#AHS12 – Day 2 recap
Day 2 of AHS featured a split-room schedule of presenters, leading to decisions that require more thought than a paleo newbie watching the safe-starch debate. Interestingly enough, I missed the infamous debate so you won’t be finding a synopsis of it here.
I opted to sleep in a bit (can we get a later start time, please?) and started with Jamie Scott‘s talk on ancestral perspectives for endurance athletes. I really liked his talk even though it was mostly information that I know and preach day in day out. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much. He took a stab at the “HG’s had robust and generalized fitness, so we should too” argument, noting the logical fallacy in the declaration and showing adaptations in human beings that favor endurance athletics. While training methodologies of today’s endurance athlete are sugar- and intensity-heavy, he recommends a low intensity training schedule that is “guilt-producingly easy”. Approximately 80% of training should be done below lactate threshold, and only once or twice a week should interval or other hard training be done. An interesting fact I learned from his talk was that carb consumption pre-workout decreases AMPK activation, thus blunting training adaptation (meaning it may be beneficial to train on an empty tank).
Up next was the ‘Fix Our Food’ initiative: a comprehensive approach to food and nutrition reform. This panel featured Adele Hite of the Healthy Nation Coalition, a group with whom I volunteer my time to try and effect some positive change in food policy reform. Panelists questioned the efficacy of fixing current food policies by implementing new policies, noting that the law of unintended consequences will ultimately prevail. The American Dietetics Association (now known as the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition or AND) is funded by a sickening number of large junkfood corporations (Coca Cola, Hershey’s, Mars and SoyJoy to name a few), and their attempts at pushing legislation requiring licensure in every state only helps professionals who have licenses, not individuals. Figures showed that states with licensure were no healthier, and in many cases less healthy, than those without required licensing for dispensing dietary advice. If seeking a licensed professional, a Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNS) has more rigorous standards to meet than a Registered Dietician (RD) and is generally more holistically-minded.
Peter Attia, M.D. gave a wonderful in-depth discussion on cholesterol, but in the essence of time I’ll just refer you to his 9 part series on cholesterol over at his website. Summary: cholesterol is vital for life and no it will not kill you if you eat it.
Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D. presented what I thought to be a groundbreaking hypothesis regarding oxidative stress, showing through various animal and clinical data that oxidative stress is not the result of an imbalance between antioxidants and oxidants in the body as so commonly thought. Rather, oxidative stress is an adaptation for reducing cellular energy that arises when there is an energy overload in the body. MasterJ also presented research on salivary amylase in primates in chimps, showing that humans’ greater production of this saliva enzyme helps digest starch and turn it into a useful fuel source. We have an evolutionary adaptation that allows for easier starch digestion. Should you exercise your right to use this adaptation? Guess I should have tuned into the Safe Starch Debate to learn the answer…
After stepping out for a (free!) espresso I then caught the tail end of Emily Deans, M.D.‘s presentation on nutrition and mental health. Similar to MasterJ, she broke some major new ground: Twinkies and PopSecret popcorn are to be avoided at all costs! All kidding aside, Deans showed some interesting stats regarding hypoglycemia, violence and irritability. I also found it fascinating that women with PCOS are more likely to engage in binge eating than women without (hint: PCOS is linked to blood sugar disregulation). Ultimately, Deans’ quote of the evening was “stop eating like a jerk”, of which I’m sure everyone in attendance would agree.
My day at Harvard ended with a talk from Georgia Ede, M.D. on the risks and benefits of eating plants. She noted that of the 10 studies touting the positive benefits of plant consumption, there were many confounding variables so results may not be accurate. In addition, plants tend to be less nutrient dense than meat and plant nutrients are generally less bioavailable.
After the conference Diana Rodgers hosted a sustainable farm dinner in the barn of Clark Farm. The food was absolutely incredible and the setting could not be beat. For a full recap, you can read Diana’s post over at her Sustainable Dish website.
All of my #AHS12 links: