Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution

Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution

Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution

Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution

Synopsis

Our ancestral diets have been critical to our success as a species. This volume brings together experts in human and primate ecology, paleontology, and evolutionary medicine. Authors offer their unique perspectives on the evolution of the human diet and the implications of recent changes in diet for health and nutrition today.

Excerpt

Peter S. Ungar and Mark F. Teaford

“You are what you eat.” The adage is so commonly used nowadays that people rarely think about its implications. In essence, “diet” is a key to understanding our past, present, and future. Much of the evolutionary success of our species can be attributed to our ability to procure, process, and consume a wide range of foods. However, recent changes in our diet (e.g., increased intake of such things as saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and sodium, and decreased intake of nonnutrient fiber) may lie at the root of many of the health problems swamping our health care systems (O’Dea and Sinclair, 1983; Angel, 1984; Eaton and Konner, 1985; Hamilton, 1987; Eaton et al., 1988a,b; Burkett and Eaton, 1989; Cohen, 1989; Eaton et al., 1997). Moreover, if we are to understand and successfully cope with the world population pressures and potential food shortages looming on the horizon in the next century, we need every bit of information we can gather on diet and its influence on our lives.

Fortunately, over the past few decades, there has been a veritable explosion of data generated by scientific research. This has brought a flood of new information to the study of what we eat, how we eat, and why we eat it, and it has included data from a variety of fields, ranging from studies of traditional peoples, nonhuman primates, human fossil and

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