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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200 m.h.? What does that stand for? Please excuse my ignorance.

Insofar as fish and poi, I agree on the fish, but skip the poi and eat coconuts instead. Nice healthy fat and protein.

The trick is proportions - poi is fine, but if you use it as the primary source of nutrition, you become less healthy. Eat it in moderation. Eat as much meat and fat as you want, AS LONG AS YOU STAY AWAY FROM THE CARBS!
Aloha mai Pono,

M.H. was Hawaiian shorthand for makahiki (years). My point was that the kapu was lifted a little less than 200 years ago, which meant that the introduction of coconut and pork and so forth into our foremothers' diet was a recent event, beating out the introduction of grains (flour, breads, rice) by only a generation or two. From an evolutionary point of view, this is an incredibly recent trend in the face of the fact that our foremothers' diet was austere for eons.

I enjoyed a sobering experience back in the late 80's. We were a group of Hawaiian students who stayed in Kaʻū for several days and we observed the ʻai kapu; preparation, mealtime, and diet. The men did all of the cooking, they ate apart from we women, and we were allowed fish, poi, salt, limu, ʻuala, breadfruit. The men ate all of that, and also bananas, coconut and pork, which really drove the point home (to me) from then until now the importance of a daily inclusion of complex starches (ulu, ʻuala, kalo) as the most important part of the meal.

That said, I do realize that dietary perfection is part alchemy. Can't get around it. Some body types thrive best employing carb control as you suggest. Others find their balance being vegetarians or vegans.

In light of this, I prefer to view the optimal diet as "closer to nature the better, and portion control is the greatest key of all".
E Luahiwa,

Good point with the kapu. I forgot about how some foods were kapu to the women.
Aloha Luahiwa, thank you for the education on M.H.!

Although kapu was lifted less than 200 years ago, how long before that was it really in place? My understanding is that the Tahitian colonists who brought the ali'i system and the kapu laws to Hawaii didn't get there until 1300-1400 AD, meaning that kapu would only have existed for a few hundred years too...

Anyway, I certainly believe that carbohydrate portion control is the greatest key of all - the problem with overall "portion control" is that the less you eat, the less essential nutrition you get - so simply reducing across the board is not always a good thing. PROPORTION control may be a better watchword - invert the current food pyramid, and put starches and sugars on the tippy top, and open up the bottom to fats and proteins.
Mahalo Pono for this manaʻo. However, my timeline of Hawaiian history doesn't jive with yours. The kapu system was put into place by Kāne himself; it is primordial. Yes, we have had many other kūpuna who have travelled from far to our shores (Pele, Hawaiʻiloa, Paʻao) but while they brought other facets to our keiki o ka ʻāina-ness, I am wary to confuse the two. My understanding is that Paʻao brought many kapu, but the ʻai kapu is older than his travels (going on memory; have to doublecheck that). Paʻao's contribution is, among other things, mōhai, but not ʻai kapu. If this is the case, our foremothers' diet has been austere and pretty fat-free since primordial times--before and after Paʻao and the gang.

If analyzing this from the western perspective, had our foremothers only been fatfree and kalo-bound for 500ish years, then how come they were so healthy in 1778? Obesity was prized in the high-born woman, but it was because it was the uncommon body type. Yet kalo was the staple of all people.

Really think about this: our foremothers subsisted on fish and poi and limu. That means that our forefathers were born into that diet for the first several years of his life, from her pregnancy, through her nursing the babe, until he was old enough to move in with the men.

How do we reconcile this with the low-carb diet theory?

aloha, Luahiwa
aloha kaua e Luahine, aloha kakou apau!

o Hanaloa Helela keia....
mahalo nui loa for the grace and aloha you exhibit in your measured responses to this debate about the detriment of poi. I will not directly debate Mr. Maliu on this issue because I think I might be less than graceful in my responses. By the tone, content and style of his [Mr. Maliu] responses to everyone on this issue, I cannot help but wonder if his agenda is less than pono. Ah, Iʻm so tempted, but I will leave it to you and others who seem to be much more capable of graciously enduring such crap.

I also mahalo you for the mana`o on our foremothers. It seems to me that this is an area that deserves much more attention and study. I am looking forward to learning more of the story of our foremothers, as well as more on maka`ānana in general. So much of our mo`olelo today is the glorification of male ali`i. The virtually untold story is that of the common woman and man. I believe we have more to learn from the maka`ānana than from the ali`i.

anyway, thanks again and looking forward to more from you and the others in this discussion who have engaged in such lively and educational ho`opāpā with Mr. Maliu.

Me ka `oia`i`o,


It "is" interesting to look at the common people, the gatherers, farmers, fishing communities. I think they/we ate a well balanced diet and like everything else, moderation is the key. I think the common people had alot more excersize which has alot to do with over all health.

but yes, kalo is the elder brother showing that the people "needed" it to respect it so much. They wouldn't even dare argue when the poi bowl was uncovered. To respect it that much, is a clear sign of how much the people needed the poi. So I don't think we should give poi a bad rap if we are eating it in moderation. It is other carbs that have come our way through the american diet that is the problem. Kalo and ulu are better carbs than rice, pasta and pastries.

Well, but maybe we should look at the native diet:


Lau kalo
Lau uala

They also ate assorted fruits and berries...

Nothing here looks like it would be harmful unless all they ate was poi and pig and didn't get any excersize.
The problem is that the idea that exercise is inherently good for weight control, or that saturated fat from pork is inherently bad is a lie.

And although you're correct, kalo is certainly less harmful than refined flour or white polished rice, it is still something that must be held in moderation. If we were to treat carbohydrates with the same fear and recalcitrance as diet "experts" tell us to treat saturated fat, we'd all be much healthier.

Did you manage to listen to the Gary Taubes' lecture? Did any of it regarding the error of causality make sense to you?
A few minor issues with logic -

1) if the diet was fat-free, how did obese people fatten up?

2) if the commoners were starved (as they were when they were forced to denude the sandalwood forests), kalo as a bare-subsistence carbohydrate would not have the deleterious effects as it does when it is readily available;

3) fish has fat, and I would argue that that was a more reliable and staple food in the islands pre-1778.

The question we have now, as people who are mostly not native Hawaiian genetically, is regardless of pre-1778 physiology, how do we mostly Chinese, Japanese, Haole, Portuguese and Filipino people deal with the lies that have been told to us for 30 years regarding health and diet?

Were you able to listen to Gary Taubes' lecture, Luahiwa? Did you find the Pima Indian story at all similar to what we've seen happen to kanaka maoli?

Most upsetting to Dr. Wortman and like-minded doctors in that area is that the typical diet and lifestyle intervention prescribed to people with the conditions that are being seen in the health of these participants is a high-carb, low-fat diet and hours of exercise. But Dr. Wortman knows better based on the studies he has conducted with his unique approach to improving weight and health issues through the use of a high-fat, low-carb nutritional approach. He blames the cultural influence of the United States on most of the problems the people of his country are suffering from today.

"Obesity, diabetes and heart disease were unknown in these populations until very recently," Dr. Wortman exclaimed. "No aboriginal language has a word for diabetes."
More examples of returning to indigenous diets and recovering from the high-carb/low-fat dogma that has caused the obesity epidemic and devastated the health of native peoples around the world:

The town that lost 1,200 pounds

"Wadhams was returning to a traditional aboriginal diet for the next year, joining a village-wide experiment in tiny Alert Bay aimed at fighting the obesity and diabetes that plagues First Nations people."

"The rules were simple: Eat all the fat you want, and all the seafood and meat and starch-free vegetables. Dairy fats like cream and cheese were fine, but not milk. Everything else with carbs -- bread, pasta, chips -- were off-limits. No ancestor of Wadhams' ever feasted on pasta and rice. Or ice cream bars."

"By the end of 2007, some 1,200 pounds had been collectively shed by the 80 or so residents of the fishing village who officially joined the program -- the equivalent weight of a truck or 10 potbellied pigs."
Food alone is not the culprit, the kupuna ate probiotics, favoring the fermented poi over fresh. These probiotics in the poi aided proper digestion. Regular colon cleansing was practiced for the na'au was not only the colon but the soul or a man. A clean na'au meant that the internal organs could also function properly. Ho'oponopono was of paramount importance since the kupuna knew that stress due to unresolved conflicts would affect the na'au and therefore the entire body. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves would be able to function properly with Ho'oponopono and Pule. Pule was the tool for man to ask and trust Ke Akua for divine healing and blessing. Food today is not of the same quality as in old Hawaii, pesticides, herbacides, hormones, steroids, antibiotics, etc. are in the modern day foods that are eaten in Hawai'i nei. Natural organic foods grown in the Ohana lo'i or gardens, freshly gathered in the sea, eaten raw, cooked in imu or pulehu did not contains preservatives, MSG, kukae iole.


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