Gaels

Isle of Lewis, United Kingdom

First Contact:

gather% / fish % / hunt %
fat % / protein % / carb%

A rough estimate to help us understand how carnivorous and how ketogenic these people were before being exposed to western civilization

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Click this Slide deck Gallery to see high quality images of the tribe, daily life, diet, hunting and gathering or recipes

About the Tribe

The isle of Lewis and the Isle of Harris, visited by Price after leaving Switzer-

land, are the chief of these islands off the northwest coast of Scotland. The

islands were isolated, inaccessible much of the year because of constant rough

seas. Most people lived traditionally, working at fishing, sheep raising, and

farming.

Fish was abundant, and many men went to sea daily. Cod, lobsters, crabs,

oysters, and clams were readily available. Oat grain was the only cereal that

grew well and was a staple. The islands were covered with peat, providing

poor farmland and pasturage, and consequently people rarely kept dairy

animals. Milk was practically unknown; so too were fruits.

Modern foods were available in shipping ports--white breads, jams,

marmalades, canned vegetables, vegetable oils, sugar, syrup, chocolate, and

coffee. Together with some fish, these foods formed the diet of many people

in the port towns. Their health was in stark contrast with that of the rest of the

populations.

Children living on seafoods, oats, and vegetables in primitive areas showed

less than one tooth out of one hundred with any decay. Tuberculosis, cancer,

arthritis, and other degenerative diseases were unknown.

Children eating modern foods in the several shipping ports showed an

average incidence of 16.3 to more than 50 decayed teeth per one hundred

examined; even three-year-olds had decay. Tuberculosis was a great problem-

some populations had been decimated. Wherever Price investigated, afflicted

individuals had been eating modern foods. The authorities blamed tuberculo-

sis on the fireplace smoke in the thatched-roof houses that for centuries had

been the peoples' homes. Yet, former generations had been free of tuberculo-

sis. Only the diet had changed.

Whole grains--rye in the Loetschental, oats in the Outer Hebrides formed

major parts of these European traditional diets. Grains were important too for

a few African tribes Price studied. Everywhere else, fish, animals, and vegetables

formed the bulk of traditional diets, and grains played little or no role.

Seafood was the other staple in the Outer Hebrides. Fish organs (especially

the liver), fish eggs, the head, and the bones were all used. A dish considered

especially important for children was made from the head and the liver of

codfish. Since there were no dairy foods, bones were important for calcium and other minerals.

Fish, especially the liver, is a rich source of the vitamin D-complex and other

fal-soluble nutrients, supplied in the Loetschental Valley mostly by butter, cheese,

and milk. In every culture that Price found free of dental and degenerative

disease, a rich source of these fat-soluble nutrients formed a substantial part of

the diet- and it is these nutrients, which we now know include the omega-3

fatty acids, which are strikingly deficient in the diets of most modern people.

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Importance of Animal Products

Most people lived traditionally, working at fishing, sheep raising, and farming.

Fish was abundant, and many men went to sea daily. Cod, lobsters, crabs, oysters, and clams were readily available.

Importance of Plants

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Transition to Industrialized Food Products

Modern foods were available in shipping ports--white breads, jams,

marmalades, canned vegetables, vegetable oils, sugar, syrup, chocolate, and

coffee. Together with some fish, these foods formed the diet of many people

in the port towns. Their health was in stark contrast with that of the rest of the

populations.