Ancestral Health Symposium 2011: Notes, thoughts and links

“The Woodstock of Evolutionary Medicine” was one of the taglines of this weekends epic paleo/primal, ancestral event. And it certainly lived up to the billing. A fantastic two days with a great energy, friendly folks and informative presentations. I left inspired, motivated, challenged and feeling very good about the fact there are SO many people out there interested in the paleo movement and lifestyle. I am going to do my best to give my version of the symposium, although one man’s experience will pale in comparison to the amount of action that truly took place the last two days at UCLA!

The website for the symposium
(This also has links to Slide Share and Video from the presentations)

So here is my experience at the symposium with a one or two thought synopsis of the speakers I saw and the main points I took away from their presentations…

After a few opening remarks from Aaron Blaisdell, PhD, UCLA (President of the Ancestral Health Society), the fun began.

Boyd Eaton… A review of ancestral health and study. Having a favorable ratio of muscle to fat for insulin sensitivity/glucose utilization is the key to health.

Loren Cordain… The science is there: the Paleo diet in all it’s seasonal, regional, cultural versions works.

Staffan Lindeberg… Western food is the root of disease: don’t worry about macronutrients: food quality matters more.

Robb Wolf… It’s all about inflammation and gut permeability. But keep perspective on the paleo thing- learn and adapt… DON’T make it a cult.

Lynda Frassetto… The Paleo Diet is gathering clinical data for it’s effectiveness, particularly from a perspective of kidney health and protection.

Stephan Guyenet wholehealthsource… Obesity should be looked at from a food reward/palatability perspective: rewarding and palatable food signals the brain to eat more.

Gary Taubes… Sugar is the culprit: Carbs are only the problem if sugar (fructose/sucrose/HFCS) has created insulin resistance first.

Michael Eades… There is tremendous evidence to our evolving to eat protein: there may be some variance to carbohydrate tolerance but we are meat eating creatures.

Nell Stephenson… Paleo eating is very practical. Have a plan, only start when you can commit to it and keep it simple.

Chris Masterjohn The Daily Lipid… Cardiovascular disease is about molecular degeneration: problems arise when lipoproteins are in the bloodstream too long. To increase LDL receptor activity, improve nutrients, reduce inflammation and improve brain communication.

Here are some of the posters presented one Day 1…

What Does The USDA Really Stand For? UnScientific Dietary Advice

Perfect Paleo

How To Triple Your HDL

Jonathan Carey

Does Physical Activity Impact Dietary Choice in a Modern Western Population to Correspond to Hunter-Gatherer Macronutrient Profiles

Stephanie Schnorr and Kerrie Lewis Graham, Dept of Anthropology, Texas State University- San Marcos

Foods from Our Past: Reclaiming the Paleo Diet Experience in Latino Communities

These are the speakers I missed on Day 1…

Mark Cohen, Guy-Andre Pelouze, Don Matesz, Richard Jacobson, Emily Deans & Jamie Scott, Dr. BG & Tim Gerstmar, Craig Stanford, Richard Feinman and Pedro Bastos. I heard they were all fantastic. Sarah Fragaso and Chrissy Gower also did a Everyday Family Paleo presentation to end the day.

Day 2 at AHS…

Robert Lustig… Fructose leads to insulin resistance which leads to leptin resistance which leads to obesity.

Mat Lalonde… Don’t make inferences based on observation. Consider all hypotheses. Don’t think that just because evolution supports your hypothesis it is right. Know your organic/biochemistry.

Mark Sisson Mark’s Daily Apple… Our genes expect us to play: play majorly contributes to creating a healthy, happy, strong, lean and well functioning human. Play is zen. Be here now. Play keeps you in the moment.

Nora Gedgaudas Primal Body-Primal Mind… Diet completely controls mental health: no amount of therapy can make up for nutritional deficiency.

Melissa McEwan Huntgatherlove… Humans are truly unique, we don’t exactly know why. There’s a vast human diversity waiting to be discovered, yet we are also at risk of losing our biological diversity and cultural adaptations.

John Durant Hunter-gather… Zoos teach us about removing animals from their natural environment: make environments similar to what animals, including humans, have adapted to.

Richard Nikoley Free the Animal… Self experimentation is the best. Everyone is different. Be open to continuous learning: try to disprove your hypotheses and be aware of your biases.

Frank Forencich Exuberant Animal… Paleo is a great idea/message: but it will vary as it’s replicated. Keep clarity to the idea make sure we are focusing on the whole human primal experience.

Some posters from Day 2…

Neuroregulation of Appetite: Paleo Nutrition Supports Homeostasis of Macronutrients and Energy Balance

David Pendegrass

Neuroregulation of Appetite: Paleo Nutrition Supports Homeostasis of Macronutrients and Energy Balance

Brian Geremia & Justin Park

These are the speakers I missed on Day 2…

Seth Roberts & Tucker Max, Kevin Boyd & Michael Mew, Denise Minger, Matt Metzgar, Tom Naughton, Vivian Shelton, Andreas Eenfeldt, Doug McGuff, Erwan LeCorre, Keith Norris & Skyler Tanner, James O’Keefe, and Brent Pottenger w/Joe Sobolewski, Janet Chang, Nate Rosenberg and William Meller.

There were also some movement sessions at the end of the day, including some cool Exuberant Animal stuff from Frank Forencich.

Some vendors that were there included Primal Pacs (great pre packaged jerky, nut and fruit packs), US Wellness Meats (jerky, beef stricks, raw cheese and awesome pemmican), and Paleo Magazine (cool magazine that just released it’s 2nd issue).

Some people I saw and/or talked to included the Perfect Health Diet dynamic duo, Jay Stanton, Kevin from Healthy Mind-Fit Body, Jimmy Moore livinlavidalowcarb, Jack Kruse and so many more I can’t even begin to get into it. Nearly EVERYONE was there.

So, what a weekend!

I could go for a while more but let’s wrap it up. What were the takeaways from what Frank Forencich called “Ground Zero” for the Paleo movement?

The Bare 5 Bottom Line…

1. There is a huge swelling of people getting involved and interested in the paleo, primal, ancestral world. The tidal wave is coming. Let’s keep it simple, clean and let our actions speak for us.

2. There is a growing amount of research supporting the health benefits of an ancestral lifestyle.

3. Most of the best ideas and progress is coming from interactions between the people involved, in person and online. This is a great community!

4. We need to watch out for confirmation bias, not take this thing too seriously and remain open to learning every day. There is so much we still don’t know.

5. It’s about food quality, not macronutrients.

Thanks for reading, I hope I was able to bring you just a hint of how epic the Ancestral Health Symposium was!

Take a step forward in health by taking a step back to the past…



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