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Thread: Kitavan islanders

  1. #1

    Kitavan islanders

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    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 at 10:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    SF, California
    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. #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. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    SF, California
    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. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Northern NJ
    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.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Quote 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. #7
    dado's Avatar
    dado Guest
    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. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Carrboro, NC
    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 at 05:51 AM. Reason: spelling typo
    Life is short: Void the warranty.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Quote 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. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    South Carolina
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    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

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