Paleo f(x) And The Current Status Of The Ancestral Health Movement
The “Paleo" movement began in the early 2000’s with Loren Courdain’s book entitled “The Paleo Diet”. At first, the book did not take the world by storm, but over time, the core concept of the book caught on. Essentially, Dr. Courdain postulated that our pre-historic ancestors did not eat processed foods like grains, and that a diet that mimicked the foods that would have been available in ancient times before we had farmed foods was a safe bet for human health. Healthcare practitioners soon began to take notice that their patients who adopted the diet were healthier. I read the book soon after it was published, cured myself of nagging health issues, and started to tell my patients about it, especially since paleolithic humans had almost no tooth decay or gum disease. As with all novel concepts, most people dismissed it entirely. A few listened and the positive health results were sometimes startling. I was occasionally amazed when a patient would hug me and thank me for helping them rescue their health. There is no better feeling in the world. I went into dentistry to save teeth and foun out I could improvesome patients lives. I used to scour the internet for any new information on the Paleo Diet to no avail and eventually gave up looking, but then an amazing thing happened..
In 2011, after several years of believing I was one of the only people who seemed interested in the Paleo Diet, I found out (after it was too late to attend) that Aaron Blaisdell and a few others organized the Ancestral Health Society and held the first Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS). In their own words, “Our goal is to examine current health challenges through the context of our ancestral heritage. In modern science, evolution is the default perspective for inquiry, yet in modern healthcare, evolution is almost nowhere to be seen. The Ancestral Health Symposium is dedicated to providing a forum for sharing scientific theories about how diet, lifestyle, and environment can shape human health”. Due to the high caliber speakers and the serious academic nature of the symposium, word started to spread. I have attended all of the subsequent conferences, I have spoken there, and am a listed speaker for the upcoming one in San Diego this summer. Finally, I had found my “tribe”.
Since the AHS is more academic, the average paleo adherent was a bit intimidated and in over their head. Enter Keith and Michelle Norris and Paleo f(x). They attended the first AHS and saw the need for a more “theory to practice” approach for the average person. In their own words, “Paleo f(x)™ is the world’s premier holistic wellness event, covering health, nutrition, fitness, sustainability, self-development, spirituality, relationships, entrepreneurship, & everything in between”.. Paleo f(x) has grown over the years and had over 8000 attendees this year. I just finished attending and want to give you my big picture take aways.
First, the movement is still expanding. Originally, it was thought that it may just be a fad and just fade away like most fads. Humans have eaten a Paleo Diet for three million years. This is hardly a fad. The details of the diet aside, giving up processed food and returning to a less processed diet usually results in positive health benefits like more energy and less chronic disease.. The behaviors that lead to feeling and looking better are incentive enough to want to continue and spread the word.
Second, the Paleo Diet is less dogmatic as more science emerges and the tent is getting bigger. There are many sub-groups within the movement. Low carb, Keto, Carnivore and even plant-based versions exist under the heading of Paleo. We all have unique responses to food and no two of us ever eat exactly alike.
Third, the diet part of the movement is only one aspect of what has now become a lifestyle. Sleep, movement, spirituality, meditation, and bio-hacking are all big subjects. This year, I was happy to notice a very common thread running through many of the presentations and panels. It has to do with chronic inflammation that stems from unruly gut bacteria. This is absolutely in my wheelhouse. I talk more about it in a previous post, but the basic principle is that the normally friendly germs that live in our mouth, small intestine and colon begin to misbehave when presented with processed carbohydrates. They produce endotoxins that can penetrate our gums and gut and cause inflammation. Once we have the inflammation, disease is usually not far behind.
Finally, I am overjoyed to find that other dentists are using ancestral health concepts to help their patients. My first commitment is helping patients improve their health by empowering them with knowledge to do so on their own. My new mission is to help expand the number of dentists that are willing to expand their practices to include ancestral health concepts. This blog is part of that effort. I ask that you help spread the word about the ancestral health movement and encourage your dentist to look into it. Thank You!