09 August 2011

AHS Day 2

So day 2 of 2 came and went for the Ancestral Health Symposium. I was quite excited about the 2nd day because of Mark Sisson and Erwan LeCorre. I must say that from an information standpoint, the first day was far more saturated. Still, I cannot say I did not walk away from day 2 with nothing. Day 2 was fun. I spoke briefly with everyone I wanted to, met a new friend from Bermuda, and ate a ton of jerky and pemmican from U.S. Wellness Meats. Like the last post I will provide the notes I took listening to each speaker.

Seth Roberts, PhD
  • He touted the benefits of taking flaxseed oil, pork fat, and butter to aid with balance, sleep, and brain function.
  • He came to this conclusion by doing very simple tests over a period of time, typically timing himself on ability to balance and simple math problems, and being on and off the various items.
  • He put up a chart about how his sleep improved... I feel this is something hard to quantify as he did. When you wake, do you feel 97% rested? 96.5%? 97.5%? Maybe Seth is more in touch with this thing, but I do not know if I personally could use an increment under 15-20%. The skeptic in me did not like this part of the presentation.

Tucker Max
  • Tucker's talk, from Cave to Cage, discussed our history with violence.
  • He felt that a part missing from the whole ancestral movement is fighting. We had to do it, our ancestors did it, and the ones that were the best lived.
  • He pointed to the man in the image of the Ancestry logo. "That's a fucking spear!"
  • He talked about how fighting shape is much different than simply being in shape. He also said stupid people do not do well in MMA.
  • He quoted Thucydides "The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools."
Fighting is Truth

Robert Lustig, MD
  • I caught the Q&A session with Dr. Lustig, and while I enjoyed Tucker's talk, I wished I could have caught this one.
  • The original Gatorade tasted like 'Tiger Piss' until it was eventually bought by one of the soda conglomerates and HFCS was added.
  • Elite level athletes can drink all the Gatorade they want, the problem is that it is the fat kids drinking it.

Mat Lalonde, PhD
  • The Kraken was unleashed. For every minute of his 45 minute talk I regretted that I did not take organic chemistry as part of my engineering background.
  • Suggested we read "Food, Nutrition, and Evolution."
  • We did not evolve sharp teeth and claws (typical vegetarian argument) to eat meat because we evolved with tools. We did not evolve ways of breaking down and handling various antinutrients because we evolved with fire and the ability to cook and prepare our food.
  • The of the main things he covered was the importance of the 'Paleo movement' to avoid making claims such as "all lectins are bad" that would not stand up to review by professionals. So the blanket statements made by many of the people of the paleo movement need to be reconsidered if they are to be taken seriously.
  • He also covered how, through many organic chemistry diagrams, a simple change in the structure of the compound can make drastic changes in the how the compound interacts with our body. I took from this that from the hydrogenation process to say replacing sugar with splenda, that the effects could be horrible.
  • It is hard not to be intimidated by a guy that is highly fit and highly intelligent. The nickname "the Kraken" fits this dude.

Mark Sisson
  • Mark spoke on the benefits of play. Unstructured fun and how it can improve health and survival.
  • Leisure time (play) is human currency.
  • He quoted Stuart Brown, MD "Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival."
  • He stressed: have fun, do not be attached to the outcome. He then mentioned he has trouble with this, as he is very competitive. I feel him on this.
  • A study found that among grizzly bears, the ones that were observed to play the most lived the longest.
  • He argued that by playing, trying new things, members of species developed new escape or hunting techniques at supplemented their ability to survive. This translates to humans as well.
  • The whole vibe of his talk seems to resonate with me. From my Amor Fati tattoo and personal philosophy to my dog training style, I see some transcendent ideas that fit many aspects of life.

Matt Metzgar, PhD/John Durant/Richard Nikoley
  • I enjoyed these talks, however I did not walk away with anything from them.

Melissa McEwen
  • Fermented foods may have assisted in the human colon playing less of a role in the digestion of starch.
  • Given she is starting to get involved with this academically, I look forward to see where things go with her future research.

Doug McGuff, MD
  • The liver can store approximately 70g glucose. This is used for moment to moment glucose control.
  • The skeletal muscle can store approximately 250g glucose. This is used for emergencies, fight or flight situations.
  • Athletes can store slightly more than those numbers.

Erwan LeCorre
  • Pushed being adaptable is more important than being specifically trained at something.
  • Suggests broadening your experiences to improve your fitness.
Erwan and Mark

James O'Keefe, MD
  • Average total cholesterol of hunter-gatherers was 120.
  • Exercising everyday can lead to mental acuity into old age. Fights off dementia.
  • Dogs and humans co-evolved for over 135,000 years.
  • The heart puts out 4 qt/min when stationary. 20-24 qt/min when running a marathon.
  • He is a fan of statins and takes them himself.

I really enjoyed this second and final day. It was good to see so many different aspects of the paleo lifestyle. There clearly existed proponents of low carb and high carb eating as well as many people with different takes on exercise and health. I look forward to future years and where things go.

Throughout the symposium, I wondered to myself as to if I would be willing to give a talk at a later conference. From my experience with local/pastured/sustainable food to my vast barefoot running experience, I could easily whip something up. Hell, I could talk forever about what I've learned from having the dogs that relates to health, nutrition and fitness. Ultimately though, speaking would probably involve me asking to talk... and I came to the conclusion that I would rather focus on making further strides in my life such that they find me and ask me to talk. I've got some big changes on the horizon, so I should be in a good position to be someone like that. The very last thing I would want is to be in it for the money as a few of the people are. I am in this purely for my health and possibly longevity assuming I do not die early from some future amazing adventure. Still, should that ever happen, not that I would care, but I am fine with that.

06 August 2011

AHS Day 1

So Yesterday I attended the first day of the Ancestral Health Symposium (the AHS program guide can be found here). I must say that having never driven in Los Angeles before, combined with having never been on UCLA's campus, made yesterday morning quite hectic. However, upon finding the building I was instantly put to ease by the amount of people wearing FiveFingers.

The symposium has two lecture series going on at once, so you have to pick and choose which one you wish to sit through. In most cases I had a clear interest in one over the other, but I still read each presenter's abstract and in a few cases changed my mind. Below is a list of who I listened to and what notes I jotted down. I've tried to clean the notes up, however if they still come across as haphazard I know I still understand what they mean... and that is all that matters, right?

Boyd Eaton, MD
  • Rousseau is considered the philosopher of the Paleo movement.
  • Stressed the importance of antioxidants. He pointed out wild fruit, such as blueberries, can contain up to 50% more antioxidants than their industrial cousins. These are found typically in the skin of the fruit.
  • Our ancestors ate significantly higher antioxidants than we do now.
  • I knew this before, but if you add more muscle, you can improve insulin resistance.
  • Suggested we read The Clash of Civilizations and E.O. Wilson's books.

Loren Cordain, PhD
  • Our ancestors ate 25-35% of their calories from plants, 55-65% from animals.
  • Honey consumption is okay, but it was only available seasonally.
  • Natural transfats found in grass-fed rumens seems to be healthy.
  • Raw meat is aseptic... it is the butchering process that adds the risk.
  • No brainer: Avoid chronic low level inflamation.
  • Forgot this bit of trivia: milk is filtered cows blood.

Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD
  • Wrote 'Food and Western Disease'
  • Not a proponent of low carb eating.
  • Humans have a high capacity to digest starch. It doesn't mean we should, it just means we can.
  • Quote I found amusing “One 70 year old man died when he fell from the coconut tree.” Further illustrating the health discrepancy in the West. I do not believe I know anyone over 50 that can climb a tree.

Robb Wolf
  • Paradoxes in biology are purely a breakdown in our understanding. (There are no paradoxes in biology).
  • Should check out the Paleo Physicians Network.

Richard “Jake” Jacobson
  • 30 minutes of midday sun provides approximately 20,000 units of Vit D3
  • We should aim for a range of 60-80 in our Vit D tests. 80 was based on Australian lifeguards who were in the sun everyday.
  • Vit D is consumed when sick, experience trauma, etc.
  • Vit D2 is synthetic and downright bad for you.
  • We should check calcium levels in addition to Vit D.

Stephan Guyenet, PhD
  • When artificial flavor is listed in the ingredients of something, it can contain hundreds of chemicals engineered for taste.
  • He presented a example of a typical strawberry artificial flavor and alone it contained more chemicals than the rest of the milkshake he displayed the ingredients for.
  • He presented a theory about how the reward system in food (sugar, salt, MSG, etc) can cause overeating. Gary Taubes challenged his assertion, and while I won't go in to details, it was a good question that was presented in a very rude manner. Maybe that is Gary's style... but he came across as an asshat.

Gary Taubes, MA
  • Nothing of interest if you already know sugar is bad.

Michael Eades, MD
  • Frédéric Bastiat – 'That which is seen and that which is not seen' essay.
  • Walter Voetlin, author of 'The Stone Age Diet' came to the paleo concept by comparing the digestive tracks of dogs and humans... noticing how similar they are and how dogs do well on meat and fat and low/no carb. He tried this on patients with great success.
  • Protein converted by the liver to glucose is delievered at a rate that doesn't spike like sugar does. So protein is superior to carbohydrates in terms of providing glucose to the muscles and brain.

Richard Feinman, MD
  • Energy Density of Carbs and Protein = 4 kcal/g, Fat = 9 kcal/g, and Ethanol = 7 kcal/g. This explains all the times I ran fueled by alcohol and still did well.
  • Basically Richard went over how to read studies and how things are presented by both the researchers themselves to the media that runs with their findings. It explained how so much misinformation gets out to the people.

Pedro Bastos, MS, MA
  • Milk contains over 100,000 chemicals. This varies by species.
  • Milk has a low glucose response, but very high insulin response (on par with white bread).
  • Pregnant cows milk has far more hormones. Traditional pastoral societies do not milk their cows after the first 3 months of the pregnancy. Industrial cows are milked through most of their pregnancy.
  • The hormones in later stage pregnancy is insane.

  • I was hoping to catch Chris Masterjon's talk, but my interest in dairy took over so I went to Pedro Bastos speech.
  • I found all of the presentations interesting.
  • The one on Vit D was dry and mainly involved the reading of studies.
  • Whereas I already drink the Robb Wolf koolaid, I didn't really gain any new insight from him. I love his presentation style.
  • Michael Eades reminded me of a likeable George W. Bush.
  • Richard Feinman reminded me of the better teachers I had in college that helped hone my ability to think critically.
  • Looking forward to today's presentations.

04 August 2011

Ancestral Health Symposium

I've been busy the past few months recovering with my knee, doctors visits and physical therapy, that I've not had the time to sit down and post anything here. I've also been looking at changing jobs, moving, and all the fun things that come with that. Readjusting from having 6+ months off of work, spending whole days with the dogs to having a glass of wine with lunch, has pretty much been the only adventure as of late. Until now.

Hello Malibu!
I am currently in Santa Monica, CA waiting for the Ancestral Health Symposium to be held at UCLA tomorrow and Saturday. I am looking forward to seeing the who's who of the Paleo/Primal community. So post-symposium blog posts are anticipated.