Low-fat/high-carb diets have been killing natives for centuries

Many of the deleterious health statistics of native Hawaiians can be blamed directly on the switch from high-fat/low-carb diets, to low-fat/high-carb diets introduced by western travelers who brought sugar and flour and other refined carbohydrates to our islands.

Ku'e! Kalo is not the answer to our health problems! The true diet we need to get back to is coconuts and fish.

Learn about the latest research regarding this evil from Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories:


If we just ate kalua pig, and left the rice and poi alone, the entire native Hawaiian population would be healthier, and immune to western diseases such as obesity, cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

-Pono Maliu

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A Diabetic Epidemic

Although not an infectious disease, diabetes seems to be spreading like one. Since 1980, its prevalence in the United States has risen by 47 percent, a trend that's expected to take a space-shuttle trajectory in the next decade. That's because nearly half of American men today either have the condition or are on the verge of developing it, according to a new report from the National Institutes of Health. And the consequences are considerable: Diabetes is the primary cause of cardiovascular disease, slashing a man's life span by an average of 13 years. Dodge early death and you could still end up impotent, blind, in kidney failure, or, most likely, minus a foot. (A gangrenous limb or digit is amputated every 6 minutes in the United States.)

The most obvious objection to treating diabetes with a low-carbohydrate diet that's high in fat is that, well, it's high in fat. After all, saturated fat is cardiac kryptonite, right?

Wrong, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut. "Our research indicates that replacing carbohydrates with saturated fat has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health," he explains. "A low-carbohydrate diet decreases the body's production of saturated fat and increases its ability to burn the incoming dietary fat." In fact, says Volek, more than a dozen peer-reviewed studies published since 2003 show that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is more effective at reducing overall heart-disease risk than a high-carb, low-fat regimen. And, just like the diet that Dr. Vernon prescribes, each of these meal plans ranged from 50 percent to 70 percent of total calories from fat.
And it's even worse for native Hawaiians.
Well, there are clearly some things we all agree on. Hi-fructose (and GMO, hello!) corn syrup gotta go. Too much white rice & mac salad & beer is a killa. Most sugar can get the hell out of both our bodies and our 'aina (and give back the water while they're at it). If we all could overcome just these obstacles, people would already be a lot healthier, and the debate would then be real different because it would probably be more about what is optimal than about how to manage a crisis. Agreed?
I agree wholeheartedly. I think the important thing for getting off of carbs though is letting people know that it's okay to eat protein and fat. When you eat a diet high in protein and fat, you're satisfied, and your body doesn't make you feel like you're starving (like low-calorie semi-starvation diets). The problem occurs when you have a vicious carbohydrate cycle that makes you hungrier the more you eat, because your fat cells are getting all the calories, and your bloodstream isn't getting enough of them - it's like your fat is starving you, so you need to eat more.

Make no doubt, complex carbs, in moderation, are okay. But people need to have the knowledge of what is safe to eat in excess - everyone gets kinda itchy for the refrigerator sometimes, and if you know that eating a cheese stick is okay, but eating a pineapple or potato is not, you can make better choices and save yourself from western disease.

Just remember, most carbs turn immediately into glucose when they're digested - so that bag of french fries carries just as much of a kick as a bag of candy. Complex carbs with lots of fiber is better, but you CAN overdo that too. If you're trying to save yourself from obesity, and you struggle already with appetite, give yourself the permission to eat meat and fat and eggs and cheese and all the low carb stuff, and avoid sugars and carbs like the plague for a while. Eat fiber stuff just so you don't get constipated, of course, but you'll see a major difference - especially if you've been struggling with weight, as many part native Hawaiians and pure native Hawaiians do.
It is unwise to believe that one diet is universally best for all when there are other factors such as genetics and--something I don't see in the discussions here--climate.

According to Kekuni Blaisdell (1988), the traditional (pre-contact) diet of the kanaka maoli was:
* 78% complex carbohydrates = kalo, `uala, uhi, `ulu, lu`au, ho`i`o, mai`a, limu; including sugar from ko, `uala, `ohelo
* 12% protein = i`a, i`a viscera, pupu, papa`i, ula & moa
* 10% fat = i`a, mother's milk, moa, niu

Whereas the typical American diet in 1988 was 45% complex carbs, 15% protein & 40% fat.

The traditional diet sustained us through long voyages as well as daily island living. Archival photos portray our ancestors as lean, muscular, clear-skinned and strong in the tooth, and the fruits of their labor tell us they were strong and resilient.

As for exercise being unimportant, the body of knowledge from all cultures, ethnicities, governments around the world is so vast that it is now common knowledge that diet in tandem with exercise contribute to weight loss and healthful lifestyle. It's not a conspiracy.

I respect your belief in Taubes' ideas about fat, carbs & exercise, but diet isn't one-size-fit-all. To promote this philosophy to kanaka maoli that have, as you have already pointed out, some of the direst health statistics throughout the Hawaiian islands is a disservice to us as a people and disrepectful to our ancestors.

We have data on traditional Hawaiian diets (THDs) that have been successful and all of them are high in complex carbohydrates. Poi is good for us!

Anyone wishing to know more about THDs might start with p. 67 in http://www.papaolalokahi.org/coconut/news/pdf/PaianaNaauaoDec2004.pdf"">Pa`i`ana Na`auao or contact Papa Ola Lokahi for updated list of references.

E ola mau!
Most kanaka maoli are no longer pure kanaka maoli, so even if one size doesn't fit all, the pre-1778 size doesn't fit more than 8,000 people nowadays. I would also be very skeptical of any pre-history dietary reconstructions, but I'd be happy to look at the data.

As for exercise, look at the studies they've done - exercise is not a way to lose weight. Common knowledge is not always correct - simply looking at the horizon would lead you to believe the earth was flat.

If you have data on double-blind clinical trials of THDs versus other diets that are low-carb, I'd be very interested. We need to take Taubes' warning and treat this like science, and not just anecdote.

Again, though, since there are so few true kanaka maoli left, THD seems inappropriate to suggest to someone who may have particular carbohydrate sensitivity from their asian or caucasian ancestors.
Ken Conklin... is that YOU? Umiamaka IS THAT YOU? There is no "pure" which implies that maoli and kanaka of mixed ethnicities are "unpure" and/or "impure" and/or somehow "less" of a human being. We are oiwi. We are OF the iwi irrelevant of blood quantum which is in the Haole World. THIS is the Hawaiian World or Oiwi World or Kanaka World or MAOILI World. (Thanks to Ikaika and whomever chose the name because to me it epitomizes lots of what I see.)

Our kupuna did/do not see us as any less than them or any less of a human being which you are implying here so your pilau is not wanted or needed here. Many of us are Asian too so some of what you are typing is disrespectful to OUR kupuna and BLASPHEMOUS to KALO. Some others here clearly refuse to stop eating kalo. Some people here like myself who is HWP with a blood pressures on February 9, 2008 of 119 mmHg systolic 73 mmHg diastolic will CONTINUE to eat kalo. You are entitled to your opinion but you will NOT stop us from eating poi.

In another thread you posted about "one-drop Hawaiians." Ken does the same thing.

You can go Umiamaka. If that is you.
You also contradict yourself. You explicitly stated:

"It's not about serving size,"

Then later you state that it is. Thus you may want to do some research first like read the Okinawan Centanarian Study and PubMed data instead of a book by Taub who conflates SOME studies to make generalizations like good carbs and bad carbs, good calories and bad calories. That is the American way of thinking and obviously Americans are #18 on the list in terms of longevity. I suggest that you actually read more studies instead of just Taub's book. Personally I don't solely read American data like you seem to do. Instead I read data based out of the continental U.S. too because they seem to conflate data when they do not know as they are #18. I prefer to listen to #1, #2, and #3.

It's like Ken Conklin revisited. Taking one thing and exaggerating it while mentioning "one-drop Hawaiians" but like with Ken I suggested he actually read DATA instead of conflating information and do his research first before developing conclusions about Hawaiians. Similarly with you I suggest that you read then develop conclusions because your diatribe about a complex carb like poi is baseless. We should continue to eat poi but decrease the calories, the simple sugars like soda, candies, chips, etc and go out for a walk regularly.

Then again one of your ka ona (that we stop eating poi) is that we make so I do not listen to you. As in I don't listen to people who want us Hawaiians to die. That is so PILAU.
`Ae. I agree that there are many factors, including genetics.

However, the only point of yours I wish to focus on is your assertion that kalo/poi is not good for us. The book you cite is not specific to kanaka maoli nor our sub-tropical climate in which we haven't need to store fat. One cannot insist that coconut is primary to a Hawaiian diet when there is no evidence of it.

I'm not quite sure why this point is so important to you. Is it not possible to be a disciple of Taubes and still acknowledge that the wisdom of our ancestors might provide the foundation for what works best for most kanaka maoli today?

We can debate the merits of different diets for years. There are many other points being brought up in this forum, but I wish to focus on local diets researched, implemented, measured and evaluated in Hawai`i. There is lots of recent research on the many different THDs that have sprung up over the past 15 years, some of which are modified for available foods, and all of which include contemporary Hawaiians as participants. For a fairly recent review, see: Fujita R, Braun KL & Hughes CK. 2004. The traditional Hawaiian diet: a review of the literature. Pacific Health Dialog 11 (2): 250-9. TOC is http://www.resourcebooks.co.nz/phd/phd-back_issues/phd2004sep.htm"">here. (If you want a copy of the journal, come see me at Papa Ola Lokahi.)
the only point of yours I wish to focus on is your assertion that kalo/poi is not good for us.

I wish to focus on local diets researched, implemented, measured and evaluated in Hawai`i. There is lots of recent research on the many different THDs that have sprung up over the past 15 years, some of which are modified for available foods, and all of which include contemporary Hawaiians as participants.

That's one of the things that concerns me too. That he's stating that poi is not good for us when it is.

While I don't necessarily follow nor agree with the findings at PubMed, Dr. Blaisdell's research does show at PubMed which I check often

Health Status of Kanaka Maoli


Culture and Cancer of Kanaka Maoli


Dr. Blaisdell has faced reviews from his peers too while Taub has not. And like his research has shown kalo is an important component. That's why I mentioned the Okinawan food intake because their sweet potato is similar to our kalo. Not the same but similar.

There has been one "A non-dairy Probiotic's (Poi) Influence on Changing the Gastrointestinal Tract's Microflora Environment"


Dr. Blaisdell's findings not just those posted at PubMed but his own research do parallel those of Okinawans plus both of us have been affected by American foods and lifestyle so Hawaiians and Okinawans share a few things. Not the same but similar... like 1) their sweet potato and our kalo and 2) our common history with the President Ulysses Grant, U.S. government, and American foods. Of many people they are most similar to us and vice versa.

Anyway I don't buy into the poi is bad for you hype. Even when I followed an adaptation of Atkins where I ate vegetables, protein, and cut down refined sugars drastically I still ate poi. (Atkins advocates 100 grams of carbohydrates per day for people who are physically active.) I just do not buy the poi is bad for you hype and like you that is one component that is my focus. BTW I like this statement: "empowering them to determine their own destinies."
The early Hawaiians knew the importance of proper colon cleansing since the word for colon is na'au which is also the word for soul/heart. By cleansing the colon, you also clean the internal organs which in the prayers for healing were described as "i na kihi eha no ke kino". Without proper cleansing toxins would go into the blood and liver thereby creating many of the symptoms of other disease. Autointoxification and parasitic infection can lead to many disease that are being treated by Western pharmacology and surgery. Once Autointoxification sets in it will affect the central nervous system thereby "mai ka piko o ke po'o a ka hi'u o ka poli o ka wawae". The nerves thus influence the muscles and then it goes into the bone marrow itself. Proper diet, exercise, and colon cleansing are of paramount necessity in maintaining a strong and healthy body. But above all, trust in Ke Akua and His Aloha is ultimately gives the power to heal and live. As the Kupuna sang, "o ke aloha, ka i oi a'e, maluna o na mea a pau" and "e nonoi ka Haku, e kokua ia oe, pu a makaukau oia, e kokua ano". O ke Akua Mana Ola nana olu'olu mai ia makou a pau loa, mahalo ke Akua.
The toxins you speak of are carbohydrates. Blood glucose is terribly reactive, and causes the formation of advanced glycation end-products, which are the causes of chronic diseases such as cancer and alzheimers.
Ku'e! Kalo is not the answer to our health problems! The true diet we need to get back to is coconuts and fish.>>

It was kalo, not niu, that was the staple of our foremothers. She was not acclimated to having much oil in her diet until w/in the last 200 m.h. as the ʻai noa then allowed her to enjoy both niu and puaʻa. Hers was ʻai me ka iʻa; fish and poi. That diet provided her the hearty constitution to collectively mother our robust people. We have to take this into account when we look at the state of the healthy kanaka.



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