Pre-historic Human Diet
The typical paleolithic nutrition of prehistoric hunter-gatherer humans was determined by Eaton and Konner who came up with a 65% to 35% plant-to-animal-based ratio. More details on the request can be found below.
- Hunter-gatherers were prehistoric nomadic groups that leveraged fire, intricate knowledge of plant life, and technology for domestic and hunting purposes. They were spread out in Asia, Africa, Europe, and other locations. Hunting and gathering were most prominent during the Paleolithic period which took up 90% of the practice.
- The culture accelerated when Homo erectus appeared 1.9 million years ago. Hunting and gathering continued during the time of Homo heidelbergensis (700,000 to 200,000 years ago) who were the first humans to hunt larger animals. It was also evident among Neanderthals (400,000 to 40,000 years ago) who were able to develop more sophisticated technology. Finally, Homo Sapiens, who are the most recent ancestors of human beings, were hunter-gatherers until they transitioned to permanent agricultural communities (around 10,000 B.C.)
The Paleolithic Period
- The Paleolithic period is also called the Stone Age and can be dated roughly back to 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 B.C.
- The early humans during this period lived in caves or simple huts and were hunters and gatherers.
The Paleolithic Diet
- The typical paleolithic nutrition of prehistoric hunter-gatherer humans was determined by Eaton and Konner who came up with a 65% to 35% plant-to-animal-based ratio. These were the originators of the concept of Paleolithic nutrition and they had spent a lot of time researching the diets that were consumed during this period.
- This was done with a hypothetical diet of a 3,000 kCal daily food intake, derived from research on the modern hunter-gatherers.
- From their calculations, the paleolithic diet averagely yields 251.1 g of protein, which is enough to build muscle and meet all the demands for amino acids.
- It has 71.3 g of fat, which combined with 333.6 g of carbohydrates, provided ancestors with enough energy for their daily activities.
- This would translate into 1,976 of kCal from fat and carbohydrate and unused proteins which can be used to supplement energy requirements.
- The amount of fiber would be 45.7 g per day, which is enough for intestinal health and cholesterol at 591.2 mg.
- Finally, they would also get a good balance of micro nutrients with low sodium and a higher amount of potassium, with a perfect balance of 16.1 to 1.
- The diet would also have good levels of vitamin C and calcium, and adequate levels of other vitamins and minerals.
Pre-Paleolithic and Early Paleolithic Nutrition
- The humans during this period were majorly invertebrate predators and insectivores, meaning that they ate small creatures and insects.
- However, as they evolved, their bodies started demanding more nutrients due to an increase in body size.
- This meant that they switched to more plant-based diets as these were easier to obtain in large quantities.
The Late Paleolithic Nutrition
- This is the period whereby humans' most recent ancestors (Homo Sapiens) existed.
- Our direct ancestors were omnivores and depending on the geographical location, resources, and climate, the proportion of animal- and plant-based foods changed greatly.
- Some researchers believe that the early Homo sapiens' diet was made up of at least 50% plant-based nutrients.
- This shows that the majority of their nutrients were derived from plants.
Foods that they did not Consume
- Prehistoric hunter-gatherers did not consume milk apart from their mother's milk. They were also not consuming the other dairy products.
- These communities did not have access to a significant amount of cereals. They had minimal and occasional grains.
- This paper states that animal products contributed to only about 3% of the whole diet before the humans advanced their techniques and were able to hunt animals in larger numbers.
- This source also suggests that plants contribute more to the diet at 65%, with animal products taking up the rest, which is 35%.
There is very little available information from credible and reliable sources that answers the research question and provides a breakdown of the human diet in ratios or percentages for plant-based food and animal-based food during the prehistoric hunter-gatherer period of human civilization. Most of the sources simply stated that the communities consumed more or less of plants or animals but there were no ratios of percentages. There was also no uniformity of the information from different sources and each had its own ratios. The lack of uniformity is due to the fact that each researcher uses a distinct method to reach their conclusion surrounding the prehistoric period. We provided the findings from a research paper that had detailed information on the ratios as the primary information while the ratios from other sources with less detailed information have been provided at the end of the research.