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Old April 7th, 2012, 01:38 PM
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mhikl mhikl is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Calgary, Canada
Posts: 70
Experiences & Studies on Fat by Vilhjalmur Stefansson

When it comes to fat, it is waffle science. It is an area where the medical community and certainly interests groups affects government policy with out the back up of science. The media and especially the powers in advertising influences our views on fat on a daily basis.

The Oats Controversy
I remember when oats were cholesterol lowering, then they were not, and now oats are again being advertised as fat lowering. There is advertising by an orange juice company that plant steroids lower cholesterol but there is no actual statement in the advertising that their orange juice lowers cholesterol. Liver used to be a healthy food, then it was denounced as dangerous and recently there are whispers that it may be good, again.

For years cholesterol was just claimed bad and now fluffy cholesterol is good and small compact cholesterol is bad. However, further research seems to be showing that there are at least 8 (I believe) tiny, hard-packed cholesterols and at least one of them may be as good or possibly even better for you than fluffy cholesterol and most of the other tight little cholesterol molecules are benign.

My Automatic Reaction Makes me Think
The other day I poured the fat off my pork stew, then, while eating the stew, the realisation arose that I know more about the benefits of fat than what is ever played in the news. I was suddenly amazed to realise that some automatic reflex had overpowered both my knowledge and understanding. I have read Atkins, D’adamo, Taubes, and many other researchers and reporters interested in health who have spoken out about the importance of fat in our diet. I know that lard is a monounsaturated fat, a healthy food, according to the comparative science that shows it has the same properties as monounsaturated olive oil. Yet lard was long maligned by science, government and business to the preference of crisco, a man-made trans-fat Frankenfood monster.

I just automatically tossed the fat down the drain without a thought as to what I was doing. That is the effect of the controversy around fat. Reason becomes challenged in such a climate.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson—Studies of the Inuit Diet
This led me on a mad cap Google search where I found a site to Vilhjalmur Stefansson and an article he had written in Harper’s Magazine, Adventures in Diet, written around 1937. It was very controversial in its day, and news of his experiences were read all around the world for many years.

Stefansson was a Canadian Anthropologist who lived five years with the Inuit over an 11 year period with one long stay lasting a year. He followed the Inuit diet which consisted of 70-80% fat and 15-25% protein and a minuscule 5% carbohydrates which came mostly from organ meat. The meat was from caribou, bear and fish. The fish ranged from “rancid” summer fish to fresh late autumn fish stored under heavy wood logs in bogs. He didn’t try the smelly fish until half way through his stay. He compared the rancid fish to the smelly cheeses haute cuisine gourmands enjoy and to the rotted pheasant the British aristocracy actually choose to consume. When he did try the rotted fish, he found he really liked it. Oh, and he never wearied of the simple fair he had to eat.

Stefansson described the Inuit as being very healthy, free from tooth caries, having clear skin, being of healthy weight, nimble and strong, and lacking any of the ill health problems of the day.* I couldn’t put the material down. Stefansson was born in 1879, passing away in 1962, living to a healthy 83, and, like the Inuit, was a strong specimen to the end. His parents immigrated from Iceland the year before his birth and left Gimli Manitoba a year after his birth when flooding killed two siblings.
* (I have read elsewhere that no cancers were reported in any Inuit communities until the early seventies. Heart disease was not evident until well into the second half of the 20th century.)

The magazine article of 1937 was written after Stefansson and another chap had spent a year following the Inuit diet under extremely close observation and study at Bellevue Hospital, New York. The year long experiment made news world wide throughout its length and long after. I was amazed to hear that even in the early part of the century, fat was held in suspicion by much of the medical community. Why? I don’t think science was so advanced for objective study at the time. There clearly seems to have been a strong bias by a particular determined group of people for many years before science was even applied to its study.

Scurvy and the Scott Journeys to the South Pole
In the article he talked about the Scott ventures to the South Pole and the problems of scurvy and ill-health that taxed stamina and life on such a rigorous adventure. He saw the cause of such ill-health to be from the rich carbohydrate diet the explorers followed. Stefansson also lists the failures of lime juice to protect sailors from an historical perspective. Scott chose not to partake of the abundant wild life on land and in the ocean, which would have given him and his men the protection the Inuit diet gave these ancient peoples.

Stefansson then compares their health to that of the Inuit and to the health of the men in another expedition that was to beat Scott to the South Pole. That expedition was described as an haphazard flurry of ill-prepared misfits who, failing to bring along enough supplies to complete the expedition, were forced to live off the abundance of the penguins and dolphins Scott had ignored. They failed to follow most protocols of the day, even in regards to the lime juice, vegetables and fruits, science of the time claimed would ward off scurvy. Yet they survived the scurvy and every evidence of ill health, that Scott’s troupes suffered, by the lucky chance of being forced to follow the centuries long Inuit lifestyle diet.

One wonders why lessons were not learned from Scott's errors. Scott, by the way, has to be admired for his steadfastness to science rigour. His first attempt a failure, he chose to run the experiment all over again, forfeiting his and many other men’s lives just ten miles from the final food cache that allowed the few ailing survivors to complete their second trip. Just as there are no ribbons for second place adventurers there should be no ribbons given to the validity of the protocols against scurvy. It was shortly after this that Vitamin C was to finally put an end to the problems of Scurvy. There would now be no need to challenge the healthiness of the carbohydrate intense diet that had killed so many.

The article is long and, as I said, fascinating. I have made an epub copy of it and would post it to this forum if that is possible, but I am not sure how it should be done. Here is the url if you wish to look at it on line:
For those truly interested in this topic, I feel it is a must read.

Stefansson’s account has finally persuaded me to accept my personal beliefs about fat. I won’t listen to this meaningless chant. I finally realise that when a bias lives on where no science supports the bias, then it is time to call out the fabrication for what it is. With over a hundred years to tout the argument that fat is bad and still not be able to prove the message true, then science must rephrase the hypothesis.

Fat in a Dog's Diet
It is Mr Stefansson’s story of his experiences and studies that have inspired me to approach this forum on the issue of fat in a dog’s diet. I think this is relevant to human health because both species, dog and human are capable of surviving on both a fat & protein diet, a vegetarian diet and a mixed diet. The Husky dog teams were fed the same high fat diet of the Inuit and also did not suffer the illnesses grain fed dogs suffer today.
Know History, Not Just Your Folklore.

Last edited by mhikl; April 7th, 2012 at 02:03 PM. Reason: edit errors and for clarity
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