Sweden Update: Resistant Starch On The Rise, LCHF Stefansson Myths On The Ropes

A couple of months back, Swedish reader and blogger Per Wikholm put together a post for us on the goings on in Sweden in reference to resistant starch. Today, I received this email from him concerning further developments.

I think it's safe to say that he's stirred things up quite a bit over there.

~~~

Hi again Richard!

The RS issue is really cathing fire here in Sweden and is now a big trend among the LCHF community, especially among diabetics. Recently I wrote a piece on RS for the LCHF Magazine with 6,000 subscribers, and Sweden's second largest tabloid, Expressen, had an article on RS in their lastest LCHF supplement.

But since I can't avoid to stir things up, I've also started a Swedish war on the Inuit diet, claiming that their diet was never ketogenic. That made Sten Sture Skaldeman, one of the founding fathers of the Swedish LCHF movement (and author of the The Low Carb High Fat Cookbook) go ballistic on a FB-forum.

This war will continue, so I've been in contact with “Duck Dodgers” who has reserched this subject more than anyone else.

One question I have is if there are any scientist or arctic explorers who've ever stated that the Inuit ate something in the neighborhood of 80% fat, without reffering back to Stefansson. Since I knew that the response from my writings on the Inuit diet would be "read Stefansson," I read Stefansson's "bibles" Not by Bread Alone and The Fat of the Land only to find out that he actually never claims that the Inuit ate 80% fat. Half of that book is about the Indian (native American and Canadian) recepie for pemmican. That's 50% by weight lean, dried buffalo meat and 50% melted fat. According to my calculations, that equates to about 73% fat, not the minimum 80% fat that Stefansson claims is the standard for pemmican.

But it gets even more interesting. In a few sentences, Stefansson admitts that the Inuit pemmican (based on caribou rather than bison) was much lower in fat. Here, the standard recepie was 2/3 lean caribou meat to only 1/3 melted fat. According to my calculations based on the USDA figure for grassfed bison meat, that would mean that the fat content of the Inuit pemmican would be less than 60%. You might get into mild ketosis if the fat content exeeds about 2/3 of calories, but 60% won't make it even if the inuits ate 100% pemmican year around—which they never did! Their diet was a high protein diet, just like the Northern Scandinavian aboriginal Sami people with a climate, flora, and fauna very similar to that in Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland.

Best regards,
Per Wikholm

~~~

It's gratifying that the work that's been done here to get to the true facts over myths for the purposes of conducting a massive dietary experiment with no healthy population basis ever, is being carried on internationally.

Comments

  1. Duck Dodgers says:

    Stefansson admitts that the Inuit pemmican (based on caribou rather than bison) was much lower in fat

    I’m not surprised. It would be challenging for a family to obtain enough fat from a caribou to keep them in a ketogenic state.

    An adult male caribou weighs about 650 lbs and it’s an incredibly lean animal. In it’s most well-nourished state, the caribou might have a 50 Lb slab of fat on its back, and a few pounds of fat might be extracted from the bone marrow. But aside from those limited pockets of fat, caribou meat is extremely lean. Cows, on the other hand — which Stefansson used to make his pemmican in the States — are bred to be quite fatty.

    And here’s just one problem with that. According to Sinclair (1953), the average adult male Eskimo had to consume about 8 to 10 pounds of meat per day, since their caloric requirements were significantly higher to keep warm in their extreme environment and to internally thaw their frozen meats.

    From: The Diet of Canadian Indians and Eskimos
    By H. M. Sinclair Laboratory of Human Nutrition, University of Oxford

    The requirement of the Eskimo for aliments is obviously increased by his cold environment : he has no heating in his hut except for that derived from cooking and lighting ; his heat loss is diminished by his relatively low surface area, by his layer of subcutaneous fat and by his efficient clothing. But he loses a considerable amount of heat with each breath he takes. Heat is required for warming and for humidifying inspired air, and the amount is large : a man whose energy metabolism is 3000 Cal. daily exclusive of that necessary to warm and humidify the inspired air would require an expenditure of 4073 Cal. daily at an average temperature of -40°F. (Webster, 1947). The consumption of a meal of frozen meat incurs a loss of heat : 4 kg of meat at -40°F. eaten in a day adds about 300 Cal. to the daily energy expenditure. His activity is difficult to estimate : hunting and travelling may be strenuous, but a good deal of time is spent eating, sleeping or sitting. His basal metabolic rate has interested a number of people. Some (e.g. Levine, 1949) have pronounced it normal ; others (e.g. Brown, 1951)have found it increased : Rabinowitch & Smith (1936) found the average increase in ten Eskimos +26%, and this they attributed to increased muscle tone and the specific dynamic action of protein (Krogh & Krogh (1914) thought the specific dynamic action was re- markably low in the Eskimos they studied). There is in fact nothing unusual about the total intake of aliments ; it is the very high protein, very low carbohydrate and highfat intakes that have excited interest. It is, however, worth noting that according to the customary convention (Woodyatt, 1921 ; Shaffer, 1921) this diet is not ketogenic since the ratio of ketogenic (FA) to ketolytic (G) aliments is 1.09. Indeed, the content of fat would have to be exactly doubled (324 g daily) to make the diet ketogenic (FA/G>1-5).

    The Eskimo is apparently able to digest and absorb very large amounts of protein and fat at a single meal. In times of plenty, 4 kg of meat daily is a common amount and much is taken at a single meal : they do not usually take food in the morning. Consumption of larger amounts such as 15 kg has been observed on occasion, and Ross (1835) considered that an Eskimo ‘perhaps eats twenty pounds of flesh and oil daily’, which I suppose is possibly 46,000 Cal. Parry (1824) thought he would test the capacity of an adolescent Eskimo ; the food was weighed and, apart from fluids, he ate in 20 h 8.5 lb. meat and 1.75 lb. bread (about 15,700 Cal.) and ‘ did not consider the quantity extraordinary ‘. But this is trivial compared with the feats of the Siberian Yakuti who eat 25-30 lb. meat daily, and there is no record approaching the 35lb. of beef and 18lb. of butter (providing about 112,000 Cal. and occupying a volume of the order of 5.5 gal.) alleged to have been eaten in less than 3 h by each of two Yakuti (Simpson, 1847.)

    Turns out it’s easy to consume huge quantities of raw meat. While cooked meat is quite difficult to eat in large quantities. Some might have experienced this phenomenon while eating sashimi.

    At an rate, even if you favor the fattiest cuts of a caribou, and feed the leanest raw cuts to your dogs (who would then also not be ketogenic?), there still isn’t enough fat in a single caribou if your family is consuming enormous quantities of meat per day and you don’t use any caribou fat for other things like oil lamps (which they did).

    When you get right down to it the caribou is just too lean to provide the levels of fat that the VLCers claim it provides for the Eskimos.

    • @Duck
      You might want to be cautious in the use of references like this, even from so-called ‘prestigious’ universities such as Oxford. Stefansson himself dedicated nearly a whole chapter to authors that wrote about the Arctic without so much as having spent a day north of the 45th north parallel.
      Consequently he gave the impression that scientific writers then could be just as full of bad poo as many that we have in our current day.

      Pasteur wasn’t even a doctor and stole his ideas from his contemporaries with his only claim to fame being that he was better published.

      Look at Lind, the British naval discoverer of one of the best treatments for scurvy. He was thoroughly dismissed with all kinds of blather being put forth concerning the subject from some of the most notable medical members of the British Empire. The British Navy lost sailors at extraordinary high rates for a hundred years before they took Lind’s advice to heart and began using lime juice. Even today, especially the doctors that I’ve seen, wouldn’t recognize a case of scurvy if they saw it. I know, because I had it and when pressed on what it was, I was told, “I don’t know.” By not one but three of them. I find it vaguely odd that a doc can’t tell you why your lower legs are turning black. They’re supposed to be so educated and enlightened. My experiences argue quite against the idea.

      According to Stefansson the temperature inside an Eskimo igloo after a days cooking was in the area of 90 degrees F or higher with the occupants stripping to their underwear and sending the children out for a bucket of fresh snow to wipe the sweat from their faces. Additionally, one of the most annoying questions faced by some members of his team who worked the lecture circuits afterwards was, “How do you bear such cold?” Frustrated by such frequent appearance of that particular inquiry one individual responded that “…we do not bear it! We have sufficient clothing that the atmosphere next to our skin is typical of a tropical climate!”

      Watch your references, they can be extraordinarily dicey. Doctors and science writers…phishers of men.

      I’ve read Stefansson’s The Friendly Arctic and Hunters of the Great North. Both are free to download on the net….Google it. You’ll find his discussion of his being tested by one of the top medical schools while on an all meat diet for a year in one of them.

      Kyle

    • Duck Dodgers says:

      Kyle,

      Sinclair discussed the scientific literature from about a dozen researchers and explorers who spent time observing the Inuit. Not much to say other than it’s a concise review of the literature that was available at the time. Choose to ignore it at your own peril.

      I’ve read Stefansson. It’s hard to be convinced by something that reads like a bedtime story for gullible Western VLCers. The fact of the matter is that the none of the published scientific research on the Inuit has ever shown evidence of ketosis — nor has any of the observed macronutrient ratios ever come close to what is necessary for maintaining ketosis. This alone should raise a few eyebrows.

      Perhaps even more interesting, Stefansson’s observations have been called into question by historians (his observations were already doubted by scientists and fellow explorers, when they were originally written):

      From: Review: Gisli Palsson, Travelling Passions: The Hidden Life of Vilhjalmur Stefansson

      “Stefansson was a shameless self-promoter who was clearly an engaging and dynamic speaker and a wonderfully clear and lucid writer. Such self-promotion was born of the necessity to make a living out of his work, but in the process the quality and credibility of his work suffered. His “scientific” anthropological output is slim: one report for the American Museum of Natural History which was never finished and had to be completed for him by the museum director (he was away on another expedition at the time) and the rather peculiar ethnography, My Life with the Eskimo (1913), which reads more like a travelogue than an ethnographic report. His claim to have found “blonde Eskimos” (he hypothesized that they were descended from the Vikings that had settled in the arctic) was never substantiated. The Canadian Arctic Expedition was fraught with problems, not the least of which was the sinking of the ship, Karluk, with some of the crew and scientists on board. Stefansson’s own responsibility in the disaster has never been clearly established…

      …Why should we care about the sexual adventures of an anthropologist one hundred years ago? It is precisely because it is now clear that Pannigabluk acted as Stefansson’s primary cultural and linguistic interpreter, and that much of the data in Stefansson’s ethnography comes from Pannigabluk and her (evidently very strong) opinions. This means that the information that has been constituted as the baseline data on the Mackenzie Inuit is limited in scope, and raises the critical question of who was Pannigabluk and what was her position in Inuvialuit society? This is a much more difficult question to answer, but it now challenges researchers in the field to take into account this bias and re-read Stefansson’s work with new lenses.

      Sounds like you are choosing to ignore the scientific literature and would rather believe the words of someone who claimed to have found “blond eskimos” and had a history of credibility issues. So be it.

      No, the Inuit did not spend all day inside of an igloo. Simply by reading the words of actual Inuit we can see that Inuit hunters were often exposed to the elements — without shelter — for weeks at a time:

      From: Elijah Tigullaraq, May 2008

      A hunter may be outdoors for weeks at a time without going home to a warm house. At this time, nutrition is extremely important to keep energy level up. Raw meat will keep the hunter energized and mobile to do his chores effectively and productively. A cooked meal will be digested much quicker than raw meat. Another good factor about raw meat is that animal meat will keep you warm even on a coldest day. When frozen food is eaten, a person will feel cold on the mouth, throat and stomach at first. After a while, he will start to warm up as the food starts to get processed in the stomach. Minus 40 degrees Celsius will feel like -20 instead. The only cold you will feel is will be around exposed skin like the face, and hands.”

      If you honestly believe that eating a pound of cooked meat is enough to sustain your body heat in -40ºC, in standard Inuit clothing, you’ve been reading too much Stefansson. I prefer to broaden my references a bit.

    • Well poo! You know Duck, if you would stick to the facts more than the character assassination, it would go far to advance your hypothesis. I mean, “…Why should we care about the sexual adventures of an anthropologist one hundred years ago?” How does that compare to Richard getting clapped-up in the PI?? See any difference here??? And exactly how do Victorian mores relate to HFLC vs. RS??? Does it up your FBG?

      And exactly who is Gisli Palsson and why the hell should we care?? Note that the link is to a review of Traveling Passions and not to the work itself! Are these the opinions of the reviewer or Palsson?? And, if so, why does Palsson have such an axe to grind with Stefansson? Were they contemporaries? Are we looking at a pissing contest between the two?

      “But this is trivial compared with the feats of the Siberian Yakuti who eat 25-30 lb. meat daily, and there is no record approaching the 35lb. of beef and 18lb. of butter (providing about 112,000 Cal. and occupying a volume of the order of 5.5 gal.) alleged to have been eaten in less than 3 h by each of two Yakuti (Simpson, 1847.)” This is not in the link you provided. Wild goose chase! Did you shell-out for the full article?? Interestingly, Stefansson is a reference in this article. Now in this I’m particularly curious…what’s the most, in weight, that has ever been downed in the hot dog eating contests? Can we get a current day comparison??

      “Stefansson was a shameless self-promoter…” So what? So were all the polar explorers. And so is just about anyone who lives by their CV! So is Richard for that matter; I don’t see how one would be even slightly successful w/o being somewhat so. I don’t see you whacking him?! Shameless?? How do you define that?

      “No, the Inuit did not spend all day inside of an igloo.” I never said nor implied that. I just said you’re references are a bit sucky!!! You reach into Steffanson’s background diligently, especially for the character assassination but you never do the same for your other references, why is that? Not a little bias there, eh? It would be nice to see some backgrounders on the others. Who were they, what were their other works, what is their particular claim to fame?? Or should they just be judged on their one-time sexual indiscretions??? I can see it now…in the reference section of the new book coming out – DOI: Well so and so was just a piece of poo! Yeah, that’ll get their attention!

      To be fair, I did read that article before I read your earlier ones in March and April which are better referenced. Way to go! Excellent points made.

      However, do not, in your wildest dreams, believe that you can read my mind: “Sounds like you are…”, “If you honestly believe…”. Indeed! Death by implication. My ‘peril’?? You know absolutely nothing about it! Having never asked, methinks you take much liberty.

      I’ve read here much about bias in those who would be ‘defenders’ of the HFLC camp. Strange that the opposing camp can’t see it in themselves? Yes? No? And don’t jump to the conclusion that I’m in the HFLC camp. Be that as it may, I have no doubt that Stefansson was biased also, but at least that from his experience as a member of three and leader of two polar expeditions. And since we’re doing the ‘appears that’ and ‘sounds like’ stuff….it ‘appears’ that he had more practical experience in that area by an order of magnitude over yours. It also ‘appears’ that it’s part of the human condition. Just saying you perhaps should be more God-like and resistant to such antics? But, Heaven Forbid, that might bring you up to Stefansson’s level. I also have no doubt that Stefansson believed his hypothesis since he went to such great extents in attempts to prove it. All the evidence that we currently have is based on the research, mistakes and biases of those who went before us (no they were not all God-like). Eventually someone will, in a future time, do the same to you, if hopefully, what you write now will be worthy of reference in the future. I don’t see that happening with all the innuendo. Hey… but maybe that’s just me! And, you probably don’t really care, but again, that’s just supposition on my part.

      Stefansson has made some points that I think you’ve missed in addressing. At least I haven’t found it yet. I assume because you’re to busy bashing. He claimed that the Eskimo diets varied depending on where they resided with some eating primarily of fish, or seal, or caribou. Throw whale in for the Greenlanders, too. Have you done any research into the nutrients available in autolyzed fish…high fish or high meat? I would assume that the bacterial counts would be tremendous. And yes, Stefansson remarks on this in his accounts of becoming accustomed to the Eskimo diet. I would think that that would be the more important data to reach for as opposed to whom he’s peckered. Although I have to admit that always does seem to raise my FBG. A little tongue in cheek there, hope you don’t mind.

      Some of the most convincing evidence concerning the RS topic is the quantity of positive response in the n=1 experiments. That’s what got my attention. Try not to F that up with BS about long dead imbroglios is all I’m saying…and…and…do better w/ your references.

      Thank you for your time,
      Kyle

  2. Junto says:

    Richard, just wanted to get an update from you on your nasal congestion. Has the improvement since RS and SBO supplementation sustained?

  3. James says:

    Richard or anyone else,

    I have gut issues – bloating, constipation, bad joint reactions to inulin or digestible starch. I do find with RS.

    I’ve been consuming a raw green plantain every day for the past month. I think I feel better, but my gut problems are still very much a problem.

    Does this seem like a bad idea: I was thinking to only consume RS (from plantain) and low calorie fibrous vegetables (leafy greens, raw carrots, radishes, fermented veggies), to imitate what a starvation period might be like for a H-G. I’m hoping this might force my colon to produce a dickload of SCFAs and possibly fix my gut problems.

    Do you think this will help, possibly hurt, anything I should also do?

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