I keep getting distracted from blogging by having too many items in my to-do list. Which gave me the idea – why not blog about my to-do list?
Upcoming Blog Posts
Here are some things I intend to blog about soon:
A recap of the recent Perfect Health Retreat, which ran May 10-24 in Wilmington, NC. It was tremendous fun and I think the friendships formed among the 15 participants and 11 staff will last a long time. I’m already excited thinking about our plans for two retreats in October, and optimistic that the May participants will experience lasting health benefits.
An appreciation of Seth Roberts, who passed away just before I left for the Retreat. Seth was a devoted and productive scientist: he loved truth, sought it faithfully, and found it in innovative and original ways. Such scientists are scarce today, for the pressures of career-building can compete with the search for truth; and few dare make the search for truth their first priority. Seth did, and was rewarded for it with genuine discoveries. For this he deserves great honor.
Thoughts on the health effects of high oil consumption. All nutrients are beneficial in small doses but eventually become toxic when eaten in excess; fats are no exception. But what is the point of toxicity, and what are the first symptoms to appear? This is certainly a salient question for the ancestral health community, where large doses of oil, as in Bulletproof Coffee, are popular. Seth Roberts consumed large amounts of oil – flaxseed oil and butter – because he found they improved biomarkers such as reaction time. Are those biomarkers a reliable guide to the healthfulness of oil intake? What if oil improves some parts of the body while damaging others? What nutrients mitigate the risks of oil consumption?
A few loose ends in the carbohydrate discussion. I published my replies to the questions of Fat Head readers on Thursday, May 8, just before we left for the Retreat early on the 9th. I was so busy with our guests that I could not read or respond to the resulting discussion, which proceeded not only on this blog and Tom’s and our associated Facebook sites, but also elsewhere – for instance, at Hyperlipid, where Peter Dobromylskyj was led to look into the “safe starches” debate (first post, second post).
An oft-promised, oft-delayed post on treating acid reflux (or GERD). I’ve promised this for a while but been too busy to fulfill my promise. It’s time to make time.
A look at fiber and the gut microbiome. This has been the hottest issue of the last year in the ancestral health community. Interest was kicked off by a number of PHDers: Jeff Leach, founder of the Human Food Project, eats a similar diet; Tim Steele (“Tatertot”) is a PHDer who pursued a Seth Roberts-like course of personal experimentation with potato starch and did more than anyone to get the ancestral health community excited; and PHD-sympathetic folks like Grace Liu of AnimalPharm, Richard Nikoley of FreetheAnimal, Shant Mesrobian of Mr Heisenbug, and others have taken the lead in popularizing resistant starch and helping to interpret the experiences of ancestral community experimenters.
This is an extremely interesting area scientifically. Four years ago when we first wrote our book, it was clear that healthful people ate lots of fiber, but it was difficult to prove that the fiber was helping them. In the last four years, an immense volume of information about our gut microbiome and the role of fiber in feeding it has accumulated. Nevertheless, it is still tricky to generalize. Clinical trials of added-fiber diets have mostly ended with mediocre results.
We can guess what “optimal fiber” is likely to be – that provided by a diverse natural whole foods diet of the type eaten in the Paleolithic. Is supplementing Bob’s Red Mill unmodified potato starch a good alternative? Or should we just put lots of vegetables in our stews and soups, eat salads and kimchi, and refrigerate our cooked potatoes and rice before eating?
A second look at alcohol. We made the decision to support moderate alcohol consumption at the Perfect Health Retreat. To make it more fun, I collected some favorite wines and provided tasting notes. This was our selection of wines:
I noticed that after I gave my talk on alcohol, wine consumption went up from four bottles per night to six. I started to wonder if my talk might have been too positive toward alcohol.
Then, a few days ago, Mark Sisson posted that he had stopped drinking alcohol and noticed health benefits. I posted links on social media (here and here) and these were some of the replies:
It’s a no-brainer and we are all aware of it.
No **** Sherlock (Sisson). As if extirpating alcohol would somehow be less than beneficial.
Yeah, alcohol, unless it is a very small amount consumed with a large amount of food, will wreck my sleep. Beer and red wine wreck my gut, too.
Well this is sort of a “duh” isn’t it? Of course one would experience health benefits.
Alcohol also depletes glutathione, and it has a far greater effect on women. I tell my female patients that they can tolerate less than 1/2 of what their male partners drink.
No wonder he feels better! I doubt the Paleolithic men and women drank Pinot Rouge every evening! No matter what the entire World can argue against this, but I am 100% positive that any alcohol consumed daily leads to a lot of trouble!
I am not surprised by this!
Any amount of alcohol increases your breast cancer risk as a female and many other cancers and now they find it doesn’t have the heart benefits they once thought.
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but in traditional Chinese medicine the liver detoxes and rebuilds between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. The 2 to 3 a.m. waking after drinking wine the evening before makes perfect sense from that perspective.
This Sunday marks my sixth month with zero alcohol. And I feel GREAT! I’m sleeping like a baby, I have incredible energy.
Going without alcohol most definitely improves physical performance. I have quit several times for a month of so and during those off months, I set all kinds if PRs.
Alcohol is taking it on the chin!
So, what is the story with alcohol? Should we remove alcohol from the Retreat? Or change the name to “Nearly Perfect Health Retreat” or “Perfect Except for Alcohol Health Retreat”? This requires careful consideration.
Upcoming Events; the Ancestral Health Symposium
We have a number of exciting events coming up:
- A one-day education in how to be healthy, called the Perfect Health Seminar, to be held July 20 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It will be led by myself and the folks at Sweat and Butter, and will be hosted by R.A.W. Training.
- The Ancestral Health Symposium August 7-9 at the University of California at Berkeley.
- Perfect Health Retreats in October, the first from October 4 through 11 and the second from October 11 through 18. After these, the next Retreat will be in May 2015.
I’ll blog about each of these very soon; if you’re curious about the Seminar or Retreats, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For now, let me just give a pitch for the Ancestral Health Symposium.
AHS is a great chance to mingle with the leading figures in the movement, learn from their talks, and get to know in person friends you’ve made online. First and foremost, AHS is a social gathering – a fun, friendly meetup with an academic feel.
The talks are always interesting. In addition to my talk on weight loss, this year’s program includes:
- Jill Escher MA JD on epigenetic effects of food, chemicals and drugs on future generations.
- Barbara Natterson-Horowitz MD discusses what animals and veterinarians can teach us about human health.
- Terry Wahls MD on why it’s so tough to make our diets nutritious.
- Dan Pardi on uniting Quantified Self to Ancestral Health.
- Sarah Ballantyne PhD will talk about autoimmunity and Stacy Toth will explain how to modify ancestral diets for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis issues.
- Keith Norris details how the training of in-mission astronauts can benefit the rest of us.
- Kelly Brogan MD shares an ancestral perspective on mood and anxiety in the perinatal patient.
- Grace Liu PharmD suggests ways to rewild and revitalize the ancestral, soil-connected gut.
To see the full AHS14 program including the schedule of movement sessions by the likes of Darryl Edwards and the topics of talks by Denise Minger, Chris Masterjohn, Stephan Guyenet, Cate Shanahan, Aaron Blaisdell, Richard Feinman, Lynda Frassetto, J. Stanton, Josh Turknett, Todd Becker, James Steele, Esther Gokhale, Skyler Tanner, and other great speakers, go here.
There are plans for a Seth Roberts tribute after the Symposium, on Sunday August 10.
I hope to see you there!