This is one of those conferences that are so information-heavy you’re almost glad to see it end. Almost. My brain is overloaded, overworked, and overwhelmed.
Today’s sessions included:
Disordered eating in the Modern World – I didn’t attend this because it was in conflict with another session I wanted to hear, but I wanted to include it because I think it’s so relevant. Dr. Emily Deans used peer-reviewed literature and histories of eating disorders to examine if maybe the Western Diet may be contributing to this phenomenon.
Diet, Inflammation, and Depression – This is the one I missed that one ^ for. This session was so interesting, as it linked habits that are far removed from our ancestral health, including nutrition and movement, as a potential cause for the high incidence of chronic depression we are seeing in modern society. I can’t remember where I first read this statement, but think about how seldom our ancestors would have seen a reflection of their faces, compared to how often we do. This session was one of those where almost every seat in the room was taken. The presenter, Amber Dukes, was cautious not to draw conclusions, as the studies are new and incomplete.
The Perfectly Healthy Meal: How Ancestral and Gourmet Culinary Practices Guide Us to Satisfying and Nourishing Food – I knew when I got the expanded schedule I wanted to attend this one. I consider myself a rabid foodie, and I grew up and raised my kids eating delicious southern home-cooked food. Throw in Eliott’s Jewish heritage with its love of all things deli, his Philly connection to Italian cuisine, and we are a train wreck as far as “ancestralizing” our diet. When we did our 30-day food experiment recently, we found that we loved the whole process of selecting, preparing, and cooking with primal guidelines in mind. What surprised us was the time involved in all steps of that process, and joining that with the fact that we eat out several times a week (which we didn’t do much on our 30-days), we had to learn to embrace the time issue. This session was wonderful for reinforcing the idea that it SHOULD be taking us time to prepare our food, and it does take effort and forethought (isn’t that one of the things that is troubling about our Western diet – the instant and constant availability of crappy food?) Dr. Jaminet is doing a book signing later today (an astrophysicist and his molecular-biologist wife writing a nutrition book? Why, yes please!)
I managed to get a picture of my plate today before I dove right into it. Tendergrass Farms was one of the vendors, and they donated over 1000 of pasture-raised chicken for the meal. We have a local grass-fed meat supplier in Murfreesboro; this farm is located in Virginia, and they do ship, so until you find your local source, give them a shot.
Heat and Health; Paleo Myths and the Other Metabolic Hormones, Leptin and mTOR – the title of this one almost kept me out, but the thumbnail mentioned hormones and aging, which caught my attention. Dr. Rosedale (of the Rosedale Diet) started out with saying that nature does not support a long post-reproductive-age life. We can alter that, but approaching it with this premise helps us understand what we are working toward. Thanks, nature. And modern medicine can counter some of the aging process, but nutrition and exercise is much more effective at that.
Circadian Rhythms: Their Significance in Human Health, and the Major Factors Affecting Them – This was Dr. Jaminet again, about the mysterious circadian rhythms. Full disclosure — I fell asleep during this talk. Dr J’s voice was soothing, and it was just after lunch, and Eliott’s shoulder was soooo inviting, so I do not have a report about your circadian rhythm. When I asked Eliott about it afterwards, he admitted he fell asleep too. So we’re old. We needed a nap. But isn’t it fabulous that this is the talk where we fell asleep? Something to do with our circadian rhythm???
The Ancestral Health Society will add all the links after the conference, and when they do, I will go back and post the video links, so if you are interested, come back and listen. I won’t post all the links to the 2011 and 2012 AHS, but they are available through the AHS or youtube.
Here are my takeways from the conference:
–The Ancestral Health Movement is about far more than eating an abundance of meat, far more than just nutrition at all. It’s about using evolution as the model for framing every conversation we have about health in contemporary humanity.
–It’s discouraging to see the status of the food supply and nutritional health in our country. It’s even more discouraging to see that 67% of the population of America does not understand or accept evolution, which is the starting point for understanding how and what we should eat for optimal health.
–Because this is heavily science-based approach, as always we start with a hypothesis. We then look at the research and see if that supports the hypothesis. Through observation, empirical evidence, experimentation, testing, results analysis, and other methods we see if the hypothesis is confirmed. Then, in this movement, it is encouraged for folks to use a N=1 analysis since our ancestry differs in some cases dramatically (if our ancestors were from Fiji, their diet would have been different than if our ancestors were from Siberia due to food availability, and the digestive enzymes, etc, that we would have developed).
–To expand on the last topic: I think that not only do we have differences in our toleration for some foods based on geography, but we ourselves may find that at some points in our life we are more tolerant of some foods than at other points in our lives due to our age, our hormones, the cycle of seasons, and other factors.
–Because of the above points, we are forced, beneficially I think, to stay deeply in tune with our bodies and our health. For those of us who are data junkies, this can include written graphs, charts, records, all that (color-coded – squee!). I’ll say that for most of us in the movement, that includes a pretty closely-monitored blood sugar record.
–As a skeptic, I will continue to learn and research as the science develops around nutrition and movement. But I will also share that the personal application piece has been hugely successful for me. It has allowed me to eliminate even minor health issues (heartburn, irregular sleep patterns, energy crashes), AND I have been able to train at a pretty high level (Ironman) eating in this manner.
Heading home tomorrow – don’t forget to drop by and say farewell to Glenda if you are in the Middle Tennessee area tomorrow night!
Thanks for reading!