Saturday started out with Mark Sisson (has anyone noticed he looks like Harrison Ford? Just me? K.) He was discussing the research in his new book Primal Endurance, where he discusses a new training paradigm about how to train for endurance races/events while following a Paleo protocol and also discusses how to become a fat burner over a sugar burner, which was really interesting information! The new training paradigm focused on maintaining a consistent lower heartrate, eating more daily fats and incorporating different types of exercise into your week. I don’t have any endurance races coming up, but I may get the book just for the science aspect, I really enjoyed what he had to say.
Then, who I was waiting for, Chris Kresser. His discussion was titled ‘Exposome, Epigenetics and the Future of Medicine”. (Exposome = the world around you, Epigenetics = How your genes reacts to your environment) He had three main points that he believes needs to be incorporated into the healing models of practitioners. 1) Exposome as the primary driver to health, 2) Utilizing the Ancestry Model and 3) Utilizing the Functional Medicine Model. He broke each of these three down and discussed them at length.
When discussing the Exposome, he had some very startling points. Genetics accounts for LESS THAN 10% of disease, the other 90% is your environment. Whoa!! That’s a crazy statistic. Genetics used to be blamed for most everything it seems, but that can’t be further from the truth. Chris Kresser has a great saying ‘Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger’. What that means to me is that you can start out with a set of good or bad genes, but what you do with your life will determine how those play out. What you put into your body, how you manage your stress levels and how much you move will determine how those genes are expressed. He stated that this also accounts for the fact that identical twins can be so different. Their genes are the same, but how they live their lives are different.
The main point of utilizing an ancestral framework is that hunter/gatherer populations were far superior to us in all areas of health. They had no signs of chronic illness, inflammation or disease. Sounds like they must have been doing something right. They obviously ate in an optimal way for the body, their stress reaction systems worked as their were supposed to; in acute stress situations (hello lions, tigers and bears, oh my!) and their circadian rhythms were on point, to name a few. Everything we in the Paleo-sphere are trying to mimic on a daily basis, and yes, it is hard to accomplish in this modern world we live in.
His final point was discussing the Functional Medicine Approach. He compared and contrasted the ‘Conventional’ medicine model and the ‘Functional’ medical model. In conventional medicine, doctors work from symptoms, to disease, to pathology, to environment. We all are aware of this progression and have lived through it I am sure. Conventional doctors are concerned with symptoms first and will medicate those, before looking for underlying causes and other issues. In the Functional medicine model, doctors work from the environment, to pathology, to disease then to symptoms. They are concerned with the entire person, not just the one symptom that brought them into the office. He stressed that this is the model that should be used going forward. Not only looking at each symptom by itself, but looking at the entire human behind the symptom so the symptom (and others possibly present) are best understood.
We jumped right into the Express Yourself Panel, comprised of Mark Sisson, Dr. Cate Shanahan, Dr. Justin Marchegiani, Chris Kresser and Dr. Michael Ruscio. This panel discussed Genetics vs. Epigenetics. I really enjoyed this panel discussion (anyone sense a theme here? I enjoyed it all?) The whole time I was listening to this panel discussion, it felt like I was in information overload. Between having multiple people speaking at any one time, on a super in-depth topic, my head was swimming! The panel discussed how epigenetics are passed on through generations, genetic testing and placebo effects. One of my favorite quotes from the weekend came during this session when Dr. Michael Ruscio was speaking about genetic testing and results. He stated ‘If you drink coffee and it keeps you up all night, I don’t give a shit what your genes say, don’t drink coffee!‘ This was hilarious, but genius at the same time. Too often during the investigative process, we forget to trust ourselves. We get this test done, and that test done, and go by results alone. We forget the greatest indicator of what is working or not, is ourselves.
Another very interesting part of the session was the discussion about the Placebo Effect. One of the studies that was mentioned, was about pairing both a visual and auditory cue with the placebo. Eventually when given just the visual and auditory cue, the individual received the same response as they did when taking the placebo. Groundbreaking! I’ll be pairing pictures of palm trees and steel drum music with my Execdrine Migraine from now on, maybe palm trees will be my new migraine cure! One can only hope, right?
After this discussion we were done for the day and our brains were fried! I’ll finish up later in the week with part 3! Keep your eyes peeled!