The Ancestral Health Society is organized by Ancestry, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit organization incorporated in California. The Ancestral Health Society promotes collaboration through two initiatives:
The Ancestral Health Symposium — Each summer, AHS brings together a community of scientists, healthcare professionals, and health enthusiasts who collaborate to understand health challenges from an evolutionary perspective.
The Journal of Evolution and Health — JEH is a peer-reviewed open-access journal serving academic researchers and clinical practitioners. The Journal seeks to cultivate interdisciplinary collaboration to develop and test evolutionary approaches to health.
In both the Symposium and the Journal, the Society is motivated by a belief that evolution has much to teach us about healthful living and effective healing.
The Ancestral Health Society is organized for the purpose of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and translational efforts between scientists, healthcare professionals, and laypersons that study and communicate about the human ecological niche and modern health from an evolutionary perspective to develop solutions to our current health challenges.
We need health reform, ultimately, in order for any efforts at healthcare reform to succeed sustainably. Modern humans suffer from numerous diseases linked to the metabolic syndrome, such as diabetes, yet these health maladies were virtually nonexistent during most of our ancestry. In modern science, evolution is the default perspective for inquiry. In modern healthcare, however, evolution is almost nowhere to be seen. Neolithic and (especially) post-industrial diets combined with modern sedentary lifestyles have pushed our physiologies dangerously far from their adapted environments, and it is becoming exceedingly expensive and ineffective for medical practitioners to fix the resulting damage done to our bodies or halt the epidemic flood of illnesses collectively referred to as the diseases of civilization. In fact, the current generation of children may live shorter lifespans than do their parents—a startling reality that should shock health experts into creative, collaborative solution-searching.
Recently, research scientists, physicians, health experts/professionals, and e-patients have organized online around a new direction in physiology that respects our evolutionary heritage as human beings. This Ancestral Health community emerged in the Blogosphere as the aforementioned panelists engaged in scientific journalism and spread their ideas, insights, and discoveries with the world openly and freely. Starting out on the periphery, this self-organizing, decentralized community has recently gained momentum through bottom-up thinkering; thus, the time is ripe to capture this energy and cultivate further interdisciplinary inquiry through an event that unites all those interested in advancing the science and practice of human health in the twenty-first century.
Finally, this is an opportunity to support dialogue and conversation between people who are passionately concerned about restoring, maintaining, and enhancing people’s health. When we understand how our diet and lifestyle choices cause our health states to degrade, we can better implement cost-effective ways to improve health. Not only is an ounce of the right prevention worth a pound of cure, the right ounce of prevention costs a lot less. From this perspective, the health policy and administrative potential of Ancestral Health are both valuable and practical. In light of the resource constraints that our healthcare systems face, implementing concepts and ideas presented at this symposium would be beneficial.
In December of 2009, Brent Pottenger, Aaron Blaisdell, and Chris Owens attended a “New Directions in Physiology” symposium at UCLA. Standing in the lobby outside of the event, they agreed, “We should organize our own symposium and bring together bloggers, scientists, physicians, and others to present about respecting our unique ancestral heritages as human beings.” Or something to that effect. You can read more about it here and here.
When the idea for the Ancestral Health Symposium sprouted, Brent Pottenger teamed with his business partner, Brian Geremia, to form Ancestry, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit organization. Ancestry encapsulated the Ancestral Health Symposium, the Ancestral Health Society, and Game Plan Academy, another venture in health and education in Sacramento, CA.
Brent and Brian enlisted their friends, Nate Rosenberg, Megan Geremia, Michal Naisteter, Joe Sobolewski, Jake Jacobson, Jesse Maddex, and Gio Carmazzi to serve as Board Members for Ancestry, which supports ancestral health in areas ranging from education to medicine to food law and policy. Donations to Ancestry support its mission to respect the wisdom embedded in our human heritage.
AHS is in its sixth year. Past conferences were held in 2011 (University of California, Los Angeles), 2012 (Harvard), 2013 (Atlanta), 2014 (University of California, Berkeley), and 2016 (University of Colorado, Boulder.