I just got back from an extended trip to the Wise Traditions 2011 Conference. This year’s conference was my second one and I’m so glad I went again. The first year I think I was a bit overwhelmed. As an introvert, throwing myself into a conference full of people I’ve never met while still dealing with energy issues and trying to listen to every talk was a bit much. I had a wonderful experience the first time around but this second year was just amazing. Getting to see some people again and meeting a lot of people whose blogs I’ve followed for a while was fun. Also I had tons more energy this year so I didn’t have to miss out on anything to go sleep.
Paul Jaminet – Perfect Health Diet
My favorite talk this year was by Paul Jaminet, author of The Perfect Health Diet. Somehow I had never found his wonderful blog and book before this conference, even though I seem to follow everyone who has linked to his site. I guess you miss things when you speed read through blog posts. The diet he outlines is probably the closest to what I would recommend to people who are looking for a healthy diet to follow. It’s not necessarily a protocol for healing from Celiac or other digestive issues like SCD or GAPS, but is a great diet to follow for health.
During his talk he also talked about infection and finally I feel like I understand why some people do great on low carb SCD and others do not. He said that people who have bacterial infections tend to feel great on low carb (this was me) because bacteria mainly feed on glucose. People who have fungal/parasitic infections do horrible on low carb (I’ve seen many on SCD with this experience) because these feed on both glucose and ketones which are produced by the body on a low carb diet. For people with these infections, eating some carbs that you can digest is best. Too much and the bad bugs get to feed on the leftovers, too little and they feed on ketones. A good amount is probably around 100g carbs per day. So if you’re doing low carb and getting worsening symptoms like toe nail fungus, yeast infections, oral thrush etc, try adding some carbs back in.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride – GAPS
Every year Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride gives a full day GAPS talk. Last year I sat in for some of it and it was an awesome experience just to be in a room filled to the brim with people who I didn’t have to explain my diet to. This year I didn’t go because I didn’t feel the need to, but Brenda over a Well Fed Homestead sat in on the talks and offered some really good advice here: http://www.wellfedhomestead.com/eat-what-you-need-on-the-gaps-intro. As much as these diets are detailed and thought out in books, it’s impossible to heal unless you figure out what your body needs. I have often modified my SCD/GAPS-like diet to suit what I needed and although it’s tricky at times it does work! Trial and error plays a big role in healing.
Sally Fallon – Healthy Pregnancy
I love sitting in on Sally Fallon’s talks. She has such a calm demeanor and you’ll leave her talks feeling inspired and hopeful. You also get to see all the old photographs Weston Price took comparing health primitives on traditional diets with their not-so-healthy relatives on modern diets (hint, genetics aren’t to blame on this!). This year she gave her usual talk on nourishing traditional diets but also a separate talk on healthy pregnancy and babies. The basis of the information she gave is that pregnancy is a time to nourish and get tons of nutrient dense foods, not a excuse to eat junk! Fats, fat soluble vitamins, minerals and cholesterol are extremely important for growing a baby. Animal based fats, seafood, lots of butter and organ meats are all important on a pregnancy diet. She has announced that a new Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care is coming in 2013. This will be a great resource and I cannot wait. I hope she includes lots of pictures of healthy babies!
Stephanie Seneff – Sulphur, Sunlight & Cholesterol
Stephanie Seneff gave a very interesting talk on sulphur, sunlight and cholesterol. Thankfully her slides are available online here and here so I don’t have to fail at trying to explain it all! I like how Stephanie talked about how sunlight does so much more than just provide us with vitamin D. We know that vitamin D is low in people who don’t get enough sunlight, but is taking a pill really a good substitute? What about other stuff we don’t know that happens when sun hits our skin? What about food sources of vitamin D that have other nutrients in combination with it? My view is get sun as much of the year as you can and then supplement vitamin D in the winter while also focusing on vitamin D rich foods like cod liver oil. She also talks about how cholesterol is actually very necessary for health along with certain other nutrients like folate, choline and zinc.
Chris Masterjohn – Fat Myths
I’ve heard about the science behind the ‘saturated fat is evil campaign’ being dodgy at best but hearing Chris picking apart some of the studies was ridiculous. Even he was cracking up at how awful the science was. What if you’re doing a study with two groups – one on polyunsaturated fats and one on saturated fats – and you don’t get the results you hoped for? Well these researchers combined the two groups, then got a new control group (not sure what fats they were eating) and then derived conclusions about polyunsaturated fats from the new results. Hmmm… Also, it’s a bit scary that no long-term studies have been done on polyunsaturated fats (relatively new vegetables oils like corn, soy, safflower oils). Most studies run about 5 years which is not long enough to know what effect they have on cholesterol and heart health. Most studies on saturated fats lump all solid fats into the same category whether they are natural (animal based fats and tropical oils) or man-made (hydrogenated vegetable oils aka margarines) which again does not give us any indication of how natural saturated fats affect cholesterol and heart health. Check out Chris’ blog for lots of info about cholesterol, fats and more.
So there’s a few of the talks that stood out to me this year. Obviously there were many more and if you’re interested in hearing any or all of them, the recordings are available to order online. I will blog some more about the rest of the conference, the food and the people which is the best part! Being in rooms full of food geeks is invigorating.