Monday, August 19, 2013

Reflections on the Ancestral Health Symposium 2013 in Atlanta - Ida Fiorella

Reflections on the Ancestral Health Symposium 2013 in Atlanta
                Joe and I had the good fortune to attend AHS 2013 in Atlanta from August 15th to 17th.  The conference is dedicated to looking at the lifestyles of our ancestors in order to discover ways to avoid the diseases of modern man, such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.  At the symposium, doctors, scientists, and health specialists lectured on topics such as nutrition, physical activity, posture, and our internal clock (circadian rhythms.)  In this article, I offer my take-aways.
                Many of the AHS workshops that I attended cited research studies which support the basic Paleo diet prescription.  Here is the summary of what is generally accepted.  Avoid wheat, sugar, legumes, as well as all GMO and processed foods.  Eat high quality protein (grass fed beef, poultry and eggs from pasture-fed animals, and wild caught fish), all free of hormones and antibiotics.  Eat plenty of non-starchy, non-GMO, pesticide-free organic vegetables, and as much high quality fat as possible.   Fats should comprise the largest percentage of calories in our diet, with limited protein, and less carbohydrates.  Limit omega 6 fatty acids and eat plenty of omega 3 fatty acids, supplementing with high quality fish oil as needed.  The need for physical exercise and the importance of optimizing the gut micro-biome are also emphasized across the board.  Significant advantages to both physical and mental health were clearly defined throughout the three-day conference. 
                Beyond this, there were many differing opinions, mostly regarding the ratio of protein to carbohydrate consumption.  Most agree that protein and carbohydrates should be limited, while people are encouraged to eat as much healthy fat as needed.  Protein recommendations were as low as 40 grams for small women and up to 80 grams for an average size man, with some higher recommendations when one is body building, physically active, or participating in strenuous exercise.  Carbohydrate recommendations, at the conference,  ranged from a limit of 20 or 30 grams of carbs, mainly from non-starchy vegetables to a diet consisting of 150 grams of carbs with more liberal carbohydrate choices.  Some believe fruits are fine, while others see fructose as the most destructive form of all sugars. Some argue that gluten-free grains and tubers are fine, while others believe all grains are detrimental to health.    As in AHS 2012, debate continues as to whether or not safe starches such as potatoes and rice should be included in a healthy diet.  Debate also revolves around the use of supplements, such as whether or not calcium supplementation is worthwhile. Videos of each lecture will be available for viewing on the Ancestral Health website.
                One of the most important lectures for me, personally, was given by Paul Jaminet on circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle.  Paul Jaminet spoke about the importance of preventing disruption to our own circadian rhythms.  One example of these rhythms  is in the body’s production of melatonin (the hormone which regulates sleep and wake cycles) and cortisol (the hormone that, among other things, provides  quick bursts of energy for survival).  Melatonin peaks at 3 AM, whereas cortisol peaks at 9 AM.  He estimates that disruptions to circadian rhythms over time could result in the loss of six years of life. 
                Adequate quality sleep is vital in maintaining our body’s circadian rhythms.  Disruption in sleep may lead to any of the following:
cardiovascular disease
musculoskeletal problems
neurological disorders
immune dysfunction
premature aging
metabolic disease
diminished mental performance

                To sleep well and optimize circadian rhythms, the following lifestyle factors should be considered.

Sleep:  Sleep should occur at night on a regular schedule in a dark room.

Exercise:  Exercise should be done during the afternoon.  We should refrain from exercising in the evening.  Night time workouts might actually worsen health.

Social Interaction:  Social interaction is important in the morning.  When living alone, even the practice of viewing faces on television during the day enhances mood and leads to improved sleep the following night.  Viewing human faces and social interaction at night impairs mood and hinders sleep.

Interestingly, it was noted that every one hour of television viewing takes 22 minutes off of one’s life expectancy.  But, viewing a computer screen in the office was found to have no impact on life expectancy.

Light Exposure:  Light exposure is important.  During the day, seek bright sunlight.  Natural light fluorescent bulbs are best daytime stimulators.  Red, yellow, and amber lights are excellent for use in evenings to shift towards melatonin production.

Food Intake/Timing:  Meals should only be eaten during daylight hours.  It was noted that nighttime eating is especially disruptive to anyone on a diet.  Intermittent fasting was mentioned as an optimal timing strategy for meals, where all food consumption would occur within an 8 hour window.  For example, the first meal of the day might be at 10 AM and the final meal ending at 6 PM.  [I have been researching this for the past few months and have read suggestions that this intermittent fasting strategy is more effective for men.]  The idea of abstaining from eating in the evening is the main message here for both genders.

Vitamin D should never be taken near bedtime.  It is associated with sunlight and will disrupt sleep.

Room temperature:  Room temperature has a great impact on sleep and wakefulness.  Warmer temperatures (at least 72 degrees F) are optimal for daytime activities.  Cooler temperatures (no more than 65 degrees F) promote drowsiness. 

                Dr. Ron Rosedale has promoted a low-carb lifestyle for 25 years.  He spoke about the hormones that regulate appetite and curb obesity:  insulin, leptin, and mTOR.  In order to optimize the function of these hormones, it is necessary to restrict carbohydrates to non-starchy vegetables, and to limit protein consumption.  The diet should be rich in healthy sources of fat:  avocados, nuts, coconut, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, and butter.  Protein should consist of grass fed beef, lamb, and pork, wild caught fish, along with eggs and poultry from pasture fed chickens.

                According to Dr. Rosedale, as a 5 foot, 4 inch female, I require  40 to 45 grams of protein per day, divided evenly among meals.  The recommendation is to eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, with the majority of daily calories from good quality fats, as mentioned above.  In this way, the body will continue to burn fat for fuel, avoiding blood sugar spikes.

                The formula for figuring out your protein needs is as follows:  Start with your ideal weight.  Divide that number by 2.2 (in order to convert pounds to kilograms).  Subtract 10 %.  That is the number of grams of protein that you should consume in a day.

                Dr. Rosedale has an excellent website, and his recommendations are backed up with an impressive array of scientific studies, 25 years of practice with his own patients, as well as his own experience.    I am tweaking my food and supplement program to reflect what I have learned from him and others at this conference.

                 Jeff Leighton discussed the role of omega 3 fish oil (EPA 2235/DHA 990) in the treatment of chronic inflammation.  Research showed that timing of the supplement does not impact effectiveness. Fish oil could be taken with or without food.  A low carb diet without nuts (which contain omega 6 fatty acids) facilitates absorption of the omega 3s. 

                I have only included here my own perceptions, addressing a small fraction of the information that was shared at the conference.  Please visit the Ancestral Health site in the coming days to view the videos for yourself:

                But, I would like to end with a reflection from a very dynamic speaker at the conference, Kyle Maynard, who reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro without any limbs.  Kyle shared a motto that has enabled him to achieve his dreams.  It is from the navy seals:  “...not dead, can’t quit.”  I only hope that I can follow this mantra in my own life.

My Current Diet and Supplements
(August  2013)
            Over the course of this year, I have refined my diet to reflect knowledge gained from the Ancestral Health Symposium 2012 and 2013, as well as recommendations from my new MD/nutritionist.  I have learned that we, as individuals, are unique, and that no two people will need exactly the same regimen to achieve optimal health.  But, I am offering here what seems to be working for me.  I have noticed resolution of my brain fog with this regimen, but some components are too recent to see other results.  I will continue to update as I discover more and see significant outcomes. 
breakfast cereal:
            Mix together the following and chill for a few minutes:
            - ½  serving of whey protein powder (1 scoop of Biochem’s Greens and Whey Vanila)
            - 2 ½ tablespoons of ground chia seeds (Anutra)
            - 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (Nutiva)
            - ½ tsp. of high vitamin butter oil (Green Pasture)
            - ¼ cup of coconut milk (Native Forest)
1 cup (8 ounces) of regular coffee with 1/2 cup of warm coconut milk
½  ounces of beef, poultry, or seafood (grass/pasture fed or wild caught as much as possible), cooked in healthy fats
½ cup of green non-starchy cooked organic vegetables or 1 cup of salad greens with plenty of fats

½  ounces of beef, poultry, or wild caught seafood (grass/pasture fed or wild caught as much as possible) cooked in healthy fats
½ cup of green non-starchy organic vegetables cooked in healthy fats

¼ cup or 2 ounces of raw or cooked carrots, cooked butternut squash, or cooked white rice with butter

salad with romaine, olives, onions and 2 tbsp. Italian dressing

2 tablespoons of fermented vegetables 2 times per week on salad (Wildbrine)

[Note:  A little blanched almond flour or hard cheese are used in some of my recipes.  Also, I have food sensitivities, determined by blood testing, to eggs and tomato products.  I will try adding these highly nutritious foods back into my diet as my “leaky gut” heals.]

1 hour before breakfast:
- 5 mcg of Cytomel (thyroid medication)
With Breakfast:
- 3 high quality fish oil pills (EPA-DHA 720 Metagenics)
- 1 high quality probiotic (Ultra Flora Balance by Metagenics)
- 1 enzyme tablet (Spectrazyme by Metagenics)

With first bite of Lunch:
- 1000 mg calcium/500 mg magnesium
- 1000 mg Vitamin C
- 2 enzyme tablets (Spectrazyme)
- 2 Betaine capsules of HCL with Pepsin (Solaray HCL with Pepsin)

With first bite of Dinner:

- 3 high quality fish oil pills (EPA-DHA 720 Metagenics)
- 1 high quality probiotic (Ultra Flora Balance Metagenics)
- 2 enzyme tablets (Spectrazyme)
- 2 Betaine HCL with Pepsin (Solaray HCL with Pepsin)

Near Bedtime:

- 1000 mg calcium/500 mg magnesium

Other factors besides diet:

I am trying to get 8 hours of sleep per night. 

I began this week incorporating weight bearing exercises for my upper body, 3 to 4 times per week, as well as taking a 20 minute walk 4 times per week for my lower body.

Reasons for certain foods and supplements:

leaky gut (Once healed, I will likely be able to reduce the amount of fish oil, probiotics, enzymes, and HCL.)
brain fog
absorption of vitamins and minerals
dry eye
eye sight/health
thyroid function (hypo)
resistance to infection
allergies and food intolerances

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