Diets: An evolution of their own

What did our ancestors eat?


Ever since the dawn of humanity, the human race has consistently been trying to find new ways to get their grub. Hunter-gatherers obtained their food from wild plants and animals, before progressing onto domesticated animals and settling down during the Neolithic revolution, around 12,500 years ago. Cut to modern day, however, and the story is drastically different. There are only a few hunter-gatherer tribes left, as instead of locally-caught meat and freshly-harvested grains, the food on our plate now comes from all over the world, repeatedly packaged and preserved.

A typical meal can consist of fish coming from Alaska, our rice coming from India, turnips from Siberia and our lettuce coming from Greece. Our food travels hundreds of miles before ending up in our stomachs.

According to National Geographic, some experts say modern humans should eat from a Stone Age menu. However, it may not be true that the human race evolved to eat a meat-centric diet. Some scientists believe that eating meat was the crucial key to the development of the human race, as a meat-centric diet allowed our ancestor, Homo Erectus, to take in enough energy to fuel a bigger brain.

In keeping with the scientific belief, millions of people tried a paleo diet, which basically meant that if a caveman couldn’t have eaten a certain foodstuff, neither can you. This resulted in a diet that chiefly consisted of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluded dairy, grain and processed food. “Paleo” was actually Google’s most searched for word in 2013.

“The first month of paleo was really hard. I’m a big carbs person and my cravings were really strong, but after the first month it didn’t really bother me anymore. It was sometimes difficult to come up with something to cook that will give variety, but I learned a whole bunch of new recipes that I still enjoy today. I can’t stay with conviction that I felt that I had more energy due to the diet, but I definitely felt healthier,” senior Julia Sakalus said.

However, other scientists disagree with the assumed benefits of a paleo diet, as new studies show that hunter-gatherers often had dismal success as hunters, resulting in them depending more on the “gathering” and “foraging” aspect for their food, setting them apart from the meat-over loaders that several perceive them to be. This creates a disconnect between modern-day Paleo dieters, as today, most tend to load up on meat under false pretenses of following the Paleo diet.

Even with several diets and attempts to revert to ‘older’ ways of eating, processed foods are still on the uptrend, contributing to the national obesity epidemic. Today, about one in three American kids and teenagers are overweight or obese. So next time you’re trussing up some dinner, consider taking a leaf or two out of our ancestors’ book on the way of eating.