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My Ancestral Health Symposium Presentation – Self Experimentation #AHS11

I'm planning on doing a number of posts over a number of days about the monumental Ancestral Health Symposium 2011 (AHS11) on the beautiful campus of UCLA. And I'll also put up some pics I took and others took. If you attended and took pictures and would like to share them with others, please email to me. My address is on the About page.

I thought I'd kick it off with my presentation yesterday afternoon. The AHS11 was science heavy, as you can imagine just by looking at the schedule of speakers (PDF), as well as the abstracts of their presentations (PDF). As a blogger who blogs about various things from a largely personal perspective, which is kind of the point of a "blog" in the first place, I decided to keep the same focus.

photo4
A slice of the nice large crowd

I was very pleased with the number of folks who came. I'd estimate in excess of 200. Lots of people standing in the back and off to the sides.

photo 4
Oh no! There he goes.

Eventually the video will be out and you'll have the whole context, but in the meantime, here's the PDF version of my slide deck. The presentation ran 35 minutes, which left 10 for Q&A, and there were at least three people still in line when we ran out of time. With a show of hands at the beginning, looks like at least 90% of those in attendance were readers of this blog. I appreciate your patronage as well as the dozens of folks before and after the presentation who came up to me to thank me for this blog. I was really at a loss for what to say most of the time except for a simple "thank you." Many people approached Beatrice as well. Thanks for that. Seth Roberts, author of The Shangri-La Diet, told me that out of every presenter at the Symposium, my info on this blog has been of the most use and help to him. He also got up during the Q&A period and testified that he has been soap free since shortly after my first post on it.

So how was the presentation received? Well, judge for yourself from the #AHS11 Tweet Stream. Click to open full size.

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Screen Shot 2011 08 07 at 1 48 21 PM
 
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Screen Shot 2011 08 07 at 1 50 49 PM
 

I'm glad that almost everyone seemed to like it.

Update: When this post was first published it included my opinion of the opinion expressed by one of the Tweeters. After exchanging emails with her, following each other on Twitter and basically becoming twuds (tweet buds?), I really don't want the negative shit up here any more. Besides, it has long been my policy that there's plenty enough stuff in the world to hit & run, slash & burn over, other than petty disputes with others in the community, especially those doing good work (and she is). I'll also delete the comments that reference any of this directly. So, my bad. It's over.

Comments

  1. I love that your presentation is done barefoot.

    I give all of my presentations at uni in VFF’s

    • Frank Forcenich did his barefoot too, as did Erwan Le Core. The first day of the symposium, I, Frank and maybe one other were barefoot. Second day, a dozen. After my presentation, a couple of dozen.

  2. damaged justice says:

    I hope Lustig’s ears are burning from many well-deserved slaps.

    Metabolic syndrome is healthier than fascism.

  3. Oingo Boingo says:

    It was quite a treat. Richard discussed his experiments with being frozen in Carbonite Han Solo style to lose weight (painful and nonproductive), training exclusively with the Shake Weight™ (carpal tunnel syndrome, lost muscle), and rising at dawn to drink raw eggs before running to the top of the 72 stone steps before the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (he lost to Creed, but won Adrian’ s heart).

    Seriously, it was one of the best presentations I saw, along with those of Tom Naughton & Denise Minger. Also, oddly enough, in that same room.

  4. Thank god that everyone didn’t like your presentation. Life would be really boring if we always agreed and we would make very little progress. Dissent and disagreement bring change!

    • Hey Andy,
      You and Richard should do a monthly podcast together. I really liked the quality you brought to the paleosolution and I’ve watched a couple YouTube vids of Richard doin his thing. You two would be a great team.

      • “Richard Nikoley, Andy Deas.” Ha!

      • I VOTE YES! I miss Andy and I loved your Durian Rider smack down. For the record, I thought you did fantastic yesterday with your presentation. Sorry some did not agree but like Robb Wolf said re: vegans vs meat eaters Fuck Em!
        xo
        deb

  5. Her tweet criticisms were pretty tame compared to some I read about some of the presenters on day 1. Can’t please everyone and I know that you would probably be disappointed if you did. Looking forward to seeing the videos front he conference.

  6. We’re cool, Grok, as always. Hell, you gave me a good angle to blog about.

    • That’s all I ever try to do :) All I ever try to do with anyone. Lot’s of panties got in a twit over or my tweets (I should be a rapper), and it boggles my mind as to why? My 200 or whatever tweets are all still in my feed and not limited to the same time frame cutoff as the AHS tweets. Tells a pretty clear story of my enthusiasm for a paleo style diet.

      I want to question and learn, not follow like a sheep. Sheep following got me almost nowhere and even backward in some cases. Offer still stands to those butthurt by my #AHS11 presence :
      https://twitter.com/castlegrok/status/100309841368727553

      I admittedly got a little pissed when the “vegetarians have irreparable brain damage” tweet was on blazing around like wildfire. Many of my friends at AHS are brilliant AND former vegetarians. Tweets said Minger speech had 50% hand raise when asked who were former veg. I guess all those people who are smart enough to take and interest in their health and attended were brain damaged too. I think Nora is very smart cookie, so that’ll be a vid to watch. If she did in fact say that, and in that context, I’m sure there will be no trouble finding examples of brain dead “meat eaters.”

      What was with the comment moderation? Are you doing that now? Thanks for the tip on “Thoughtful Comments” plugin BTW makes quick work for spam blocking so I don’t have to turn back on the other plugin that also blocked normal people sometimes.

      • Better the moderation was due to more than 2 links.

      • “Betting” Damn locked up bogged out browser. Time for a restart.

      • Yep, exactly. It was the number of links

      • Hey Grok,
        I was in the Minger room it was more like 75% hands raised ex veggies.
        :-) Yeah for FRUIT! and meat. and fish. and veggies, cooked mostly.

      • “Yeah for real food” would have saved some time Haha :)

        Wish it wasn’t the case, but I prefer the majority of my veggie varieties cooked as well. With my generally larger than average consumption, the insoluble fiber can be an issue.

  7. Yea, I sometimes have that issue with Echofon where replies don’t show up. All in all, I like it the best for Mac, iPhone and iPad of all the ones I’ve tried. Sync doesn’t work that great between devices though.

  8. No Ben. Neither of us are right or wrong because she’s not saying that 2+2=5 or equivalent. She stated an opinion over facts not in dispute (I did use myself as an example of self experimentation and I do use Old Spice Stick) and I stated a counter opinion and offered that she might want to consider it in the interest of her own continued success.

  9. Jessica K says:

    I love your blog but the comments are where it is at.

  10. Wish I had been there for that talk. Self experimentation is my speciality.

    • The meta point of the whole deal, Peggy, was that even for a perfect, randomized, controlled, intervention study with clear conclusions for the intervention group, the stats are an average. You don’t know if you would be an outlier on either end of the distribution, in the sweet spot, or anything.

      You still have to find out for yourself

      • Peggy the Primal Parent says:

        Hard to imagine anyone would have a problem with a premise like that! The whole reason i got into self experimentation years ago was because i when i tied regimines based on studies, i didnt see the profound results that 70% of subjects exerienced. On and on i went trying different approaches until finally i said, fuck it, i’m gonna make my own damn study. I got more out of that than the hundred health books i read about somebody elses sweet spot.

  11. I’ve been diving into self-experimentation a lot more recently and love it. My relationship with food is growing (I can’t believe I just said that) and I am truly able to know what makes me feel awesome and what makes me feel like shit.

    When I eat shit I really feel like shit. I just went camping for 3 days with my siblings. All are not primal. All like to party with alcohol and smokes (not all smoke). I don’t drink but enjoyed 2 bottles of wine.

    I did dive into some of the junk food. I felt like absolute shit today – very crampy. I’m going to be experimenting like crazy for the rest of the year and will be super strict.

    Myself and 2 others are doing all that we can to get on season 2 of expedition impossible!

  12. You know who else thought your presentation wasn’t well received? That right, Adolf Hitler.

    One obviously has to be careful with the n=1 approach. When a body has raging metabolic syndrome and one has to break their sugar/carb addiction they are going to feel like shit. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you. Then there’s my father, in his upper 70s, who works out every single frickin’ day, rain or shine, barring injuries. I consider that over-training, but that’s his thing so who am I to judge?

  13. Looking forward for your video. The PDF looks very good.

    i have developed a system that works for me and i’m moving in the right direction. Self experimentation works.

    Can you please recomand some good books on topic (not diet related)

  14. Also looking forward to the video of your talk. I think you’re bang on, and your ideas dovetail nicely in with the ‘whole hog’ approach of Robb Wolf and the like.e I.e. get certain things out of the diet for a reasonable amount of time and then start your experimentation within certain controlled parameters. As someone once said, “science is just instructed common sense.” In the end, we have to DO Paleo, because we aren’t getting a whole lot of help from our doctors, nutritionists and no one espousing this thing has managed to become friends with Oprah. And even if it were the case we have to take the reigns.

    I really agree with you making this a political thing. Taking charge of what goes in our mouths seems so elementary, that it’s hard to see how we as a society, and as individuals, have let it get so far out of our grasp; satisfied to trust the machinations of various scienticians (oooh, he’s got a white labcoat!) while the evidence of our failing health accumulates day by day. Perhaps it’s because our health and general welfare is rarely spoken of as the sine qua non of any kind of real politics. If you’re weak and sick, and can’t even figure out how to eat (even my bloody cat knows what’s good for him!) how can you be a “Citizen” in the full sense of the term?

    • Thanks Todd. Not surprisingly, Frank Forcenich and Erwan Le Corre are the ones whose presentations dovetail the best with mine. I.e., Frank’s Exuberant Animal and Erwan’s domesticated Zoo Human. You’ll not want to miss either of those presentations.

  15. Re self-experimentation the way I look at it is that as between some expert who conducted a study, and my personal experience, I’m going to go with personal experience every time.

  16. I got into this argument with a friend of mine when she told me that Paleo/Primal wasn’t for everyone. This is due to the fact that here and her husband did Atkins and he went to the ER with chest pains due to low Potassium. Turns out he was swimming 5 days/week and lifting 3 days/week. I told her that the excessive cardio was what caused the dificiency not excess saturated fats. She still feels that saturated fat causes heart disease though too after I explained over and over how it does not.

    To most nonbelievers I tell them to try eating real whole foods for 30 days and if they don’t see a difference then move on with your life. I usually get most people to bite because you can do anything for 30 days.

    @Todd – Down with the white lab coats. How MDs and RDs can still preach the garbage from the 50′s is beyond me. I want to see these textbooks that they are using and what studies they are citing to believe all this crap. My MIL is on a dozen different meds and a quarter of them are to mitigate the affects of the other 75%. I think every Doc thinks if something is wrong then prescribe something instead of telling people to change what they shove down their gullets.

    • …”Paleo/Primal wasn’t for everyone. This is due to the fact that here and her husband did Atkins…” *facepalm* Man the way people think blows my mind sometimes…lol

      That’s like saying Paleo isn’t for everyone because he was a vegan and had problems.

      • I know. People still look at me stupid when I say that Paleo is not Atkins. I am going to get Atkins book so I can build a better defense against that arrow. She is a math teacher to boot so I figured the clear false correlation of the lipid hypothesis would sway her. She still believes that red meat and saturated fats cause high cholesterol which causes heart disease. At this point I have moved on to greener pastures.

  17. If anyone is interested my n=1 experiment is posted on my blog. It is a video interview about my attempt at healing my leukemia. http://Www.grassfedmomma .blogspot.com

  18. Oscar Milde says:
  19. Richard I thought your presentation was quite appropriate. While there were some old time Paleo eaters at the conference, I spoke to quite a few newbies who might otherwise continue on a path that might not be beneficial to them.

    Biochemical individuality certainly dictates a lot in self experimentation and if we don’t self experiment, we never know a final outcome.

    Thank you for your experiences and your willingness to share within this community

    • Thanks a ton Misty, for reading the blog, attending my talk, and taking the time to comment.

    • “I spoke to quite a few newbies who might otherwise continue on a path that might not be beneficial to
      them.”

      Quite common in the paleo world if you look in from an outsider standpoint. I get chastised for talking about it, and a steam of “thank you” and “help me” emails all at the same time.

      Excited to see what Richard had to say.

  20. Katherine says:

    Thanks so much for the play by play of your time at AHS. Sadly, a family tragedy (http://goo.gl/WZFsq) prevented me from attending but reading this recent post of yours….well, it felt like I was there. It’s much appreciated and I look forward to meeting you next year.

  21. Richard, Perhaps the video will answer my questions, but after reading the PDF of your presentation I wonder how you go about either “avoiding” or “managing” confounders (stated in two separate slides).

    For example, you failed seemingly at trying one thing, walking 3 miles/day for 5-6 years resulting in weight gain of 40 lbs. Surely there were other variables during those 5-6 years that contributed to the weight gain?

    Then you tried five things: resistance training, paleo eating, intermittant fasting, fasted training, cold water exposure resulting in 60 pound weight loss. How do you know the significance of each of those effects on the response? In other words, maybe the resistance training had a huge effect on weight loss and paleo eating not so much. Was it a step-wise approach? If so, how long does each step last before you determine the significance of the effect?

    And you are experimenting with eight other effects on slide 18. What are the goals of those experiments? I’m more curious than criticizing. The slides left me with a bunch of questions. Thanks, Kelly

    • Kelly:

      “Richard, Perhaps the video will answer my questions, but after reading the PDF of your presentation I wonder how you go about either “avoiding” or “managing” confounders (stated in two separate slides).

      “For example, you failed seemingly at trying one thing, walking 3 miles/day for 5-6 years resulting in weight gain of 40 lbs. Surely there were other variables during those 5-6 years that contributed to the weight gain?”

      Great observation and you are absolutely correct. I think I actually discussed this with Seth afterwards, or maybe someone else. The two chief confounders I can think of:

      1. Perhaps I’d have gained way more than 30-40 pounds during my walking phase had I not been walking.

      2. Very likely in my estimation is that I was fooling myself with the benefit of the daily walk and rewarded myself with extra food intake.

      My main thrust with that is that if you are having issues such as weight gain or mal digestion of the many sorts that manifest, allergies, etc., then go back to baseline, like meat & vegetables, or whatever it takes to eliminate al symptoms, stay there for a while to establish baseline, then add one food at a time (dairy, fish, nuts and so on) until you identify the problem. Don’t change a bunch of multiple things at one time and for each stage, stay there long enough for everything to settle out.

      “Then you tried five things: resistance training, paleo eating, intermittant fasting, fasted training, cold water exposure resulting in 60 pound weight loss. How do you know the significance of each of those effects on the response? In other words, maybe the resistance training had a huge effect on weight loss and paleo eating not so much. Was it a step-wise approach? If so, how long does each step last before you determine the significance of the effect?”

      As I explained in I think the Q&A, I very well know the effect of the resistance training, the paleo eating and the fasting. I was at each of those stages for a good long while before adding the next one and in each case results increased, 1 pound per month average loss for resistance training, 2-3 pounds per month upon introducing Paleoish, and 4 pounds per week for the first 5 weeks when introducing IF. For the fasted training and cold water exposure, I did not notice any difference. I just enjoy doing them both.

      “And you are experimenting with eight other effects on slide 18″

      In this case, I’m just fiddling around. These are basically lifestyle enhancements and the point of the experimentation is that I don’t make things worse. For example, I did the eating window thing al-la Leangains for a year or so and ultimately it made me feel that it was too chronic, so it was a lifestyle drag. Now I’m back to 24-30 hour fasts 1-2 times per week and loving it. I find it so cleansing and invigorating.

      Any follow up questions are welcome.

      • “2. Very likely in my estimation is that I was fooling myself with the benefit of the daily walk and rewarded myself with extra food intake.”

        That’s really insightful. Perhaps there’s such a thing as “exercise reward”.

        After hearing about the Taubes/Guyenet “debate” through carbsane/paleohack yesterday, I read up on Guyenet (didn’t know about him). Man am I glad I started reading his blog! Food reward makes as much sense to me as insulin resistance. I think BOTH can be major factors for obesity.

        Then I discovered Seth Roberts in your comments and also mentioned by Guyenet. I like how this symposium opened up my world even more and I didn’t even attend!

      • “Food reward makes as much sense to me as insulin resistance. I think BOTH can be major factors for obesity.”

        BINGO!

        I think Food Reward, plus an additional factor I’ll introduce in my post explains what kicks off fat accumulation in an otherwise healthy, insulin and leptin sensitive person and once that fat accumulation get to a tipping point, Taube’s ideas explain continuing fat accumulation (hormonal disregulation). Lustig’s presentation also fits in here.

        More later.

      • I do like your multiple factor approach. It reminds me of what Dr. Phinney said in his new book about his cosmopolitan approach towards science:

        ““…None of them alone can fully explain the phenomenon of the body ignoring insulin’s signal. Part of this problem lies with how we do science. This is the reductionist approach to discovering scientific truth. This is straight forward and relatively easy to do, so lots of scientists swear by it. But what if a clinical problem like insulin resistance is not due to a single domino, but rather a number of dysfunctional proteins or other structural materials in combination? The answer – the reductionist approach can’t deliver an answer in this situation. If multiple steps in a pathway, working in varying combinations, eventually compromise that pathway’s action, the reductionist paradigm fails. But if one takes a more holistic or cosmopolitan approach to assessing the problem, the cause of the problem might be better appreciated.”

        And thanks to LisaW for her link to Seth Robert’s 2004 paper on self experimentation, where he describes how the combination of standing and morning light eliminated colds for 5 years. I think the real golden nuggets can be found when you trial multiple changes at once to discover interactions between factors, like Roberts standing and morning light.

      • Richard – I would like to try 24 hour fasting to break out of a weight loss plateau. Other than water, what do you drink while doing a 24 hour fast. Any other fasting advice for a newbie?

        thanks a ton

      • totally unsweetened black coffee and black and green tea.

  22. Richard – did you witness the Taubes/Guyenet exchange after Guyenet’s presentation?

    What’s the hubub about?

    • Yes, I did. I’ve talked with both Gary and Stephan about it and will save my assessment for a post, probably on Thursday or Friday.

      • Actually, Angelo of This Week in Paleo (@PaleoPodcast) and I are recording a podcast this Saturday on “The Controversies of AHS. That should be up Sunday or Monday and I’ll publish a post a day or so later in order to give him first crack at interested traffic.

    • Taubes was basically instructing Stephan G. on how to be a good scientist. It would have been comical if it hadn’t been so irritatingly inappropriate. Stephan Guyenet is a gentleman and a scholar, and not to mention one hell of a smart guy.

      • @David – Why was it inappropriate? Taubes has been questioning the science of others his whole career. I was not there (and am not taking sides) but it seems that everyone is fired up because of Taubes’ tone not necessarily the substance of his critique.

        If the criticism was constructive, it seems ok to me to question the theories of others.

      • EF,

        There was no excuse for Gary to be condescending, especially when addressing somebody with established scientific credibility, and a fantastic personality to boot.

        With a typical demonstration of Stephan’s class, he merely replied “Thank you for the advice” rather than sinking the level of conversation any lower.

        The point of events like this is to foster collegiality and openness, so the tone of debate is incredibly relevant.

      • I just saw the exchange on YouTube. Wow – this is completely overblown. I don’t think what Taubes said was inappropriate at all — maybe the manner in which he said it was slightly off but, come on, everyone needs to put the big boy pants on. If that’s the worse thing someone said to me in a given day, it was a pretty damn good day.

        If anything, Guyenet came off sounding like an elitist scientist and that he need not take advice on science from a journalist.

      • EF:

        You just nailed it. I will be saying this same thing when I do a podcast with Angelo of Paleo Podcast on the “controversies of AHS.”

        I think Stephan handled it OK. I just think the third party reaction is way overblown. It’s not like we’re dealing with schoolyard 3-yr-olds who need to be taught how to play nice.

      • I think Taubes made an excellent point: how does the food reward hypothesis hold up when applied to various cultures? Perhaps Guyenet, given time to reflect and respond, will add more parts to his blog series addressing Taubes inquiries. That would be cool.

  23. “Let’s include the rest of the tweets so I don’t look like some evil doer or fruit eating Chihuahua out to get big dog Richard Nikoley.”

    “Chihuahuas are little fuckers.” ~ Erwan Le Corre

  24. Yea, whatever, Marie. [yawn]

    Her tweets were public. My blog post is public.

    I say what I think and what I want every time, with absolutely zero thought or consideration to what anyone in the world thinks about it. That’ll never change. Make of it what you will because I don’t care.

  25. To the previous commenters getting notifications (edit and update to the original post):

    Update: When this post was first published it included my opinion of the opinion expressed by one of the Tweeters. After exchanging emails with her, following each other on Twitter and basically becoming twuds (tweet buds?), I really don’t want the negative shit up here any more. Besides, it has long been my policy that there’s plenty enough stuff in the world to hit & run, slash & burn over, other than petty disputes with others in the community, especially those doing good work (and she is). I’ll also delete the comments that reference any of this directly. So, my bad. It’s over.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] McEwen of Hunt.Gather.Love. Chris Masterjohn of Cholesterol and Health FitBomb That Paleo Guy Richard of Free the Animal Stephan of Whole Health [...]

  2. [...] a quickie on the AHS 2012 My Ancestral Health Symposium Presentation – Self Experimentation | Free The Animal Check out my primal blog: http://primalroar.posterous.com/ Reply With Quote   [...]

  3. [...] (2) Paul Jaminet, Perfect Health Diet Patrick Riley, Big Think Richard Nikoley, Free the Animal (1) (2) (3) (4) Roger Dickerman Stephan Guyenet, Whole Health Source (1) (2) The Paleo Garden Tony Kenck, [...]

  4. [...] August 12th, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized TweetThe plan came together at the start of my AHS Presentation. [...]

  5. [...] Nikoley) and be deliberate about those experiments (Seth Roberts). Richard Nikoley presented on self-experimentation and reminded me I’m not the only crazy experimenter (he doesn’t use soap or shampoo and [...]

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