5 a day?

A few years ago I went to Kenya on (guess what!) safari. It was really awesome, despite the ridiculously early morning starts. One day, we went to visit a Maasai Mara tribe, where I discovered they ate a diet based on their livestock- they'd 'tap' and drink blood, eat the meat and also have curdled milk. That was pretty much it.

This morning, whilst at med school, I had a practical session on the importance of ascorbate- vitamin C. It basically has an important role in reducing Fe3+ back to Fe2+ so this process called hydroxylation can occur in which proline is converted to hydroxyproline, which can then be incorporated into collagen. This holds our cells together. Without collagen, we get scurvy.

Now, I asked this morning why none of the Maasai people I saw seemed to have any scurvy. After all, they don't seem to eat any fruit or vegetables. I was told by our expert nutritionalist that there is ample vitamin C content (and other vital minerals and stuff, presumably) in meat- after all, the livestock graze on grass which should contain enough of the good stuff (incidentally,
wikipedia disagrees, saying they don't get enough vitamin C, but doesn't address why they don't seem to have any extra health issues. I'm inclined to go with Dr. B) .

So here's what I'm wondering- could we get by without eating fruit and veg? I mean, if we get enough nutrients like vitamin C, iron, thiamine etc. in meat, wouldn't we be alright eating nothing but shedloads of meat? I know there would be a fibre deficiency- maybe meat with weetabix. I'm also ignoring the extra risk of heart disease from higher cholesterol levels. Mainly I'm interested in the nutrients bit.

Any takers?

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