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.