Food - Drink
What You Never Knew About Our Ancient Ancestors’ Eating Habits
By ELIAS NASH
While most diets are based on new research, trendy exercises, or fad food groups, the Paleolithic diet, or paleo, looks to the past for food guidance, focusing on foods that early humans would have eaten prior to the advent of modern farming. However, the paleo diet missed certain foods that early humans also had in their diet.
Paleo is based on a concept called the evolutionary discordance hypothesis, which suggests that our farming methods have outpaced our biological evolution, meaning that we are genetically ill-equipped to digest refined and processed foods, like starches. However, recent research has shown that humans have been eating starch for much longer than originally thought.
In a 2021 report, a research team analyzed the bacteria and microorganisms present in the mouth of a 100,000-year-old Neanderthal and found bacteria specifically adept at breaking down starch. In an earlier study, researchers showed that humans have more starch-digesting enzymes in their saliva than other primates, confirming that our ancestors had starchier diets.
These results confirm ‌ancient humans ate starches and suggest that starches have played a crucial role in the advancement of human civilization. As humans, our brains use 60% of our body’s available glucose; in order to advance, early humans needed plenty of fuel for their comparatively large and powerful minds, fuel that could only come from starches.