The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 16 No. 7 • August 2013

Pima Indians: from a Healthy Diet to a Diabetes-Promoting One

When the white men arrived in North America, the Pima Indians were eating a considerable amount of purple corn that they grew themselves. Purple corn is, of course, chock-full of anthocyanins. After the white men put the Indians on reservations and provided “free” food (only free if you disregard the value of the Indian lands seized in the process) that didn’t include purple corn, the Pima Indians became a population plagued by diabetes and hyperobesity. They have been frequently studied as populations with a genetic predisposition to diabetes, but their main problem may be a switch from an evolved diet that inhibited the development of diabetes (with purple corn-derived anthocyanins likely to be a major factor in that protection1–4) to one (given to them for “free”) that did the opposite.

The moral of this sad story could be to beware of governments bearing free gifts after they have stolen much of your wealth. At a different level, the moral is to beware of making dramatic changes in your diet from the one your forebearers had, over thousands of years, evolved to consume and thrived on.


  1. Li et al. Purple corn anthocyanins dampened high-glucose-induced mesangial fibrosis and inflammation: possible renoprotective role in diabetic nephropathy. J Nutr Biochem. 23(4):320-31 (2011 May 2).
  2. Tsuda et al. Dietary cyanidin 3-O-beta-D-glucoside-rich purple corn color prevents obesity and ameliorates hyperglycemia in mice. J Nutr. 133:2125-30 (2003).
  3. Tsuda. Regulation of adipocyte function by anthocyanins: possibility of preventing the metabolic syndrome. J Agric Food Chem. 56:642-6 (2008).
  4. Tsuda et al. Microarray profiling of gene expression in human adipocytes in response to anthocyanin. Biochem Pharmacol. 71:1184-97 (2006).

FREE Subscription

  • You're just getting started! We have published thousands of scientific health articles. Stay updated and maintain your health.

    It's free to your e-mail inbox and you can unsubscribe at any time.
    Loading Indicator