Evolution of Diet

Evolution of Diet

  • Sumeet Dewangan
4 Mins Read


The Story

To understand evolution, we must go into our past and talk about our ancestors – from where they came ? how they lived ? how was their lifestyle and most important diet !

As per anthropological evidence, modern humans are believed to be migrated from East Africa around 60,000 – 100,000 years ago , quite recent as per our evolutionary timelines. Our genus (in crude meaning – caste) i.e., Homo Genus during stone age (Paleolithic age) had a maximally healthy diet which included 65% fruits, vegetables, nuts, and honey and remaining 35% lean meat, eggs, fish , shellfish etc. The diet used to be plant based, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals .

When our ancestors discovered Fire! A big metamorphic change happened to our bodies i.e., our intestines started getting smaller , want to know why ? because fire cooked food was much easier to digest so less work resulting in smaller intestines. Our body started getting surplus energy as we can eat more with less energy needed to digest and chew and it started diverting it to our main department “Brain” making it larger over the time (and sleeker jaws too) and Ta-da... Homo Sapiens evolved “The Wise Being”.

Ok! Enough of history lessons on our evolution but it was important to give this topic a pretext .
The major shift in human diet came after first agricultural revolution (around 10,000 BC) and industrial revolution (recent 19th century). We take pride in saying we domesticated many crops such as grains like wheat and rice. Did we domesticate the crop or crop domesticated us ? why we are saying this – because when we started sowing large fields of grain then we tend to wander less in search of food – ate less diverse food and a whole civilization evolved nearby these crops. Even our diets were full of these grains in some or other form with different recipes, as compared to a balanced variety of food we used to eat. So, we believe Crop domesticated us.

Major change in our food came after the industrial revolution. Manufacturing and automation enabled the mass production and distribution of food. It led to increased consumption of bread, cereal grains, refined sugars, vegetable oils and salt in the 19th century. These rapid dietary changes likely produced a nutritional environment which was very odd to our human genome (cellular structure) which were built over hundreds and thousands of years.

Industrial revolution brought with it dramatic increase in glycemic load (GL) of the food. GL is a measure of the degree to which a serving of food will elevate blood glucose and insulin concentrations, compared to eating pure glucose. It all resulted in High Blood Sugar and many other chronic diseases which are rapidly becoming a common disease which has severe health issues even fatal. India has the second largest diabetes patients aged 20-79 years in 2019 survey.

Reading till now, you must have started to think have we even evolved with our diet? Just convenience and availability of food has increased but overall Nutrition has declined. We can now order tones of food at a click of a button, but the question remains Are we eating Right ?

We just have one simple suggestion – eat whole food, less processed and junk. Include many different grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts in your diet . Eat less and less refined sugar. Even experts are saying now “Modern Men should Eat from Stone-Age Menu”.