PDA

View Full Version : What is the optimal anthropoid primate diet?


Darryl Shaw
06-15-2009, 06:52 AM
ABSTRACT Following Socrates’ advice “You should learn all you can from those who know. Everyone should watch himself throughout his life, and notice what sort of meat and drink and what form of exercise suit his constitution and he should regulate them in order to enjoy good health.” Based on biological, chemical and physical considerations I have attempted to synthesize guide lines for an optimal diet from the vast literature. For an offshoot of the primate line it may be wise not to stray too far from the line’s surprisingly uniform predominantly frugi- and herbi-vorous diet that is only lightly supplemented by hunted small mammals, eggs, nuts, insects etc. By dry weight raw wild fruit contains fats, proteins, carbohydrates, digested and undigested fiber in the approximate proportions 5 : 7 : 14 : 17 : 17. The fat component contains both essential fatty acids, about 23% linoleic and 16% alpha-linolenic, the latter severely lacking in Western diets. The practical problem is how to as best as possible, but not religiously, approximate this diet with super-market items.

http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0112/0112009.pdf

.................................................. ....................

Nutritional characteristics of wild primate foods: do the diets of our closest living relatives have lessons for us?

The widespread prevalence of diet-related health problems, particularly in highly industrialized nations, suggests that many humans are not eating in a manner compatible with their biology. Anthropoids, including all great apes, take most of their diet from plants, and there is general consensus that humans come from a strongly herbivorous ancestry. Though gut proportions differ, overall gut anatomy and the pattern of digestive kinetics of extant apes and humans are very similar. Analysis of tropical forest leaves and fruits routinely consumed by wild primates shows that many of these foods are good sources of hexoses, cellulose, hemicellulose, pectic substances, vitamin C, minerals, essential fatty acids, and protein. In general, relative to body weight, the average wild monkey or ape appears to take in far higher levels of many essential nutrients each day than the average American and such nutrients (as well as other substances) are being consumed together in their natural chemical matrix. The recommendation that Americans consume more fresh fruits and vegetables in greater variety appears well supported by data on the diets of free-ranging monkeys and apes. Such data also suggest that greater attention to features of the diet and digestive physiology of non-human primates could direct attention to important areas for future research on features of human diet and health.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10378206

Greg Battaglia
06-15-2009, 01:38 PM
Not knocking your post, but it always amazes me when researchers get the idea that since apes eat a certain way that humans will function optimally on the same diet. If you want to know what humans are biologically designed to eat it would make much more sense to study humans that live in the wild, not other primates.

That being said, plant/animal ratios vary from tribe to tribe pretty widely, although most tend to eat far more meat and fat than plants. Sticking to meat, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and tubers is the way to go if you want to eat according to human design. Eating like an ape it would be a VERY hard, if not impossible, to get adequate calories and nutrients to fuel an active body.

Darryl Shaw
06-16-2009, 05:12 AM
I agree that eating like a wild chimpanzee would be almost impossible however as our nutritional requirements are quite similar to those of wild chimps studying their diet provide a useful reference point when determining the optimal human diet. For example the first paper states that in a chimpanzees diet "food energy would be derived from fat, protein, carbohydrate approximately in the ratio 11 : 6.7 : 30.7 = 455 cal : 280 cal : 1270 cal for a 2000 calorie diet from 51 g fat, 70 g protein and 320 g carbohydrate including digested fiber." which is remarkably similar in terms of macronutrients to the traditional Okinawan diet and we all know how well they do health wise. So, although we have the same nutritional requirements as our closest relatives it's clear that we don't necessarily have to eat like them in order to meet our nutritional needs.

Gittit Shwartz
06-16-2009, 06:23 AM
Taking Greg's point one step further: for the optimal diet for a human of Okinawan descent, study the Okinawan diet. For the optimal diet for an Eskimo, study the Inuit diet. Et cetera.

Darryl Shaw
06-17-2009, 05:19 AM
Taking Greg's point one step further: for the optimal diet for a human of Okinawan descent, study the Okinawan diet. For the optimal diet for an Eskimo, study the Inuit diet. Et cetera.

Taking this logic one step further; to find the optimal diet for a species of African descent study the diet of African hominids.

Gittit Shwartz
06-17-2009, 06:01 AM
Taking this logic one step further; to find the optimal diet for a species of African descent study the diet of African hominids.

That's taking this logic one step BACK, rendering the comparison entirely useless, as evolution moves FORWARD.

To demonstrate your fallacy, consider taking this logic ANOTHER step in your direction, and looking at the diet of all mammals... totally irrelevant to homo sapiens sapiens.

Robert Johnson
06-17-2009, 06:56 AM
Are there any studies about how different ethnic groups react to diets?

Scott Hanson
06-17-2009, 09:47 AM
Darryl,

Why would anyone consider comparing diets of different species more relevant than comparing diets within different populations of a species (ie, "civilized" humans to modern hunter-gatherers)?

To make an analogous comparison of a generally omnivorous family, look at the bears (different species within a taxonomic family, similar to humans and chimpanzees). The diets of bears range from purely herbivorous (pandas), to largely herbivorous (inland grizzlies, black bears) to purely carnivorous (polar bears). Does the diet of any one of these species imply that the diet is optimal for another?

Species are adapted to their environment and its food resources. To conclude that humans (successfully adapted to virtually every ecosystem on earth) should model our diets on apes (a group of animals inhabiting exclusively tropical forest habitats) defies logic and evolutionary adaptation.

Your referenced author (Milton) acknowledges the role of animal food sources in human evolution here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14672286?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=3&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed

Darryl Shaw
06-19-2009, 06:38 AM
Darryl,

Why would anyone consider comparing diets of different species more relevant than comparing diets within different populations of a species (ie, "civilized" humans to modern hunter-gatherers)?

To make an analogous comparison of a generally omnivorous family, look at the bears (different species within a taxonomic family, similar to humans and chimpanzees). The diets of bears range from purely herbivorous (pandas), to largely herbivorous (inland grizzlies, black bears) to purely carnivorous (polar bears). Does the diet of any one of these species imply that the diet is optimal for another?

Species are adapted to their environment and its food resources. To conclude that humans (successfully adapted to virtually every ecosystem on earth) should model our diets on apes (a group of animals inhabiting exclusively tropical forest habitats) defies logic and evolutionary adaptation.

Your referenced author (Milton) acknowledges the role of animal food sources in human evolution here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14672286?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=3&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed

You're correct in saying that "species are adapted to their environment and its food resources" and that's why it's important when discussing the optimal diet for our species that we take into account the fact that our basic anatomy and physiology was established in Africa ~200,000 years ago. We evolved as a species that was strongly herbivorous with some opportunistic consumption of meat and only became efficient hunters (as opposed to scavengers) long after our basic physiology and nutritional requirements were established and to quote Katherine Milton "although humans can thrive on a diversity of diets, we know of few specific genetic adaptations to diet in our species.* Therefore when attempting to determine the optimal diet for our species it seems reasonable that we study the diets of both contemporary African hunter-gatherers and our closest genetic relative the chimpanzee.

*Source: Hunter-gatherer diets—a different perspective. (http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/71/3/665)

Greg Battaglia
06-19-2009, 11:57 AM
Milton COMPLETELY side steps all of Cordains arguments. She also claims that he recommends diets high in grain-fed animal fat, which she would clearly no is not the case at all if she actually read his papers.

Mike Romano
09-26-2009, 09:23 AM
This is a pretty dumb paper...meat eating is one of the very things that made us human! Our digestive tracts shortened because we started eating meat, providing room for our brains. We diverged from gorillas/chimps for a reason......

How does it make sense that a single diet is prescribed for an entire suborder of species? Gorillas are herbivores, although frugivorous at times: completely distinct from gibbons which are strictly frugivorous: these species differ only at the family level. Even old world monkeys (cercopithecoidea, members of the same super family) have different diets: Ceboids have rumen-like stomachs and eat only grasses, have slicing molars, and cercopithecines have crushing molars and eat only fruit. Prescribing a single diet to all of these animals would be a HORRIBLE idea. Not to mention, even chimps are also distinct from humans, although we only differ at the , as their diet typically consists of much less meat.

Darryl Shaw
09-28-2009, 06:17 AM
This is a pretty dumb paper...meat eating is one of the very things that made us human! Our digestive tracts shortened because we started eating meat, providing room for our brains. We diverged from gorillas/chimps for a reason......

How does it make sense that a single diet is prescribed for an entire suborder of species? Gorillas are herbivores, although frugivorous at times: completely distinct from gibbons which are strictly frugivorous: these species differ only at the family level. Even old world monkeys (cercopithecoidea, members of the same super family) have different diets: Ceboids have rumen-like stomachs and eat only grasses, have slicing molars, and cercopithecines have crushing molars and eat only fruit. Prescribing a single diet to all of these animals would be a HORRIBLE idea. Not to mention, even chimps are also distinct from humans, although we only differ at the , as their diet typically consists of much less meat.

There's no question that eating meat played an important role in our evolution but I think it overstates things to say that it is one of things that made us human, after all chimpanzees have no difficulty hunting all the meat they want yet they haven't developed larger brains over the past six million or so years. Recent findings on the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2377015) point to a far more plausible explanation for the shortening of our digestive tract and the development of our brains being our increased ability to digest starchy calorie dense roots and tubers as this would have provided the fuel needed for brain development.
So while I don't dispute the fact that early man did hunt much like chimpanzees and bonobos it seems probable that it was the random mutation of the AMY1 gene that proved to be the turning point in our evolution rather than an increase in meat consumption.

Roots and Tubers in Diet of Early Human Ancestors. (http://www.performancemenu.com/forum/showpost.php?p=44100&postcount=1)

Mike Romano
09-29-2009, 07:31 AM
I don't really think that it is an understatement to say that meat eating made us human...chimps don't consume all that much meat: only 10% of chimp feces contain remnants of other animals.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/20045146/The-ExpensiveTissue-Hypothesis

Explains how are meat consumption gave us room to allow our brains to grow, by allowing our digestive tracts to shrink. This is the prevailing, accepted theory among anthropologists, at least the ones I know

Also, bonobos don't eat meat really....mostly frugivorous. They are the "lovers", while chimps are the "fighters". Their point of divergence was assumed to be mate choice actually....some females preferred less violent males, and others preferred more violent males. The more violent ones=chimps, and vice versa.

Don't really understand how that study goes to prove anything along the lines of a shortened digestive tract though. It says that the divergence was maybe 200,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens evolved much earlier. Also, it says that there was directional pressure only in areas where people were fed high starch diets, and it became somewhat common by drift elsewhere, even where high-starch diets were not consumed. So, the study itself admits that many societies did not eat high-starch diets at this time...maybe I'm misinterpreting the study, but that's what I got out of it.

Darryl Shaw
10-02-2009, 06:05 AM
I don't really think that it is an understatement to say that meat eating made us human...chimps don't consume all that much meat: only 10% of chimp feces contain remnants of other animals.

True, and that's an important consideration when looking at which foods kick started our evolution.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/20045146/The-ExpensiveTissue-Hypothesis

Explains how are meat consumption gave us room to allow our brains to grow, by allowing our digestive tracts to shrink. This is the prevailing, accepted theory among anthropologists, at least the ones I know.

I'm familiar with the expensive tissue hypothesis and it does seem to be the most likely explanation for how we developed our large brains. The question though is which foods made it all possible?

Also, bonobos don't eat meat really....mostly frugivorous. They are the "lovers", while chimps are the "fighters". Their point of divergence was assumed to be mate choice actually....some females preferred less violent males, and others preferred more violent males. The more violent ones=chimps, and vice versa.

Bonobos do hunt and they do eat meat - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081013124416.htm

Don't really understand how that study goes to prove anything along the lines of a shortened digestive tract though. It says that the divergence was maybe 200,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens evolved much earlier. Also, it says that there was directional pressure only in areas where people were fed high starch diets, and it became somewhat common by drift elsewhere, even where high-starch diets were not consumed. So, the study itself admits that many societies did not eat high-starch diets at this time...maybe I'm misinterpreting the study, but that's what I got out of it.

Okay perhaps that wasn't the best study to use so maybe this does a better job of explaining things - http://press.ucsc.edu/text.asp?pid=1553.

Anyway, I think there are two possible scenarios to consider -

Option A: Six million years ago a group of chimps became highly efficient hunters and significantly increased the amount of meat they were eating thereby increasing the quality and calorie density of their diets leading to the whole small gut big brain evolution thing.

or

Option B: Six million years ago a random gene mutation eventually lead to one group of chimps being able to better digest the starchy roots and tubers they were routinely eating thereby increasing the quality and calorie density of their diets leading to the whole small gut big brain evolution thing.

So which seems like the more probable scenario?