Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Okay, if Early humans didn't eat tons of meat in order to evolve, what did they eat?

Whenever someone tells me that they are eating the Paleo diet, I always ask them where they get their Mastodon meat for their new diet.  It rarely goes well, I guess my sense of humor is hard for some to understand.  Just for fun, this is the ABC presentation about early diet ( FoxNews )  Tiger nuts, doesn't seem like enough tigers around for early man to castrate.  Yikes, bad joke.  But, I do like this piece, because it is mainstream news and it took a lot of guts to produce it since big agribusinesses advertise their products on Fox all the time.  No one advertises a healthy way of eating sans processed food.  No one. 

Most Paleo proponents like to tell me that the reason to eat lots of meat is because that's how man evolved and as proof, they point out human tooth physiology.  Canine teeth, for eating meat.  Molars for crunching through nuts and berries.  With some occasional greens found alongside the paths.  Of course that doesn't exactly fit with the reality of the archaeological evidence found so far.  (Way too much about teeth )  And of course most Paleo people relate the often quoted info about how wheat is a poison.  Pseudo-scientific quacks like Dr. Davis, The Wheat Belly, and others all seem to have the same flawed conclusions about humans not ever eating wheat until about 8,000 years ago and how today's wheat differs dramatically from that early wheat.  There is archaeological evidence of Paleo man eating grains 115,000 years ago.  Grains, including the precursors of wheat.  Wheat is a lot different than it back then, even 100 years ago.  However, even with diploid and haploid gene sequences gained through cross breeding to have a higher gluten content; it isn't inherently toxic.  I will say it again, Asian people on average eat up to three times more wheat than Americans and have one tenth the obesity problem.  It ain't the wheat. 

So what does the dental record of development really tell us about what Neolithic, Paleolithic and Holocene hominid diets?  Quite a bit actually, and all of it is pretty interesting. What we see is that the dentition of Holocene humans growing smaller at an accelerated rate from about 50,000 years ago up to about the pottery age, about 8,000 years ago.  Since then, a 1% size decrease per 1,000 years has been seen.  ( Dentition reduction )  This can be explained by the scientific theory that has been shown that the process of evolution allows unnecessary biological structures to shrink and/or disappear with time. Not saying that teeth are unnecessary, but that the dentition of omnivores is not needed since the advent of cooking.  Smaller teeth are all that is needed to chew cooked foods.  What we also see going all the way back to the Neolithic man through the Paleolithic era, the dentition of man changing from large sets of molar like choppers similar to those seen in low land gorillas to a few canine like teeth of common omnivores with the predominance of large molars that over time have reduced in size.  Along with the front canines.  What we see is that as the predecessors of modern man began to eat a more varied diet, the dentition did in fact change (along with other physiological changes) to adapt to the more varied diet of an omnivore.  Of course that means that man did in fact eat meat.  In the beginning, man ate the rotting remains of kills left by other, larger, more vicious predators.  I'm VERY certain that early man did not just one day go from picking away at the scraps left rotting on the savanna to hunting mastodons in a couple generations.  It took a million years for that to happen.   In the meantime, man ate tiger nuts.  And whatever other roots, tubers, berries and seeds (AKA grains) that they could find. 

Sigh, again, I don't dispute that man evolved eating meat.  I also don't dispute the fact that along the way they dined on insects and grubs and a few rotting carcasses along the way.  But hominids were never ever designed to eat the stuff in the supermarkets and fast food hovels that is for whatever reason, called meat.  Modern meat is a frightening mess.  Humans actually don't need meat, they can get along quite well without it.  And in fact, are better off without it.  My contention is that most humans would be better off consuming a diet that is fresh, raw, fermented and for the most part, meatless.  That in reality is what Paleo hominids eat for the most part, with occasional meals of higher protein.  And in today's world, that would be pastured eggs, organic chicken, wild caught seafood, and it pains me but yes, real grass fed beef is okay once in a while.  Wild meat is probably okay as well, but stay away from the factory farmed venison and elk.  Oh yeah, and nuts and berries as well.  Organic of course.   

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