Adventures in Diet - Vilhjalmur Stefansson



Published by Harper’s Monthly Magazine, November 1935.


Oldie but a goodie.

(Michael) #3

(Megan) #4

It’s interesting to me the indigenous populations he lived with, and therefore he himself, didn’t eat salt. Do we know if he went back to salting his meat when he returned to America?

There’s often talk on these forums about electrolyte issues, yet it seems he didn’t suffer from any?

It’s possible fish from the sea has more sodium in it than red meat, but I can’t recall red meat eating indigenous populations salting their food either.


The Fat of the Land

[Vilhjálmur Stefánsson]

This book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to eat an all-meat diet or wants to learn more about the health benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet of meat and fish.

Arctic explorer and anthropologist Vilhjálmur Stefánsson spent years living with indigenous Inuit and Eskimo people. He noted their general healthiness (and good teeth), and an absence of many of the diseases that plagued western cultures, such as scurvy, heart disease, and diabetes. Observing their dietary habits, he determined that their primary food was meat, both lean and fatty, and that their diets were very low in sugary or starchy carbohydrates. Was this meaty diet the key to their good health?

The book chronicles a 1928 scientific experiment, conducted by the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology at Bellevue Hospital in New York, in which Stefansson and his colleague Dr. Karsten Andersen ate a meat-only diet for one year. The two men stayed healthy and fared very well, leading him to claim that we should reexamine our notion of what foods constitute a healthy diet.

Later chapters promote the benefits of pemmican, a compact, portable, and high-energy food consisting of a concentrated mix of fat and protein made from dried lean bison meat, sometimes mixed with berries. Pemmican is like the original energy bar, and Stefansson spent considerable time and energy urging the military to adopt it for emergency rations.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #6

Many long-term carnivores eventually find that they no longer add salt to their food. They simply don’t need it. There are, however, some carnivores who find that they continue to need salt. This appears to be an individual thing.

Native peoples probably get much of their sodium intake from blood and bone marrow.

During the famous experiment on Andersen and Stefansson in 1928 at Bellevue Hospital, the men were allowed to salt their food. “Table salt was allowed as desired but the men consumed only 1 to 5 gm. daily including that used in the cooking.” (Walter S. McClellan and Eugene F. du Bois, “Prolonged meat diets with a study of kidney function and ketosis,” Clinical Calorimetry, vol. XLV)

For those who might be interested, this was their diet during the experiment:

The meat used included beef, Iamb, veal, pork, and chicken. The parts used were muscle, liver, kidney, brain, bone marrow, bacon, and fat. While on lecture trips V. S. occasionally ate a few eggs and a little butter when meat was not readily obtainable. The carbohydrate content of the diet was very small, consisting solely of the glycogen of the meat. The men, except during short periods of special observation, ate as much as they wanted and proportioned the lean meat to the fat as they desired. V. S., in 31 days of special diet in the ward in which he was free from digestive disturbances, took an average of 0.81 kilos of meat per day while K. A. for 110 days averaged 0.70 kilos per day. The protein content of the diet ranged from 100 to 140 gm., the fat, from 200 to 300 gm., and the carbohydrate from 7 to 12 gm. The caloric value varied from 2000 to 3100 calories per day. 15 to 25 per cent of the calories were derived from protein, 75 to 85 per cent from fat, and 1 to 2 per cent from carbohydrate. Details concerning the food eaten are presented in Table I. The data for the meat periods were obtained from analyses of portions of meat which duplicated as closely as possible the meat actually eaten. . . .

The daily intake of liquids-coffee, black tea, meat broths, and water, varied from 1 to 2 liters. When K. A. had pneumonia, however, he took 2.5 to 3.5 liters per day.

(KM) #7

Just got too many words and thoughts in me today, but I was thinking it might actually be lovely to check in someplace that took care of all my expenses and other practical concerns for me and prepared me a 100% clean carni diet every day for a year, simply to prove me wrong. My numbers would probably improve based solely on stress relief. :grin: