I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Staffan Lindeberg these past 6 months. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person (I only had some brief e-mail exchanges with him); however, I do feel he “touched me” nonetheless. I feel like I got to now him through his scientific work, which I’m very familiar with. I find it sad that he’s now gone, particularly seeing as I had been talking with him about getting involved in the research he was doing, perhaps as a PhD candidate.
The good thing is that even though Staffan is now gone, his legacy remains. In today’s article, I though I’d revisit the Island of Kitava, which is the birth place of much of Dr. Lindeberg’s scientific work.
Staffan Lindeberg may be gone, however, his legacy lives on…
Quite recently, I was talking with Iver Mysterud, a prominent Norwegian biologist and scientist, and he mentioned that he’d read the article I wrote about Staffan Lindeberg shortly after his passing. He asked me whether I could translate the article, so that he could publish it in a Norwegian diet and health magazine that he is the scientific editor of. I agreed and later translated and sent him the piece. Some time later, I got to see some of the pictures he was considering using for the article, all of which were photos taken by Staffan Lindeberg during his stay on the Island of Kitava, a part of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New-Guinea. The pictures he showed me, which are all stunning, have to my knowledge never been published online.
Around the same time, I noticed that Staffan Lindeberg’s website had been taken down, and in the process, all of the photos from Kitava that he had put up there.
Together, these things inspired me to put up today’s article, in which I thought I’d share some of the pictures Staffan Lindeberg took during his stay on the Island of Kitava in 1989. I’m doing this to celebrate and bring attention to his work and make sure that his legacy lives on. Also, the pictures are fantastic in that they clearly display the power of the evolutionary health model. The Kitavans are all lean and have well-developed bodies and faces. Moreover, they have perfect, acne-free skin and beautiful hair. These phenotypic characteristics are typical of people who live in environments that match well with the human genome.
Let’s revisit the Island of Kitava
If you’ve been hanging around in the evolutionary health sections of the internet for some time, you probably know quite a bit about the Kitavans, and you may have seen at least some of the photos included in this post. I’m willing to bet that you haven’t seen all of them though, seeing as some of them were not available on Staffan Lindeberg’s website and/or have not been widely circulated.
In case you don’t know, the Kitavans are horticulturalists who eat an ancestral diet rich in fruit, fish, and root vegetables. They spend a lot of time outside and are moderately physically active. They are much healthier than westerners and seem to be “immune” to diseases such as colon cancer and heart disease (1, 2, 3). At least this was the case back in 1989, when Staffan Lindeberg and his colleagues examined their health. I’m not sure how the conditions on the Island of Kitava are like today.
To make sure there’s no miscommunication, I thought I’d point out that I’m not implying that the diet of the Kitavans is the optimal human diet or that the Kitavans lead a lifestyle that is perfectly matched with the human genome. One can’t exclude the possibility that the Kitavans would have been even healthier if they had consumed less carbohydrate, been more physically active, or otherwise changed their lifestyle.
With that said, let’s get to the pictures…
Note: When I talked to Staffan Lindeberg before he died, he gave me permission to share and use his photos here on the site.