The foods we eat contain microorganisms that we ingest alongside the food. Industrialized food sy ... Read more
The foods we eat contain microorganisms that we ingest alongside the food. Industrialized food systems offer great advantages from a safety point of view, but have also been accused of depleting the diversity of the human microbiota with negative implications for human health. In contrast, artisanal traditional foods are potential sources of a diverse food microbiota. Traditional foods of the Greenlandic Inuit are comprised of animal-sourced foods prepared in the natural environment and are often consumed raw. These foods, some of which are on the verge of extinction, have not previously been microbiologically character- ized. We mapped the microbiota of foods stemming from traditional Inuit land-based hunting activities. The foods included in the current study are dried muskox and caribou meat, cari- bou rumen and intestinal content as well as larval parasites from caribou hides, all traditional Inuit foods. This study shows that traditional drying methods are efficient for limiting micro- bial growth through desiccation. The results also show the rumen content of the caribou to be a highly diverse source of microbes with potential for degradation of plants. Finally, a number of parasites were shown to be included in the biodiversity of the assessed traditional foods. Taken together, the results map out a diverse source of ingested microbes and para- sites that originate from the natural environment. These results have implications for under- standing the nature-sourced traditional Inuit diet, which is in contrast to current day diet recommendations as well as modern industrialized food systems.
The practices of preparing traditional foods in the Arctic are rapidly disappearing. Traditional ... Read more
The practices of preparing traditional foods in the Arctic are rapidly disappearing. Traditional foods of the Arctic represent a rarity among food studies in that they are meat-sourced and prepared in non-industrial settings. These foods, generally consumed without any heating step prior to consumption, harbor an insofar undescribed microbiome. The food-associated microbiomes have implications not only with respect to disease risk, but might also positively influence host health by transferring a yet unknown diversity of live microbes to the human gastrointestinal tract. Here we report the first study of the microbial composition of traditionally dried fish prepared according to Greenlandic traditions and their industrial counterparts. We show that dried capelin prepared according to traditional methods have microbiomes clearly different from industrially prepared capelin, which also have more homogenous microbiomes than traditionally prepared capelin. Interestingly, the locally preferred type of traditionally dried capelin, described to be tastier than other traditionally dried capelin, contains bacteria that potentially confer distinct taste. Finally, we show that dried cod have comparably more homogenous microbiomes when compared to capelin and that in general, the environment of drying is a major determinant of the microbial composition of these indigenous food products.
Greenland is a country in transition from a colonial past with subsistence hunting and fishing to ... Read more
Greenland is a country in transition from a colonial past with subsistence hunting and fishing to an urban Nordic welfare state. Epidemiological transition from infectious to chronic diseases has been evident since the 1950s. Ninety percent of the population is Inuit.
We studied three public health issues based on published literature, namely adverse childhood experiences, addictive behavior, and suicide; diet and obesity; and smoking. Alcohol consumption was high in the 1970s and 1980s with accompanying family and social disruption. This is still a cause of poor mental health and suicides in the generations most affected. The diet is changing from a traditional diet of fish and marine mammals to imported food including food items rich in sugar and fat from domestic animals, and the level of physical activity is decreasing with an ensuing epidemic rise in obesity. The prevalence of smoking is high at around 60% among both men and women and is only slowly decreasing. Smoking shows large social variation, and tobacco-related diseases are widespread.
The diseases and conditions outlined above all contribute towards a low life expectancy at birth—69 years for men and 74 years for women in 2011–2015—compared with 78 and 84 years for men and women, respectively, on average in the European countries. The translation of government public health programs into local activities needs strengthening, and it must be realized that the improvement of public health is a long-term process.