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Lies an anthropologist told me

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  • Lies an anthropologist told me

    Today I was discussing the influence of environment and nutrition on height with a biological anthropologist. He mentioned the Turkana people of Kenya, who are very tall and have traditionally depended mainly on meat, blood and milk from cattle and camels. Then he went on to call this a "high protein, low fat diet."

    Whaaaaaaat?

    Once I pointed out that the milk from these animals is pretty fatty, and they're probably not processing it to remove any of the fat, he agreed that this is not a low fat diet, but I still can't understand why he initially tried to pass it off as one.

    Either he was trying to pull the wool over our eyes or there are multiple definitions of low-fat floating around. I hope it's the latter because this guy is a respected anthropologist, and I'd like to think that he and others in the field aren't trying to shove this kind of data into the CW worldview. That's just bad science, and also very disheartening.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    I think ratios are very skewed depending on what paradigm you start from.
    Crohn's, doing SCD

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    • #3
      I've always been under the impression that if any specific macro makes up more than about 40% of your diet, you can call that a high-whatever diet. I haven't been able to find any hard data on typical Turkana macro ratios, but I think it's pretty safe to assume that if the staples in your diet are meat, blood, and raw whole milk, both fat and protein will be higher than carbs, which they apparently have to trade with neighboring peoples for because they don't produce them themselves. Maybe they consume more protein than fat, but I think that's pretty unlikely.

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      • #4
        Isn't the blood just for rituals? That's how the Masai use it, I don't know about this tribe. I would expect most calories to come from fat, since regular access to dairy plus whole animal consumption skews the protein down a bit. I doubt blood consumption accounts for much caloric intake percentage-wise. Higher blood consumption might change the ratio and move it a little back toward protein, I doubt it would even end up 50/50 though. But, without knowing more about this tribe, I'm just speculating here.
        Crohn's, doing SCD

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        • #5
          I don't know much about them either, but from what I understand they consume blood as regular food, like the Mongolians do. Probably not copious amounts of it, but I don't think it's purely ceremonial. Regardless, this is not by any means a low-fat diet.

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          • #6
            What perplexed me the most is that it's so obvious, but he ignored the reality and called it something else entirely.

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            • #7
              There is much confusion. Professors are torn between teaching what is real and what they think is healthy.
              Crohn's, doing SCD

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              • #8
                Maybe he just mis-spoke?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rusty View Post
                  Maybe he just mis-spoke?
                  Maybe, but I doubt it. He's said stuff like this before. He always made a big deal about the protein it takes to build big brains, but he basically pretends fat never existed before now, although he does admit the the SAD is high fat AND high carbohydrate.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kata View Post
                    What do you think?
                    I think people don't really think about the numbers.

                    Once you realize that most people in developed countries eat only something like 10 - 15% protein. (You could make that 20 to 25% for some low carb diets, and up to 30% for paleo, and you max out at around 35%.) One you realize that, you see that protein doesn't amount to much in calorific terms and you energy requirtements have to be met from somewhere.

                    I think he's not operating with any clearer idea than Bear Grylls is when he pops an insewct into his mouth and says, "Good protein, there."

                    He doubtless has some wualitative knowledge, but if he were to actually think about the figures he'd realize he was talking through his hat. He can't have done that.
                    Last edited by Lewis; 12-01-2012, 03:59 AM. Reason: Drat my typing - not going to correct it.

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                    • #11
                      I think that some people simply can't bring themselves to say " high fat diet". Like saying "high protein" will somehow make it sound more reasonable.

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                      • #12
                        I agree with you, Graycat. I have noticed that the words "high fat" or "fatty food" actually seem to mean unhealthy foods to people. Half the time, "fatty food" actually means sugary food in reality if you ask someone to list the foods that they consider fatty foods. It's like the word fat doesn't literally mean fat to people anymore and I think most people don't even realize they are doing this. I was talking to an Egyptian guy for whom English was a 2nd language and he kept listing all these great Egyptian foods that were obviously extremely fatty and meaty and he'd end every description of these foods with "no fat, very healthy!" I think he had actually picked up on this tendency to equate the meaning "fat" with "unhealthy" and "no fat" with "healthy" through his ignorance of the language. But the rest of us are just ignorant period. Including your anthropology professor. He ought to go discuss his mistake with a linguistics professor.
                        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                        • #13
                          I think that a lot of people just don't really put too much thought into what unprocessed food is really like... when someone says that an indigenous people live on "meat and milk from cattle", I bet most people today would automatically conjure up in their mind a packaged, lean steak and a jug of 1% milk, simply because that is all they know of their food. Furthermore, even though he is a biological anthropologist, that doesn't necessarily mean his focus within the field is on diet... it could easily be something like the development of bipedal motion, or hand bio-mechanics among early hominids. Many researchers tend to be incredibly specific within their field of study.
                          "Itís not about how strong you are, itís how well you can move with that strength."

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                          • #14
                            I think it can be simply explained by - it doesn't fit his paradigm.

                            If something doesn't fit your paradigm then you tend not to see it. "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigm"

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                            • #15
                              maybe he was thinking that since the meat isn't commercially produced that it maybe be leaner meat? I have to admit my first thought was, this guy doesn't really know what he's talking about when it comes to diets, not the other info

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