To continue with the examination of how aboriginal health has been affected by modern diet and lifestyle, I will look first at some significant differences between diets of 400 years ago and commercially available modern diets. Historically that was wild game, wild plants and fruits. Choices are limited also by the cost of items and government regulation of the food supply chain.
Historically meats were mostly fresh except for the fat/fruit/dried meat pemmican.
The difference between fresh killed meats and aged beef and long shelf life meat products is oxidation. All meats contain cholesterol as a part of every cell membrane. Aging done by hanging carcasses 10-14 days as well as processed products if they have oxygen dissolved in their structures and then are stored for long periods of time prior to consumption is oxidation of tiny amounts of cholesterol which turns it into a dangerous compound. Once a bit of blood vessel scarring due to high blood sugar occurs, or plaque begins all cholesterols begin to attach to a growing matrix or biofilm. When scavenger cells in the blood encounter free oxidized cholesterol circulating or in a plaque they try to destroy it but in doing so are transformed into what is called a foam cell, a kind of cell that attaches to any imperfections in vessels and further contributes to plaque growth.
One solution is to only eat freshly-killed meats or use processing methods that reduce oxidation. One method of aging that uses a few minutes of electric current to replace a week or two of hanging exists but has not been widely adopted to date.
Check out the following website: http://news.cals.wisc.edu/2002/05/22/new-process-for-tenderizing-meat-promises-to-benefit-consumers-and-meat-packers/
Traditional pemmicans had chokecherry, buffalo berry and other wild fruits and foliage. Only when modern diets have several servings daily of a broad range of berries and specific vegetables do they begin to provide an equivalent to this.
Consumption of sugars in quantities that the body cannot safely manage is another key change. As well, sugars occur in many starchy foods in a way that creates acrylamide. Acrylamide is a protein-sugar molecule that forms when potatoes, for example, are rapidly heated dry as they are for french fries. Boiled and mashed potatoes contain far less acrylamide. Research appears to indicate risks and government and industry have been aware of this, but have chosen not to push this issue. One solution would be to breed new chemistries of potatoes. It could be argued that, like cigarettes were for decades, that the jury is not fully in as to the full extent of the dangers, however processing methods and food chemistries in processed foods could be altered to reduce acrylamide content as a precaution.
So “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t get him to drink”, is the conundrum with making modern diets healthier. “Compliance” is a comparison between how much you inform folks and the changes people actually make.
Getting people to do things that are healthy is the challenge. I have a good example of this. I take very large quantities of niacin, arginine (some as hemp protein), acetyl-l-carnitine and some DHEA as cardiovascular health promoters.
At a gathering of my wife’s relatives in Calgary, one man was asking about things besides Viagra that could bring back his erections after prostate cancer treatments. Well, I said, a side effect of the aforementioned supplements is great blood flow and increased nerve health which might really benefit his situation. I never saw a crowd of people go silent and go grab notepads and pens to write down how much of this and that would spice up their love lives.
So you can preach and teach healthy diets but it seems that to get people to undertake changes religiously every day you have to provide some kind of measurable instant gratification or reward.
Traditionally, aboriginals ate rumen/stomach contents as a treat. Rumen contents like yogurt are a source of beneficial organisms/biotics as well as broken down complex compounds called tannins and beneficial plant compounds known as flavonoids. It is questionable if regulators would allow this material on the market, due to regulatory concerns. Just how you would get people to accept eating rumen contents daily is another question. Rename it and rebrand it is the logical first step. Not everything can be tied to an enhanced sex life …
To further address this topic I attended the National Aboriginal Diabetes Conference and Strategic Planning Session in Winnipeg in November and have inquires out to the presenters for their ideas. Next month I hope to have some responses.