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Human Dietary Change [and Discussion]

Stanley J. Ulijaszek, G. Hillman, J. L. Boldsen and C. J. Henry
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences
Vol. 334, No. 1270, Foraging Strategies and Natural Diet of Monkeys, Apes and Humans (Nov. 29, 1991), pp. 271-279
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/55464
Page Count: 9
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Human Dietary Change [and Discussion]
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Abstract

The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and animal husbandry in the Near East and Mediterranean Region began some 12000 years ago. The ecological changes associated with this change are known to have been related to higher levels of stress from undernutrition and infectious disease. Certain pathologies found in human skeletal remains from this time are indicative of anaemia and osteoporosis, although it is not clear whether they had clear nutritional aetiologies. In this paper, dietary changes associated with changes in subsistence practices in this region are described. In addition, quantitative modelling of possible patterns of dietary and nutrient intakes of adult males before, and soon after, the establishment of agrarian economies is used to examine the proposition that the skeletal pathologies porotic hyperostosis, cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis may have been due to nutritional deficiencies. The results suggest that protein deficiency was only likely if subjects were suffering from chronic energy deficiency (CED) and their diet contained no meat. Dietary calcium deficiency was possible after the transition to cultivation and animal husbandry, in the presence of moderate or severe CED. Anaemias, although present after the transition, were unlikely to have had dietary aetiologies, regardless of the severity of CED.

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