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Speakers & Abstracts

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This international symposium will bring together distinguished scientists, scholars, teachers, clinicians, and students, as well as laypersons with an interest in human health and well-being from a diverse range of perspectives.

We have expert speakers from a range of areas, including nutrition, medicine, climate science, organisational psychology, psychiatry, geospatial health, physical health, sustainability, reproductive health, sleep, and behaviour change, all to discuss the evolutionary origins of disease, modern biological mismatches, and on how the knowledge of the past informs the present and the future.

Professor David Raubenheimer (AUS)

David R Nepal

David Raubenheimer is a comparative nutritional ecologist, with an interest in developing and applying ecological and evolutionary theory to understand the nutritional biology of humans and other animals. He is co-inventor of a framework called Nutritional Geometry, an approach for modelling the ways that nutrients interact in their effects on consumers. He has applied Nutritional Geometry to a wide range of species, from insects and spiders to companion animals, production animals, a variety of wildlife species (including giant pandas, gorillas, orang-utans and grizzly bears), and humans, both in lab and field studies.

His work has provided fundamental new insights into a range of important biological issues, from the relationship between nutrition and ageing, to the nutritional causes of human obesity. David holds the Leonard P. Ullman Chair of Nutritional Ecology at the University of Sydney. He is Nutrition Theme Leader in the Charles Perkins Centre, holds concurrent appointments in the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and School of Biological Sciences, and is Adjunct Professor in the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study in Auckland. He is co-author of a recent book The Nature of Nutrition: a unifying Framework from Animal Adaptation to Human Obesity (Princeton, 2012), and has published over 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Science, PNAS, Cell, and several reviews in the Annual Reviews series.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Should We Eat Like Our Ancestors? A nutritional ecologist’s perspective

Nutritional science is dominated by a tendency for over-simplification, in which specific nutrients are singled out and investigated for their effects in isolation of other nutrients in foods and diets. And yet many examples tell us that nutrition is more complex than this; nutrients do not act in isolation but interact in their effects on behaviour, physiology and health. In this talk I introduce an approach from nutritional ecology, called Nutritional Geometry, and show how this can produce a powerful new perspective on human nutrition. I then consider the implications of these insights for the important issue of whether, to what extent, and how we should use our knowledge of ancestral nutrition to guide our dietary choices in modern environments.  I conclude that human ancestral nutrition can provide important messages for optimising our diets, but an over-simplified view of nutrition can lead to the wrong interpretations of these message – possibly to devastating effect.

Associate Professor Felice Jacka (AUS)

Felice Transparent

Associate Professor Felice Jacka is a Principal Research Fellow at Deakin University. She is recognised as a leading expert regarding the association between diet quality and the common mental disorders, depression and anxiety. She is president of both the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) and the Australian Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders (APMD).

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: The critical importance of diet to mental health across the lifespan

The 20th century has seen major shifts in dietary intakes globally, with a marked increase in the consumption of sugars, snack foods, take-away foods and high-energy foods. At the same time, the consumption of nutrient and fibre-dense foods is diminishing. These changes are particularly obvious in younger cohorts.

Concordance between obesity rates and apparent increases in mental distress in young people suggest common pathways. Rates of allergic diseases are also increasing, pointing to similar environmental influences. New research in these related fields point to the particular vulnerability of the immune system to the profound changes in our dietary environments.

This presentation will cover the extensive evidence from observational, intervention and animal studies in this new field of Nutritional Psychiatry, discuss the biological pathways that mediate the diet-mental health relationship, and address the potential for new preventive and treatment strategies for mental disorders arising from this new knowledge base.

Professor Alistair Woodward (NZ)

Alistair Woodward

Alistair Woodward is a medical graduate and public health specialist with a longstanding interest in the environment and health. For 10 years he was Head of the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland and is now Professor of Epidemiology in the same institution. He has written on air quality, radiation risks, injury prevention, the extraordinary benefits of the simple bicycle, and climate change – he was a convening lead author on the most recent IPCC assessment.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Climate change and health – risks, limits and opportunities

I will seek to apply the symposium theme [Looking Back, Moving Forward] to the profound environmental threat of climate change, and what this means for the health of human populations. Looking to the past illuminates the patterns and long-term causes of climate variability; it also sheds light on human adaptability and vulnerabilities to rapid changes in climate. But a knowledge of history is not sufficient – the present and anticipated future trajectory of global heating is unprecedented. I will explore the risks that we are likely to face if emissions continue on a “business as usual” track, and possible responses. There are opportunities: wise climate choices in the fields of energy use, diet, and transport (to name just three examples) could bring significant early benefits to health and well-being.

Professor Simon Kingham (NZ)

Simon K

Simon Kingham is Professor of Geography and Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory at the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is a human geographer who has researched in a range of areas related to urban environment and health. These include research on transport, air pollution, green and bluespace (parks and water), and earthquakes. He has published widely both reports and in peer reviewed journals. He is a member of the Canterbury Regional Transport Committee and was on the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy Forum.

He has a BA (Hons) and a PhD in Geography from Lancaster University in the UK. He emigrated to New Zealand from the UK in 2000.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Travelling in the slow lane: the benefits of, and barriers to, active transport.

An over reliance on private motor vehicles is a growing problem and slowing down and travelling actively (walking and cycling) is being seen as a real part of the solution. The benefits of active transport can be seen in the environment, health, business and community; and these are now being quantified and showing impressive economic benefits. A key challenge is to understand what policies need to be implemented and/or what type of infrastructure built, to encourage most people to choose to travel by bicycle or foot. This presentation will investigate what the key barriers are to people choosing to travel by active modes and to examine the societal and individual benefits of more people using active modes. It will do this by examining the research evidence including some research carried out in New Zealand and some ongoing research that focuses specifically on community benefits.

Dr Ihirangi Heke (NZ)


Dr. Ihi Heke is currently a Maori health & physical activity consultant involved in a number of projects ranging from national health and physical activity initiatives funded by the Ministries of Education and Health to working in applied roles with elite athletes as a sport psychologist and strength/conditioner. Previously he has held lecturing roles in the School of Physical Education at the University of Otago, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Prince Sultan University in Saudia Arabia and the Wananga o Raukawa.

Dr Heke is also a consultant to the New Zealand Academy of Sport delivering to several national sporting bodies including; Motorsport New Zealand, Cycling New Zealand, Motorcycling New Zealand and New Zealand Swimming Federation.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Atua to Matua: Maori Ecology and the Connection to Health and Physical Activity

Dr. Heke believes it is time we reassessed both Physical and education processes to include a much higher level of Maori ecology information. Currently, the messages and strategies used to inform Health, Physical Education (PE) & Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) lack the specificity to encompass the diversity of Māori views of the environment or more specifically environmental deities and how they contributed to perpetuating ancestral knowledge. A continued focus on non-Maori engagement with Health, PE & EOTC has not and will not be enough to recognise the huge range of Maori-information connected to the environment. Dr. Heke has produced a framework that provides an alternative to the current non-Maori health, PE and EOTC frameworks utilising a tribally centric, environmentally based information transferral (whakapapa research model), Kaitiakitanga (indigenous role models) and Tipua (esoteric knowledge).

Dr Anastasia Boulais (NZ)


Anastasia is a medical doctor with a passion for preventative health based on evolutionary principles. She currently works as a medical officer in an acute care clinic in Christchurch, New Zealand, while completing her postgraduate studies in Sports Medicine. Together with her partner, Jamie Scott, they founded the Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand, a community of scientists, health professionals and laypeople who share their passion for promoting healthy lifestyles.

Anastasia follows ancestral health principles in all aspects of her own life, from food to movement, sleep, connection to nature, and maintaining meaningful relationships.  Her core philosophy is that society took a wrong turn in its quest for health and longevity in the last 50 years by reducing food to a sum of macro- and micro-nutrients and handing over crucial decisions on what we put in our mouths into the hands of the Food Industry. She believes we also made radical changes to the way we work, sleep, stay active, interact with nature and with our community. We created an environment which is foreign to our genes and restrictive to our potential. Ancestral lifestyle, according to Anastasia, is not a re-enactment of the distant past. It is a recognition that we were shaped by the millions of years of evolution, not decades of food and nutrition science and marketing.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: The numbers game: refocusing medical interventions on qualitative markers of health 

Amazing scientific and medical breakthroughs in the last 100 years have led to our ability to quantitatively measure many aspects of health and disease. However, the sole focus on measureable markers has serious flaws, especially in the context of preventative health and chronic disease risk where medical professionals may fall into the trap of treating the number rather than treating the person. This talk will concentrate on some of the limitations of commonly used measurements, such as BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure, in the estimation of quality of life and future disease risk. The evidence for alternative qualitative markers will be explored and their application to general practice discussed.

Dr Emily Deans (USA)


Emily Deans is a board certified psychiatrist who has a clinical practice in Massachusetts and teaches at Harvard Medical School. She uses her Evolutionary Psychiatry blog to explore ideas about the mismatch between modern lifestyle and the environment, society, and foods in which our species evolved. Her presentations include many academic Grand Rounds in Massachusetts, and a yearly workshop on Food and Mood at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Brain-gut axis: the effect of intestinal microbiome on mental health

Humans co-evolved with their microbiome, pseudocomensal organisms, and parasites. These “external” organisms have endocrine, immune, and direct communication with the brain. This presentation will cover evidence for how the microbiome influences mental health, and emerging strategies for improving the gut-brain axis and decreasing systemic inflammation.

Dr Ian Spreadbury (CAN)


Ian Spreadbury is a Canadian neuroscientist who argues that the effects of flour, sugar and processed foods on the upper gut microbiota and the immune system may be the main cause of obesity and many Western Diseases. The chain of dominoes from this idea tallies with many of the noted paradoxes in the literature, including the apparent macronutrient independence of ‘real food’ diets and the associations between dental and systemic health. The hypothesis was published in 2012 and continues to gather interest within the ancestral health community and beyond.

His past research interests have included the biophysics of single ion channels in auditory hair cells, the pathophysiological mechanisms of double seronegative myasthenia gravis, retrograde synaptic transmission in brain stem slices and the mechanisms behind the pain of Crohn’s, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Acellular carbohydrates: are our bacteria a detector of dietary refinement?

This is a video presentation of a recent hypothesis of obesity and Western disease that could explain the benefits of both low-carbohydrate diets and high-carbohydrate ancestral diets. The hypothesis suggests that the bacterial ecosystem of the upper gut is a sensitive detector of dietary refinement, with potent effects upon health. Replacing life-derived ancestral foods with dense, processed alternatives may be responsible for the collapse in diversity of our upper gut’s flora, paralleled in the mouth by tooth decay. Plant seeds contain dense deposits of carbohydrate, and milling and refining them to flours may make them part of the problem. These changes in the bacterial ecosystem are suggested to alter immune regulation and drive the inflammation behind obesity, diabetes, autoimmunity and many Western Diseases. The notion is consistent with diverse available data, while fitting well with the ancestral foods that form an effective template for health.

Dr Helen Eyles (NZ)

Helen Eyles

Helen Eyles is a Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Auckland. Her research focuses on politically relevant ways to improve food environments – helping to make healthier choices easier. Her specific research interests include availability and nutritional quality of the food supply, food pricing, food labelling, and mobile health. Helen manages the Nutritrack database, a brand specific database of foods available for sale in NZ which is updated annually and informs much of her work. In her spare time Helen loves to run, swim, and cycle, and make cultured veges.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: The NZ food supply: challenges and enablers to ‘just eating real food’

The national food supply is a major contributor to population health. Availability of healthy, cheap, appropriate food is crucial to reducing the burden of noncommunicable disease, yet healthy food environments are challenged by factors such as trade and economics. This presentation will explore what the New Zealand food supply looks like in terms of health, and discuss policy relevant interventions to improving food choices from a population level.

Dr Melyssa Roy (NZ)

M Roy

Melyssa is a medical doctor by training, and is currently a PhD candidate in the Departments of Medicine and Nutrition, University of Otago. She has an interest in novel aspects in nutrition and exercise, such as whole-food approaches to diet, intermittent fasting, and high intensity interval training. Melyssa also has an interest in educating medical students, and has been involved in teaching at Otago Medical School for several years. Outside of work, Melyssa has a family of three children, likes to go for coffee, run, cook, ride horses, watch movies, grow vegetables and read.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: The SWIFT Study.  Evolutionary principles: do they translate into real world benefits?

Evolutionary theory suggests that diets rich in unprocessed foods (‘paleolithic diets’), intermittent fasting and high-intensity interval training may improve health outcomes and be effective in the management of obesity. While topical and popular, there is still limited evidence of the efficacy of these concepts in the real world setting. The SWIFT study (Support strategies for Whole-foods diets, Intermittent Fasting and Training) will assess whether these approaches are feasible alternatives to standard recommendations for diet and exercise. In a 2 year clinical trial, 250 overweight participants may choose these options with the aim of weight reduction and improved health outcomes. The SWIFT study has been fully recruited, and preliminary data will be presented.

Dr Michelle Dickinson (NZ)


Michelle is a passionate researcher and teacher with a love of science and engineering. Her background in Biomedical and Materials Engineering have combined her interests in both biology and materials science to give her a unique insight into how nature and technology can learn from each other for future scientific developments. Currently you can find her as a senior lecturer in Engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Michelle has always followed her dreams and never let traditional stereotypes scare her and she strongly believes that everyone should have access to learning about science and how things work, regardless of what your education level is.

Winner of the Prime Ministers Science Media Communication Prize and the New Zealand Association of Scientists Science Communicators Award for 2014, Michelle strongly believes that science should be open, transparent and a topic of conversation over the dinner table, not just the lab bench.

Provisional topic: Nourishing Young Minds

Dr Andrew Dickson (NZ)

Dr Andrew Dickson is organisational sociologist at Massey University, New Zealand. He is a graduate of biochemistry and business. His research expertise is in critical health studies, focusing mainly on the wider weight-loss industry, but also in applying a psycho-sociological lens to other ‘health’ industry topics including: the impact of managerial ideology; gender relations; ethics and embodied alienation in the sport sector.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Healthspiration and the psycho-sociality of everyday life: A discussion on the determinants and detriments of ‘health-at-all-costs’

Cashing in on opportunity is part of the economic dream. Sold as an integral aspect of economic life, businesses and individuals all over the world strive to reach expanded customer bases by producing a steady stream of new products and services. Opportunity is rife in the contested world of ‘health’. Baited by healthspiration that is fuelled by an intense health anxiety consumers are prescribed by social requirement into constantly working on themselves. This might be through researching to discover the latest miracle nutrient, intense involvement in an exercise craze, or detailed examination of the ‘perfect’ diet for our children. This ‘health-at-all-costs’ focus produces an exploitable opportunity for the business of health but also an perplexing anomaly for the combined consumers of the wider health industry: While pursuing the fantasy of wellness for the individual something else pays the price – namely the physical environment we abuse to produce individually packaged paleo muffins (with sugar-free frosting). In this presentation I will discuss the determinants of the desire for ‘health-at-all-costs’, particularly helping people to come to terms with what they are searching for and also discuss the detriments – specifically the un-sustainability of packaged wellness.

Dr Trent Smith (NZ)

Trent Smith

Trent Smith is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Otago. Dr. Smith’s research interests are broadly interdisciplinary, applying economic methods in biological perspective to better understand behavioural phenomena that would seem to violate the economist’s conventional presumptions of rationality and full information. His published research has focused in particular on dietary choice, obesity, addiction, economic insecurity, and mass marketing.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Beyond Calories: Obesity, Dietary Choice, and the Economics of Information

It has become conventional wisdom that the global obesity epidemic is the result of an overabundance of calories in the modern world. This is sometimes framed as an “evolutionary mismatch,” in which technology has made it easier than ever for food producers to satisfy the evolved human predilections for fats, sweets, and salts. Some have gone so far as to conclude that product quality and food industry marketing practices have not played significant roles in the epidemic, and indeed that perhaps the rise in obesity should be viewed as simply a sign of progress.

This presentation will argue that a more nuanced understanding of the physiology of fat deposition and the natural history of dietary choice suggests that the modern market for food may in fact be fundamentally broken. This conclusion can be grounded in fundamental economic principles, and is supported by a wide array of evidence from the biomedical and behavioural sciences.

Brad Norris (NZ)


Brad Norris is the founder and director of Synergy Health Limited – a business that over the previous 15 years has developed a strong reputation for delivering effective workplace health promotion programmes to some of New Zealand’s largest and most successful businesses.

Brad’s formal education includes the completion of a Masters in Industrial and Organisational Psychology and a Diploma in Sports Studies.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: What lies beneath: how individual values determine health behaviours.

In a world where we are over-consuming processed foods and time in chairs, whilst under-consuming time in bed, the pathway to better health for the general population is fairly obvious and far from complicated.  But what is challenging, however, is that we live in a modern culture full of triggers and motivating factors which constantly pull our physiology away from its ancestral defaults. Billions of dollars are invested in creating and driving this culture by food manufacturers, the gaming industry, and even workplaces, all in order to get people to eat, move, work and play in ways which suit their endgame.

Is the health industry, in its response, guilty of spending too much time pointing out the obvious of what people should be doing instead of figuring out how best to motivate them to do it?    How is the health industry best to engage people to proactively alter their behaviours and restore their physiology to our ancestral default settings?  

Brad will present key learnings from operating in the workplace wellness industry for over 17 years.  He will show that, just as with our physical biology, our ancestral past can provide key insights into how we can promote positive behaviour change among modern humans.

Brad will highlight how the health industry can learn from those very triggers that lead to ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle ‘choices’.  He will show that relying on people’s willpower and promoting choices in the name of distant health benefits is not the answer.

Darryl Edwards (UK)


Darryl Edwards, founder of Fitness Explorer Training & Nutrition based in London, England is a blogger, international speaker, and author of Paleo Fitness: Primal Training and Nutrition to Get Lean, Strong, and Healthy.

After almost two decades working in investment banking as a computer scientist and increasingly suffering from illness, Darryl transformed his health after adopting an ancestral model to wellbeing by referencing our hunter-gatherer past. Instead of solving computer algorithms, he set about helping to tackle some of the problems that beset many individuals wanting to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle amidst the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic lifestyle diseases.

As part of this mission, Darryl developed the PRIMAL PLAY methodology to inspire others to make activity truly fun while getting incredibly healthier, fitter and stronger in the process.

Darryl now devotes his time to helping others improve their ability to perform everyday, recreational and extraordinary tasks by eating and moving the way nature intended.

Dallas Hartwig (CAN)


Dallas grew up in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. His interest in making the world a better place converged with his interest in science in college, when he received a BS in Anatomy & Physiology from Andrews University in 2000, and an MS in Physical Therapy in 2001. He became a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist in 2003, and has since accumulated many health and exercise-related certifications, and is an advisory board member for several health-orientated organisations. Dallas is also on the Board of Editors and Reviewers for the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine.

He co-owned a strength and conditioning facility until co-founding Whole9 in 2009. The team has since turned Whole9 into one of the world’s premier health-focused communities, and their site and original Whole30® program has grown to serve a million visitors a month.

In 2012, he co-authored the New York Times bestselling book It Starts With Food and founded his functional medicine practice. In his free time, Dallas rides his motorcycles, snowboards and mountain bikes, and travels both for personal enrichment and for Whole9 health & lifestyle seminars.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Friends and lovers: how other people modulate your stress response

It’s well recognized that humans are uniquely social creatures, and that healthy social interactions are an important part of human development as well as a central feature of populations with excellent health outcomes and longevity, including those famous “Blue Zones”. And yet, it’s staggeringly common how many health-conscious people note that they don’t get enough “face time” (not FaceTime) with people they care about. Face-to-face social interactions (as opposed to ones filtered by electronic media) can be profoundly enriching aspects of the human experience.

Healthy verbal and non-verbal communication – as well as physical touch – between humans conveys a message of trust, safety, social support and inclusion that causes a powerful neurohormonal response, and that mediates a person’s resilience to stressors, which can powerfully alter an individual’s psychological health, disease risk, and quality of life. What influence does evolutionary mismatch have when we are confronted with novel methods of human communication such as text messaging, social media, and video conference? And what can be gained from addressing the widespread reduction in physical contact within families and modern tribes?

Jamie Scott (NZ)

Jamie AHS12

Jamie Scott holds postgraduate qualifications in Sport and Exercise Medicine, and in Nutrition Medicine, as well as undergraduate degrees in Human Nutrition, and Sport and Exercise Science, totalling nearly a decade of tertiary study in health related fields.

For nearly 20 years Jamie has worked in a variety of roles in the health and fitness industry, including personal training, nutrition consulting, and in rehabilitation. More recently he has focused on the corporate health sector, taking on the role of health researcher, presenter, and content writer for New Zealand’s leading corporate wellness company, Synergy Health.

Jamie has developed a special interest in the role of evolutionary biology in determining what is optimal health, and via this has been invited to speak at the international Ancestral Health Symposium for the last four years running. He has played a lead role in the development of the Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand, and is the current president of the society.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)

We are developing an increasing understanding of the physiological and pathophysiological basis for how our environment influences early human development, especially with regard to risk of later non-communicable disease. Disruptive processes, especially those which are evolutionarily novel, can lead to disease in later life. Understanding the underlying biology of these processes in order to devise preventative measures, requires a better understanding of evolutionary developmental biology and evolutionary medicine. If the processes producing a propensity to the likes of obesity and insulin resistance are established in early life, then interventions in adults may come too late to be effective, especially at a population health level. In his talk, Jamie offers an introduction to the DOHaD concept and outlines the implications in holds, not only for health professionals, but among policy makers, opinion leaders, and the general public.

Steph Gaudreau (USA)


Steph Gaudreau combines twelve years of formal education in biology / human physiology (BS Biology—Human Physiology), science teaching experience (MA—Education), holistic nutrition training (Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner), and strength & conditioning certification (USAW L1) on her website, Stupid Easy Paleo.  Steph’s mission is to spread the word about how to make simple, tasty recipes to help people in their quests to just eat real food. Eating clean, nutrient-dense foods has fueled her both in life and as a competitive athlete.

She authored “The Paleo Athlete: A Beginner’s Guide to Real Food for Performance” in 2014, and her award-winning cookbook, “The Performance Paleo Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Better, Getting Stronger & Gaining the Competitive Edge.”

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Beyond Toning: Increasing the Accessibility & Acceptance of Strength Training For Women In an Aesthetic-Driven World

In an age where toning and FitBits are in, how do we help women break through the fear of “getting bulky” so often perpetuated by the popular media?

The physical benefits of regular strength training are well documented, yet females are generally more reluctant to participate in this activity than their male counterparts. We’ll look back to learn lessons from our ancestral past regarding physical capacity and hypothesize about how to move forward, applying those lessons to our modern world.

This talk will explore the ways in which we can demystify the physiological outcomes of strength training and make it more attractive to and accessible for women; the acceptance of function over aesthetics; and the ways we can use technology to encourage women to embrace strength training instead of move away from it.

Diana Rodgers (USA)


Diana Rodgers is a nutritionist living on a working organic farm west of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. She runs an active nutrition practice called Radiance Nutritional Therapy, helping people get on track with an improved diet and lifestyle. Diana is also a mother of two kids, married to a full time farmer, an author, a multimedia producer, a CrossFitter, and a graduate student currently working on becoming a Registered Dietitian, with the aim to work more closely with the medical community and to help more people get well through nutrient dense food.

Diana also runs a web resource, Sustainable Dish, for people looking to explore foods which are the best choices not only for optimal human health, but for the well-being of the animals, the people who are involved in hunting/harvesting/producing them, and the most sustainable choices for the environment.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Sustainability and the US Dietary Guidelines

T​here is a hot debate happening in the US regarding the new Food Pyramid and whether or not sustainability should be considered as part of the US Food Policy. On first glance, this sounds like a great idea, until you discover what “sustainable food” means to many organizations pushing for new legislation. As an organic farmer and nutritionist researching the optimal diet for both humans and the environment, Diana will discuss why a plant­-based diet is not healthy nor sustainable for the planet. She urges for the end of the vilification of meat and instead the reduction of our reliance on the elephant in the room: hyper­palatable, highly processed foods.

VIDEO: ‘Healthy Foods That Are Cruel: Social Justice in the Food Industry

Julie Anne Genter (NZ)


Julie Anne Genter is a Member of the New Zealand Parliament and the New Zealand Green Party spokesperson for Transport, Environment, Urban Affairs, and Cycling. She holds degrees from UC Berkeley and Institut d’etudes Politiques, Paris, as well as a Masters of Planning Practice from the University of Auckland.

Julie Anne believes we have an incredible opportunity to create ecologically sustainable, fair and thriving human settlements through good policy, and she is particularly passionate about the win-win solutions that come from a balanced and economic transport system. In her spare time, Julie Anne likes yoga, swimming, tramping, snowboarding and cycling for transport. She lives in Mt Eden, Auckland

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Smarter Transport, Greener Cities, Happier Lives

Our car dependent transport system is costing us far too much. Central and local government spend $4billion a year on transport, but households and business spend far more – over $20billion on cars and fuel to run them. As land values are increasing rapidly in Auckland, the opportunity cost of land used for roads and parking is increasing exponentially.

The costs aren’t only financial. There are environmental risks, like greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution; and there are social costs like road crashes, obesity and related chronic diseases, or reduced access for those who can’t drive.

My presentation will focus on the opportunity we have to design our physical infrastructure in smarter ways that will create happier, healthier, greener towns and cities.

VIDEO: ‘Reconnect Auckland

Lara Briden (CAN)

Lara transparent

Lara Briden, ND is a naturopathic doctor with nearly 20 years clinical experience. She has a strong science background, and formerly worked as an evolutionary biologist (she was lead author on the 1995 zoology paper: “Sex differences in the use of daily torpor and foraging time by big brown bats”). Thousands of patients have entrusted Lara with their PCOS, thyroid disease, endometriosis, and many other health issues, so she has had a chance to learn what really works for hormones. She has distilled that knowledge into her blog and book “Period Repair Manual.”

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Modern Obstacles to Hormonal Vitality: Navigating a Way Back

Something’s happening with our hormones, and it’s not good. Drawing on two decades of clinical work, Lara will outline what she perceives to be the biggest threats to metabolic and reproductive health for both men and women. She’ll explore the topics of chronic inflammation and receptor resistance, and provide an overview of her testing and treatment protocols for PCOS, thyroid, and other hormonal conditions. Spoiler: There’s going to be a brief (and hopefully restrained) rant against hormonal contraception, and an impassioned plea for political action on endocrine disruptors. Lara would love some discussion with the audience, so please: Bring your questions!

BOOK: ‘Period Repair Manual – Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods’

Phillip Beach (NZ)

Phillip grew up in Sydney, Nigeria, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. When he was deciding on a career he went to London to study Osteopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Twenty-three years later he moved to Wellington.

His research interests revolve around three central questions. Firstly, how may we model whole organism movement patterns? There is remarkably little work being done on this central question. Secondly, what are the biomechanical drivers that are fuelling the endemic musculoskeletal distress found in our society? His presentation will introduce what he calls the Archetypal Postures of repose. Thirdly, what might the Chinese have been mapping with their enigmatic meridians?

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Archetypal Postures and the Erectorcises

We move, we rest, we move, we rest – all day, every day. For millions of years our species, a species of ape that became bipedal, returned to the terrain for rest. Lower limbs that had lengthened and morphed for efficient bipedal walking/running, also needed to retain the flexibility and strength needed to return to the terrain for that essential rest, and then to erect to standing yet again.  Recently this process of floor to standing has been shortened to chair sitting to standing. In modern life every time one feels like a rest society provides a chair. This is profoundly detrimental to our biomechanical health. Placing a value on floor sitting is part of the answer to back, hip, knee and ankle pain.

VIDEO: Importance of Partnering with Gravity..Floor Sitting to Standing Up

Craig Zielinski  (UK)


After a suffering back injury, Craig started CrossFit in 2007 – flying to the U.S. to sit his CrossFit Endurance, Level 1 and Barbell certifications then returned home to Scotland to coach under the CrossFit Glasgow banner.

Since, he has pursued certifications with the British Weight Lifting Association, other CrossFit specialist courses, has been coached by and coached alongside some of most talented names in strength and conditioning – learning a thing or two along the way.

His time was split between working full-time in the tech industry, training and part-time coaching. The result is the development of a training style aimed at the pursuit of maximum results for a minimum of training. Over the years, Craig has developed a keen interest in what a “normal” person is capable of with that style of training. His answer: pretty much anything.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Strength Training for Normal Humans

The year is 2015: IT IS THE FUTURE.

In an era of fitspiration memes, biohacking and wearable technology, where society suggests going hard or going home, sleeping when you’re dead(?), and the existence of doughnuts capable of enhancing physique while producing greater strength gains – one man stands up against the tide of disinformation and misinformation in an attempt to explain that literally standing up under increasing loads over time is more important than how many points are earned / blocks consumed or steps are taken. Find out how to strip away swathes of futile endeavour and replace it with a minimalistic approach to getting strong* to stay healthy**

*barbells not included
**no wearable syncing or tracking devices required.

Matthew Stewart (NZ)

Matthew Stewart is an osteopath practicing in Sydney, Australia.

A New Zealander, Matthew grew up in Nigeria and Hong Kong. After completing a commerce degree majoring in food marketing he had the good fortune to suffer a back injury directing his attention to health and human biology. Matthew has nearly twenty years experience in manual therapies and is registered as osteopath in Australia and New Zealand and is a certified and licensed massage therapist in Hawaii (NCTMB).

Matthew has previously held lecturing and clinical teaching roles in musculoskeletal anatomy, research methodology, and manual therapy. In addition to his clinical work, he advises training organisations and professional associations on education and research issues, including being a scientific committee member for the 3rd International Fascia Research Congress in Vancouver, B.C. His research interests focus on the effects of manual therapy, movement, diet, sleep, and psycho-social factors on the musculoskeletal system. He seeks to translate the research literature in these domains into his professional and personal practice in accordance with ancestral health principles. In his free time Matthew likes to run, bodysurf and train in gymnastics.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Movement for the rest of us: developing resilient bodies in a ‘cardio’ world

Physical activity guidelines are generally focused on moderate to vigorous activity with aim of improving cardiovascular health, but what about the rest of our physical body? Are the current models and language we use to describe our bodies appropriate in understanding function? What can we learn from looking back to our ancestors’ evolutionary past, and with current science, to improve our musculoskeletal resilience for wellbeing and performance?

Karen Phelps (USA)


Karen Phelps is a writer and marketing consultant from Ashland, Oregon USA. She discovered ancestral health principles in early 2011 and, having seen the benefits firsthand, is determined to share with others. She has worked for the Ancestral Health Society stateside, is a MovNat certified trainer, and has written and contributed to numerous ancestral health-minded podcasts, blogs, and articles.

The evolutionary mismatch lens allows her to see all sorts of culprits beyond diet and nutrition that affect us everyday, and because we live in a time of unprecedented choice, she wants to help everyone choose as wisely as possible.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Signaling Theory: What Is Your Environment Trying to Tell You? How To Cut Through the Noise and Win at Life

When it comes to diet and lifestyle advice, most of it focuses on what the individual should be doing, but this ignores the basic fact that our environments are hyper-stimulating and give us mixed signals. Signaling theory gives us a basis to understand how our modern human habitats communicate with us on a daily basis, and it also provides clues into how we can organize and interact with our environment in ways to help us better meet our goals.

Steven Hamley (AUS)

Steven Hamley

Steven Hamley is a PhD candidate at Deakin University in Melbourne. His research project is about the metabolic and physiological responses to a meal in healthy people (e.g. glucose metabolites and insulin signalling), to see whether this is altered in pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes and if so, whether these responses can be altered by a short term diet intervention.

For his honours thesis, his research group was the first to demonstrate that only 1 week of a simple diet switch completely reversed diet-induced glucose intolerance in mice, and then followed this up by investigating the metabolic and biochemical basis for the change. Steven’s honours thesis received the highest mark in the school, earning him two student prizes and a PhD scholarship.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Saturated Fat and Coronary Heart Disease: Dietary Villain or Red Herring?

The advice to reduce saturated fat to lower the risk of coronary heart disease is perhaps the single most influential recommendation in conventional dietary advice. More recently, it’s also perhaps the most controversial.

Steven will be discussing the evidence regarding saturated fat and coronary heart disease, showing that the evidence in favour of reducing saturated fat comes from speculations based on how it affects cholesterol levels, and the inclusion of inadequately controlled trials in current meta-analyses. Far from erring on the side of caution, the advice to reduce saturated fat may have some unintended consequences, and at the very least may distract people from making more fundamental lifestyle changes.

Rob Moran (NZ)

Rob Moran

Rob Moran is an osteopath and senior lecturer in the Faculty of Social and Health Sciences at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, NZ where he teaches on the bachelors and masters degrees in osteopathy. In addition to teaching he is heavily involved in research thesis supervision of masters students in topics including breathing dysfunction, functional movement assessment, standing desk interventions for back and neck pain, and self-administered techniques for improving joint mobility.

Rob is also undertaking a PhD at the University of Otago where he is investigating the role of movement quality in prediction of musculoskeletal overuse injury in high-intensity strength and conditioning athletes.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT: Why we couldn’t name a degree course “A user guide to movement, sugar, and sex” and other lessons from teaching ancestral health principles in an undergraduate allied health curriculum.

Ancestral health and evolutionary medicine provides a powerful framework to inform teaching and learning about health and disease. This presentation describes our recent experience of facilitating two novel undergraduate level courses for students enrolled in a degree that leads to a postgraduate qualification for registration of osteopaths in New Zealand. One course (Modifiable Determinants of Health) is a first year level course that provides an introduction to the interconnected roles of sleep, diet, movement, and socialisation as drivers of health status. The course takes a personal health perspective and involves a high level of experiential learning including students undertaking their own 30-day self-experiment involving monitoring and manipulation of sleep, diet, movement or socialisation. A second course (Movement and Health) at year two expands on the interaction between movement and health with an emphasis on movement quality, movement variability and physical activity for illness prevention and health promotion.

*Finalised symposium speaker list and programme are both subject to change