Hominin diets could reveal a lot about our own

Just in case anyone’s interested, I had the great opportunity to discuss nutrition science today with none other than Lucy discoverer Donald Johanson. What luck!

After explaining to Johanson of studying “evolutionary discordance” of diet post-agricultural revolution, he pointed me in the direction of a book related to hominin diets based on studies of hominin teeth.

This revelation led me to have a great interest in what further studies could be put together. I imagine randomized, controlled trials involving diets of humans on pre-human diets. Not only could the data help us better understand certain adaptions in our own digestive systems, but also what possible other “evolutionary discordances” that may have occured during a time when humans actually became human.

At the same event I spoke to another evolutionary biologist who suggested that fire had a key role in allowing our digestive system to adapt to a higher-energy diet.

The book recommended by Don Johanson was by Peter Ungar. A link to an article on the subject of diet and hominin teeth is found here.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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