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Diseases of Civilization

Common diseases that appear in civilization - such as cancer, diabetes, IBS, gout, heart disease

Diseases of Civilization

Recent History

January 11, 1844

Jean-Francois Dancel

Obesity, Carnivore, Keto

Obesity, or, Excessive corpulence : the various causes and the rational means of cure

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Dr Dancel says "These chemical principles are founded upon facts—upon observation. As I have said, carnivorous animals are never fat, because they feed upon a substance rich in nitrogen—flesh; which flesh makes flesh, and very little fat. They have no belly, because flesh, taken in small quantity, suffices for one day, or twenty-four hours."

These chemical principles are founded upon facts—upon observation. As I have said, carnivorous animals are never fat, because they feed upon a substance rich in nitrogen—flesh; which flesh makes flesh, and very little fat. They have no belly, because flesh, taken in small quantity, suffices for one day, or twenty-four hours.

It has been objected that the carnivora do not always obtain food when hungry, and that they are often obliged to chase their prey for a long time before catching it. This is true; but on the other hand, carnivorous animals, when domesticated and fed upon meat, are not more fat, and have no belly. The celebrated traveller, Levaillant, in his Travels in Africa, says that he has seen, in the southern part of the continent, flocks of gazelles, which live in the interior, numbering from ten to fifty thousand. These flocks are almost continually on the move; they travel from north to south, and from south to north. Those of the flock which are in advance, and in the enjoyment of a rich pasturage, frequently come upon the borders of the settlements of Cape Colony, and are fat; those composing the centre of the herd are less fat; while those in the rear are extremely poor, and dying with hunger. Being thus stayed in their course by the presence of man, they retrace their steps; but those which composed the rear are now in advance, and regain their fat, while those which were in advance become the rear, and lose fat. Notwithstanding the vast numbers which daily perish, their natural increase suffices to maintain the integrity of the herd. In connexion with my subject I may state that these flocks are always accompanied or followed by lions, leopards, panthers and hyenas, which kill as many of them as they please for food, devour a part, and leave the rest to the jackals and other small carnivorous animals, which follow upon their steps. Now, these lions, panthers, leopards and hyenas, which need make but the slightest exertion to find food when hungry, are never fat.

It has been said, by way of objection to my system, that butchers are generally fat, due to their living upon meat. Now, I have made some enquiries in this matter, and have satisfied myself that butchers, as a general thing, are not fond of meat, but live chiefly upon vegetable food, and usually drink a great deal. It has been said also that their good condition is due to the atmosphere (filled with animal miasm) in which they live, a supposition which has yet to be proven. Again, it has been said that hogs can be fattened upon horse-flesh. My reply is, that they drink at the same time a large amount of water. And here I may remark, that the lard of hogs thus fattened upon flesh is soft and watery, and is considered by dealers to be of little value. It is evidently not due to the flesh upon which these hogs are fed, that their fat is soft and watery, but to the great amount of fluid they imbibe.

On the other hand, those animals which are enormously fat, live exclusively upon vegetables, and drink largely. The hippopotamus, for example, so uncouth in form from its immense amount of fat, feeds wholly upon vegetable matter—rice, millet, sugar-cane, &c. Naturalists long entertained the opinion that this animal, living mostly in the water, fed chiefly upon fish. It is now, however, well ascertained that the hippopotamus never touches fish, and is wholly a vegetable feeder.

The walrus, which, according to Buffon, seems to afford the connecting link between amphibious quadrupeds and the cetacea, is a veritable mass of fat, and lives exclusively upon marine herbage. The walrus of Kamschatka measures from twenty to twenty-three feet in length, sixteen to eighteen feet in circumference, and weighs from six to eight thousand pounds.


The following fact may be cited as a remarkable proof that the quantity of fat in any animal is mainly dependent on the character of its food: Among the whale tribe, those monsters in size, that of Greenland (Balæna mysticetus of Linnæus) possesses the greatest amount of blubber, and it feeds upon zoophytes, of which many resemble as much in character the plant as the animal. The fin-backed whale (Balæna böops of Linnæus), which does not feed upon mucilaginous matter, but upon small fish, has a much thinner layer of blubber than the former. The sperm whale or cachalot (Balæna physalus of Linnæus), which feeds on mackerel, herrings, and northern salmon, although nearly as long as the Greenland whale, is much thinner. The layer of blubber is not so thick as in the fin-backed, and yields only ten or twelve tuns of oil; while the Greenland whale yields fifty, sixty, and even eighty tuns.


Now, chemistry, as we have said, furnishes a rational explanation of these facts. With the exception of flesh, all alimentary substances (the mucilaginous, the gummy, the saccharine, the aqueous, &c.) consist of carbon and hydrogen, and fat is composed of the same elements. Success in the treatment of disease would be more frequent, if medical practitioners would pay greater attention to the chemistry of the vital functions; and the reason why certain articles of diet have a greater tendency than others to the formation of fat, would, by the aid of the exact science of chemistry, be rendered self-evident.

January 3, 1850

Fred Bruemmer

Arctic Memories

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Between 1850 and 1885, the Inuit population of coastal arctic Alaska declined by 50 percent. In two generations, the Mackenzie Delta Inuit were reduced from about 1,000, to fewer than 100. Labrador's Inuit numbered about 3,000 in 1750. In 1946, 750 were left.

This is, perhaps, too rosy a view of early Inuit life. It was hard, precarious, and in some regions haunted by recurring famines. But it did have that saving grace of contentment known only when a people are secure within their society and in harmony with their natural environment. That ancient balance was broken when Europeans came to the Arctic - the whalers who took from the North much of its wildlife, the basis of the Inuit's existence, and who brought to the North diseases to which the long-isolated Natives had no immunity. 


Between 1850 and 1885, the Inuit population of coastal arctic Alaska declined by 50 percent. In two generations, the Mackenzie Delta Inuit were reduced from about 1,000, to fewer than 100. Labrador's Inuit numbered about 3,000 in 1750. In 1946, 750 were left. With the whales nearly exterminated, the whalers departed, leaving a people wracked by disease and accustomed to, and dependent upon, many southern goods. Into the vacuum created by the whalers' departure stepped the fur traders, and to pay for the southern goods they had come to regard as essential, the Inuit became trappers. Where once they had been poor but independent, they were now dependent and still poor, their ancient autarky destroyed beyond redemption.

June 5, 1851

Jean-Francois Dancel

Obesity, Carnivore, Keto

Obesity, or, Excessive corpulence : the various causes and the rational means of cure

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Dancel returns a young woman to health with meat, and her menstruation returns as well. "This young person, about twenty-three years of age, was very fat, and irregular in her menstrual periods. She was of lymphatic temperament, very pale, and rarely partook of meat: her ordinary food consisted of vegetables, sweetmeats, cakes and sweet fruits; She had lost much of her fat, and had become regular. She ate meat principally, both at breakfast and dinner, and drank wine."

To return to the cases of cure. Madam C., a landed proprietor, living in the Rue de la Concorde, at Paris, went to take the waters in Germany, in the year 1851. On her return, she made trial of my system, on account of excessive corpulence. Meeting with the usual success, she thought it would be of great advantage to a young lady, a friend, whom she had left behind her at the watering place, and who was then in bad health. This young person, about twenty-three years of age, was very fat, and irregular in her menstrual periods. She was of lymphatic temperament, very pale, and rarely partook of meat: her ordinary food consisted of vegetables, sweetmeats, cakes and sweet fruits; water was her principal beverage. At the pressing instance of Madam C., Miss C. visited Paris, in order to be under my care. 


After following my directions for a fortnight, her health was much improved. Her parents then came to Paris, and I continued in attendance on Miss C. for three months. At the expiration of this time, she returned with her parents to Brussels. She had lost much of her fat, and had become regular. She ate meat principally, both at breakfast and dinner, and drank wine. I may lay claim, in the case of this young lady, to have effected a complete change of temperament. With but trifling menstrual flow, and great pallor, she was gradually progressing to a state of obesity, which would have proved entirely destructive to health, which would have ended in a total suppression of the menses, and ultimately in death. But now, having overcome her obesity, the menstrual flow has become normal in quantity, the digestive powers have resumed their functional activity, so that she can partake of meat and wine, and in every respect her constitution is fully restored. Should she marry, she will in all probability have a family, which would have been very doubtful had she married while in the previous obese condition; and if she have children, her accouchements will be comparatively free of danger, and her sufferings much less; for it is well known that very corpulent females have more difficult labours than those of ordinary embonpoint; while the offspring of the latter are at the same time healthier. The same rule applies in the case of the human female as with other mammalia; when fat, conception is of more rare occurrence; and when they do conceive, they are very liable to miscarry. When, however, they go to the full period of gestation, the progeny of a very fat mother is almost always lean, and possesses little vitality. Moreover, the milk of a very fat mother is neither so abundant nor so nutritious as that of a moderately thin mother.

October 9, 1870

Arctic Passage, Whaleman's Shipping List and Merchants Transcript Letter

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Captain Frederick A Barker of the Japan shipwrecks in the Arctic Ocean in 1870 and is rescued by Eskimo natives who restore the frostbitten and dying men and then feed them a diet of raw walrus meat through the winter, despite suffering from famine themselves. Captain Barker realizes that his whaling and walrus slaugtering had reduced the natives only remaining food resources and wrote to authorites for help.

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From Artic Passage Book - Page 135 Physical Hardcover:

Captain Frederick A. Barker of the Japan was one of the few whaling men to cry out against the wholesale destruction of the walrus herds of the Bering Sea. In a letter to the Whalemen's Shipping List and Merchants Transcript he warned New England whaling men that the practice "will surely end in the extermination of this race of natives who rely upon these animals alone for their winter's supply of food." 28 If the butchering of the walrus did not cease, the fate of the Eskimo was inevitable: "Already this cruel persecution has been felt along the entire coast, while a wail like that of the Egyptians goes through the length and breadth of the land. There is a famine and relief comes not." 29 Eskimos had often asked Barker why the white men took away their food and left them to starve, and he had no answer to give them. They told him of their joy when the whalemen first began to come among them, and of their growing despair as the hunters began to decimate the walrus. "I have conversed with many intelligent shipmasters upon this subject," wrote Barker, "since I have seen it in its true light and all have expressed their honest conviction that it was wrong, cruel and heartless and the sure death of this inoffensive race." 30 Captains had told Barker that they would be glad to abandon walrus hunting if the ship owners would approve it, "but until the subject was introduced to public notice, they were powerless to act." 31 It would be hard to give up an enterprise that provided 10,000 barrels of oil each season. My advocacy "may seem preposterous and meet with derision and contempt, but let those who deride it see the misery entailed throughout the country by this unjust wrong." 32 


Captain Barker was not the only shipmaster to appeal for an end to the walrus slaughter, but he knew better than to most what was happening to northern natives. Barker had taken his Japan into the Arctic Ocean in 1870 and had made a good catch. Whales were plentiful and the weather was good, so Barker was reluctant to return south through the Bering Strait. As the days grew colder and the shore ice thickened, Barker was forced to give up the chase and work the Japan toward the strait. Unfortunately, he encountered heavy fog which slowed his progress, then a storm which buffeted the Japan for four days. On October 9, 1870, the Japan was off East Cape, Siberia, and in serious trouble. "The gale blew harder, attended by such blinding snow that we could not see half a ship's length." 33 Although Barker had taken in most of his sails, the Japan was racing at breakneck speed before the gale. "Just then, to add to our horror, a huge wave swept over the ship, taking off all our boats and sweeping the decks clean." 34 


The situation was critical. Barker steered for the beach and hoped for the best. An enormous wave hit the Japan and drove it upon the rocky shore. Miraculously, all the men got ashore safely, but their travails were just beginning. The weather was bitterly cold, and clothing and provisions had to be recovered from the disabled ship. Barker and his men struggled through the surf to the ship and back to the shore again and suffered fearful consequences. All were severely frostbitten, and eight of the thirty-man crew died in the effort. Natives came to the mariners' assistance. Barker was dragged out of the breakers, breathless and nearly frozen, loaded onto a sled, and taken to village. "I thought my teeth would freeze off." 35 Barker scrambled out of the sled and tried to run, hoping the exertion would warm him. Instead he fell down as one paralyzed. The natives picked him up and put him on the sled once more. 


In the village the survivors received tender care. "The chief's wife, in whose hut I was," wrote Barker, "pulled off my boots and stockings and placed my frozen feet against her naked borom to restore warmth and animation," 36. With such care the seamen who had not died on the beach recovered. But for the natives "every soul would have perished on the beach... as there was no means at hand of kindling a fire or of helping ourselves one way or the other." 37 


Barker and his men wintered with the Eskimos, They had no choice in the matter as the entire whaling fleet had returned south before the Japan started for Bering Strait, It was during these months that Barker leaned someching of the Eskimos' way of life and became their advocate. Except for a few casks of bread and flour that had washed ashore, the seamen were entirely dependent upon their hosts. The men ate raw walrus meat and blubber that was generally on the ripe side. The whalemen did not relish their diet, but it sustained them. Prejudices against a novel food inhibited Barker for a time. He fasted for three days. "Hunger at last compelled me and, strange as it may appear, it tasted good to me and before I had been there many weeks, I could eat as much raw meat as anyone, the natives excepted." 38 Barker soon understood that the natives were short of food. "I felt like a guilty culprit while eating their food with them, that I have been taking the bread out of their mouths."39 Barker knew and the Eskimos knew that the whalemen's hunting of walrus had reduced the natives to the point of famine, "still they were ready to share all they had with us." 40 Barker resolved to call for a prohibition of walrus hunting when he returned to New Bedford and further resolved that he would never kill another walrus "for those poor people along the coast have nothing else to live upon." 41 


In the summer of 1871 Barker and his men were rescued when the whaling fleet returned. Some recompense was made to the Eskimos for their charity; they were given provisions and equipment from the ships. The natives plight was observed by other captains too. One wrote a letter to the New Bedford Republican Standard to describe the "cruel occupation" of walrus killing. Most of those killed were females which were lanced as they held their nursing offspring in their flippers "uttering the most heartrending and piteous cries."' 42 Many whalemen felt guilty about this butchery, and they had to have very strong stomachs to carry out the bloody job under such circumstances. "But the worst feature of the business is that the natives of the entire Arctic shores, from Cape Thaddeus and the Anadyr Sea to the farthest point north, a shoreline of more than one thousand miles on the west coast, with the large island of St. Lawrence, the smaller ones of Diomede and King's Island, all thickly inhabited are now almost entirely dependent on the walrus for their food, clothings, boots and dwellings." 43 Earlier there were plenty of whales for them, but the whales had been destroyed and driven north. "This is a sad state of things for them." 


Other captains reported that they had seen natives thiry to forty miles from land on the ice, trying desperately to catch a walrus or find a carcass that had been abandoned by the whalemen. "What must the poor creatures do this cold winter, with no whale or walrus?" 45 Such appeals might have been effective eventually, though whether they would have led to a prohibition of walrus killing in time to spare the northern natives from famine is unlikely. But events took an unexpected turn in 1871: The ships which passed through the Bering Strait that season did so for the last time. The entire fleet was caught in the ice near Point Barrow, as the men including the Japan survivors-hunted walrus and whale. Thanks to the Revenue Marine, the seamen were saved, but the ships were lost. This disaster, coming six years after the Shenandoah's destructive cruise, dealt the whaling industry a blow from which it never recovered. But it may have saved the walrus and the northern natives from extinction. It was clear enough to the Bering Sea natives that they had benefited by the loss of the fleet. As an Eskimo or Chukchi of Plover Bay put it to a whaling captain when word of the loss reached Siberia: "Bad. Very bad for you. Good for us. More walrus now." 46

January 1, 1885

Gout by W.H. Draper MD

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There is a popular prejudice in favor of this class of foods, and a corresponding prejudice against the too free indulgence in animal foods. The purely starchy aliments, such as potatoes and the preparations of corn and rice, and even those which contain a considerable portion of gluten, like wheat, oatmeal, and barley, often provoke in gouty subjects a great deal of mischievous and painful indigestion.

GOUT.

BY W. H. DRAPER, M.D.


DIET.—The prevention of the accumulation of azotized matters in the [p. 128]blood involves, first, a consideration of the question of the diet appropriate to the gouty dyscrasia. The almost uniform counsel upon this point of all the authorities from Sydenham to the present time is, that albuminous foods should be sparingly allowed in the diet of the gouty patient, and that vegetable foods, especially the farinaceous, should constitute the principal aliment. This counsel is based upon the theory that uric acid is the offending substance, and, this being the outcome of a nitrogenous diet, the nitrogenous element in diet must be reduced. My own observation has led me to believe that while this may be a legitimate deduction from the uric-acid theory of gout, it is not supported by the results of clinical experience. If there is one signal peculiarity in the digestive derangements of gouty persons, it is their limited power to digest the carbohydrates, the sugars and starches. In whatever form these foods are used, they are more commonly the source of the dyspeptic troubles of sufferers from gout than the albuminous foods. They provoke the acid and flatulent dyspepsia which so generally precedes the explosion of the gouty paroxysm; and it must have attracted the attention of every observer who has studied the dyspeptic disorders of sufferers from inherited gout, who have sought to control their unhappy heritage by abstemious habits, that these disorders are especially provoked by over-indulgence in saccharine and amylaceous foods.

It is not possible to explain satisfactorily why the lithæmic condition should be induced by the carbonaceous aliments, but we believe there can be no question as to the fact. If, as modern physiological investigations tend to show, the liver is the organ in which urea as well as glycogen is formed, it may be that the overtaxing of its functions manifests itself more readily in the conversion of the albuminous than in that of the carbonaceous foods; or it is possible that the carbonaceous foods are destined chiefly for the evolution of mechanical energy, and that when this destiny is not fulfilled through indolence and imperfect oxygen-supply, they escape complete combustion, and so vitiate the blood. But whatever may be the cause of this anomaly, the clinical fact remains that in gouty persons the conversion of the azotized foods is more complete with a minimum of carbohydrates than it is with an excess of them—in other words, that one of the best means of avoiding an accumulation of lithates in the blood is to diminish the carbohydrates rather than the azotized foods.


The diet which a considerable experience has led me to adopt in the treatment of the gouty dyscrasia is very similar to that which glycosuria requires. The exclusion of the carbohydrates is of course not so strict. Abstinence from all the fermented preparations of alcohol is perhaps the most important restriction, on account of the unfermented dextrin and sugar which they contain. This restriction accords with the common experience respecting the part which wine and beer play as predisposing causes of the gouty disease and as occasional exciting causes of gouty lesions.


Next to the fermented liquors, the use of saccharine food in the diet of gouty persons needs to be restricted. This limitation also is one which common experience confirms. Sweet foods cannot be said to be as provocative of the dyspeptic derangements of the lithæmic subjects as wine and beer, but they are certainly often responsible for the formation of [p. 129]the dyscrasia and for perpetuating many most distressing ailments. Their more or less strict prohibition may constitute the essential point of treatment not only in controlling the progress of the constitutional vice, but in subduing some of the most rebellious lesions. It is important to observe that this prohibition sometimes involves abstinence from sweet and subacid fruits, in the raw as well as in the preserved state. Paroxysms of articular gout have been known to follow indulgence in strawberries, apples, watermelons, and grapes, and the cutaneous and mucous irritations which follow even the most moderate use of these fruits in some gouty persons are certainly not uncommon.


Next in order to the saccharine foods as the source of indigestion in gouty persons come the amylaceous aliments. These constitute, necessarily, so large an element in ordinary diet that the limitation of them in the dietary of gouty persons applies, in the majority of cases, only to their excessive use. This excessive use, however, is often observed. There is a popular prejudice in favor of this class of foods, and a corresponding prejudice against the too free indulgence in animal foods. The purely starchy aliments, such as potatoes and the preparations of corn and rice, and even those which contain a considerable portion of gluten, like wheat, oatmeal, and barley, often provoke in gouty subjects a great deal of mischievous and painful indigestion. This feeble capacity for the digestion of farinaceous foods is most frequently observed in the children of gouty parents, and especially in persons inclined to obesity, and in those whose occupations are sedentary and whose lives are passed for the most part in-doors, and they are least common in those whom necessity or pleasure leads to much active muscular exercise in the open air.


The fats are as a rule easily digested by gouty dyspeptics. This is a fortunate circumstance, for the reason that in the anæmia which is frequently one of the consequences of chronic gout the fatty foods are of inestimable value. In cases of persistent and rebellious lithæmia an exclusively milk diet constitutes a precious resource.

The succulent vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, cabbage, and the different varieties of salads, constitute for the gouty as well as the diabetic subject agreeable and wholesome additions to a diet from which the starchy and saccharine vegetables have to be largely excluded.

Ancient History

Books

Arctic Passage: The Turbulent History of the Land and People of the Bering Sea 1697-1975

Published:

January 1, 1975

Arctic Passage: The Turbulent History of the Land and People of the Bering Sea 1697-1975

The Health Evolution: Why Understanding Evolution Is the Key to Vibrant Health

Published:

April 22, 2019

The Health Evolution: Why Understanding Evolution Is the Key to Vibrant Health
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