Human Diet

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Diet is key to understanding the past, present, and future of our species. Much of human evolutionary success can be attributed to our ability to consume a wide range of foods. On the other hand, recent changes in the types of foods we eat may lie at the root of many of the health problems we face today. To deal with these problems, we must understand the evolution of the human diet.

Studies of traditional peoples, non-human primates, human fossil and archaeological remains, nutritional chemistry, and evolutionary medicine, to name just a few, all contribute to our understanding of the evolution of the human diet. Still, as analyses become more specialized, researchers become more narrowly focused and isolated. This volume attempts to bring together authors schooled in a variety of academic disciplines so that we might begin to build a more cohesive view of the evolution of the human diet. The book demonstrates how past diets are reconstructed using both direct analogies with living traditional peoples and non-human primates, and studies of the bones and teeth of fossils. An understanding of our ancestral diets reveals how health relates to nutrition, and conclusions can be drawn as to how we may alter our current diets to further our health.

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Editorial Reviews

Researchers in fields including nutritional anthropology, ethnography, physiology, primatology, and paleontology establish a cohesive view of the history of the human diet. Chapters explain both how an understanding of the food preferences of our distance ancestors can help with health and nutrition today and also what methods are being used to reconstruct humans' early diets. The volume is an outgrowth of a symposium held at the 14th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780897897365
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/30/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Lexile: 1450L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

PETER S. UNGAR is Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Arkansas.

MARK F. TEAFORD is Professor, Dept. of Cell Biology and Anatomy, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Table of Contents

1 Perspectives on the Evolution of Human Diet 1
2 Evolution, Diet, and Health 7
3 Post-Pleistocene Human Evolution: Bioarcheology of the Agricultural Transition 19
4 Early Childhood Health in Foragers 37
5 Meat-Eating, Grandmothering, and the Evolution of Early Human Diets 49
6 A Two-Stage Model of Increased Dietary Quality in Early Hominid Evolution: The Role of Fiber 61
7 Plants of the Apes: Is There a Hominoid Model for the Origins of the Hominid Diet? 77
8 Hunter-Gatherer Diets: Wild Foods Signal Relief from Diseases of Affluence 111
9 Hominid Dietary Niches from Proxy Chemical Indicators in Fossils: The Swartkrans Example 123
10 Paleontological Evidence for the Diets of African Plio-Pleistocene Hominins with Special Reference to Early Homo 143
Bibliography 167
Index 201
About the Editors and Contributors 205
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