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Ancestral Health Symposium 2017 Recap

SoleFit pedorthist Ryan Grant recently attended the Ancestral Health Symposium in Seattle, Washington and here are a few

SoleFit pedorthist Ryan Grant recently attended the Ancestral Health Symposium in Seattle, Washington and here are a few of his takeaways.

At SoleFit, we are always looking for ways to ensure we are looking at the source of the injury.  This way, our assessments allow us to use various methods to help speed up healing but also help to understand possible underlying causes of the issue.  Stemming from our look at running biomechanics, we have been big fans of looking at various health problems through an evolutionary lens.  From the Ancestral Health Symposium website, ‘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.’  Here are a few of my main takeaways from the 3 day conference!


Important to differentiate between 'exercise' and 'movement'

We've always been big fans of Katy Bowman's message and it was good to hear her speak again.  Many patients that we see get plenty of exercise but fail to get even close to enough movement during the day (someone who sits 8hrs and runs 1hr after work).  Trying to break up our sedentarism by adding in more general movement can make huge differences to our health.  We did an article about this a few years ago and highly recommend checking out Katy's website, and her book Move Your DNA.

This is a great short video by Katy Bowman explaining the importance of getting more movement into your day!  Someone who runs an hour a day may still be moving for only 4% of the day.

Look 'outside the box' if you're having undiagnosed issues

This came from a talk on 'whether or not you can eat too much protein?' by Chris Masterjohn.  The simple answer to the presentation topic is yes, but usually no (keeping it simple).  When you eat protein,  amino acids are broken down and a byproduct of this is ammonia.  Ammonia is converted into urea in the liver during the urea cycle and if someone has a urea cycle deficiency, there can be serious complications from too much protein (hyperannomenia).  Now this is quite rare, but the takeaway from this talk with regards to protein was that if someone is experiencing undiagnosed issues (diarrhea, brain fog, general fatigue etc), consider looking at food macro ratios (protein, fat, carbohydrates) as a possible cause.

In a pedorthic setting, if someone has been treated for the same undiagnosed injury over and over again with little relief from 'conventional' means, it may be beneficial to be referred out to a nutrition/sleep/etc expert to hopefully find what might be the underlying cause! 

The importance of being a 'diet agnostic'

This came from a talk on 'Jumping out of the nutrition system' by Adele Hite.  With so much great information out there on how to fuel our body, it's easy to get caught up with what has worked well for others.  Although there is some general consensus about certain things (eat more real food, veggies are good), it's important to realize that nutritional advice is often very much an experiment of one.  Adele, like many of the speakers, recommends getting a basic understanding of how the various macros (fat, protein, carbs) affect the body and then experimenting from there.

In our pedorthic setting, it's important to realize that food choices can affect many of the injuries that we see coming through especially when related to inflammatory conditions.

Hug it out!

This came from a talk on 'Creating Health and Vitality with the Tactile Sense' by Tony Frederico.  Due to social media, many of us are trading up oxytocin production (the bonding/love hormone) with dopamine (the short term pleasure hormone).  Although they both have the effect of making us feel good, lack of oxytocin often leaves us feeling unfulfilled.  Recommendations for increasing oxytocin production through tactile sense: be barefoot, eat with your hands, get a massage, give a massage, get outside.  All things that sound pretty good to me!

In a pedorthic setting...maybe we should hug more (and ideally hold for more than 20sec for optimal oxytocin boost)!  😉

foot clinic solefit using hugs for oxytocin

Keep those oxytocin hormone levels high by using more of your tactile senses.

Consider more movement based 'play' time

This came from a talk on 'Physical Activity as a Polypill for Chronic Lifestyle Disease' by Darryl Edwards.  Although short term effects of exercise can drive up inflammation, long term effects of exercise have the opposite effect and reduce inflammation.  Varied movement with good technique is key (moving in lots of different ways) and definitely worth checking out Darryl's site for some ideas on how to 'play'.  I did a group play session with Darryl on one of the mornings and it was a lot of fun with some good functional movement!

Sleep is very important but still lots that science doesn't understand

This came from a talk on 'Hunter-gatherer sleep - What can we Learn?' by Dan Pardi (for those with sleep difficulties, definitely worth checking out his blog). There is little doubt on the importance of sleep but there is still quite a bit of debate on how much we should be getting and when we should be getting it.  A few main points and questions; 


  • Actual sleep time vs time in bed can be drastically different.  Using metrics to track your sleep can be very helpful to find out how much time you actually should be in bed in order to get the ideal amount of sleep (more on how to do this in future videos...stay tuned!)
  • Younger adults tend to prefer to be up late and sleep in late. This may be an evolutionary advantage in order to keep the younger/stronger up late to protect the tribe.  In many of the tribal communities, 99% of the time someone is awake which helps protect the community.
  • Chronotype sleep pattern outliers are often forced to conform to 'regular' sleep patterns which can have negative effects (sleep should be more flexible).
  • It appears that many tribal cultures actually sleep less than modern humans.  Jury is out as to why.
  • When we sleep, we purge memories that we don't use and link other ones.  Often time memory of dreams has to do with what phase of sleep we're in when we wake up!

In a pedorthic setting, lack of sleep may play a factor in some of the injuries that we see coming through.  

OURA ring for sleep tracking

Using tracking tools like the OURA ring, we can better understand what effects our sleep and ensures we optimize for the amount of time that we have.  Stay tuned for our video review on the OURA ring (hint…we think it’s pretty cool)!

Through epigenetics, we largely control the expression of our genes

This came from a talk on 'Diet and Gene Expression' by Lucia Aronica. We often are told that 'our genes are our genes' and there's not much you can do to change them.  However, it is now thought that how genes are expressed is largely controlled by environmental factors, many of which we can control.  Nature may rule over nurture after all!


As always, we’d love to hear any comments that you may have and definitely let us know if you have any questions!  To keep up with blog posts, health tips, and upcoming events be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter!

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