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January 1, 1898

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Hrdlička observed Native Americans eating predominantly buffalo, and yet, they seemed to be spectacularly healthy and lived to a ripe old age.





Physiological and medical observations among the Indians of southwestern United States and northern Mexico


Important Text:

"Meanwhile, the Native Americas of the Southwest were observed between 1898 and 1905 by the physician-turned-anthropologist Aleš Hrdlička, who wrote up his observations in a 460-page report for the Smithsonian Institute. The elders among the Native Americans he visited would likely have been raised on a diet of predominantly meat, mainly from buffalo, until losing their traditional way of life, yet, as Hrdlička observed, they seemed to be spectacularly healthy and lived to a ripe old age. The incidence of centenarians among these Native Americans was, according to the 1900 US Census, 224 per million men and 254 per million women, compared to only 3 and 6 per million among men and women in the white population. Although Hrdlička noted that these numbers were probably not wholly accurate, he worte that "no error could account for the extreme disproportion of centenarians observed." Among the elderly he met of age nintey and up, "not one of these was either much demented or helpless."

Hrdlička was further struck by the complete absence of chronic disease among the entire Indian population he saw. "Malignant diseases", he wrote, "if they exist at all--that they do would be difficult to doubt--must be extremely rare." He was told of "tumors" and saw several cases of the fibroid variety, but never came across a clear case of any other kind of tumor, nor any cancer. Hrdlička wrote that he saw only three cases of heart disease among more than two thousand Native Americans examined, and "not one pronounced instance" of atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque in the arteries). Varicose veins were rare. Nor did he observe cases of appendicitis, peritonitis, ulcer of the stomach, nor any "grave disease" of the liver. Although we cannot assume that meat eating was responsible for their good health and long life, it would be logical to conclued that dependence on meat in no way impaired good health."

- Nina Teicholz - The Big Fat Surprise - Page 14-15

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