Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to attend the 2nd annual Ancestral Health Symposium or AHS from here on out, at Harvard University. Last year it was held at UCLA and was therefore much easier (and less expensive) for me to attend. However, given the amount that I had learned last year at AHS and this year at the PaleoFX conference in Austin, I knew that I had to attend AHS this year no matter the cost. Let me tell you, making this trip was well worth it. Not only did I get to reconnect with old friends, but I made countless new ones, learned enough nutritional/lifestyle material to keep my head spinning for months (next year might be worth getting a recorder of some sort) and let’s not forget, I ate some of the tastiest food I’ve had in a long time.
I had a great opportunity to meet and speak with at length, Daniel Pardi of Dan’s Plan. Dan created a great poster presentation for AHS outlining key points to address for a successful change into overall wellness. Among some of his key points to address are:
- Spend 1/2 of your waking hours standing
- Walk at least 10,000 steps per day (I’ve always been a fan of walking but now I think I’ll need a pedometer to try and hit that 10k steps everyday)
- Eat paleo
- Exercise good sleep hygiene
You can check it out in it’s full glory here. We talked for quite sometime about sleep, recovery, nutrition and movement, basically lifestyle and how it would relate to me and my goal of epilepsy treatment. He said it sounded like I was on the right track in terms of sleep optimization, eating a clean diet (for my case. high in fat) and exercising properly.
About a month prior to AHS, I had a limited run for some promotional t-shirts for this blog (if you have interest in one let me know but I have to change the slogan somewhat or I may get sued by Susan G. Komen for trademark infringement). Robb expressed interest in a shirt so I sent him one. When I ran into him at AHS, he told me that he brought the shirt with him and planned to wear it for one of the conference days. Unfortunately, he spilled water all over it and couldn’t wear it (I still give him a little friendly grief for it).
Dr Thiele was billed out for AHS as a Harvard Epileptologist. Based on that alone, if I had to choose ONE presentation to see all weekend, it would be hers for obvious reasons. Her area of interest is using ketogenic dietary therapy for treatment in pediatric epilepsy. She was adamant throughout her presentation to refer to her treatment as therapy rather than just a diet because people react poorly when the term diet is used. In my years of eating a paleo oriented diet, I have noticed some people’s reactions can be a little defensive almost when I use the word diet to describe what I’m doing. I’m not entirely sure why but I think I will try to use therapy instead of diet and see what happens.
Anyway, back to Dr Thiele. She is known throughout the ketogenic world as being a strong proponent of what’s known as Low Glycemic Index Therapy or LGIT. Meaning a ketogenic diet but slightly more liberal in terms of the amount of carbs allowed per day. The quality of carbs in her plan however, are emphasized over quantity (kind of sounds like Zone vs. Paleo doesn’t it?). What her plan focuses on in terms of carbs is to keep blood glucose stable rather than erratic from spikes and drops. There is a great page dedicated to this on epilepsy.com here. Below is a video of her describing her treatment during an interview.
I tend to gravitate towards her treatment the most. I like that there are more carbohydrates allowed per day, up to 50g, especially since I tend to do some high intensity exercise like CrossFit. After I had my consultation with my now friend Amy Kubal last year, I naturally gravitated toward this style of eating: high quality, pastured or grass fed meats and proteins, coconut oil, dense leafy veggies and maybe once a week some berries. I also find that the times I have done either the Whole30 program or Diane’s 21 Day Sugar Detox, I tend to eat the same way. I just always ate this way to keep my insulin and blood glucose nice and low and stable. During her talk however, I was immediately asking myself, “If seizure threshold is affected by blood glucose levels, is there any relation to insulin sensitivity and/or levels?” I was able to get her email after her talk so I plan to ask her that at the very least to open up a line of communication for further inquiries. In the very brief exchange we had (literally 30 seconds), she did tell me about a doctor in Denver (where my neuro is located) that I could try to get in touch with named Susan Coe. Apparently, she is also utilizing LGIT for epilepsy treatment. Hopefully I can get in touch with her if nothing but to ask her a few questions.
I met Bill and Hayley for the first time at Paleo FX 6 months or so ago. I wrote briefly how we all got along pretty much right away talking about photography, food, architecture etc. Also, during the CrossFit Games last month, Bill, Hayley and Diane were able to join me at my gym DogTown CrossFit for a workout (they actually wrote about this a little bit in their CrossFit Games post). It was there that I told them about my reasons for going paleo and what I intend to accomplish with the diet. When I had just wrapped up my story, Bill was cursing the fact that they didn’t have the camera running. I agreed that it was a shame but we could do an interview at AHS not really thinking that we would find the time.
I feel like I must take a quick moment to pause and explain what kind of people Bill and Hayley really are. They are some of the most genuine and giving people out there. As soon as they heard my story they were insistent that my story get told to as many people as possible so I could help as many as I can. Those two just want to help people get healthy. It’s very inspiring. Other than my Ketogenic Pizza, Bill and Hayley are responsible for a large amount of my followers as of right now. Chances are, if you are reading this, it’s because of one of the two reasons I just listed. I can’t thank them enough and I am very lucky and thankful to call them friends.
So, with all the hob nobbing at AHS for the entire 3 days of the conference, Bill was able to not only remember to shoot an impromptu interview with me but he also edited it and published it just in time for my birthday a few short days after the conference. Best present ever dude!