The Ancestral Health Society is a community of scientists,
healthcare professionals, and laypersons who collaborate to
understand health challenges from an evolutionary perspective.
The Society promotes collaboration through two initiatives:
The Ancestral Health Symposium. AHS is held annually in
August and is the premier event of the ancestral health movement.
If you are interested in understanding human health, wellness,
and disease from an evolutionary perspective, please join us!
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
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.
A board of dedicated volunteers oversees and operates the
Society’s business and activities. The volunteer board changes
over time as new people step up to lead the Society.
The Ancestral Health Society is organized by Ancestry, a
501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit organization incorporated in
Anyone can request copies of Ancestry’s financials by e-mailing
Brent Pottenger at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re committed
to ensuring that Ancestry’s resources are used effectively and
appropriately to benefit the public through education in accord
with our nonprofit mission.
Financial support goes directly to journal start-up costs,
symposium organizing costs, website creation and maintenance, and
symposium video production. Together, these activities provide
tremendous public benefit through education about Ancestral
Health. More information can be found here.
What is Ancestral Health?
Good question. We don’t know exactly because each human being is
unique. But we seek to learn how our evolutionary heritage – both
our common heritage and unique, individual heritages – should
shape our modern lifestyles. We respect the reality of human
differences within a shared human heritage, and approach issues
of individuality and common heritage with open minds and
curiosity. We are eager to learn the limitations as well as the
potential of an ancestral approach.
When we respect how we reached modern day, we position ourselves
humbly to be thankful for the lessons learned by those who came
before us. So, whether you are considering how to eat or drink,
how to move about your local ecological niche, or how to educate
your children, we feel that living an Ancestral Lifestyle means
respecting our ancestors and thinking critically about how modern
environmental signals and stressors shape our lives in positive
and negative ways.
We are striving to create a community of learners and teachers
who, sharing knowledge gained from personal experience, clinical
practice, and scholarly research, collaborate to create new
insights that can improve health and increase human happiness.
Toward this end, the virtues of charity, openness, and scholarly
rigor are central to the Society’s practice. Let us therefore
seek knowledge with wisdom and grace. As we self-experiment with
Ancestral Lifestyle choices together, we can create a community
of people who can share lessons learned from experience. We can
learn by grace or by hard knocks; let’s choose gracefully.
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
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.
With the far-reach that these presenters have on the Web—bloggers
like Mark Sisson run some of the top health Web sites in the
world, with thousands of readers daily—as well as in academia and
in local healthcare communities, the proceedings at this event
will touch a widespread audience and will foster new, unique
approaches to solving our existing healthcare challenges.
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. Please read about it on
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 unique
heritages as human beings.
The first Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS11) occurred
at UCLA in August, 2011. AHS12 took
place at Harvard Law School in association with the Harvard Food
Law Society under the leadership of Nate Rosenberg, Michal
Naisteter, and a group of volunteers. Katherine Morrison chaired
which took place in Atlanta.