Alaska Natives Weight loss plan: Traditional Food Habits and Adaptation of American Foodstuffs

Table of Contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Traditional Food Habits
  3. Adaptation of Food Habits within the United States
  4. Food and Health Relationships
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


The Alaska Natives are one of many oldest tribes in America. The Alaska Natives have retained their tradition up-to-date despite their interactions with the broader American society. Studies have indicated that over 5 million individuals who reside within the United States are recognized as both American Indians or Alaska Natives, no matter whether or not they exist independently or are blended with different American races.

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An approximate variety of 3 million individuals are completely American Indians and Alaska Natives. This essay explores the acculturation of the Alaska Natives to the American tradition by offering an perception into their conventional meals habits and adaptation of American foodstuffs. It additionally gives an summary of how such acculturation has influenced their well being and way of life.

Traditional Food Habits

Traditionally, the Alaska Natives had been hunters, gatherers, and anglers. Consequently, their chief meals had been fish, land-dwelling animals, aquatic mammals, and quite a lot of vegetation.6 Although geographic and demographic components have modified, these meals are nonetheless their core diets. Other sources of meals embody birds and eggs. However, these diets assorted enormously amongst the assorted Alaskan Natives teams.1

Most of the vegetation, which made part of their eating regimen, had been eaten uncooked.5 Other Fish was smoked or dried to protect it for lengthy intervals. Smoked or roasted fish was prepared meals for consumption. Hunters used to kill and a few elements of the hunted animals whereas uncooked. Nevertheless, different elements of the killed animals had been cooked again on the villages. Seal oil along with some herbs was used to season the meals.

Mainly, composition of meals trusted seasons of the yr and the assorted geographical places through which they lived.2 Marine meals made a considerable a part of every day meals. When ice capped the Alaska area marine animals equivalent to cod, pink salmon, and whitefish amongst others had been the principle dishes. Salmonberries additionally shaped a part of their meals.

In addition, bananas, tropical fruits which might be beloved everywhere in the world, usually are not favorite meals for the Alaska Natives. Alaskan myths maintain that bananas could cause ocean accidents equivalent to sinking of ships. As a end result, the Alaskan Natives by no means welcome bananas and their associated merchandise of their fishing ships. Bananas kind part of the eating regimen whereas on the land however not in voyages whereas on the sea, because the Alaskan Natives imagine that they’ll result in dangerous luck.4

Furthermore, the Alaskan Natives needed to carry out some rituals previous to looking actions of animals equivalent to whales, particularly throughout whale immigration intervals in April. Specifically, the Koniag whalers had been to identified to carry prayers in an try and get energy for looking.

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They spend time in caves to carry ritual classes then proceed with their fishing actions. At the tip of the fishing season, they return to the caves to cleanse themselves earlier than returning to the village. 5(p678)

The Devil’s Club is likely one of the preventive medicines which have been utilized by the Alaskan natives as a preventive drugs to a variety of illnesses for a lot of centuries. It has sturdy medical qualities that had been found by their ancestors.

Either they devour it whereas uncooked or it’s added to tea or soup. Another vital natural plant on this area is the Labrador Tea. They combine Labrador Tea with honey and lemon juice to deal with digestive issues, arthritis, and chilly. 3(p45)

A typical meals that’s used for conventional celebrations in Alaska is the ‘kiviaq’. Preparation of this meals requires them to ferment sea birds for at the very least three months in a clear wrapped seal of animal pores and skin. They cowl the preparation with seal oil and place it underneath a pile of rocks to repel flies.

During ceremonies, the ‘kiviaq’ is shared amongst these current. The meals can also be used for survival, particularly in the course of the winter seasons that makes looking or fishing troublesome. During funeral ceremonies, that are often known as potlatches, recent moose meat is used to feed the mourners.

The Alaska Natives regard fishing as a spiritual exercise. Indeed, they catch salmons and whales for non secular actions which might be held by a couple of villages that apply conventional faith. Salmons and whales had been additionally used to supply sacrifices to the spirits in a bid to hunt blessings and therapeutic. 5(p679)

Adaptation of Food Habits within the United States

Although the publicity of Alaska Natives to the American tradition led to acculturation, seafood and greens nonetheless represent their important meals. Enactment of legal guidelines to guard sea life equivalent to salmon fish and whales has pressured them to adapt to new meals.

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However, they hardly ever maintain packed meals of their properties. Wild animals, which they used to hunt for staple meals, are now not accessible all year long. Wildlife businesses have enforced closed seasons. At these seasons, looking of untamed animals turns into unlawful.

The adoption of American diets by Alaska Natives was on sharp rise. However, a downtrend arose because of emergence of well being issues amongst the Alaska Natives. Health issues that had been non-existent have gotten widespread amongst the Alaskan Natives because of abandonment of their conventional foodstuffs. 6(p65)

Food and Health Relationships

A powerful relationship exists between the Alaskan meals and their well being. For occasion, the salmon fish has wealthy fatty acids, particularly Omega-3. These fatty acids supply numerous medicines equivalent to prevention of coronary heart ailments to overweight folks such because the Yup’ik who reside in Alaska.

Studies have proven that these folks devour about 20 occasions of complicated fish oils than the opposite Americans in a yr. They have the least stage of metabolic syndromes worldwide. As a end result, prevalence of diabetes Type II is lowest in America. 2(p110)

Nevertheless, the eating regimen is low in calcium. This scenario has considerably challenged the well being of ladies in Alaska. There has been growth of weak bone constructions amongst the Alaskan ladies that has resulted in elevated fractures, particularly to expectant moms.

High consumption of fat poses adversarial well being results to the Alaska Natives. Moreover, fructose and glucose that represent their fashionable diets have led to elevated circumstances of weight problems, particularly in adults. Foods which might be wealthy in calcium must be included of their eating regimen. Furthermore, they need to cut back consumption of glucose to permit absorption of micronutrients and minerals. 1(p1999)


The publicity of the Alaskan Natives to wild political, social, non secular, and harsh financial climates has pressured them to undertake the American lifestyle. Significant cultural adjustments equivalent to consumption traits have considerably influenced the Alaskan lifestyle. Health analysis signifies that a couple of generations must cross earlier than they utterly acculturate to the American tradition. Nevertheless, the Alaska Natives extremely worth harvesting and consumption of subsistence meals that they regard as important for private, social, and cultural identification.


  1. Horner RD, Day GM, Lanier AP, Provost EM, Hamel RD, Trimble BA. Stroke Mortality Among Alaska Native People. American Journal of Public Health. 2009;99(11):1996-2000.
  2. Johnson JS, Nobmann ED, Asay E, Lanier AP. Dietary consumption of Alaska Native folks in two areas and implications for well being: the Alaska Native Dietary and Subsistence Food Assessment Project. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 2009;68(2):109-22.
  3. Kittler PG, Sucher KP. Food and Culture. South Melbourne, Victoria: Wadsworth-Thomson Learning; 2008.
  4. Lujan CC. American Indians and Alaska Natives depend: the US Census Bureau’s efforts to enumerate the native inhabitants. The American Indian Quarterly. 2014;38(3):319.
  5. Murphy NJ, Schraer CD, Thiele MC, Boyko EJ, Bulkow LR, Doty BJ, Lanier AP. Dietary change and weight problems related to glucose intolerance in Alaska Natives. Journal of the American Dietetic Association (USA).1995;95(6):676-82.
  6. Whitney E, Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition. South Melbourne, Victoria: Wadsworth-Thomson Learning; 2013.

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