We understand what the ancient people ate and why we became omnivores.
Dimitri Gromov” title=”Dimitri Gromov“/>
Doctor of Historical Sciences, Researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
It tells us how nature created us and what prevailed in the diet before: plant or animal foods.
What was the human diet like millions of years ago?
Dmitri: Massive Australopithecus, or paratroopers, one of the branches of higher primates, judging by the structure of their skulls (especially their teeth) and the results of chemical analysis, were vegetarians. Living in South and East Africa, the huge Australopithecus ate mainly grasses, sage, and sometimes nuts were added to the diet. Maybe, like monkeys, they could eat meat, but as an occasional treat.
Judging by the fact that the species existed for a long time – for about 1.7 million years – it was perfectly integrated into the local ecosystem. But over time, this branch of Australopithecus disappeared, leaving no offspring. The humanists did not evolve, they did not develop intelligence and work skills. Obviously, they had no reason to exceed the limits of the developed habitat and it was difficult to overcome soils with unusual vegetation.
Neanderthals, on the other hand, ate mostly meat. The representatives of this industry once shared the territory of Europe with our ancestors – the Cro-Magnons, and this competition also ended with the extinction of the species. The Cro-Magnon died, a small number of their genes were preserved in the human genotype (these species had the opportunity to cross-breed).
Dmitri: Ethnographically and historically well-known societies have shaped their own attitudes towards food, based on the ecological system in which they lived. A series of products was created that provided the body with all the necessary substances. For example, during the development of the Far North, Europeans contracted scurvy, a serious disease that could completely destroy the entire crew of a ship lost on ice during a winter. Scurvy resulted from a lack of plant foods. At the same time, the locals did not suffer from scurvy, as they received the required substances from animal blood, berries and pine needles.
Dietary preferences were determined by living conditions, tradition, and religious practices. But when external conditions changed, both individuals and entire races adapted easily to a new diet. This happened, for example, at the top of the Nile, when large reservoirs were created there and the inhabitants of the desert were forced to retrain as fishermen.
When and why did we become omnivorous
Modern man is omnivorous – he eats meat and vegetables with the same pleasure. But in the course of evolution, some branches of human development fell by the wayside: either they became vegetarians or exclusively meat eaters. For most of our evolution, our ancestors were herbivores. As the intellect developed, it became possible to eat meat, especially birds and small animals.
In general, the tendency for dietary diversity is still characteristic of large monkeys: the basis of their diet is plant foods, but sometimes they are not opposed to eating meat.
Daria Khalturina” title=”Daria Khalturina“/>
engages in research in the field of sociology, anthropology, demography
The diet of the chimpanzee, our closest relative, consists of 5% meat. However, we humans can not be called complete predators, unlike, for example, wolves, whose body produces vitamin C to compensate for its lack in food.
It should also be noted that before the invention of animal husbandry, our ancestors ate the meat of wild animals with a low fat content.
Thus, the human body is evolutionarily adapted to consuming large amounts of different plant foods. Meat should be eaten as lean as possible and in moderation.
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Which is healthier – vegetarianism or meat eating?
There is a lot of controversy on this issue, but research shows a strong link between high consumption of red meat and various diseases. At the same time, processed meat (sausages, sausages, etc.) is considered more harmful than raw meat.
Daria: Scientists often compare the life expectancy of people with different diets. When people with omnivorous, vegan (plant-only foods) and vegetarian (plant-based and dairy-based) diets were studied, people with a vegetarian diet were found to have the lowest mortality. Pure veganism reduces mortality from some types of disease, but not all. But white meat, not only fish, but also poultry, does not pose such risks.
Why is it harmful to eat red meat often (more than twice a week)? One explanation is the toxicity of heme, the substance that makes red meat red. In various sausages, additional damage can be attributed to dietary supplements that are not at all useful for long-term consumption. These are primarily nitrates that give sausages a pink color and phosphoric acid polymers that maintain the integrity of the sausage mass.
At the same time, red meat and heme itself are a source of iron and B vitamins. Therefore, vegans are at risk of deficiencies in these substances and their consequences, such as anemia, depression, etc. Those who have given up animal products should pay attention to the level of iron and B vitamins in the body and, if necessary, take dietary supplements.
Vegetarianism with the consumption of dairy products is practiced by a huge number of Hindu Hindu beliefs without any apparent harm to health. Dairy products contain B-complex vitamins, but may not meet the need for iron. However, not everyone can drink milk. Who better to give up the drink, he told the material.
Nutritionist called diseases in which you can not drink milk
What’s the result
- A variety of plant foods should be the basis of the diet.
- It is necessary to avoid processed meat (sausages, sausages), except that sometimes you can make an exception.
- It is worth limiting the consumption of red fatty meat: ideally no more than two servings per week. It is better to replace it again with white meat.
- There is no evidence that veganism is harmful, it reduces the risk of certain diseases, although it probably does not prolong life.
- Vegetarianism, including dairy products, is considered the best choice.
- However, vegans and vegetarians should monitor the levels of iron and B vitamins in the body and make up for it if necessary.
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