eli5 why we have such complex dietary requirements. Did our ancestors thousands of years ago have extremely well balanced diets?


eli5 why we have such complex dietary requirements. Did our ancestors thousands of years ago have extremely well balanced diets?

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The majority of food consumed was unprocessed, unlike it is now. You will find that the chemical diversity in a fish and some veg are higher than in say cookies or pasta.

The diet itself was not particularly diverse, but it was mostly based on veg, whatever you could forage and a little bit of meat here and there. Famines and etc were also common.

Also, individuals who did have higher nutritional requirements from allergies, etc didn’t really meet them. They died.

We have complex dietary requirements if the success criteria is ‘achieve best possible state of health.’ We have very simple dietary requirements if the success criteria is just ‘don’t die.’ And this makes a lot of sense – we are evolved to be generalist omnivores, able to take advantage of lots of different nutrition sources when they are available. Our ancestors probably had balanced diets over the long run, because they would have eaten a lot of different foods whenever they were available, but day to day they would have seen a lot of lean times and days when the meal of the day was just ‘whatever we have.’

It also depends on which periods of history and which places you’re talking about. Ancient hunter-gatherers would have eaten a variety of wild plants, fruits, meat when it was available. While some historical societies would have subsisted almost completely on bread, a small amount of meat or fish, and some vegetables. Others would have eaten a lot more meat and dairy, if they were dependent on livestock as their main food source. All of them would have gone through times of famine when they would subsist on very little, and probably suffer from disease as a result.

Depends on how far back you go. Foragers eat very diverse diets (except for those in very harsh climates, like the high Arctic), and draw on a wide range of food groups – small animals, insects and reptiles for protein, seeds, leaves, fruits, berries, roots… They moved around a lot and their low populations meant that they did not have to worry overmuch about bad years. With the full transition to agriculture diets become much more restricted – predominantly grains, with pulses and veg like onions, and protein more rarely. Their skeletons show many more signs of ill-health and recurrent famine. By comparison, our diets are better, although still restricted compared to foragers – we rely on a handful of grains (wheat, rice, corn, barley) for the bulk of our food.

the issue is in the past we didn’t have processed artificial shit you could just guzzle down and gorge upon. you only ate what was available in the wilderness and many things were not common or were difficult to obtain. you wouldn’t always have ten pounds of sugar in basically everything.

s’why when your health goes to shit they recommend a whole foods diet. literally if you couldn’t go out in the forest and find it, don’t eat it. at the most functional level that’s really what we all should be eating like. but shit food tastes good and monkey brain want more.

Peanuts are an interesting example with a few theories surrounding them. Firstly they differ from their wild cousins which I’m not sure if they have the same allergens.

Plants naturally form toxins to reduce or select which animals move what part of them and how. Animals evolve to overcome these toxins, but this evolutionary arms race is separate from histamine reactions, which are of no evolutionary value.

One school of thought says that potential allergies become full allergies in the first years of life. If you grow up with peanuts you don’t develop the allergy. Our ancestors would have had a fairly similar diet through their lives.

Bread is an example of a new phenomenon where over processing has lead to something our ancestors never had to deal with. Of course people died of their immune system over reacting, but this is insignificant compared to disease and lack of resources.