I'm reading 'The Jungle Effect' by Dr. Daphne Miller MD, professor at UCSF. It is better than the Blue Zone. She has some candid interviews and observations that remind me of Weston A. Price and Francis Pottenger's nutritional insights. Dr. Miller went around the world, lived amond native groups who practice ancestral food and lifestyle cultures.
Her perspective is neat because it encompassed both the medical and nutritional points of discussions -- vitamin A and D and omega-3's are frequently referenced. She keenly noted how Okinawans lived in their 80s and 90s wihtout being incapacitated or wheelchair bound. When women transitioned to menopause they reported 'easy menopause transitions free from hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and mood swings. In addition, the fatigue, poor memory, depression los of sexual drive, and impotence that we consider to be a normal part of agiing were rarely experienced by even the eldest of Okinawans.'
She also reports that 'In fact, the research team interviewed a number of men and women who were still experiencing healthy, active sex lives in their eighties and beyond.' Why? Could it be the pork? The pigs raised on green pastures and imo -- the purple sweet potatoe that is loaded with antioxidants?
Okinawans: High Levels of Hormones
Dr. Miller is keen and a girl after my own hormonal heart... 'After doing lengthy laboratory analyses on the Okinawan elderly, the Centenarian Study research team was ablt to identify more specifically how these foods may be helping to preserve their vitality. the foods seemed to augment natural homrone levels since Okinawans had higher levels of thyroid hormone, cortisol, and sex hormone -- including TESTOSTERONE, DHT, ESTRADIOL, and DEHYDROXYEPIANDOSTERONE -- than a comparison group of elderly from the United States. Interestingly, if you look across the lifespan, Okinanawans and North Americans seem to have different hormonal patterns. While the average North American starts out in adolescence with higher levels (a fact that many researchers atribute to the synthetic hormones commonly found in U.S. meat and dairy products), the hormone levels seem to fizzle out by the time most Americans reach their mid-fifties. Okinawans, however, tend to start low, increase slowly, and maintain their hormone levels longer than elderly in the United States."
Better Adrenal Organs
..'In fact the researchers did an autopsy on one very elderly woman and were surprised to see that her adrenal glands (the organs where many of these hormones are produced) were the same weight as those of a much younger woman.'
Pork Does a Body Good
Miller references one of the coauthors of the Okinawa diet book, Craig Willcox, as believing that 'pork, as it is eaten traditionally on the island, is actually an important player in the longevity diet.' Errr... that somehow did not make it into the text. Yes. I checked. Fervently and was strongly disappointed with the book and its pork-deficiencies.
'He explained that the long-lived participants in the Okinawan centenarian AStudy had high blood levels of proline and glycine, which came, at least partly , from the collagen and elastin in pork. These proteins help the body to build and regenerate normal tissue' she reports.
Pork = Excellent Source of Selenium for Glutathione
'Pork happens to be an excellent source of selenium, an essential mineral that concentraes in the breast and prostate and acts as a building block for a powerful cancer-fighting enzyme called glutathione peroxidase.' She lists sources of selenium: spinach (cooked 1 c) 2.7 ug; whole-grain bread slice (11.2 ug); sunlfower seeds (1/4 c) 25.4 ug; anchovies (3 oz) 31 ug; pork loin 4 oz (37 ug); halibut 3 oz (39.8 ug); Brazil nut (1 nut) 100 ug. Bison is a great source especially raised on sunflower screenings and/or pasture contains 26-31 ug selenium per 100 grams (~ 3 oz). [Thank you gentlereader Sweeney for the reference HERE ] Selenium is vital not only for our #1 antioxidant and de-toxifier glutathione, but also for components of enzymes responsible for conversion of thyroid, adrenal hormones and neurotransmitters in our nervous and immune systems.
Pig: What You Eat is What You Are
Is Okinawan pork different? Possibly. Miller states 'In Okinawa, most pork is raised on purple and orange imo [special species of sweet potato, which apparently has a slimly consistency]. Certainly a pig eating such nutrient-rich food cannot help but be nutrient-rich itself.' Lard? Bone broths? Okinawans are subsistence farmers. Miller discusses how the fat was discarded and only lean meats consumed... misinformation? She fails to mention cooking with lard. Again, with my self experimentation, 1-2 Tbs of saturated fat raised my HDL chol from 89 to 105 mg/dl in ~6wks (18%). Perhaps higher, bionic HDLs help traditional Okinawans achieve centenarian status?