• Health benefits of the hunter/gatherer lifestyle

      Coker, Melynda Sheri; Greenberg, Joshua; Brinkman, Todd; Duffy, Lawrence; Lindberg, Mark (2021-08)
      The Hunter/Gatherer Lifestyle has long been associated with positive health benefits. I measured specific metabolic parameters associated with this lifestyle, highlighting lean tissue preservation. Severe loss of lean tissue mass (LTM) (sarcopenia) is a progressive, multifactorial disease presenting with decreased functional performance, age-related bone loss, increased falls and fractures, obesity, type II diabetes mellitus, depression, hospitalization, and even mortality. Degradation of LTM, often accompanied with obesity, is cost-prohibitive emotionally, physically, and financially. To counteract LTM deterioration, a positive net protein balance (NB) must be created through increased protein synthesis or suppressed protein breakdown. I utilized isotope tracer infusion methodology to compare equivalent serving sizes of wild, freerange red meat (FR) to grain-fed commercial meat (CB) on human NB. I observed that FR elicited significantly higher NB than CB due to greater suppression of protein breakdown. I next asked if an unscripted 8-12-day Alaska expeditionary backcountry hunt (ABEH) for moose, caribou, and sheep hunters would be executed in negative energy balance and positively influence metabolic markers while maintaining LTM. I found that energy expenditure was far greater than intake and contributed to reductions in body weight, adipose tissue, serum lipids, and intrahepatic lipid, while preserving LTM. Finally, I asked if a proprietary drink with a unique amino acid formulation (EMR) similar to FR could elicit fat loss and LTM maintenance in a cohort unlikely to gain access to FR. EMR or Optifast® was provided once per day to obese, elderly individuals. With no additional manipulations and in one month, there was a net gain of thigh muscle cross-sectional area and significant reductions in total and visceral fat mass. Concluding, I sought specific metabolic outcomes derived from distinct aspects of the understudied hunter/gatherer lifestyle (i.e., FR, ABEH, EMR). I found positive influences on health which would contribute to LTM preservation during aging, decreasing individual, family, and societal burdens linked to loss of LTM. These findings provide increased emotional, physical, and financial value to the hunter/gatherer lifestyle.