Sunday, January 15, 2006

Masai

By studying other cultures scientists can find out how different aging cultures respond to various factors. Blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and body weight have been studied in the Masai.
The Masai, a group of nomadic herdsmen of east Africa, have a diet that averages 3,000 calories per day. Sixty-six percent of its caloric value is animal fat. Their estimated average daily cholesterol intake ranges from 600 to 2,000 mg a day per adult.
Despite a heavy parasite load and high prevalence of infectious diseases, such as malaria and syphillis, the physical fitness of Masai is remarkable. Studies have shown that no increase in body weight occurs between 25 and 35 years, and blood pressure and blood cholesterol were very low and did not increase with age. These people even with their high cholesterol intake have low blood pressures and low cholesterol levels and therefore are not at risk for stroke, heart attack, and blocked arteries. These biological characteristics are probably genetically determined.
See also BUSHMAN OF KALAHARI DESERT; NEW GUINEAN HIGHLANDERS; POLYNESIANS; SOLOMON ISLAND TRIBES; SOMALI CAMEL HERDSMEN; TARAHUMARA INDIANS; YANOMANO INDIANS.
Brocklehurst, J. C. Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1985.

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