I always get excited when I meet a fellow student in the medical world who has an interest in evolutionary and ancestral thinking. It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve twice run into students who, by subtle hints, have let on that they think our current thoughts on health and nutrition are seriously broken. The back-and-forth as we suss out whether we’re on the same team is like an ever-escalating dance. First someone drops the line “nutrient dense food”, then the other says something along the lines of “I don’t think saturated fats are evil”, and before you know it we’re lauding the benefits of egg yolks and liver.
In a culture that tends to focus on treating illness rather than preventing it, and in an environment where we’re frequently so busy trying to fix something that we don’t take the time to step back and wonder why it broke in the first place, it is refreshing to find people who like to think deeply about human evolution and ancestry when talking about health and disease. These people are rare in most clinical settings. When I find others who share these interests I generally wish I’d discovered our common interests earlier- I wish we’d had a secret handshake to tip each other off.
In just over a week I’m heading to Atlanta Georgia for the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium. There, no secret handshake will be needed to ID those who are interested in evolutionary and ancestral health, as interest in this subject is a prerequisite for attending the symposium. I’m excited to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and also to speak at this year’s symposium.
I’ve written before about alcoholic fatty liver disease (the subject of my PhD research), and I’m looking forward to talking about the role of dietary fats in fatty liver disease at this year’s symposium (though the time slot is shared with some other interesting talks, so I’m not sure I’ll garner much of an audience). I’m also hosting a panel of ancestrally minded physicians who will be talking about the successes and challenges of using evolutionary and ancestral thinking in their own clinical practice. They’ll be taking questions from the audience, so if you’re in attendance come prepared- it should be fun!
If you’ll be at the symposium, please say hello!
Here’s the short abstract for my presentation:
Fatty liver disease is a growing epidemic in the developed world, with some estimating that over 40% of the US population have some amount of disease. The general recommendations for those with fatty liver disease include avoiding saturated fats, though research does not support this recommendation. In fact, saturated fats have been shown to be protective against fatty liver disease with some even having a therapeutic effect. Conversely, consumption of large amounts of polyunsaturated fats that have only recently become abundant in western diets plays a key role in disease development.
Sorry for the slow rate of posts these days. I’m reaching the end of my final year or medical school (I actually graduate in December), and while fourth year clerkships aren’t nearly as arduous as those undertaken as a third year medical student, all the other loose ends of medical school are piling up on me at the moment. I take the Clinical Skills portion of the boards next week, the Clinical Knowledge portion of the boards at the beginning of September, and I have to get my residency applications ready to go in the near future (which, of course, includes figuring out WHERE I want to submit applications to!). Of course I also have a presentation to prepare and a trip to Atlanta to plan! I have a long list of things I want to write about, but at the moment other things are taking precedence. Thank you for your patience!