Diet and Eating Habits in the Stone-Age
Daily Diet Based on Animal Foods
During the Paleolithic period of the Stone Age, humans were hunter-gathers whose diet foods included both the animals and plants that were part of their natural environment. Fossil evidence from groups of hunter-gatherers suggests that the daily diet was derived primarily from animal based foods. In particular, they enjoyed animal organ meats like the liver, kidneys, and brains – meat-foods that are extremely rich sources of nutrition. Stone Age humans didn’t consume much dairy food, nor did they eat high carbohydrate foods such as legumes or yeast-containing foods, or cereal grains.
Food Energy Intake in the Stone Age
Latest studies into the nutrient composition of paleolithic hunter-gatherer diets show they obtained about two-thirds of their energy intake from animal foods, including fish and shellfish and only one-third from plant foods.
Consumption of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate
Stone Age humans ate more protein and less carbohydrate than we do now. Their fat intake was similar to today but the type of fat was vastly different. For example, the average Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio in pre-agricultural humans was about 3:1, compared to about 12:1 today. Carb intakes were lower as the main plant foods were fruits and vegetables rather than cereals. It was only after the agricultural revolution (occurring about 10-15,000 years ago) that wheat, rice, and other cereal grains became a regular feature of the early hunter gatherer diet.
Environmental Change Caused Modification of Stone Age Diet
With the extinction of large mammals throughout the continents of Europe, Asia, and North America, and the depletion of easily hunted animals, hunter gatherers were obliged to modify their diet and eating habits, especially in more densely occupied areas. This changing environment ushered in the agricultural revolution and the cultivation of plant-based foods. Hereafter, carbohydrates would become a regular feature of the early human diet.