We often hear epidemiological references made went questions of intakes of this or that are asked. For example, many in the VLC camp would point to the Inuit as an example of why people should eat mostly protein and fat. Both societies are touted on each end of the spectrum for their low rates of disease and obesity, but what if a Kitavan was to be put on a Inuit diet? Would we speculate that he or she would remain healthy and disease free? Would genetic variations cause problems?
asked byCaveman_formally_known_as_Dan (4303)
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on September 19, 2011
at 10:02 PM
The people who use either of these populations as an argument that we should eat like them are making an incorrect inference. So there couldn't be a better way than either of these? Really? Not at all? A better way is to do a controlled trial and apply reason to it. What I think that all of the Kitava/Inuit talk does for us is it refutes the notion that paleo carbs cause insulin resistance and make you fat, and that meat causes cancer. There are too many differences, even non-diet-related differences to say anything definitive about which is healthier. The Inuit lack sunlight, and have adaptations for vitamin d, but sunlight does many things. They also have more brown adipose tissue and generate more heat, this could play into obesity. The Kitavans might have a higher burden of infectious disease. Who knows?
I can't say what putting an Inuit on a Kitavan diet would do. We have no idea. I wouldn't even be able to say whether the Inuit would do better on a Kitavan diet than an Inuit diet or vice versa.
I think that most people can avoid complete and utter death and destruction eating either way, and that genetic variation matters, but this tells us little about what is best on a population or individual basis, or even what switching places would do to Inuit and Kitavan populations. We can't know, we would have to test these things. If anybody knows of evidence that would be great, but I think that if there was any I would know about it.
on September 19, 2011
at 11:27 PM
But, there is a significant difference between exploring and advocating a given subject.
I personally don't eat an "all meat" diet, but I find the subject interesting. Particularly so because of the strong anti-meat sentiment currently present in our culture.
All or mostly vegetable diets get plenty of press and as such don't really rouse my curiosity.
As J.Stanton recently wrote on GNOLLS, there is absolutely no evidence that we have adapted to the industrialized "food" of the past 100 years and we can safely eliminate it without worry of health detriment.
Depending on which side of the fence you stand on, there is evidence enough to make a case for or against "neolithic foods" such as dairy, grains, and legumes. The human dietary of the Paleolithic and Pleistocene likely included animals (skinning tools, bones marked by butchering, etc.) and beyond this point, our closest relatives, the chimpanzee, with whom we share a common ancestor, are frugivores who supplement with small animals, bugs, and other foraged foods.
The Inuit entered North America relatively late, developing in coastal Alaska in A.D. 1000 and spreading to Greenland ~A.D. 1300, so their particular adaptation to available food resources, marine animals, can't be used to say "this is what our ancestors did, this is what we should do" rather it is a case where we can say "this is what a people did, this is what can be done".
I have not investigated Kitvan culture or dietary traditions personally, so I'll leave the details of their particular dietary to someone better aquainted with the subject, but I believe that they too demonstrate the flexibility of human adaptation.
Perhaps both the Inuit and Kitvan are best cited as examples of this remarkable diversity and flexibility.
on September 19, 2011
at 10:05 PM
I wouldn't point to Inuit as an argument for why people should eat that way, only why they shouldn't fear it. And one might say the same about carbs and the Kitavans. Population studies are only one way to evaluate, though, and a limited one. If that were the only argument, it wouldn't be very convincing by itself.
I do think that there are likely to be some adaptations that make some people more or less tolerant of or able to thrive on different diets, but I also think that it can't have changed our systemic physiology in too deep a way. It's an interesting research question.