Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nomadic people's good health baffle scientists

Date:
May 18, 2010
Source:
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Summary:
The human body is a true miracle. Nadja Knoll recently found new proof of that statement in the nomadic Maasai people of Kenya in Eastern Africa. The German nutritionist analyzed the diet of a nomadic tribe in the Kajiado District. The surprising results of the field study show that the Maasai are in a good health status in spite of a limited diet.

Maasai making "porridge".
Credit: Photo by Nadja Knoll/FSU

The human body is a true miracle. Nadja Knoll recently found new proof of that statement in the nomadic Maasai people of Kenya in Eastern Africa. For her thesis, the nutritionist from Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) analyzed the diet of a nomadic tribe in the Kajiado District. The surprising results of the field study show that the Maasai are in a good health status in spite of a limited diet.

Blood tests showed that there is a high content of healthy omega-3 fatty acids in their erythrocyte membranes, the cell walls of the red blood cells, even though these acids are not ingested. "We were surprised by these results. They are proof for the enormous adaptability of the human organism," says Prof. Dr. Gerhard Jahreis of the Department of Nutritional Physiology, under whose guidance the study was conducted.

Yet another finding was the outcome of the fieldwork in Africa. Nadja Knoll´s study shows that the traditional story patterns about the Maasai diet are wrong. Travelers in Africa like Gustav Adolf Fischer (1848-1886) and the Englishman Joseph Thomson (1858-1895) spread the image of the blood thirsty Maasai. According to their reports the herdsmen consume mainly meat, milk and blood. A particularly high percentage of fermented milk -- a kind of yoghurt -- was also said to be part of their diet. Nadja Knoll´s findings paint a very different picture. The scientist of Jena University discovered that the Maasai have strongly sweetened milk tea for breakfast. Some Maasai eat a kind of "porridge" in the morning, a liquid mixture of cormeal, water, some milk and sugar.

For lunch there will be milk and "Ugali," a kind of polenta being made from cormeal and water. "Dinner is similar to lunch," says Knoll who points out that she did her field study at the end of the dry season. There may be slightly different results in the -- remarkably shorter -- rainy season, because then the Maasai livestock produces more milk. This milk will then ferment in calabashes. The outcome of the fermenting process will be a yoghurt-like drink that might have pro-biotic benefits.

It is clear though that meat features only rarely on the Maasai menu. The main part -- more than 50 percent -- consists of vegetarian food. The preferred meat is that of sheep and goats, whereas the meat of traditional Zebu cattle is only rarely eaten. "A cow will only be slaughtered for ritual festivities by the Maasai," says Knoll.

Knoll conducted her study together with colleagues of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology of Juja/Nairobi (Kenia).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. "Nomadic people's good health baffle scientists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517111910.htm>.
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. (2010, May 18). Nomadic people's good health baffle scientists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517111910.htm
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. "Nomadic people's good health baffle scientists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517111910.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins