Presenter: Chris Masterjohn, PhD
Format: Audio & Slides
The ancient history of the Maasai is shrouded in mystery, but for as long as outsiders have known of them and documented their existence, they have had a constantly evolving society. Throughout this time, they have bred cattle and produced milk and meat, subsisting in part on these products and also trading them for a vast variety of plant products, including many starches. At no time have Maasai ever subsisted entirely on milk and meat, though traditional males do enter a stage of life for up to fifteen years in which they subsist only on these foods in combination with local herbs and honey. Two groups of investigators found the Maasai to have incredibly healthy hearts, which they attributed to their remarkably low cholesterol levels, but the exact nature of their freedom from heart disease and just how healthy their arteries are has been a matter of dispute. To understand the diet and health of the Maasai properly, we must understand that diversity and change have always been constant features of their society. This presentation will explore these topics with the aim of arriving at a nuanced and balanced conclusion.