Extreme Nutrition: The Diet of Eskimos

Updated April 30, 2015

eskimomansm-7628267The carnivorous diet of traditional Eskimo inhabitants of the frozen, northern, circumpolar regions of planet Earth (Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland), serves as a testament to the strengths and adaptability of the human species. The foods consumed by these hardy people are in “polar” opposition to those recommended by me (the McDougall Diet of starches, vegetables, and fruits): a carnivore vs. an herbivore diet. Unfortunately, misinformation surrounding the all-meat diet of the Eskimo has promoted dangerous eating habits to the modern-day general public.

For more than 6,000 years, natives of the frozen North have lived with almost no contact with the rest of the world. Not until the mid-1800s were reliable records made of their daily lives, their diets, and their health. Early reports describe these people as looking beautiful and athletic when they were young, but then they aged quickly, and “men and women who appeared to be 60 or over were rare.”

Rumors have since circulated that traditional Eskimos have lived free of heart disease, cancer, and most other chronic diseases affecting western civilizations these days. Research published in the mid-1970s tried to explain this “Eskimo paradox” of living healthy with very few plant foods, on a high-fat, high-cholesterol, no-dietary-fiber diet. The omega-3 fish fats were noted as the miracle ingredient providing protection. Dietetic and medical experts have uncritically accepted this theory in the face of libraries filled with incriminating evidence to the contrary. They tell patients to eat more fish, poultry, and even red meat—like the Eskimos – and plenty of fish oil – in order to stay healthy.

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