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Indigenous science, food and lifestyle

For many years now the Maasai community has depended so much on livestock for their daily food. They keep animals such as goats, sheep and cattle. They have conserved their culture for so long and many of them especially in Tanzania have not had a chance of going to school although it is open to them just like all other people. They possess an immense knowledge of their environment based on many years of living close to nature.

The Maasai are an Indigenous / pastoral community. Their food includes dairy products such as milk and meat. According to them all parts of an animal are very important. They are very good at dissecting animals and have names for every part including bones and muscles. They are good at science but they do not know that fact. I relate what they do with subjects such as Biology and chemistry.

Apart from that they are also good biochemists. They can identify species of plants and different parts of a plant. The parts of a plant / tree (roots, leaves and backs) are used to make herbal medicine. They are cultural/ indigenous botanists and herbalists. For decades they used various herbs to treat common ailments such as malaria, dysentery, especially among young children. They had herbs for elimination of worms in people and for many other purposes. They do not perform these practices in the laboratories but can take place at home or forest.

To date Maasai men organize seasonal meat eating camps (irpuli). They mostly identify hills/ mountains with caves to leave in as they enjoy themselves in meat and drinking herbal soup. They boil different types of roots and backs in water. They also boil meat until it becomes tender to get good soup. They remove the roots from the boiled mixture which they mix with soup. They mix the contents using an improvised wooden mixer. They eat the meat and drink the soup. They call this ‘body repair’. The meat and soup are many times very oily. Do they get sick from taking in very fatty food like that? Why do most of them maintain a good BMI? Maasai mainly eat meat with very little or no salt at all. They drink fresh/sour milk when in plenty. Some of them drink raw blood from cows or goats. They also have a small dish rarely known by many people a mixture of cooked blood mixed with very small pieces of meat. The eating of meat has been there for ages but cancer and other diseases said to be caused by eating of red meat were not common among the Maasai people. The number of people with obesity is also very low. Until recently the Maasai like other people have started changing the type of food they used to eat. Vegetables, corn meals and rice are now included in their dishes.

When a Maasai woman gives birth a goat is slaughtered and the first days she is fed on meat and soup from the boiled meat. She does not leave the house to do hard work until she completely gets strong. Many times it can take between 4- 6 months for her to get out of the house to do that (work). In between intervals she drinks porridge with milk and fat. She can eat any other food after. The reason they give them goat meat is that goats eat different types of shrubs/ plants that are medicinal. This again is science in the making. The woman is expected to breast feed the child until it walks. They say It is not easy to conceive while breast feeding. That’s natural family planning and again science in the making. Despite lack classroom knowledge there is a lot of untapped indigenous diverse culture knowledge.

Related facts:

• Meat has natural salt in it

• A lot of salt is not good for your heart

• Lack of iodine in the body can cause goiter

• Fatty dairy products are said to also cause disease such as cancer

• Maasai people like walking long distances and this makes them physically fit.

• The meat and soup taking is for treatment and to keep them fit (body repair).

• Salt and milk is a good source of calcium and is good for teeth and in bones helps them as they walk long distances.

Healthy tips

• Use little salt in your food when cooking (a lot of salt causes high blood pressure)

• Sugar is sugar but sugar like in honey is better than table sugar (sugar increases inflammation of body tissues)

• Walk 2-3 kilometers when you can to keep fit ( especially if you must take dairy products).

• Eat your meals within good intervals and amounts -A heavy breakfast, enough lunch, a bowl of fruits at 3.00pm and a very light dinner (the digestive system is slow at night) also drink water

• Make sure you are not glued to your office the whole day. Take a walk. If your place of work is not very far from your home, don’t drive but rather walk.

This is enough proof that their lifestyle makes them keep fit. When you take in a lot of dairy products and you don’t walk or do a lot of work. Then you are bound to get lifestyle related diseases. Try these healthy tips and you will enjoy eating red meat. I especially love the Maasai barbeque especially goat ribs it is very tasty a not Smokey.

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