Exploration of changing human nutrition from evolutionary and social perspectives and its influence on health and disease, past and present.
While most of us live our lives according to the working week, we did not evolve to be bound by industrial schedules, nor did the food we eat. Despite this, we eat the products of industrialization and often suffer as a consequence. This book considers aspects of changing human nutrition from evolutionary and social perspectives. It considers what a 'natural' human diet might be, how it has been shaped across evolutionary time and how we have adapted to changing food availability. The transition from hunter-gatherer and the rise of agriculture through to the industrialisation and globalisation of diet are explored. Far from being adapted to a 'Stone Age' diet, humans can consume a vast range of foodstuffs. However, being able to eat anything does not mean that we should eat everything, and therefore engagement with the evolutionary underpinnings of diet and factors influencing it are key to better public health practice.
While most of us live our lives according to the working week, we did not evolve to be bound by industrial schedules, nor did the food we eat. Despite this, we eat the products of industrialization and often suffer as a consequence. This book considers aspects of changing human nutrition from evolutionary and social perspectives. It considers what a 'natural' human diet might be, how it has been shaped across evolutionary time and how we have adapted to changing food availability. The transition from hunter-gatherer and the rise of agriculture through to the industrialisation and globalisation of diet are explored. Far from being adapted to a 'Stone Age' diet, humans can consume a vast range of foodstuffs. However, being able to eat anything does not mean that we should eat everything, and therefore engagement with the evolutionary underpinnings of diet and factors influencing it are key to better public health practice.
“With . . . evidence from recent genetic and anthropological research, [Zuk] offers a dose of paleoreality.”—Erin Wayman, Science News We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in mud huts rather than condos, to sprint barefoot rather than play football—or did we? Are our bodies and brains truly at odds with modern life? Although it may seem as though we have barely had time to shed our hunter-gatherer legacy, biologist Marlene Zuk reveals that the story is not so simple. Popular theories about how our ancestors lived—and why we should emulate them—are often based on speculation, not scientific evidence. Armed with a razor-sharp wit and brilliant, eye-opening research, Zuk takes us to the cutting edge of biology to show that evolution can work much faster than was previously realized, meaning that we are not biologically the same as our caveman ancestors. Contrary to what the glossy magazines would have us believe, we do not enjoy potato chips because they crunch just like the insects our forebears snacked on. And women don’t go into shoe-shopping frenzies because their prehistoric foremothers gathered resources for their clans. As Zuk compellingly argues, such beliefs incorrectly assume that we’re stuck—finished evolving—and have been for tens of thousands of years. She draws on fascinating evidence that examines everything from adults’ ability to drink milk to the texture of our ear wax to show that we’ve actually never stopped evolving. Our nostalgic visions of an ideal evolutionary past in which we ate, lived, and reproduced as we were “meant to” fail to recognize that we were never perfectly suited to our environment. Evolution is about change, and every organism is full of trade-offs. From debunking the caveman diet to unraveling gender stereotypes, Zuk delivers an engrossing analysis of widespread paleofantasies and the scientific evidence that undermines them, all the while broadening our understanding of our origins and what they can really tell us about our present and our future.
In this book the author, a Harvard evolutionary biologist presents an account of how the human body has evolved over millions of years, examining how an increasing disparity between the needs of Stone Age bodies and the realities of the modern world are fueling a paradox of greater longevity and chronic disease. It illuminates the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. The author also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, the author argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. The author proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of 'dysevolution,' a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally, he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment. -- From publisher's web site.
This book introduces the human right to adequate food and nutrition as evolving concept and identifies two structural "disconnects" fueling food insecurity for a billion people, and disproportionally affecting women, children, and rural food producers: the separation of women’s rights from their right to adequate food and nutrition, and the fragmented attention to food as commodity and the medicalization of nutritional health. Three conditions arising from these disconnects are discussed: structural violence and discrimination frustrating the realization of women’s human rights, as well as their private and public contributions to food and nutrition security for all; many women’s experience of their and their children’s simultaneously independent and intertwined subjectivities during pregnancy and breastfeeding being poorly understood in human rights law and abused by poorly-regulated food and nutrition industry marketing practices; and the neoliberal economic system’s interference both with the autonomy and self-determination of women and their communities and with the strengthening of sustainable diets based on democratically governed local food systems. The book calls for a social movement-led reconceptualization of the right to adequate food toward incorporating gender, women’s rights, and nutrition, based on the food sovereignty framework.
Explains what your body is "thinking" and tells you why your genes actually want you to be fat, and that by deactivating these "killer genes," you can reprogram your body for the health, life, looks, and longevity you desire. Reprint.
What teeth can teach us about the evolution of the human species Whether we realize it or not, we carry in our mouths the legacy of our evolution. Our teeth are like living fossils that can be studied and compared to those of our ancestors to teach us how we became human. In Evolution's Bite, noted paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar brings together for the first time cutting-edge advances in understanding human evolution and climate change with new approaches to uncovering dietary clues from fossil teeth to present a remarkable investigation into the ways that teeth—their shape, chemistry, and wear—reveal how we came to be. Ungar describes how a tooth's "foodprints"—distinctive patterns of microscopic wear and tear—provide telltale details about what an animal actually ate in the past. These clues, combined with groundbreaking research in paleoclimatology, demonstrate how a changing climate altered the food options available to our ancestors, what Ungar calls the biospheric buffet. When diets change, species change, and Ungar traces how diet and an unpredictable climate determined who among our ancestors was winnowed out and who survived, as well as why we transitioned from the role of forager to farmer. By sifting through the evidence—and the scars on our teeth—Ungar makes the important case for what might or might not be the most natural diet for humans. Traveling the four corners of the globe and combining scientific breakthroughs with vivid narrative, Evolution's Bite presents a unique dental perspective on our astonishing human development.
In this gustatory tour of human history, Allen suggests that the everyday activity of eating offers deep insights into our cultural and biological heritage. Beginning with the diets of our earliest ancestors, he explores eating’s role in our evolving brain before considering our contemporary dinner plates and the preoccupations of foodies.
In this stunningly original book, Richard Wrangham argues that it was cooking that caused the extraordinary transformation of our ancestors from apelike beings to Homo erectus. At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: the habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labour. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as "the cooking apes". Covering everything from food-labelling and overweight pets to raw-food faddists, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument about how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. "This notion is surprising, fresh and, in the hands of Richard Wrangham, utterly persuasive ... Big, new ideas do not come along often in evolution these days, but this is one." -Matt Ridley, author of Genome
Why do humans, uniquely among animals, cooperate in large numbers to advance projects for the common good? Contrary to the conventional wisdom in biology and economics, this generous and civic-minded behavior is widespread and cannot be explained simply by far-sighted self-interest or a desire to help close genealogical kin. In A Cooperative Species, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis--pioneers in the new experimental and evolutionary science of human behavior--show that the central issue is not why selfish people act generously, but instead how genetic and cultural evolution has produced a species in which substantial numbers make sacrifices to uphold ethical norms and to help even total strangers. The authors describe how, for thousands of generations, cooperation with fellow group members has been essential to survival. Groups that created institutions to protect the civic-minded from exploitation by the selfish flourished and prevailed in conflicts with less cooperative groups. Key to this process was the evolution of social emotions such as shame and guilt, and our capacity to internalize social norms so that acting ethically became a personal goal rather than simply a prudent way to avoid punishment. Using experimental, archaeological, genetic, and ethnographic data to calibrate models of the coevolution of genes and culture as well as prehistoric warfare and other forms of group competition, A Cooperative Species provides a compelling and novel account of how humans came to be moral and cooperative.
James A. Shapiro proposes an important new paradigm for understanding biological evolution, the core organizing principle of biology. Shapiro introduces crucial new molecular evidence that tests the conventional scientific view of evolution based on the neo-Darwinian synthesis, shows why this view is inadequate to today's evidence, and presents a compelling alternative view of the evolutionary process that reflects the shift in life sciences towards a more information- and systems-based approach in Evolution: A View from the 21st Century. Shapiro integrates advances in symbiogenesis, epigenetics, and saltationism into a unified approach that views evolutionary change as an active cell process, regulated epigenetically and capable of making rapid large changes by horizontal DNA transfer, inter-specific hybridization, whole genome doubling, symbiogenesis, or massive genome restructuring. Evolution marshals extensive evidence in support of a fundamental reinterpretation of evolutionary processes, including more than 1,100 references to the scientific literature. Shapiro's work will generate extensive discussion throughout the biological community, and may significantly change your own thinking about how life has evolved. It also has major implications for evolutionary computation, information science, and the growing synthesis of the physical and biological sciences.
Advances in Food and Nutrition Research recognizes the integral relationship between the food and nutritional sciences and brings together outstanding and comprehensive reviews that highlight this relationship. Contributions detail scientific developments in the broad areas of food science and nutrition and are intended to provide those in academia and industry with the latest information on emerging research in these constantly evolving sciences. *The latest important information for food scientists and nutritionists *Peer-reviewed articles by a panel of respected scientists *The go-to series since 1948
This persuasive, elegantly written book argues that understanding evolution has never mattered more in human history. The author uses evidence from archaeology, geography, anatomy, biochemistry, radiometric dating, cell biology, chromosomes, and DNA to establish the inescapable conclusion that we evolved and are still evolving. He also explains in detail how health, food production, and human impact on the environment are dependent on our knowledge of evolution. This is essential reading for gaining a fuller appreciation of who we are, our place in the great expanse of life, and the importance of our actions. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Religion has been a central part of human experience since at least the dawn of recorded history. The gods change, as do the rituals, but the underlying desire remains—a desire to belong to something larger, greater, most lasting than our mortal, finite selves. But where did that desire come from? Can we explain its emergence through evolution? Yes, says biological anthropologist Barbara J. King—and doing so not only helps us to understand the religious imagination, but also reveals fascinating links to the lives and minds of our primate cousins. Evolving God draws on King’s own fieldwork among primates in Africa and paleoanthropology of our extinct ancestors to offer a new way of thinking about the origins of religion, one that situates it in a deep need for emotional connection with others, a need we share with apes and monkeys. Though her thesis is provocative, and she’s not above thoughtful speculation, King’s argument is strongly rooted in close observation and analysis. She traces an evolutionary path that connects us to other primates, who, like us, display empathy, make meanings through interaction, create social rules, and display imagination—the basic building blocks of the religious imagination. With fresh insights, she responds to recent suggestions that chimpanzees are spiritual—or even religious—beings, and that our ancient humanlike cousins carefully disposed of their dead well before the time of Neandertals. King writes with a scientist’s appreciation for evidence and argument, leavened with a deep empathy and admiration for the powerful desire to belong, a desire that not only brings us together with other humans, but with our closest animal relations as well.
Taking a comparative approach, this book investigates the ways in which obesity and its susceptibilities are framed in science and policy and how they might work better. Providing a clear, authoritative voice on the debate, the author builds on early work to engage further in ecological and complexity thinking in obesity. Many of the models that have emerged since obesity became a population-level issue are examined, including the energy balance model, and models used to examine human body fatness from a range of perspectives including evolutionary, anthropological, environmental, and political viewpoints. The book is ideal for those working on, or interested in, obesity science, health policy, health economics, evolutionary medicine, medical sociology, nutrition and public health who want to understand the shifts that have taken place in obesity science, policy, and intervention in the past forty years.
With the rapid growth and interest in food studies around the U.S. and globally, the original essays in this one-of-a-kind volume aid instructors in expanding their teaching to include both the latest scholarship and engage with public debate around issues related to food. The chapters represent the product of original efforts to develop ways to teach both with and about food in the classroom, written by innovative instructors who have successfully done so. It would appeal to community college and university instructors in anthropology and social science disciplines who currently teach or want to develop food-related courses. This book -illustrates the creative ways that college instructors have tackled teaching about food and used food as an instructional device; -aims to train the next generation of food scholars to deal with the complex problems of feeding an ever-increasing population -contains an interview with Sidney Mintz, the most influential anthropologist shaping the study of food
Nature's Magic, first published in 2003, presents a bold vision of the evolutionary process from the Big Bang to the 21st century. Synergy of various kinds is not only a ubiquitous aspect of the natural world but it has also been a wellspring of creativity and the 'driver' of the broad evolutionary trend toward increased complexity, in nature and human societies alike. But in contrast with the many theories of emergence or complexity that rely on some underlying force or 'law', the 'Synergism Hypothesis', as Peter Corning calls it, is in essence an economic theory of biological complexity; it is fully consistent with mainstream evolutionary biology. Corning refers to it as Holistic Darwinism. Among the many important insights that are provided by this new paradigm, Corning presents a scenario in which the human species invented itself; synergistic, behavioral and technological innovations were the 'pacemakers' of our biological evolution. Synergy has also been the key to the evolution of complex modern societies, he concludes.
Molecular Basis of Nutrition and Aging: A Volume in the Molecular Nutrition Series focuses on the nutritional issues associated with aging and the important metabolic consequences of diet, nutrition, and health. The book is subdivided into four parts that reflect the impact of nutrition from a biomolecular level to individual health. In Part One, chapters explore the general aspects of aging, aging phenotypes, and relevant aspects of nutrition related to the elderly and healthy aging. Part Two includes molecular and cellular targets of nutrition in aging, with chapters exploring lipid peroxidation, inflammaging, anabolic and catabolic signaling, epigenetics, DNA damage and repair, redox homeostasis, and insulin sensitivity, among others. Part Three looks at system-level and organ targets of nutrition in aging, including a variety of tissues, systems, and diseases, such as immune function, the cardiovascular system, the brain and dementia, muscle, bone, lung, and many others. Finally, Part Four focuses on the health effects of specific dietary compounds and dietary interventions in aging, including vitamin D, retinol, curcumin, folate, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, vitamin B, fish oil, vitamin E, resveratrol, polyphenols, vegetables, and fruit, as well as the current nutritional recommendations. Offers updated information and a perspectives on important future developments to different professionals involved in the basic and clinical research on all major nutritional aspects of aging Explores how nutritional factors are involved in the pathogenesis of aging across body systems Investigates the molecular and genetic basis of aging and cellular senescence through the lens of the rapidly evolving field of molecular nutrition
Many topics of interest to health professionals, such as vegetarianism, dietary fibers, lactose intolerance, favism, cannibalism and changes in nutritional status wrought by the decline of hunter-gathering and the rise of horticulture. Many sections will appeal to the general reader. --Journal of Applied Nutrition The old adage you are what you eat may be more accurate than anyone could have ever imagined. This unprecedented interdisciplinary effort by scholars in primatology, biological anthropology, archaeology, nutrition, psychology, agricultural economics, and cultural anthropology suggests that there is a systematic theory behind why humans eat what they eat. Includes discussions ranging in time from prehistory to the present, and from the most simple societies to the most complex, including South American Indian groups, African hunter-gatherers, and countries such as India, Bangladesh, Peru, and Mexico. Exceptionally well-edited. High quality individual papers are of comparable scope and are uniformly well referenced and detailed in presentation of supporting data Introductory and concluding chapters as well as section overviews create an integrated whole. --Choice Compelling...complete and...recommended. --Science Books & Films Should be of value to all nutrition educators who have an interest in the social, cultural, and international aspects of foods and nutrition. --Journal of Nutrition Education

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