and think back to my Baltimore days. One of the things that it really impressed upon me as I’m watching the series is, the disparities that we have in terms of people that live in the Inner City who don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and it may be that their corner grocery store is all they have, and so for anyone that’s listening, that is in a position where they just don’t have as much access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and things like that. What would your suggestions be for them? It really is in a means to saying like good, better, best, that’s always kind of my mentality. If you’re out to dinner– let’s think pre-COVID, we’re out to dinner and you can go anywhere you want, you’re traveling, and maybe you splurge on something, but trying to find the best option that’s available for you at that time. So, for people that are have less flexibility, don’t own a car, can’t get go to a farmers’ market, they just don’t have as much access to healthier choices. How do you help people navigate those circumstances?

Ken: Well, I can tell you what I would do. If I were stuck in the Inner City, which I was before, I trained for seven years in Memphis, and I lived Downtown, Memphis in the dorms and then in an apartment and it’s true. It’s kind of a food desert. That’s changed some now but back then you had to drive 20, 25, 30 minutes to get to a grocery of any size of any meaning. But there’s a convenience store on every corner and If I were stuck in that situation, I would live on meat. I would live on hot dogs, I would live on baloney, I would live on potted meat spam, that’s what I would live on because that would be the only way– beef jerky, that’s the only way I could live on a proper human diet that kept me as healthy as possible without becoming metabolically sicker. So, that’s what I would do if I were stuck in that. I would just live on the cheap meat and hopefully, I could get some ground beef somewhere or some minced beef and I would live on that and that’s what I would do until I could do better. Because it’s actually it’s very inexpensive to do that. So, it cost the same. You can buy a can of spam or a big family size bag of Doritos are about the same price. So, I would live on spam, and hot dogs, and baloney until I could do better.

Cynthia: I think that’s really helpful because one of the things I learned, I had Robb Wolf on a few months ago, and his podcast episode just dropped, and he just wrote the amazing book, Sacred Cow, and one of the things that he and I were chuckling about was the analysis of grass-fed beef versus feedlot beef. There was not a ton of difference beyond the omega-3, omega-6 balance.

Ken: That’s right.

Cynthia: So, for anyone who’s listening who’s saying, “Oh, there’s no way.” No, no, really, you could get ground meat in a corner grocery store that may not be grass-fed, that is going to be superior than you know eating that bag of Doritos and the can of coke and whatever Frosted Flakes or whatever garbage looks more tantalizing, but you’re going to get more value out of the animal protein than you are out of a lot of these highly processed foods. Now, I’m curious, what your position is when people are looking to change their lifestyle, lose weight, what’s your position on sleep and stress? Because I find that these are two areas where a lot of people don’t put a lot of emphasis, but yet they’re so critically important.

Ken: Yeah. They are very important, but here’s the problem. If you talk about that stuff too much, do I think that getting adequate sleep is more important than eating a proper human diet? No. Do I think exercising is more important than eating a proper human diet? No. Do I think that having sex and other good natural normal physiological things are better than eating a proper human diet? No. Have human beings been under some kind of stress or entire existence on this planet? Yes. Is meditating and taking hot and cold showers, is that more important than eating a proper human diet? No. Do they matter? Yes. But I think that you start, you’re getting off because I love to focus people on the 80%. Where are you going to get 80% of your benefit from? Then that is your diet, it ain’t exercise, it ain’t sleep, it ain’t taking hot and cold shower, none of that stuff is in that 80%. Those are 10% factors at best, but in many cases, there are 1% or 2% factors. Does that make sense? Because if you talk too much about sleep, then all of a sudden, we’ve got this huge industry springing up with all these sleep supplements.

Cynthia: [laughs]

Ken: And people think, “It was important. I heard Cynthia say that. So, I’m going to buy all these sleep supplements so I can sleep better,” and they ignore their diet. You’re over here piddling around with the 1% and 2% improvement you can get with good sleep, which is absolutely real and you’re ignoring the 80% improvement you can get from eating a proper human diet. I think sleep is very important. I’ve got YouTube videos about it. I think stress control is very important. I’ve got YouTube videos about it. All that stuff is important. But never ever take your eye off what’s going to give you 80% of your metabolic benefit and that is eating a proper human diet spectrum.

Cynthia: I absolutely love that because my mantra is it all starts with food, so that’s very consistent. Although, it’s interesting that a lot of people assume that if they just– So, the 80% is the food piece without question. But people when they’re stuck, and they’re in these weight loss stalls, sometimes I feel like peeling another layer of the onion back. It’s like, “Okay, let’s look a little more closely. Do you sleep at all?” I’m oftentimes surprised that people will get by on four or five hours of sleep or their stress is out of control. Let’s be honest, in the midst of a pandemic, there are people that are dealing with stressors that you and I, we’re not dealing with. So, I always say try to mitigate as much as you can. But I do agree with you, that all starts with food. Well, what are you doing next? What are you diving into in 2021 business wise? What focus are you working on?

Ken: Well, I’m headed to Costa Rica in late February. I’m working on a television series called Reversed, which is about using your diets, and a little exercise, and a little sleep, and low stress reduction to reverse type 2 diabetes. I’m working on my second book, which is tentatively titled the Proper Human Diet. As you can tell, I think that’s very important. I’m going to continue to make at least two or three new YouTube videos every week, I’m going to keep hammering big food corporations on Twitter. I’m going to keep posting useful, and helpful, and loving posts on Facebook and on Instagram. I actually have a counsel on almost all social media, because as we all are now aware, First Amendment protections do not apply to social media. So, I’m trying to be as diverse as I can. So, if you’re on another social media and you’re like, “I wonder if Dr. Berry’s there.” You should check and follow me because I probably am.

Cynthia: Wow, I’m so excited for what is to come for you, and your business, and your family in 2021. It’s been a pleasure as always to connect with you. What’s the easiest way for individuals to connect with you? Your YouTube channel is fantastic. There’s so much great content there. But as you mentioned, you are all-over social media, but I especially, enjoy your– Your Facebook videos will pop up with you and your beautiful wife and on Twitter you’re very active and as you said, “You’re definitely hammering the processed food industry, which is what we all should be doing.”

Ken: Absolutely, yeah. So, if anybody just wants to follow along this journey, this rediscovery of the Proper Human Diet that my wife, Neisha and I are on where we do a Facebook live every Monday night at 7 PM. We’re live on Facebook, and on YouTube, and on Periscope, so, Twitter. Every Monday night at 7 PM, Central Standard Time. Then I’m constantly making new YouTube videos, I wish everybody would come over to Twitter and help me pull the curtain back and reveal just what it is that Coke, and Pepsi, and Kellogg’s, and Kraft, and Mondelez, and all these other multibillion dollar, multinational food corporations are up to because so many people out there don’t know. So many young parents think that giving their infant goldfish crackers is a loving nutritious thing to do. They don’t know better. They think that giving them a juicy juice to sip on or even an orange juice to sip on, and God forbid a Pepsi or coke, they think, “That’s okay. It’s on television. They wouldn’t be allowed to advertise it if it were dangerous or bad.”

No, it is bad. We need to start calling it what it is. And we need to start educating young parents and other people who are in charge of the care and feeding of young infant humans because that’s when the metabolic damage starts. For many humans, when they’re two and three years of age, that’s when their metabolic damage starts, and that’s why we see this epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes in young children. It’s not because our genetics have changed. We’re still the same homo sapien sapien we’ve always been. But when you poison these children with too many carbohydrates, too much sugar, too much fructose, too many inflammatory causing chemicals, they get sick and that’s a huge red flag that you should not give them that.

Cynthia: Absolutely. Well, we’ll continue the good fight and as always, I appreciate your time. It’s been a pleasure to connect again.

Ken: Thanks so much.

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