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  • Kitavan islanders

    I dont have a lot of time to make a real post, but I just wanted to get in a discussion about the Kitavan islanders. They are one of the only truly non-westernized groups of people heavily studied(in the 80's) they are now westernized.

    A lot of the "pro-paleo" data comes from the Kitavan islanders. Infact I would say that it was a major point in the push toward this diet/lifestyle because they did not have heart disease or stroke incidence. Cordain even use them as THE MAIN example in his "Dietary Cure for Acne" book.

    Now, to get to my point. Here is a quote "The residents of Kitava lived exclusively on root vegetables (yam, sweet potato, taro, tapioca), fruit (banana, papaya, pineapple, mango, guava, water melon, pumpkin), vegetables, fish and coconuts [27-29]. Less than 0.2% of the caloric intake came from Western food, such as edible fats, dairy products, sugar, cereals, and alcohol, compared with roughly 75% in Sweden [30]."

    To me it does not sound much, if anything, like the super fatty, Ghee/bacon diet that some paleo's are recommending.
    Last edited by straxville; 06-02-2011, 10:34 PM.

  • #2
    Kitavans were known for obtaining a lot of their calories from coconuts. Coconut oils comprised 20% of their total calories. But they did not consume many omega 6 foods or vegetable/soybean oils.
    Haemostatic variables in Pacific Islanders apparen... [Thromb Haemost. 1997] - PubMed result

    Similarly, Tokelau Islanders, obtained 50% of their calories from coconut oil and are free of stroke and heart disease.
    The Tokelau Island migrant study. [Int J Epidemiol. 1974] - PubMed result

    Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates of coconut oil intake and the lowest rate of ischemic heart disease.
    Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in aging and arte... [J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1986 Mar-Apr] - PubMed result

    As for Butter/Ghee
    The French Paradox illustrates that even though the French typically consume more animal products and 4 times as much butter as Americans, 3 times as much pork (bacon) they have lower rates of cardiovascular disease. The big difference is the quality of fats, since most Americans consume soybean oil and vegetable oil for fats and the French consume more butter.
    French Paradox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    In both cases if you are consuming butter/ghee or coconut oils as your cooking fats you will be a lot better off than using vegetable/soybean oils. You want your cooking oils to be solid at room temperature instead of liquid. (Unless your room temperature is on the hot side of course). The reason is that PUFA's are easily oxidized which can result in major problems.
    "If man made it, don't eat it" - Jack Lallane

    People say I am on a "crazy" diet. What is so crazy about eating veggies, fruits, seafood and organ meats? Just because I don't eat whole wheat and processed food doesn't make my diet "crazy". Maybe everyone else with a SAD are the "crazy" ones for putting that junk in their system.


    • #3
      First of all the french-paradox is not really an example of anything. At best, it isn't even epidemiology.

      Second you're extrapolating data from cultures who eat Raw/Whole coconuts and applying it to coconut oil, and somehow butter or ghee. Also there is, in my opinion, better evidence against dairy than for dairy(W. Price camp).

      Third. The main point of this thread was that, the paleo diets efficacy is still just conceptual. The Kitavans were one of the really only good sets of data that supported the lifestyle(yes high carb is primal). Here we have a culture of true hunter-gatherers and we can see first hand how they ate. There is obviously no conclusive evidence for how cavemen really ate, just some teeth markings and subtle evidence of early fires.


      • #4
        I agree that the whole paleo diet is conceptual and we really don't have a lot of evidence to work with. I also agree that the Kitavans weren't low carb. They did eat whole foods which I believe in first and foremost when choosing a diet direction.

        I guess my point is that the paleo diet isn't meant to reconstruct what happened in the past as we will probably never have to answer to that. But just as long as you are consuming whole foods and eliminating neolithic foods post agricultural revolution you will be doing yourself a lot of good. I think the paleo diet is evolving as new science comes out of the woodwork.

        I also agree that there is good evidence against dairy especially when you are obtaining it from cows that could potentially be sick that are given hormones and antibiotics. But I believe that high quality raw butter and ghee are much less offensive than milk and cheese. And it is a hell of a lot better than cooking with vegetable/soybean oils which tend to cause so much more free radical damage when oxidized. My point in citing the French Paradox was just to illustrate that butter/ghee isn't all that bad for you even if it wasn't eaten in paleolithic times.

        Aside from the Kitavans. I think the Massai Tribe in Africa are another hunter gatherer people that had a very traditional diet that is now a bit more westernized. Their diet traditionally was largely composed of saturated fat including milk but they have more recently been incorporating grains. They were also noted to have very low incidence of CVD and were very robust and athletic like the Kitavans.

        I get the point of your thread. But I do think most diet directions can work depending on a whole lot of other factors just as long as you are eating whole fresh foods and reducing pro-inflammatory n6.
        "If man made it, don't eat it" - Jack Lallane

        People say I am on a "crazy" diet. What is so crazy about eating veggies, fruits, seafood and organ meats? Just because I don't eat whole wheat and processed food doesn't make my diet "crazy". Maybe everyone else with a SAD are the "crazy" ones for putting that junk in their system.


        • #5
          I agree with Balance, and it's also important to note that these people Kitavans, Masai, Inuit, Mongolians, whoever, are eating what they have at their disposal (or were before westernization, etc) nothing more, nothing less. The fact that we went and looked at their "un-fucked-with" diets and determined that "hey, these people are pretty healthy!" has only helped us shape a diet that people in the West can TRY to imitate in order to become healthier themselves. We then add or subtract foods based on other evidence and personal preference. Fruit for instance, is a hot button because a lot of these cultures such as the Kitavans ate them in abundance (why wouldn't you eat something that's in front of your face?) but we know that the fruit WE have at our disposal is for the most part just a vehicle for fructose and some of us want to limit that so while they are whole foods some choose to limit their consumption based on other knowledge which the Kitavans do not posses.

          Primal is not a full-on reenactment but it does heavily borrow from hunter-gatherer or "caveman" cultures to shape something that helps people be healthy in the now.
          I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.


          • #6
            Originally posted by straxville View Post
            I Less than 0.2% of the caloric intake came from Western food, such as edible fats, dairy products, sugar, cereals, and alcohol, compared with roughly 75% in Sweden.
            It's a fairly big assumption to say the least that "edible fats, dairy products, sugar, cereals and alcohol" are all in some way, as it were, the same sort of thing.

            And there's nothing particularly "Western" about cereals, which grow in all continents—nor are "edible fats" to be found only in some particular "hemisphere".


            • #7
              those french, they're paradoxical.

              i think what we see here is that coconuts are good for you, this is what i take from it, so the kitavans, they're on to something.


              • #8
                The big thing I see across all pre-agriculture diets is the lack of grains. Tropical islanders tended to eat root vegetables, fruits and fish. Inuit ate mostly fish (with lots of oils) as their was little else available much of the year. Other northern peoples likewise had very short growing seasons and relied heavily on meat as the primary calorie source. Regardless, it seems that cardiovascular disease is absent in cultures without grain.

                I think some folks can get carried away with the fats. They should be balanced with lots of vegetables as well as some lean meats. Wild game is typically not that fatty -- a fat antelope is a slow antelope and quickly eaten.

                That said, I know for me it comes back to avoiding grains as 80% of the solution to better health. Everything else: exercise, sleep, play, avoiding stupid mistakes, using your brain, etc., fall in the other 20%. The portion of fats in my no-grain diet is a tiny piece of the puzzle.
                Last edited by gunnk; 06-03-2011, 05:51 AM. Reason: spelling typo
                Life is short: Void the warranty.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by gunnk View Post
                  Wild game is typically not that fatty -- a fat antelope is a slow antelope and quickly eaten.
                  Yea... I understand what you are saying...

                  But the apparent paradox here is amusing.


                  • #10
                    My suggestion is to not worry about what we think our ancestors ate (we really do not know 100%) but to focus on what we know they didn't eat - processed franken foods (industrial seed oils, modern GMO wheat etc.). If you stay away from modern processed "food" and only eat real food and you are at a good body weight and feel good, you are doing great. I think to much is made of what would "Grok" do - quite frankly we don't know and I don't think "Grok" worried about what his ancestors did or didn't eat. If you can eat fruit and keep your weight and blood glucose levels within acceptable ranges, go for it. Too many of us have turned this lifestyle into a religion. We are all experiments where N=1 and what works for one may not work for another. Just like the African tribesman did not eat salmon, our northern climate ancestors did not eat fruit and the islanders probably didn't waste much time chasing game when they could harvest the seas bounty.

                    Stop trying to put everyone in one bucket and chastising someone who is taking a different primal/paleo route. The beauty of this lifestyle is the freedom it provides. Freedom from eating a CW "balanced diet", freedom from eating every 4 hours, freedom from having to do a Men's Health workout in a gym. We have made something so simple so complicated by inundating ourselves with information from the plethora of new primal/ paleo books, blogs and pod casts. Everyone has a different take which tells me there is no one way to do this.

                    Do what works for you, don't criticize each others approach and encourage all to stay the course


                    • #11
                      So, eat Kitavan if that's what you want. Or, eat Inuit. Or, eat early Native American. The major point is that humans learned to survive on all of these diets, and none of them had dairy, sugars, artificial sweeteners, etc. I can't handle the starch load of the Kitavan diet, as is the case for many who are on MDA. I don't believe in some perfect primal diet, but I do reject the modern diet with its faux food emphasis. However, I would be very surprised if the the foods the Kitivans are growing have the load of sugars/starch of western hybridized versions.
                      Last edited by Digby; 06-03-2011, 06:44 AM.
                      This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

                      Any given day you are surrounded by 10,000 idiots.
                      Lao Tsu, founder of Taoism


                      • #12

                        you're not a kitavan...nor were your ancestors prolly kitavans... but besides the point

                        there is no guideline outside real food to primal. the forum is overtaken(not in a bad way) by people whom have already spent their entire lives on western food at which point no study and no culture has any significance on what will repair their broken bodies, hormones and hypothalamus. thats why SATURATED fat works for broken people, thats why unbroken people do just fine on natural MUFAs and even the daring PUFAs. thats why broken people shouldn't eat much fruit but it doesn't matter 2 sh*ts if a normal person eats a whole watermelon.

                        now, if you are one of the VERY FEW PEOPLE who visit this diet forum, and actually do not have bodily problems, diabetes, PCOS or the ever overdiagnosed thyroid disorder... then there are NO GUIDELINES within the primal foods for you to try and meet some macro on. NONE. period. stop researching, stop trying to find the 'perfect diet' if youre not broken.

                        eat real food. take note of how you feel. repeat scenarios which enhance your mental well being, your sleep, your mood, your digestion, your body comp. dont repeat crap the hinders it NO MATTER how much you 'like' food ___ nor how much study X makes sense to you so you should eat 8934921384652134 coconuts a day with 92346501304561345 potatoes. it makes no difference. listen to your body.
                        Get on my Level


                        • #13
                          Well said Digby and Malpaz. Most of us can not relate to Kitavans. A lot of us probably live a much more sedentary lifestyle in comparison to the Kitavans. Sure we may get our 30-60 minutes of workout per day but a lot of us have jobs or school that are pretty sedentary in comparison to a hunter gatherer lifestyle. Most of us own cars and drive long distances. So eating that many fruits and tubers might not be conducive to a slim waist and regulated blood sugar, it is just too much energy for a western lifestyle.
                          "If man made it, don't eat it" - Jack Lallane

                          People say I am on a "crazy" diet. What is so crazy about eating veggies, fruits, seafood and organ meats? Just because I don't eat whole wheat and processed food doesn't make my diet "crazy". Maybe everyone else with a SAD are the "crazy" ones for putting that junk in their system.


                          • #14
                            I'm gonna repeat Balance's praise for MalPaz' post

                            At its core, Primal says "don't eat toxins". Richard Nikoley said it pretty well: The Paleo/Primal/Evolutionary Distinction: Avoidance Behavior. Step one of the Jaminets Perfect Health Diet is to avoid toxic foods. I could give lots more examples but I think that makes my point

                            Once there you can experiment with what are the "right" foods that best support your goals, but if you're still eating foods that are actually detrimental any argument about what food is good or just neutral is moot.


                            • #15
                              Just to add. Mann showed the Mesai had atherosclerosis. The 2 Innuit mummy had atherosclerosis. Every omnivore ever fed high fat diets in a lab developed atherosclerosis.

                              I do not have data on a Kitavans autopsy, but Esselstyn and Ornish have reversed atherosclerosis on low-fat diets as evidenced on ANGIOGRAPHY(much more sensitive test than a calcium score)

                              Now i might add that there is not a lot of evidence that innuit or the Mesai ever dropped dead of heart attacks but they DID have plaque, which probably isn't the most desirable thing to have hanging around..