Ancestral Health – the definitive guide to optimal nutrition

In August this year (2011) there was a gound breaking symposium held in America that was billed as the Woodstock of evolutionary food medicine. It was the Ancestral Health Symposium at which some of the best speakers on health and nutrition presented lectures as taken from an evolutionary perspective. In simple terms it was a collection of super smart scientists, bloggers and researchers that had some really important lectures on how they suggest we should be eating for optimal health. In this article I will present a collection of just some of the speakers and give you the definitive guide on how and why we should eat according to the way in which we have evolved. This piece will act as a one stop shop for all of you that want the latest and best information from the people that I think are doing the best work in nutrition and presenting their information/research. It must be noted that many of the speakers did not always agree on some points but I think overall there was far more common ground in the end.

Adopting an ancestral approach to nutrition makes you awesome – fact!!

Robert Lustig (Sugar the bitter truth is an excellent 50mins video to watch in it’s entirety) gave a talk on the dangers of fructose and I think this ABC news piece is a good starting point in understanding his message of the dangers of fructose which is much more prevalent in American society (e.g. the inclusion of high fructose corn syurp into EVERYTHING) than Europe but it’s sneaking into out foods more and more so read your labels and stay off the excessive fruit juice consumption.


The ever entertaining Robb Wolf was in the house and if you are not listening to his podcast regualrly then you are missing an entertaining and informative weekly opportunity to learn how to keep your health on track. Here is a very short video on the basics of paleo


Mr Mark’s Daily Apple was there also and here is another TV show video where he makes his pitch for his primal nutrition approach. I really enjoy his basics best approach and he certainly walks the walk as he looks great. His extensive website is so rich in content and a must read

The ever interesting and sometimes controversial Garry Taubes gave a talk on the case against sugar. Ever since his July, 2002, article in the New York times titled ‘What if it’s all been a big fat lie’, Garry changed the way many people viewed nutrition and more importantly brought the lies of the lipid hypothesis to international attention. His work will stand the test of time and he is single handedly going to help us understand that all calories are NOT created equal i.e. the theory that weight loss is all just a matter of calories in and calories out.

Here is an interview (in sections) with Gary taken by the Swedish low carb, high fat advocate Dr Eenfeldt

Speaking of Dr Eendfeldt aka the Diet Doctor, he gave a lecture titled Evolution of a diet revolution. Andreas has generously put up his entire talk on youtube (below) and if this was the only extended video you watched on nutrition ever you would lead a very healthy life.

If you are a bit if a science geek then you are just going to love Chris Masterjohn. Chris is finishing off his Phd in Nutritional Sciences and takes a scientific look at cholesterol and the way in which it has been demonised in modern society. Here is a short video fearuring Chris and Jerry Brunetti (an agronomist, eco agriculture consultant and frequent lecturer on nutrition and cancer treatment) as they discuss cholesterol –

Want to win an argument with a vegetarian? No really, this was the title of Denise Mingers talk at the symposium. Denise is a former raw vegan and I hold the same principles she does when it comes to standing against nutrition/diet dogma, such as, there is not one single way to eat. Yes I think a paelo/primal approach is a good template to operate from but this still needs some tinkering according to your specific requirements or activity levels. It kind of helps that Denise is super cute lady based in Hawaii because what’s not to like about a girl that’s got the brains and the looks!

Getting back to the research now. Denise is possibly most known for her analysis of the China Study which is a paper that is frequently thrown up by vegans/vegetarians as evidence for how they eat and what they believe in. You can read it here – The China Study on Raw Food SOS.

The greatest aspect for me, of some of the brilliant podcasts I listen to each week are the guests that come on to discuss training and/or nutrition. On Robb Wolf’s podcast he has had Mat Lalonde on quite a few times and every time I hear his name mentioned I just have to listen. Every thought, every insight is just golden and he is one of the best people to keep you straight in all things nutrition. Mat has a Phd in Biochemistry and here is a short video on just some of his thoughts (get your science hat on!!)

There is also a short interview in a paper in America where he discusses paelo which is worth a read. Mat Lalonde discusses the paelo diet.

I could add around another ten people to this list but I think there is more than enough links, videos and blogs to read to give you a complete understanding on optimal nutrition and how important it is to understand the massive role our evolution has played on what foods we function best on.

In summary, taking all of the above into account I will present what I find works best for the clients I work with, what has produced massive results and how you should eat to look and feel your best.

  • Step one is still focus on food quality and cut out the toxins – Everything I wrote over a year ago in my article Fat loss 101 is just as valid now as it was then and will still be valid ten years from now. If you do not start by increasing the quality of the foods you eat and cutting out the toxins then you have no business worrying about carb intake, fat ratios etc. Please note that most people should never and will never progress beyond this point. Be the person that nails this down and move forwards rather than looking for some quick fix that you think is keeping you from dropping the fat.

Ditch the moobs guys – sort your nutrition out now

  • Foods to eat – meat, eggs, vegetables, tubers, fruit, nuts, seeds, dairy produce. Still confused? Read my so what do I eat article.


  • Foods you will likely not function well on – Note I am not saying avoid or eliminate these foods as you know and I know that’s unlikely to happen. However, I guarantee you will not function well on or work well on these foods so keep them out of the diet as much as possible and the more you do this the better you will look and feel. Foods that drain and inflame – grains, legumes, sugar, vegetable oils, hydrogenated fats, all junk foods, alcohol etc

  • Understand the role your endocrine system plays – if you really want to understand health and in particular fat loss and still think that it just comes down to a weight watchers approach of taking in less calories then you seriously need to take a step back and get the bigger picture on how your hormones promote fat loss or gain. My article on leptin resistance is essential reading on this topic. Get your metabolism working for fat loss through control of your hormones or you will forever be fighing a the weight battle.


  • Obesity/weight gain causes and solutions – yes we are consuming about 500calories per day more than we did 20-30years ago. Food companies are producing hyper rewarding foods i.e. foods that make you want to eat more e.g. carb and sugar laden foods. We are consuming less fat and more carbs than every before in history yet the food guide pyramid (promotes a large proportion of the diet to be full of carbs) is still held up as the way to eat for health. Countries want to introduce a fat tax to ‘help’ curb obesity yet fail to understand and keep up to date with current research which gives ample evidence that a diet high in fats (saturated fats also) are highly beneficial.

The solution, in part, should be to –

Adopt all the advice given above and stop looking for your answers in another diet or weight loss fad. From my experience and the results I have obtained working with hundreds of clients this stuff works so get started today. Take note of all the overweight people that are in this beach photo from a hundred years ago.

What do you mean there are virtually none? If the way in which we have been educated to eat i.e. lots of healthy wholegrains, less fat etc was working so well then why is this a more common sight from your deck chair –

  1. Remove wheat from the diet as it’s a major toxin that can and will affect all and every system in your body. If you think you are really hooked on wheat then do a 30-day wheat free challenge and observe the results.
  2. Earn your carbs – doing lots of crossfit or another sport and think it’s a good idea to adopt a really low carb intake? NO, that would be a really bad idea so replace grain based carbs with sweet potatoes, squash, yam, rice, veggies, fruit etc. Are you sitting around all day, can tell me what happend on Dr Oz,  Jeremy Kyle, are worried about the butter you are putting on your fifth piece of toast today and still think the special K challenge might just be a good idea? NO, please earn your carbs and get up off your butt and go move a little more.
  3. Monitor how certain foods make you feel. Ignoring this is the reason why you are sick and constantly tired.
  4. Of course exercise more but for the love of God start by just going for a walk every day if you are completely out of shape. From there move on to my essential weight training exercises,  foam rolling and highly effective home workouts. Please note doing lots of cardio only e.g. jogging, walking, cycling is possibly the slowest and worst way towards your goal of optimal health.
  5. Enjoy food. This part is essential as you should NEVER feel like you are ‘on’ a diet or depriving yourself. This is how you were intended to eat and a sh1t ton of advertising and really poor public health promotions have turned many people into fat fearing, ‘healthy wholegrain’ fibre chomping, pill popping, chronically fatigued zombies! Doing all of the above is not a sentence. It will be something enjoyable, fun and most of all something that will give you the energy and vitality to do anything with friends and family.

Otherwise you might need a cat scan

Take control of you health today. This article will become one of my top go to articles on the site so be sure to start here and reread a few times to keep your health and the health of the people around you at optimal levels so you have the energy and vitality to live life to the max. I only know what has worked and will continue to work for all the clients that I have helped get massive results.  You can be another success story when you now adopt my advice given.

Thanks for sharing, linking and liking.

4 Responses to “Ancestral Health – the definitive guide to optimal nutrition”

  1. Pamela Logan says:

    Hi Dominic, really great info here….however how would you suggest that i can i follow the paleo diet if i am a veggie? In fact i am heading towards veganism after reading about ‘humane’ free range eggs etc here.

    If animal products are something i find more and more difficult to eat…then can i really follow a diet for ancestral health?! :-(
    Damn conscience!!!

    • Dominic Munnelly says:

      Great question Pamela and if you look at denise minger (mentioned in the article) she is a veggie and there are plenty of recommendations on her site for paelo recipes. I would urge you to keep in the eggs and just get them from a local supplier that takes care of the chickens.

      All the best and glad you liked the article and pass on to others

  2. […] that focused on mobility work, strength work and metcons. You clean up your diet as you adopt a paleo/primal approach. Net result – body fat drops in proportion to how consistent you have been on the previous […]

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