The topic for my research was why Pima Indians are referred to as pathfinders for health. I conducted my research based on online health journals, medical books and my library sources. From my research, I found out that Pima Indians played a very significant role in medical research since they helped medical practitioners understand causes, treatment and preventive measures with respect to various diseases. These diseases included diabetes, periodontal diseases, kidney failures, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Why the Pima Indians Are Pathfinders for Health
I discovered that researchers chose Pima group for studies since they had high levels of diabetes and obesity compared to other Americans. The genetic composition of this group remained unchanged since this community does not intermarry, thus researchers studied whether there was a correlation between genetics and diabetes and obesity. I also learnt that genetics does not contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes. It is caused by factors such as diet. Lastly, I learnt that Pima people have low levels of heart diseases since they have low serum cholesterol. Further research needs to be conducted on what Pima are doing to reduce their heath complications and prevent diseases that are caused by specific genes in the body.
I noticed there was a gap in this research. Researchers failed to study adequately what the Pima are doing to deal with their health complications. Most of the daughters born from a diabetic mother develop kidney diseases or suffer from long-term diabetes. I discovered that researchers did not consider the fact that Pima mothers are motivated to make sure that their children lead healthy life. They help their diabetic daughters monitor their blood sugar and teach them about eating healthy foods. In addition to this, they help their healthy children get regular screening to determine if they are diabetic. They do this by giving them annual fasting blood glucose test. If the mother notices that her daughter has trouble processing sugar then it is probable that the daughter is diabetic. They also advise their children to exercise regularly so that they could reduce the risk of diabetes. This is achieved by advising them to go to the gym, walk for half an hour for five days since it would help them improve insulin sensitivity and prevent diabetes. Furthermore, they teach their children on how to control their weight. A relatively small weight loss of about 7% of the body weight helps prevent diabetes. They educate their children on the importance of staying at their lowest sustainable weight so that they avoid rebound effect. They also help their diabetic children reduce carbohydrate intake in their diet. Since the body of diabetic children does not process sugar well, they are advised not to feed on food that turns into sugar. Instead, they feed on balanced diet that is lower in carbohydrates.
Influence of genes
While conducting my research, I discovered that there are areas in which further research could be conducted to shed more light on the number of diseases that the thrifty gene could cause Pima people to suffer from. There are approximately 100 000 genes packed into 23 pairs of chromosomes in the body of every human being. Codes in the genes predetermine skin color, circulation of blood hormones such as adrenaline and insulin, and performance of other biological processes. Diabetes occurs because a gene’s code causes it to function differently under certain circumstances. Scientists have discovered that genes cause some people’s bodies to burn energy at a lower rate making it likely that these people may become obese and, hence, suffer from diabetes. I believe that scientists should do more research to see if genes cause other diseases such as colon cancer, Huntington disease, coronary diseases and pneumonia. I also believe that researchers should do more studies on ways to isolate this gene causing diabetes and obesity among Pima people. They should also do more research on whether other people in the population are prone to getting this gene.
As I did my research on why the Pima are pathfinders for health, new questions opened up as I read literature on the topic. I wondered on how the Pima survived on hunting, fishing, and farming during the colonial period. I also wondered who among the male and female people in that society was given the responsibility of hunting. Since they depended on hunting and gathering, I wondered where they obtained their food during the time of drought. I also wondered how they could separate poisonous wild fruits from safe fruits. As I did my research, I wondered if people from Pima were doing all they could to prevent health complications that they encountered. Since heart diseases are among the leading causes of death of the Pima people, I wondered whether they were trying to watch their diet and reduce cigarette smoking in order to reduce the risk of developing these diseases.
In conclusion, it is evident that more research needs to be done on what the Pima people are doing to reduce their health problems and diseases that are caused by genes in the body. It is important to find out whether eating habits that these people have adopted have reduced obesity and diabetes among the population. It is also important to study diseases that are caused by specific genes in the body so that researchers could find ways of isolating the gene in order to control these diseases. While conducting my research, questions came up in my mind on how these people survived during the colonial period on hunting and gathering only. I also wondered how they determined fruits that were safe to eat.