Dairy and Wheat
The Hunza and Sikhs were recorded by McCarrison (Link) and Wrench in his book ‘The Wheel of Health’ (below) and others, as having very good health excellent physiques and stamina; interestingly wheat and dairy were staples.
Sir Robert said of them “an example of a race unsurpassed in perfection of physique and in freedom from disease in general. I refer to the people of the State of Hunza.” This is highly thought provoking given the increasing number of people who suspect they have poor tolerance of these food.
It was McCarrison’s experiences as a doctor to the Hunza that fired his passion for nutritional research and a quest to discover why they were so healthy compared to neighbouring peoples.
Of the Hunza Wrench reports;
“As to food, owing to their excellent agriculture they have enough to eat, except the few weeks preceding the summer harvest. They have wheaten bread, barley and millet, a variety of vegetables and fruits. They have milk, buttermilk, clarified butter, and curdcheese. They have occasional meat. They rarely have any fish or game. They take wine, mostly about the time of Christmas.”
and of the Sikh;
“The Sikh is, up at dawn and at work in his field, taking a little food left over from the previous day before he leaves his home. About midday, when the sun gets powerful, his women bring him out a substantial meal of coarse ground wheaten chapattis smeared with butter, porridges of grains and pulses, vegetables, and when in season, raw, green gram or sarson. He washes all this down with copious draughts of spiced buttermilk, which he calls lassi. He takes a further substantial meal of similar foods at the end of the day’s work. He eats sprouting gram. He eats fruit, though he cannot get the abundance of it which Hunza and Pathans get. He takes meat sparingly, sometimes freely.”
Their flour was minimally processed, and wheat fresh ground, so there was minimal damage to nutrients in processing. However when making the staple chaptis (link), although proved for a short time, interestingly it was not fermented, although the method of cooking may have impacted on mineral binding phytates (link) etc. ( I am not sure if this has been considered in research)
Dairy products similarly would not have been pasturised or homogenised, although milk was skimmed to make butter and likely heated to make dairy curd, as well as soured milk. The addition of calcium to the diet mitigates the effects of phytates. (A Story of Nutritional Research – Edward Mellanby)
The crops and pasture would have been more mineral rich due to better soils and return of all organic matter to the land. The varieties may well have been more nutrient dense, as is suggested by initial recent examinations being made of older compared to modern varieties.
Natural exposure to sunshine would have allowed those from more southerly climates to make vitamin D for most if not all of the year. Northerly grain eaters such as Scottish Islanders would have obtained additional vitamin D from the diet.
People would not have suffered from a range of nutritional imbalances and deficits including vitamin D deficiency, iodine insufficiency, mineral imbalances, and lipid imbalance, in addition to refined flour, that lead to impairment of the tight cell junctions of the gut, and/or wider gut dysbiosis so allowing protein fragments to cross the gut wall and lead to inflammatory responses.
Interestingly in common with Ugandans prior to adoption of the western habit of ‘breakfast’ the Hunza did not eat until later in the morning so creating a period of inter-meal ‘fast’ between an evening meal and first meal of the day, when the body would have moved to metabolism of stored fats, which has wider metabolic implications.
“The daily eating is given by Schomberg as: nothing before going out in the early morning to the fields; after two or three hours of work, bread, pulses and vegetables with milk; at midday, fresh fruit or dried apricots kneaded with water; in the evening these same foods, with meat on rare occasions.”
Other authors including J I Rhodale referenced the health of the Hunza’s, and later set up the Rodale Institute (Link), which was set up “to study the link between healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people”; the page will be expanded to reflect that in due course
Link to free PDF copy of book wheelofhealth.pdf
Link to free copy of book on Journey to Forever Library (Link)