Paleo (FX) an Immersive Enlightening Experience with my TRIBE
So this past weekend I travelled all the way from London, UK to Austin, TX, USA for the annual Paleo(FX) conference and it truly did not disappoint rather it exceeded all my expectations and more. The conference ran at the Palmer events centre on Friday May 19th to Sunday 21st exclusively and was packed full of hundreds of vendors, expert speakers and much more.
Day 1 started off with the well respected and quite funny neurologist Dr Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain and associated books. His talk focused on BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor which has been long studied in respect to its effect as a neuroprotector against dementia as well as stimulates growth of new brain cells – yup new brain cells by increasing your BDNF you can grow new brain cells and this is not only in the young but anyone from birth to the very end of life. Think of BDNF as a growth factor for the brain causing activation of genes that code for:
- Neurogenesis – growth of new brain cells
- Neuroplasticity – adaptability of the brain
- Neuronal Repair – repair of damaged neurons and brain cells
It has long been know that certain factors can increase BDNF in the brain namely aerobic exercise which has been studied in athletes as well as the elderly. Dr Perlmutter spoke of 6 factors that increase BDNF in the brain:
- Exercise – specifically aerobic exercises when done daily increases BDNF
- Turmeric – that wonder spice we all have been hearing about lately, yup it also increases BDNF is there anything it cannot do?
- Whole Coffee Fruit Extract – this is a new one to me and Dr Perlmutter said you will see it flood the market in the next few years it’s a potent stimulator of BDNF.
- DHA – or Docosahexaenoic Acid which is one of the main components of those amazing Omega 3’s we all hear about so often. Found in oily cold water fish or you can take in good quality supplements.
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid – another fatty acid that is present in our mitochondria or our energy powerhouses of our cells. Its involved in energy metabolism, blood glucose and can be found in meat and some fruits and vegetables.
- Ketosis – another thing that has been all the rage in the media lately which is a state of metabolism where you are burning fat or ketones for fuel rather than glucose or sugar. This is not the same as Ketoacidosis which is a bad state a diabetic can get in when blood glucose is not controlled. Ketosis is essentially when you are fuelled with fat and your fuel source in your body is mainly fat.
Dr Perlmutter also spoke about ways that we hinder BDNF or cause it to decline which include:
- Inflammation – anything that causes systemic inflammation can reduce our abilty to produce BDNF
- Dysbiosis or altered gut health – with our processed diets, food sensitivities, lack of quality sleep, exposure to numerous gi distruptors our gut health can be altered in many of us and gut inflammation or irritation also reduced BDNF
- Altered Microbiome or alteration in the good and bad bacteria of the gut can also reduce our ability to produce BDNF
- Over consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates not only reduces BDNF but it alters our gut microbiome, creates inflammation and creates dysbiosis.
So after all this discussion of BDNF, many scientific papers the inspiring Dr Perlmutter provided us with a list of what to eat:
- Probiotic Foods – aka fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha and other traditionally fermented foods.
- Prebiotic Foods – jicama, dandelion greens, garlic, chicory root, jeruselum artichoke, asparagus. Prebiotic foods are foods that feed the good bacteria.
- Supplements – Pre and Pro biotic supplements.
- Low Carbohydrate diet – cut out those carbs, sugars, and artificial sweeteners (they alter the microbiome too)
- Increase Healthy Fat consumption – avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, butter (butyrate specifically is a fantastic short chain fatty acid for the good bacteria)
- DHA – fatty cold water fish (wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchioves) or a good quality fish oil supplement
- Perform Aerobic Exercise Daily
The other speakers that I saw were all so amazing and the information form them is never-ending they were so generous with their time allowing us all to come meet them, ask questions and everyone was so approachable. I would highly recommend Paleo (FX) which is rebranding to Health (FX) next year to anyone even if you do not eat a Paleo diet – if your interested in health this conference is filled with amazing functional medicine doctors/practitioners, networking with your tribe which is so fulfilling and the loot is epic to say the least. There were vendors selling grass fed beef, wild salmon, paleo energy bars, balls, bulletproof coffee and so much more.
All the other speakers inspired me just as much as Dr Perlmutter but if I wrote about all of them individually I think this post would become a book so here are my top tips form all the amazing presenters that I was so fortunate to hear.
Dr Sarah Ballantyne – a specialist in autoimmune disease and the paleo diet spoke about cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and autoimmune disease.
- Tips for Cancer Prevention – sleep well >8 hours, for every 2 servings of vegetable intake increase you reduce all cause cancer risk by 10%, eating 25 grams of nuts/day decreases cancer risk by 25%. Deficiencies in zinc, omega 3s and vitamin D all increase cancer risk. There is no one specific diet for cancer.
- Tips for CVD – increase your veggies to >8 per day, eat lots of seafood and sardines, increase your vitamin D, eat organ meats, quality olive oil and grass-fed meat and dairy.
- Diabetes tips – fresh berries, dark leafy greens (1/5th of a serving reduces risk by 13%), yellow vegetables, cruciferous veg (cauliflower, broccoli etc) all independently decrease risk of diabetes development. In just a couple nights sleep you can make yourself insulin resistant which is the precursor to diabetes so quality 8 hours per night is imperative for diabetes protection. Stress increases cortisol and in turn causes insulin resistance so managing stress is a very effective way to preventing diabetes.
- Autoimmune Disease tips – fish, seafood, vitamin D, E, K2, B9, B12 and selenium are all important nutrients. Saturated fat is a great carrier of bad factors that cause inflammation out of the gut so increasing your healthy saturated fats can aid in reducing inflammation along with co-consumption of a lot of vegetables. So eat your fat with your veggies everyone. The memory of immune cells (IgG) is 10 months so if you have food intolerances or allergies and you expose yourself it can take 10 months before that is fully cleared.
Mark Sisson – ‘The Primal Blueprint’ an advocator of a primal/paleo lifestyle and long term blogger at marksdailyapple.com. Mark gave a talk on turing your passion into a carrer and I summarise here what I call his ‘Sissonisms’
- You don’t find your passion – it finds you
- You are a thought machine – we are all capable of creating a life of passion & purpose
- Find something your good at and share that talent with the world
- Always be doing something, creating, reinventing yourself, dreaming.
- Take calculated risks
- Want what you already have
- Be grateful for where you are now
- Don’t give up!
- Invest in yourself – take courses, classes, read investing in yourself is never wasted
- Take responsibility for your actions
- Release attachment to the outcome, have no regrets – my addition ‘Live Free’
- No Assholes – superstars only no assholes
Chris Kresser – the ever knowledgeable, experienced functional medicine practitioner Chris Kresser who has a fantastic podcast, website and works with people worldwide. He spoke on the topic ‘Are you a toxic waste disposal site?’ Chris’s top tips:
- Toxins come in many forms – pesticides, heavy metals (mercury), flame retardants (on all sofas, carpets), mold etc.
- Accumulated toxin exposure has been linked to many diseases including – Parkinson’s, Infertility, Cancer, Cardiovascular Problems, Autoimmunity and muc more.
- Assumptions about Toxins:
- Only high doses of toxins are harmful and often our government and advisory bodies ignore smaller effects of small doses
- Our detox system protects us (liver, kidneys, skin etc) and is all we need
- Everyone is affected by toxins in the same way.
- Things that reduce your natural ability to detoxify:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Chronic Stress
- Poor methylation
- Disrupted Microbiome – good and bad bacteria in the gut
- Poor Gall Bladder Function
- Increased Toxic burden from many sources.
- Everyone reacts differently to toxins due to their own host of genetics, lifestyle factors, environment and prior exposure to other toxins.
Tips for improving Detox:
- Reduce Exposure
- Nutrient Dense Diet – organ meats, shellfish, nuts seeds, high intake of vegetables especially dark leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, moderate coffee consumption.
- Nutrient Botanicals – speak to a practitioner before trying any of these
- Improve Gut Health – increase good bacteria, increase fibre and do things that support gut health.
- Other specific activities that help detox
- Exercise – mobilises toxins
- Sleep – increases natural glutathione which is the master antioxidant
- Intermittent fasting and longer fasting – speak to a professional before undergoing fasting yourself
Robb Wolf – the Paleo Diet and Wired To Eat New York Times bestselling author top tips. Robb was a fantastic speaker talking about his new book ‘Wired to Eat’ which discusses the neuro-regulation of appetite and why its not your fault we are wired to eat.
- 7 Day carb test – a test explained in his book where you test yourself specifically how you react to certain carbs and see how your blood glucose responds you can figure out your individual differences.
- 30 day reset is the best way to determine if a food is good or bad to you eliminate the foods for 30 days then reintroduce slowly and methodically to see if there are any reactions.
- Blood Glucose is important marker of health because high levels are toxic, disordered BG alters our neuro-regulation of appetite as well as alterations to our gut microbiome and causes inflammation
- Get your lipids checked properly – a total cholesterol is not enough you need to get your HDL, triglycerides, HbA1c, BG, LDL and the lipid fractions of your LDL to know the true picture of your cardiovascular health. Robb also recommends a marker called fructosamine which is a validator of glycemic load (sugar load in the body).
Dave Asprey the Bulletproof Executive – again another fantastic speaker who knows how to speak to a crowd and keep you engaged. Dave spoke about his new book called ‘Headstrong’ which is a book about essentially hacking your mitochondria (energy power houses of our cells) to improve mental health, clarity of mind and get your brain working at its best. Dave’s top tips for head health were:
- Mitochondria are in control and they tell your brain 4 key things
- Eat everything – feed me
- Run away/hide from all things that might kill us – fear
- Friend – if mitochondria get enough of the first 3 they become your friend and cooperate with you.
- Factors that Mitochondria pay attention to or respond to:
- EMF (from phones, wifi etc)
- Training – ie exercise
- Light matters – junk light aka what we all are exposed to on a daily basis in our work, homes, schools is junk blue light and hurts our mitochondria. LED lights are particularly bad they break your ability to control circadian rhythm and sleep well.
- Create a sleep cave – completely pitch black no light from any sources and increase your exposure to natural sunlight – 20 min per day on hands, arms, face and eyes with no sunblock, sunglasses is all you need.
- Use airplane mode on your phone at night and on planes, turn off your wifi at night
- Don’t keep your phone near your ‘junk’ studies have shown marked reduction in sperm quality and number of men who keep their mobile phones near their ‘junk’
- Change your temperature – our world is often at constant termperatures and by never changing it affects our mitochondria we should sleep in relatively cool temperature and be exposed to varying temperatures.
- Fat is fuel for mitochondria – ketones are number one way to add more power/energy and set you free. They also reduce cravings.
- Clean water matters – make sure you filter out toxins get a good carbon filter at home.
- Increase your BDNF – see above lecture from Dr Perlmutter on this topic – best ways exercise, deep sleep, meditation, fasting and certain supplements.
- Sleep harder, exercise less – use HIIT training and sleep harder and you will improve your mitochondria and metabolism.
Biohacking Panel – we had Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield and 3 other notorious biohackers. Dave has spent over $1million on hacking his on body – we can learn from all his research and investigation. The panel was asked many questions on hacking they all agreed on the following:
- Get the basics right first – Air, Water, Light, Sleep, Stress, Movement, Food and Gratitude.
- Everyone said darkness is a public resource that is being threatened –the darkness signal tells our body and circadian rhythm that its time to reset and repair. The World Health Organisation actually lists ‘Artificial Light’ as a probable carcinogen due to its ability to alter our sleep.
- Cheap and Easy biohacking tools they all recommend – Heart Rate Variability (HRV) monitoring, sleep monitoring watches/apps, blood glucose monitoring.
- Advice to their old unhealthy selves:
- Wake UP – become aware of the state your in, what’s going on and how your feeling.
- Your affected all the time and you don’t know it by your environment.
- Eat some FAT – stay out of the gym.
- Move More.
- Live more naturally everyday.
Dr Michael Ruscio – SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and gut specialist, functional medicine doctor. Top tips for SIBO
- SIBO is the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine causing symptoms of gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loose stools, constipation and up to 84% of IBS sufferers may be affected.
- Small Intestine is so important because it represents more than 56% of the entire digestive tract, does 90% of our caloric absorption, harbours the highest density of immune cells in the entire body (involved in inflammation and autoimmunity) and is sensitive and most prone to leaky gut.
- Non-digestive symptoms of SIBO – hypothyroid and hashimotos, H pylori infections, insomnia, fatigue, anemia.
- SIBO associated with the following conditions/diseases – rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, blood sugar and cholesterol issues, malabsorption, weight loss and obesity, restless leg syndrome, skin conditions like rosacea, inflammatory bowel disease (crohn’s and ulcerative colitis).
- SIBO needs to be treated systematically by a professional but some of the ways to treat include – prebiotics (very careful with this one), probiotics, specific diets, herbal antimicrobials and prescription antimicrobials, digestive enzymes and much more. Always have a qualified practitioner or your medical doctor diagnose and treat SIBO. Testing is mainly done via breath testing.
Dr Grace Liu – talk on ‘Oxytocin’ The facilitator of life.
- The many benefits of Oxytocin:
- It increases with stress which is protective
- Causes one to feel empathy
- Increases in labour and breast feeding and uterine contractions.
- Improves social skills
- Associated with altruism and trust
- Attenuates fear
- Reduces Pain
- Decreases anxiety
- Improves wound healing
- Improves mental mastery
- Oxytocin’s main role is to fix, fortify and flirt where cortisol our stress hormone main role is to fight, flight and fright (fear).
- Some probiotics have been found to impact the oxytocin receptors causing increased wound healing – lactobacilli reuteri and bifidiobacter strains
- Low Oxytocin is seen in:
- Overweight, prediabetic, metabolic syndrome
- Osteopenia and Osteoporosis
- ADHD, Asperger’s, Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Depression and Anxiety
- PTSD, fear, drug abuse and in those with cravings.
- Factors that increase Oxytocin production in the body
- Running increases it 2.5x
- Bionic fibre
- Mastery – master your environment.
- During labour and breastfeeding
- Bio-identical Hormone Spray
All of the above are from my personal notes of the sessions and summaries of what I interpreted and should not be used as medical advice. Any concepts you would like to put into practice should be discussed with your medical doctor before undertaking any changes.
I will say though that a weekend of talks, inspiration and finding my tribe rejuvenated my soul, Paleo Fx I will return gladly and I thank the organisers for such a fantastic event and am grateful for their contributions to the paleo and functional medicine sphere and my world.
“Find your tribe”
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams live the life you imagined” – Thoreau