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Were Eskimos better adapted to very low carb diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 11, 2010 at 10:53 AM

I came across these two old studies from 1928 and 1932 on the metabolism of native arctic people. The studies are interesting as they took place when native diets were still being eaten.

STUDIES ON THE METABOLISM OF ESKIMOS.

KETOSIS DURING FASTING IN ESKIMOS

As far as I understand they found that the Eskimos did not show signs of ketosis even when eating no carbohydrates. They did show signs of ketosis when fasting although this was wtill mild.

Could this mean that arctic people have adaptations to eating their diet that non-arctic people lack? That they could more efficiently convert protein and fat to glucose. I am interested in what people think.

55a546fd4e8b2b0dcba4cb5d3c81d65d

(50)

on November 12, 2010
at 11:03 PM

Well I know that one of the first studies on this was done about 100 yrs ago by an explorer who noticed how well they did on the Inuit diet. They were asked to do a study for a year and it was published not sure how to track it down. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilhjalmur_Stefansson This guy also found a unique group called the Blond Eskimos who they thought had mixed with Europeans but recent DNA disclosed not so. Pretty interesting.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 12, 2010
at 04:20 AM

I think it bares keeping in mind that lowcarbing could be healthy for many of us but that innuit could also have some genetic advantage. The two are not mutually exclusive and need not threaten our theories that lowcarbing could help many. THe problem is that some researchers write off all innuit health on lowcarb as just genetics, which is wrong. Data back up that you don't need to be innuit to do well on the innuit diet. It might be that innuit do better on lowcarb, or another way to say it could be that innuit might do worse on carby diets. Seems reasonably possible if you ask me.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on November 11, 2010
at 10:11 PM

Some things that are unfalsifiable now become falsifiable later. We may not currently have the ability to figure these things out, but they are not *in principle* unfalsifiable, like the invisible dragon in your garage.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 11, 2010
at 07:46 PM

If Lex Rooker doesn't prove a lack of genetic advantage (equivalent results despite differing genetics) what test would? You've constructed a hypothesis that is apparently unfalsifiable. You're right, of course - the Inuit _could_ have a genetic advantage - but I _could_ have an invisible dragon in my garage. How do you prove it?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on November 11, 2010
at 05:26 PM

That's right, Eva, let's keep our skepticism. Lex Rooker and other zero carbers don't prove that there is no genetic advantage in the case of the Inuit. The Inuits' success could very well be a result of both things: lifelong practice *and* genetic advantage.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on November 11, 2010
at 02:19 PM

That's exactly my take on it, pfw, and Tim, I think you are right. It's a matter of excess, not whether or not there are ketones in the bloodstream.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on November 11, 2010
at 01:55 PM

I've tested with ketostix during a zero carb self-experiment. After 2 weeks of dark purple registering deep ketosis, gradually I no longer registered ketosis. I think one will still be in ketosis, but not spilling extra ketone bodies in the urine, so the test strips may not be valid for testing ketosis, but rather only to test for excess ketone bodies being spilled in urine. The body's tissues perhaps get more adept using ketones, and fewer are wasted?

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3 Answers

1
4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 11, 2010
at 11:15 AM

It wouldn't be surprising that people eating a VLC diet for their entire lives would be better adapted to that diet; this wouldn't be a genetic advantage anymore than someone who spends their entire life running is going to be able to re-adapt to running better than a lifelong couch potato. The longer your body adapts to a particular condition, the better it gets at handling that condition. Lex Rooker reports trace to no ketones on ketostix after years on an Inuit style diet (raw meat only), so I don't think this is a special adaptation of the Inuit. It's just a function of time eating the diet.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on November 11, 2010
at 02:19 PM

That's exactly my take on it, pfw, and Tim, I think you are right. It's a matter of excess, not whether or not there are ketones in the bloodstream.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on November 11, 2010
at 01:55 PM

I've tested with ketostix during a zero carb self-experiment. After 2 weeks of dark purple registering deep ketosis, gradually I no longer registered ketosis. I think one will still be in ketosis, but not spilling extra ketone bodies in the urine, so the test strips may not be valid for testing ketosis, but rather only to test for excess ketone bodies being spilled in urine. The body's tissues perhaps get more adept using ketones, and fewer are wasted?

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 11, 2010
at 04:48 PM

I love these old scientific papers! Is it just me or were they just a lot more straightforward in their writing style in those days! This article is fascinating. I only had time to read the first one before work. WIll dig into the rest later tonight. The first thing that struck me is look at those blood sugar numbers they got after sucking down a bunch of sugar right after a fast! Holy cats, probably not a good idea to slam sugar after a long fast. Those were pretty bad numbers, whereas the same sugar while on their normal protein and fat diet were in the normal range.

I think the paper does show that your metabolism on protein and fat is not like your metabolism when fasting. This paper hypothesizes that it could be either innuit genetics or it could be the effects of the protein. Either or both are possible. Certainly, noninnuits have historically gone and lived the innuit life and ate the innuit food and were healthy, so I think it's a bit much to say it's all genetics. But on the flip side, in such a harsh clime, I would expect that over time, there would be some natural selection towards innuit being better adapted to the cold and their lifestyle. However, I would not go so far as to say that most other humans could not successfully live a similar lifestyle and be overall as healthy as the innuit. I think adaptation has a very strong role, but since few city folk have really gone the route of living a life of ketosis, data is sparse.

Edited to add: Taking more time to read now, seems like the researchers did not consider acclimitization and adaption as a possible source of the innuit apparent lesser amounts of ketosis. Better data could have been attained if they had also tested innuits raised on more standsard diets or noninnuits raised in the innuit lifestyle. But they didn't.

ANother interesting tidbit "that high protein diets tend to prevent the fall of {glucose} tolerance which accompanies fasting or low carbohydrate low protein diets." Has this been discussed before? Very interesting!

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 12, 2010
at 04:20 AM

I think it bares keeping in mind that lowcarbing could be healthy for many of us but that innuit could also have some genetic advantage. The two are not mutually exclusive and need not threaten our theories that lowcarbing could help many. THe problem is that some researchers write off all innuit health on lowcarb as just genetics, which is wrong. Data back up that you don't need to be innuit to do well on the innuit diet. It might be that innuit do better on lowcarb, or another way to say it could be that innuit might do worse on carby diets. Seems reasonably possible if you ask me.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 11, 2010
at 07:46 PM

If Lex Rooker doesn't prove a lack of genetic advantage (equivalent results despite differing genetics) what test would? You've constructed a hypothesis that is apparently unfalsifiable. You're right, of course - the Inuit _could_ have a genetic advantage - but I _could_ have an invisible dragon in my garage. How do you prove it?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on November 11, 2010
at 05:26 PM

That's right, Eva, let's keep our skepticism. Lex Rooker and other zero carbers don't prove that there is no genetic advantage in the case of the Inuit. The Inuits' success could very well be a result of both things: lifelong practice *and* genetic advantage.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on November 11, 2010
at 10:11 PM

Some things that are unfalsifiable now become falsifiable later. We may not currently have the ability to figure these things out, but they are not *in principle* unfalsifiable, like the invisible dragon in your garage.

0
1a69b92ad9a4849631f6e5eccab5c426

on November 11, 2010
at 03:28 PM

I had blood/labwork done in Aug/10 after 18 months of Zero Carbs (and a few years of low carb/VLC). My urine showed ZERO traces of ketones after a 12+ hour fast.

I agree with Tim.. I was definitely registering ketones years, ago but at some point I stopped. I am just a lot more thrifty with them I guess :)

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