What You Can Learn From the African Hadza Tribe
In this interview, Dr. Paul Saladino, author of “The Carnivore Code” — a book on nose-to-tail animal-based eating — reviews what it means to be healthy at the most foundational level and shares his findings from a recent trip to Africa where he visited the Hadza tribe, who are among the best still-living representations of the way humans have lived for tens of thousands of years.
Like the !Kung tribe in Botswana, the Hadza live a hunter-gatherer life amidst the encroachment of modernized society.
“I see the Hadza as a time machine. They’re like a time capsule,” Saladino says. “They do not suffer chronic disease like we do in Western society, and that alone makes them infinitely fascinating. They do not suffer cancers like we suffer cancers.
They do not suffer autoimmune disease, which is a huge spectrum of disease, and they do not suffer depression, mental illness, skin issues. They do not suffer dementia anywhere near the rates that we do. They age with grace. This is called squaring of the morbidity curve.
If you look at a graph of their vitality across the lifespan, it is essentially flat and then drops off very quickly at the end. It’s like a square. They lose their vitality within the last few weeks of life, but until they’re 70 or 80 years old, they are vital individuals.”
If we look at Western society, the morbidity curve has a very different look. It’s like a ramp that steadily declines. In the Western world, people lose vitality consistently throughout life. This doesn’t happen in native hunter-gatherer societies, primarily because they do not suffer from the debilitation of chronic disease.
The Hadza Diet
Saladino primarily wanted to find out how the Hadza eat, what foods they prioritize and how it affects their health. Other investigators have analyzed the Hadza diet, but he wanted to confirm it for himself. For example, one 2009 study1 found the Hadza ate a lot of meat, tubers, berries, and fruit and honey from the baobab tree. According to this paper, the Hadza don’t eat vegetables.
“That supports a hypothesis that I had advanced previously in my work, which was that maybe vegetables, meaning roots, stem
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