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Should I really be eating like an Inuit?

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  • Should I really be eating like an Inuit?

    I was thinking about the Inuit, the unofficial Primal mascots who ate basically nothing but fat and protein. In all the books I have read concerning the primal/paleo way of life, they are showcased as the premiere example of a group of people who defy Western conventional wisdom on how we should eat. They eat fat and red meat all day but don’t seem to be dying from heart attacks. So we should take their lead…right?

    Maybe for the most part, but I remain convinced that genetically based differences in optimal nutrition should be researched more. Recently, researchers have been exploring how people could have survived in Siberia and other arctic areas and discovered several genes to be associated with peoples living in these areas. These included genes that regulate body heat, muscle development, and even diet. Across all the test groups, the frequency of the studied genes fluctuated based on specific circumstances, but one key gene ENPP7 seemed to be pretty constant across all study groups. ENPP7 is implicated in the metabolism of fats, especially those in meat and dairy products. This seems like a pretty usefully evolutionary adaption if vegetable matter is nonexistent. And while the Inuit are not directly mentioned in the article, Siberians are considered the source population for North American natives and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that ENPP7 is a staple of their genome.

    How to Survive a Siberian Winter - ScienceNOW

    This also brings up a point I made in a different thread about whether or not those who have practiced agriculture the longest have a higher tolerance to our “SAD” way of living. And as it turns out, there are genes that help in insulin regulation (and deter type 2 diabetes) that appear more frequently in those who are historically agricultural than those who aren’t.

    Refining the impact of : : TCF7L2: : gene variants on type 2 diabetes and adaptive evolution : Abstract : Nature Genetics

    So while eating like an Inuit might be a vast upgrade from bread and pasta, unless you are an Inuit, it might not be exactly what you should be doing.
    Started 9/5/11 at 212lb
    Last weigh in 12/10/11 at 188lb
    Goal: 160

  • #2
    Considering they're one of the least healthy primitive populations and still suffered from osteoporosis and athroslcerosis I don't think it would be smart. Unless you have really low standards of what constitutes optimal health. It's not really possible for us to replicate that diet anyway, as eating bacon, eggs and coconut oil is not the same as whale and seal blubber.

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    • #3
      Are you really committed to the idea? They eat seal, whale, the entire damn thing. Blood, gristle, brain, offal, often raw. If so and you can find a freshly clubbed seal, go for it, my friend.
      F 28/5'4/100 lbs

      "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."

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      • #4
        The Inuit did NOT suffer from all that crap in anywhere near the kind of way we do today. However, NO one is saying OP should eat like an Inuit. The point of holding up different historical traditional groups, whether Inuit fat eaters or South Pacific fruit-and-fish eaters, is that there is a HUGE variety of healthy diets, but all include some kind of animal protein (most include a lot), and NONE include processed food. All who included grains had them soaked, sprouted, or fermented, and didn't eat anywhere near as much of them as we do today.

        There is a lot that will determine the best version of "Traditional Foods" or primal or paleo for you. Your current health needs, your ancestral region (many of us live nowhere near where our ethnicity would imply), your lifelong latitude, your current location, whether you're exposed to natural light/cold cycles, the time of year, your current health status (most people with any kind of chronic problem seem to do best avoiding grains & high carbs altogether until they work out their problem), etc. It's also helpful to note that, to my knowledge, there is no group that ate only *muscle* meat. Much fat & organs & seafood offset the land animal muscle meat that we love so much in Western society today.
        5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
        Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
        Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
        Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
        ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***

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        • #5
          The Inuit are not the "most paleo" of the bunch. There's a wide variety of paleo diets. It's best to look at what they have in common.
          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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          • #6
            #1. Eat lots of plants, animals, and bugs.

            Doesn't sound like the Inuit are any kind of mascot for Primal eating.
            "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

            B*tch-lite

            Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JoanieL View Post
              #1. Eat lots of plants, animals, and bugs.

              Doesn't sound like the Inuit are any kind of mascot for Primal eating.
              This...
              And if the "bugs" thing throws you off, just remember... Shrimp etc = sea bugs and enjoy.
              “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
              ~Friedrich Nietzsche
              And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

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              • #8
                I think people are dramatically misunderstanding what I wrote. In the same of scientific curiosity, I am pointing out that optimal nutrition for groups of people should be researched more heavily since I feel it can produce fruitful results. The Primal/Paleo movement seems to focus a lot on general, generic guidelines for how people should eat. I agree with those guidelines for the most part but always prefer knowledge over assumption.

                The purpose to pointing out the eating habits of the Inuit was two fold. A) Challenge the assumption that eating a diet consisting entirely of fat and protein is equally valid for you as it was for an Inuit, an assumption I feel many people in the primal movement hold. Individuals reading this may personally disagree that they hold that notion, but the fact is that the Inuit comes up often enough in primal conversation to cause me to believe that many people hold that belief.

                B) Stress the point that there are compelling reasons to assume that genetic differences based on evolutionary selective pressures for different ancestral types should be explored in detail. Guidelines and assumptions are good starting points, but I don't see why that has to interfere with academic research or peoples personal convictions on what constitutes a healthy diet.
                Started 9/5/11 at 212lb
                Last weigh in 12/10/11 at 188lb
                Goal: 160

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cori93437 View Post
                  This...
                  And if the "bugs" thing throws you off, just remember... Shrimp etc = sea bugs and enjoy.
                  I. Love. Sea bugs.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by saturnfan View Post
                    ..... I am pointing out that optimal nutrition for groups of people should be researched more heavily since I feel it can produce fruitful results.
                    Couldn't agree more. I think a lot of the "n=1" experiments that people do are a testament to how different foods affect people in different ways. There are a myriad of items that can be observed and scientifically tested against sets, and subsets, of humans that can help determine if, and ultimately what, genetics plays a larger role. Right now we either get "everyone must eat the same exact stuff" or some sort of SWAG as to what people should be eating based on their ancestry, without actually testing it.
                    People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

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                    • #11
                      I read an article a while back about the traditional Native American diet, it definitely made me think about this idea, considering the poor state of health of most Native Americans eating SAD. My family has some Cherokee heritage on my dad's side, and I often wonder if my lactose intolerance (and possibly gluten intolerance) stems from that lineage.

                      Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans - Weston A Price Foundation

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                      • #12
                        I think in the end it's all going to be about things like CAFO, processed, and added sugars. I was born in 1955 which means that while I ate CAFO chicken (which started in the 50s), beef and pork weren't CAFO until the 1970s, so I got to eat relatively healthy food through puberty. My grandparents didn't eat CAFO until they were already grandparents. I bring this up because in my family it was usual to live to be 85+ until my mother's generation. Coincidentally, that was the generation that fell in love with convenience foods like tv dinners, canned soups and sauces, etc. It also coincides with the proliferation of fast food places like McD and their ilk.

                        It's not scientific, but observationally, what I see is that the generations that ate tomato sauce made from tomatoes (not premade in a can), produce not shipped from 1500 miles away, real olive oil, homemade wine, and meats that weren't CAFO lived longer than the next generation. And they ate plenty of wheat in the form of pasta and doughs that stretched meat out for large families.
                        "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                        B*tch-lite

                        Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would like to point out that, while not during the winter, Alaska has and abundance of vegetables, tubers, and berries that the Inuit would gather and eat during that time. The reason they need to eat so much fat, as I have discovered in my last year and a half of living up here, is because it is so damned cold. I found that the amount of fat I was eating down in Oklahoma was no-where near enough to what I needed up here. But I have also found that there is a LOT of foraging that I can do in my own back yard during the summer. You just have to know what you are looking for.

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