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Thread: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

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    Default Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, NTP, BCHN
    March 16, 2017

    100% Pasture-fed Animal Fats: Villain or Under-appreciated Superfood?

    You might be asking yourself what something like animal fat is doing in a discussion about superfoods? People expect to see things like broccoli sprouts, avocados, turmeric and blueberries when it comes to this topic, and animal source foods are rarely considered in this discussion. I believe the time has come to turn this around. When I looked at the mountain of research on this topic that I pored through in writing my recently released book, Primal Fat Burner, I realized that there was a long overdue and radically under appreciated story that needed to be told.

    Read more: http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com...new-superfood/
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    I often wonder though, just how much fat was in those wild animals, given they ran and walked, rather than mooched around just eating grass. I'm sure they had some fat,which was prized, but would it have been a large part of ancient diets?

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    Veteran Member Maurya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Good question, Julieanne. I just began reading the new book Primal Fat Burner; I shall try to pay attention when I get to the section where she describes this topic.

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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    I can't speak for tropical or semi-tropical areas, but in the northern tier of the US, wild animals fatten up in fall when certain crops mature. They need a store of fat for hibernation and/or to carry their pregnancy through the winter. Deer and other ungulates will carry twins if they are on a rising plane of nutrition during tupping season. This is why cooler countries have a hunting "season" for particular birds and beasts — when they are in their prime. Bear and wild hogs tend to be very fatty, deer not so much, and rabbits at any time are so lean that there's a condition (known especially to miners during the Gold Rush) as "rabbit starvation." That is, one can get severely sick on a diet of plentiful rabbit meat, because rabbits have virtually no fat.
    Last edited by Islander; 03-26-17 at 07:27 PM.
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Islander, re 'rabbit starvation': a Brit quiz show called QI (Quite Interesting) brought this up last year. But the explanation was that the condition came about because the miners ate only rabbit meat, with no fruit or vegetables. I have no idea of the truth of this, and it may be a combination of the two.

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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Let's put it a different way. Miners ate only rabbit meat with no other protein (because they were easy to snare). The issue is in the absence of fat, not the absence of carbohydrates. But let's go to Google for the final authority: "Protein poisoning (also referred to colloquially as rabbit starvation, mal de caribou, or fat starvation) is a rare form of acute malnutrition thought to be caused by a complete absence of fat." Further: " Man cannot live by rabbits alone - the meat is too lean. Add fats and a few carbs to the proteins in lapin, and you can easily survive. Rabbit meat - lapin - is typically too lean. Humans need a certain amount of fat intake, certainly more than a wild (or domestic) rabbit provides."
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    I'd like to chime in with my perspective as an archaeologist whose research interests lie in the interaction of humans with their landscape, which definitely includes diet!

    1. Even tropical regions have seasonality, often very marked seasonality. Only a very narrow band a couple of degrees north and south of the equator has unvarying weather throughout the year.
    2. Wild animals often carry large amounts of fat, but their muscle is not marbled. The fat is carried as slabs in the back, in dense masses around the kidneys, and around the gut. I've dressed out carcasses of wild buck and seen large amounts of fat.
    3. The archaeological record shows an ongoing search for fat. Skulls are cracked to get the fatty brain, long bones torqued open to get the fatty marrow. Other bones are broken into pieces and boiled to extract the grease.
    4. Hunter-gatherers observed in the last couple of hundred years carefully select the fattest animals to hunt They also select the fattiest parts of the animal; in seasons of plenty, they often discard the lean meat, or throw it to hunting dogs. Tongues and eyes, very fatty, are delicacies. They often take terrible risks to get fat: the San hunt hippos, the Congo pygmies target elephants. They'll crawl inside a carcass to get at the fat.
    5. There are records, in South Africa, of early colonists not for the meat, but for the pat. This was used to make soap and soften leather. For eating, they favoured fat-tailed sheep, traded or stolen from the indigenous Khoi, who also had no liking for lean meat. In the USA, colonists killed bison for the fatty hump.

    I lean toward the school of thought that posits that the jump in brain size at the time of Homo erectus resulted from an increase in fat consumption, rather than meat consumption. Before this, carcasses were butchered for meat - it was scraped off the bones but the bones were not broken for fat. There's a sudden increase in collection and breaking of skulls. This makes sense, because the brain and entire central nervous system are built of saturated fatty acids, not of protein. The brain also very efficiently utilizes ketone bodies derived from fat as fuel; it can manage with no glucose at all.

    While all attempts to reconstruct early ancestral diets are limited, it looks as if fat made up 35-65% of dietary calories, varying by locality and season.

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    Veteran Member Maurya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Thanks Suzanne. As a non-professional (just an amateur reader), this information confirms everything that I have learned through reading about the diets of the hunter gatherer people.

    Off topic, but pertaining to the climate in tropical regions, and the changing thereof: We now have broken the record for rainfall in March, since records have been kept. March is not yet finished, and the rain still is coming down. Climate is not changing, they say...

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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Suzanne, thanks for that information, and welcome to HH!

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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Welcome to Hawkes' Health, Suzanne! Please go the the New Members Area (near the top of the Forum page) and begin a new thread about you. Some of us will remember you from mercola.com, but we'd love to know a bit more about you, and possibly about your own health challenges —if that's something you're willing to share.
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Suzanne, I want to add my thanks for that information. (I'm another amateur but archeology and anthropology have always been my passions). Now I have several questions:
    • Do you know why beef is marbled (as is lamb) but the wild meats you mention are not? What's the advantage of fat distribution within muscle?
    • A corollary: what's the advantage of a large slab of fat? Could it be an energy store for lean times?
    • I've read about finding dietary evidence in the plaque of ancient fossilized human teeth. As I recall, it was all carbs of some sort. Can evidence of protein and fat consumption also be found in teeth?
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Islander, if you are thinking about the teeth recently analyzed from the guy found frozen in the Alps, he was a neolithic guy. The high fat hunter gatherer eating patterns refer to the paleolithic group. There is some speculation that the carbs that frozen guy had been eating also contributed to his arthritis, as opposed to the paleo eating patterns that had left the humans relatively healthy.

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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    No, I wasn't referring to Otzi. This was a study of much older dentition of a paleolithic group, not a single individual. I wish I could remember the details, but all I can recall atm is that they found traces of some sort of grain (long before the Neolithic Revolution) and concluded that these people had occasionally partaken of wild grains.
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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Well then, I confess to not remembering the study of paleolithic guy to which you refer. Sorry, no help here.

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    Default Re: Animal Fat is the New Superfood

    Quote Originally Posted by Islander View Post
    Suzanne, I want to add my thanks for that information. (I'm another amateur but archeology and anthropology have always been my passions). Now I have several questions:
    • Do you know why beef is marbled (as is lamb) but the wild meats you mention are not? What's the advantage of fat distribution within muscle?
    • A corollary: what's the advantage of a large slab of fat? Could it be an energy store for lean times?
    • I've read about finding dietary evidence in the plaque of ancient fossilized human teeth. As I recall, it was all carbs of some sort. Can evidence of protein and fat consumption also be found in teeth?
    Hullo, Islander! These are fascinating questions!
    *First up: marbling of meat. This is a characteristic of livestock deliberately bred in by humans, for two reasons: marbling distributes fat throughout the muscle, which means that everybody gets some (and fat is vital to health for the sake of bones and central nervous system), and marbling makes for tender meat that retains moistness during cooking. As chefs keep saying, fat = flavour.
    *Storage of fat in slabs means that the fat can be broken down for energy in time of need without breaking down muscle tissue. While most mammals carry their fat on their backs, primates (including humans,), pigs, and bears, all carry fat on their bellies. This is apart from the fat we store around our kidneys and gut. Why there's this difference, I don't yet know - I haven't found anything significant in the literature. There's strong consensus that primates (especially humans), pigs, and bears, are omnivores of a very high order, but that doesn't address the question of why the belly rather than the back.
    *Dental plaque from Neanderthals and other prehistoric human populations reveals a lot of interesting and often surprising information about dietary carbs. Starch grains and plant fibres have shown, for example, that Neanderthals not only cooked and ate wild grains and legumes, but likely had an understanding of medicinal plants - they seem to have used willow bark, a well-known source of salicylic acid (the active ingredient of aspirin).
    There are other ways to identify protein consumption, using stable isotopes. It's possible to quite accurately estimate the amount of protein in the diet, and it's possible, with very high certainty, to identify its source - plant, terrestrial animal, marine animal. It's even possible, through amino acid analysis, to identify whether the protein came from red deer or wild boar, from shellfish or mackerel, for example. This requires collagen samples, and it's surprising how long collagen can persist. Here's one interesting paper of the cornucopia available: http://sethnewsome.org/sethnewsome/E...oss%202002.pdf
    There's a lot of research going on into fats - Richard Evershed and Melanie Roffet-Salque are the lead researchers in this field. So far, the work is being done on pottery. It's possible to recover lipids from pottery sherds, and to identity their source. This line of evidence shows that humans have been using dairy produce for many thousands of years. it's very possible that we were doing so long before we had pottery, using leather bags or tightly woven baskets to hold the milk while it was being soured or otherwise processed. Neither leather nor baskets last long, unfortunately, unless preserved in something like a bog environment. This is also an interesting paper: http://sethnewsome.org/sethnewsome/E...oss%202002.pdf. It's only a matter of time till somebody comes up with an analytic method for directly measuring and identifying fats eaten by early humans. Given the importance of high-quality fats for maintenance of teeth and bones, which are also the things (particularly teeth) that preserve best in the archaeological record, I'm sure that there'll be a way of analysing them.

    If anybody's interested, I did my undergraduate honours thesis work on diet and microevolution, and my Master's thesis on microregionality and its influence on the transition from foraging to farming. I have a page on Academia.edu: http://sfsu.academia.edu/SuzanneUbick. My B.A. thesis is Grey Cells or Fat Cells; the interim work is Hey Fatty Boom Boom. I specifically looked at women's body shapes over time (~35,000 years) as a way of evaluating my hypothesis that a microevolutonary event allowed humans to store astounding amounts of body fat, even when very lean by our standards, and that this gave our species the edge over Neanderthals!

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