• Sled Dogs As A Sentinel And Model For Nutritional And Physiological Adaptation In The Circumpolar North

      Dunlap, Kriya L.; Duffy, Lawrence K. (2007)
      Sled dogs were investigated as a sentinel in studying adaptation to the circumpolar north. Exploratory data were collected to study the characteristics of melatonin and thyroid hormone and revealed an impact of day length, exercise and thermoregulation on production. Before western diets, circumpolar people had a low incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Contrary to the risks associated with a high fat, high protein diet, health benefits can be attributed to a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, offered from subsistence foods. While subsistence diets have been shown to provide substantial health benefits, there are also risks associated with them as a result of industrialization and the widespread distribution of chemicals in the environment. Native people and their sled dogs are exposed to a variety of contaminants that have accumulated in the fish and game that they consume. The sled dogs in these villages are maintained on indigenous food, primarily salmon, and therefore they can be used as models for researching the effects that a subsistence diet might have on immune parameters. Several biomarkers of immune function and inflammation were measured in village sled dogs along the Yukon River. A reference kennel, maintained on a nutritionally balanced commercial diet, was also measured in all projects for comparison. The health indicators such as antioxidant status were inversely correlated with mercury exposure.