The Ancestral Health Symposium

By t. | In Articles, Nutrition | on September 8, 2012


[pullquote align=”left” type=”simple”]Whitney Ross has been a member of CFW for just over three years. Whitney is best known of her successful halting of the progressing, degenerative disease, Multiple Sclerosis through a clean (Paleo) diet and intense exercise. Whitney has been invited as a quest speaker on numerous radio shows and podcasts. Read her successful and educational blog, and learn more about Whitney in this feature Star News article.[/pullquote]

by Whitney Ross.

Last month I attended the Ancestral Health Symposium at Harvard University in Boston. It was 3 straight days of presentations and poster sessions devoted to different aspects of utilizing the ancestral health model in daily life. I heard lectures on everything from cranial facial dystrophy (i.e. our faces are becoming deformed from eating the standard American diet) to regulatory hurdles in practicing the ancestral diet. To some of you that might sound like a purgatory of boredom but for me it was nerd heaven. Regardless of your opinion of continuing education one thing all of you will appreciate is that I can definitively say that joining Crossfit Wilmington is one of the best decisions you have made in a long time.

I know you weren’t offered a nutrition class at your last gym but if you were offered a nutrition class presented by a registered dietician who dispensed advice about the standard American diet (SAD) it wouldn’t have helped you past the stage when your body stops responding to the elimination of processed foods. And chances are, whoever  gave the class would have promoted protein fortified smoothies over real food. Crossfit Wilmington and Wilmington Strength and Conditioning promote the exploration and adaptation of the “paleo” or “ancestral health” diet. Last month, I heard straight from the mouths of Gary Taubes, Boyd Eaton, Mat Lalonde, Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Dr. Terry Wahls, John Wellbourne and about 10 other incredibly smart people that the diets CFW and WSC promote are the best way to eat for optimal health and performance. Not that I had any doubts about that after my successful experiment of n=1 where I used the autoimmune protocol of paleo to eliminate the symptoms of my Multiple Sclerosis.

Whitney at the Ancestral Health Symposium with the Paleo and Primal gurus, Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson

The Crossfit model isn’t perfect. There are some Crossfits out there who start beginners out too fast, care only about metcons and do not consider the difference between eating for health and eating for athletic performance. When I heard people complain about Crossfit, I thought to myself every time ‘Crossfit Wilmington doesn’t do that.’ I heard an excellent talk by John Wellbourne about eating for optimal performance and guess what? Tony and Tanner will tell you the exact same things that Wellbourne talked about. When you get your immune system working properly via your diet, then you can start experiencing true performance. At one talk, Keith Norris discussed assessing client’s fat levels at different parts of the body to figure out their needs and achieve optimal success. Of course he was talking about using a DEXA scan, but it’s the same principle as bio sig which CFW and WSC offer. So while the Crossfit model isn’t perfect, Crossfit Wilmington and Wilmington Strength and Conditioning have moved beyond the criticisms.

Robb Wolf’s talk concentrated on the work he is doing with the city of Reno to completely revamp the health assessments given to policemen and firemen. Instead of a policeman having a heart attack or stroke on the job at 1 million dollars or more per incident they are identifying the men and women at risk for heart attack or stroke years before it will happen and providing intervention not only by prescribing a paleo diet but also by providing sleep therapy to help them handle shift work. His talk was incredibly optimistic, he predicts saving the city of Reno 35 billion dollars or more in health care costs over the next 10 years. He said something that really made me think about CFW, WSC and Jared and Dawn’s Next Level Fitness. That the gym of the future will be a total wellness center where you can get blood panel interpretation, nutrition information, supplement counseling and optimal physical conditioning.

The Ancestry Foundation will be posting the talks from the Ancestral Health Symposium 2012 on Youtube in the coming months. I hadn’t heard of a lot of the people who spoke but they all taught me some fascinating facts and after hearing them I will be following their blogs for more gems. If you aren’t familiar with some of the names I write about in this article, you should Google them because they all are doing an insane amount of work to validate this lifestyle which you have been smart enough to adopt. I will also give you a heads up when the videos of the talks are available.  I’ll leave you with some of the more awesome things I learned:

-cooked, nitrate free bacon is the most nutrient dense pork option available. It is also more nutrient dense than apples. Apples have almost 0 nutrient densities. Also, the egg yolk kills the egg white in nutrient density (Mat Lalonde, Harvard PhD biochemist)

-While the differences between the nutrient density of grain fed and grass fed beef are real, they are not a deal breaker. The problem is not the grain fed cows, it’s the grain fed people. (Peter Ballerstedt PhD)

-A person who consumes more calories than they expend will not gain weight on a ketogenic diet (Gary Taubes, a hypothesis that he knows he will prove)

-There was already a paleo/ Crossfit movement in the late 1800‘s early 1900’s called the ‘Physical Culture Movement’ (Hamilton M Stapell, PhD)

-Fructose can induce non alcoholic fatty liver disease (Robb Wolf)

-Sugar is a toxin and you should not eat it at all. (Robert Lustig, MD -a note about this, that sugar is a toxin is at this point speculation. Recently, Lustig and his colleagues have proven beyond a doubt that sugar is a toxin and his papers were awaiting publication approval during the conference. He showed slides to prove his data that sugar is without a doubt a toxin but we were ordered not to take pictures or tweet quotes. Not that this will make a bit of difference in people’s consumption since we know cigarettes have been proven toxic and people still smoke)




8 Comments to "The Ancestral Health Symposium"

  • t. says:

    September 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm -

    Thank you for, not only writing about, but attending the AHS. Your successes have been great to watch. Your passion for helping others, through your website and other work, is absolutely amazing.

  • Debb says:

    September 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm -

    Great writing Whitney. I so appreciate you giving us a report and updates of the latest and greatest.
    Those guys are beginning to look more like true lifesavers rather than so called fruitcakes, that is what alot of people would say when I would explain or that it was just a fad. I too am a believer in how we treat and what we put into our bodies will effect our final outcome or should I say our final outgoing. Thanks to t, Jarod and all the others that keep teaching me and my children what good nutrition is and is not.

    1. Whitney says:

      September 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm -

      Thank you Debb. I always think about how far you’ve come. Inspirational.

  • Jen S. says:

    September 9, 2012 at 9:49 am -

    Awesome report Whitney! You really impress me with your ability to gain and disperse knowledge that helps so many people. I have been trying to turn my customers thinking around to proper nutrition and they think I’m crazy when I start preaching Paleo. I generally end up having them look up your facebook page nutrisclerosis to validate what I am saying. Thank you for all of your research and the great way you share!

    1. Whitney says:

      September 9, 2012 at 7:54 pm -

      Thanks, Jen. You have been such a positive influence with such great energy. And your hotness….

  • Tanner says:

    September 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm -

    Thank you for sharing Whiney. Great write up. All of your hard work dedicated to helping others is admirable. Keep going strong!

    1. Whitney says:

      September 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm -

      you’re the one who people actually listen to, Tanner! With your perfect body and inhuman strength, why wouldn’t they? This whole community is changing/ enhancing lives and looking great doing it.

  • t. says:

    September 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm -

    Like the word CrossFit, Paleo makes people think you’re extreme. I’ve almost stopped saying Paleo and just saying clean eating. It eliminates talking about cavemen and excludes the word diet. People respond better to it. And let’s face it… the Paleo isn’t Paleo. It’s not like there are too many CrossFitting Paleo cavemen who can run out and kill their own food. Coach Poliquin called it the “Metro-Paleo” Diet. I thought that was funny.

    Whitney mentions adapting the Paleo diet. Paleo has gained much of its fame and follow from the CrossFit world. The problem I see most often is, like the Zone Diet before it, many of the CrossFit coaches that preach it do not understand how to tailor it fit the athlete’s needs. More education by both the eaters of Paleo and the purveyors of Paleo is needed.