Author Topic: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?  (Read 14026 times)

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Offline Techydude

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Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« on: February 02, 2011, 02:35:23 pm »
This is something i've been questioning for a long time. I obviously know we aren't herbivores. But the question is do we eat both plants and meat, or just meat, or are we just super adaptive based on our needs. Like say when we eat a vegetable raw that is non-toxic - does our body violently react to it ie stomach cramps? I dunno. I know that monkeys are omnivorous but there have been new evolutionary findings to connect us to other animals/different primates etc so that's not a good source of comparison.


I want to hear everyone's opinion. I'm confused.

Offline Brother

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 02:43:56 pm »
Top level carnivores. Take a look at your dog. Pretty carnivore isnt he? now serve him sheet cake and mountain dew. Did he eat it? thought so. But thats not his natural diet, it just means that just like you, he too like things that have nice taste.

edit: I want to add. Atm in our house administered altair of propanganda there is a show in which Jamie Oliver tries to teach English children to eat less junk food. The wall he runs into time and again is that the little critters wont touch vegetables when given a choice. I thought that was very interresting.

Ofcourse they constantly used words like "junkfood" and that was true. it was horrible. but it was meat and clearly the top choice of the children.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2011, 03:09:16 pm by Brother »

Offline cliff

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2011, 10:33:52 pm »
Dogs aren't a top level carnivore, try to feed mountain dew and cake to a cat.  My grandmas cat won't eat shit except meat, my moms dogs eat whatever the fck they want.

Offline Löwenherz

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 04:10:53 am »
This is something i've been questioning for a long time. I obviously know we aren't herbivores. But the question is do we eat both plants and meat, or just meat, or are we just super adaptive based on our needs. Like say when we eat a vegetable raw that is non-toxic - does our body violently react to it ie stomach cramps? I dunno. I know that monkeys are omnivorous but there have been new evolutionary findings to connect us to other animals/different primates etc so that's not a good source of comparison.

I want to hear everyone's opinion. I'm confused.

Human beings can SURVIVE and REPRODUCE on everything. Every garbage! We are worse than rats. We are non-eradicable. I know happy reproducing and healthy looking people living on pizza and beer. How to die beyond age 40 seems to be irrelevant.

To THRIVE we need animal foods, better: raw animal foods!

Back to your question again:

We can DIGEST fruits, vegetables, fish and meat.
We LIKE the taste of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat.

For me, this alone is sufficient evidence to show that we are omnivorous.

Löwenherz

Offline MoonStalkeR

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 11:35:03 am »
Carnivores.

Humans have no ability to digest cellulose, so definitely not herbivores. Even real omnivores like monkeys can put plant matter in their bodies detrimental to digestive functions of humans. Löwenherz is right, there are many people who survive on a junk based diet and only see serious symptoms appearing at a late age. This food however, is created by artificial means and refining of material we can't eat raw. True omnivores like rats have a much broader digestive capabilities.

Offline kurite

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 11:56:18 am »
Carnivores.

Humans have no ability to digest cellulose, so definitely not herbivores. Even real omnivores like monkeys can put plant matter in their bodies detrimental to digestive functions of humans. Löwenherz is right, there are many people who survive on a junk based diet and only see serious symptoms appearing at a late age. This food however, is created by artificial means and refining of material we can't eat raw. True omnivores like rats have a much broader digestive capabilities.
What monkeys are you speaking of? Other than apes, most monkeys eat lots of fruit with little animal products. We can eat fruit and not have problems so long as they aren't super high in sugar because of genetic breeding.
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Offline MoonStalkeR

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2011, 12:52:32 pm »
I meant to specify apes. Apes (with an exception of humans) can digest vegetation. Fruit isn't a significant food as it's not common enough to provide calories to a human population. Even with the instances of human's consuming fruit, humans are still carnivores. Fruit attracts many consumers, including predators. The only way to use plants to sustain a human population is cooking and refining the indigestible matter, and this is most likely unnatural. A major benefit of cooking is making vegetation edible that would otherwise be useless.

Offline cliff

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2011, 10:26:34 pm »
I meant to specify apes. Apes (with an exception of humans) can digest vegetation. Fruit isn't a significant food as it's not common enough to provide calories to a human population.

Great apes are hind gut fermenters, meaning they ferment fiber into short chain fatty acids for the majority energy.  Humans have the same exact capability to ferment fiber except we can only ferment a tiny amount because we do not have the large intestine volume as apes do. 

Humans have a much larger small intestine than apes as we rely on highly digestible foods but we still have the capability to ferment fiber just like our great ape cousins.

Other than apes, most monkeys eat lots of fruit with little animal products. We can eat fruit and not have problems so long as they aren't super high in sugar because of genetic breeding.

Monkeys eat highly fibrous fruits which are fermented to Short chain fatty acids for energy(apes rely on SFA for over 50% of there energy intake).  If you tried to eat there fruits you would probably find them pretty inedible, humans are actually adapted to the "super high in sugar" fruits because of our gut physiology.

Offline MoonStalkeR

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2011, 05:06:53 am »
No energy is gained from this. Resources are wasted just for the digestive system to handle the plants.

Offline kurite

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2011, 07:46:47 am »
Well just my two cents worth. I don't think humans are carnivores. There has been no evidence of our species being completely carnviorous other than the inuit as well as some other not as well known tribes. But the point being for the majority of our evolution we ate both meat and plant materials. Im not saying we can't eat a carnivorous diet or even that they are inferior to omnivorous diets but not even neanderthals were carnivores. They recently found evidence they ate plant material.
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2011, 04:09:15 pm »
I think it's obvious that humans are omnivores.  I mean we have teeth(molars) designed for eating plants, plus amylase for starches etc.
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Offline cliff

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2011, 10:01:25 pm »
No energy is gained from this. Resources are wasted just for the digestive system to handle the plants.

Humans acquire 2-5% of there total dietary energy from the bacterial fermentation of fiber into Short chain fatty acids.  Explain to us what resources are wasted?  The ones doing all the work are your gut bacteria.

Offline Löwenherz

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2011, 12:15:27 am »
Humans acquire 2-5% of there total dietary energy from the bacterial fermentation of fiber into Short chain fatty acids.  Explain to us what resources are wasted?  The ones doing all the work are your gut bacteria.

Very interesting. That would confirm my own experience.

Could you show us some reports/studies about these 2-5% and benefical short chain fatty acids?

Löwenherz

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2011, 08:31:00 am »
I think it's obvious that humans are omnivores.  I mean we have teeth(molars) designed for eating plants, plus amylase for starches etc.
And what were those starches that humans developed the amylase to digest?
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline cliff

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011, 08:59:52 am »
Very interesting. That would confirm my own experience.

Could you show us some reports/studies about these 2-5% and benefical short chain fatty acids?

Löwenherz


Despite a genetic difference of as little as 2% between humans and gorillas (Sibley and Ahlquist 1984), the human colon may contribute as little as 2–9% to total energy (Livesey and Elia 1995, McBurney 1994, McNeil 1984) compared with possibly 30–60% for the gorilla.
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/127/10/2000.full

Offline kurite

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2011, 09:29:09 am »
And what were those starches that humans developed the amylase to digest?
Roots and tubers but just because we developed a way to digest such things such as lactase for dairy doesn't make that food optimal.
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Offline MoonStalkeR

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2011, 09:32:41 am »
Are you implying that a measurable amount of energy is gained, if any at all, from the fermentation?

The plant roughage is stressing toward the digestive system, interupting digestion and transit, irritating the intestines, etc. (Hence the resources I mentioned) Perhaps a very minor amount of calories are obtained from this, but plant fiber does not contribute to the nourishment or calories of humans, even as a minor part of the diet.

And what were those starches that humans developed the amylase to digest?

Good question, the presence of amylase doesn't contribute much to the stance that humans were true omnivores. My guess would be that it's a trait passed down by more ancient ancestors who actually ate a plant based or omnivorous diet. Probably existed as a largely vestigial feature until humans actually began to eat cooked starch.

The terms "carnivore", "omnivore", and "herbivore" are mostly colloquial terms and too simplistic to actually a describe an animal's diet.


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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2011, 04:44:24 am »
Despite a genetic difference of as little as 2% between humans and gorillas (Sibley and Ahlquist 1984), the human colon may contribute as little as 2–9% to total energy (Livesey and Elia 1995, McBurney 1994, McNeil 1984) compared with possibly 30–60% for the gorilla.
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/127/10/2000.full

Thanks! The article is a little bit confusing... I'm not sure if I got the message. Obviously leafy greens, vegetables and fiber are recommended. Most raw paleo low carbers would disagree, I think.

Löwenherz

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2011, 05:57:36 am »
Roots and tubers
Possibly, but on the other hand didn't Tyler write this re: tubers:

The point was made that tubers usually need to be processed quite heavily in order to get rid of (some of)the antinutrients in them. So they are often pretty useless even when raw. ....

This was discussed a great while back on the Paleofood list, and it was pointed out that tubers were mostly not useful when raw, whether in terms of antinutrient-levels or general palatability. A generous 1 percent was once suggested as a suitable percentage of tubers which were edible raw, without any issues, as I vaguely recall.
Unfortunately, I didn't notice Tyler providing any research to support his claims, whereas there is this research:

> "Starch, the predominant carbohydrate in modern Western diets, is only present in small amounts in wild edible plants with one category of exception: underground storage organs (roots, corms, bulbs, tubers). It has been suggested that these became important staple foods for Australopithecus and early Homo, who were able to use tools for procurement and fire for cooking, the latter in order to increase starch digestibility and detoxify phytochemicals (Wrangham et al., 1999, Lucas et al., 2006). In addition, humans have a particularly high activity of salivary amylase, an enzyme for starch digestion which most animals mainly have in the form of pancreatic amylase Samuelson et al, Amylase gene structures in primates: retroposon insertions and promoter evolution, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 1996 and Perry et al, Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation, Nature Genetics, 2007). Apparently, human populations with a recent history of high starch consumption have, compared with other human populations, a slightly higher copy number of the gene coding for salivary amylase, a number which explains about 35% of the variation of salviary amylase concentration (Perry et al, 2007). Although this suggests some degree of ongoing positive selection, the fact that 'low-starch' human populations have an almost threefold higher copy number [of the gene coding for salivary amylase] than chimpanzees indicates significant adaptation to high-starch root vegetables among hominins, rather than post-agricultural selection among humans." (The Evolution of Hominin Diets: Integrating Approaches to the Study of Palaeolithic Subsistence - Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology, By Jean-Jacques Hublin)

> "John Novembre et. al. reported in the October 1, 2007 issue of Nature Genetics that human saliva has significantly more of the enzyme amylase compared to chimpanzees.  Amylase breaks down starches into glucose which can be readily used by the cells of the body.  With more amylase, humans get more useable calories from starchy vegetable foods such as tubers, corms, and bulbs.  The authors suggest that this would have been a distinct advantage for early humans because these foods are readily available.  They believe that natural selection favored additional copies of the gene responsible for amylase production (AMY1) in our early hominin ancestors but not in apes." (Analysis of Early Hominins, anthro.palomar.edu/hominid/australo_2.htm; original report at Adaptive drool in the gene pool, http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v39/n10/full/ng1007-1188.html)

I read somewhere that chimps chew USOs and spit out much of the fiber. If hominins like Australopithecines did this and ate much more raw tubers than chimps did, then this could account for much of the greatly increased salivary amilase in humans.

Quote
but just because we developed a way to digest such things such as lactase for dairy doesn't make that food optimal.
Correct. Surely Tyler will agree that we of European descent are not optimally adapted to dairy and tubers even if we have lactase and amylase enzymes, especially considering that he doesn't even appear to agree with scientists that tubers formed a significant part of Australopithecine diets.

When you combine Tyler's dismissal of tubers with his claim that the bolting meat is natural for humans, plus his own relatively low intake range for carbs (which he reported at around 5-25% of total calories, http://www.rawpaleoforum.com/journals/a-day-in-the-life-of-tylerdurden/msg23165/#msg23165), it's puzzling why he so casually dismisses human facultative carnivory as a possibility. Interestingly, the 5-25% carb range is almost precisely the range that Loren Cordain cited as "Atkins-type diets" in The Paleo Diet (and Gary Taubes says he follows an Atkins-type diet, incidentally). The carb content of the "low carb" diets of Ron Rosedale and Michael Eades also fit within this range.

That said, with so many folks misconstruing "carnivore" to mean "eats no plant foods" (despite the fact that it has been shown multiple times in this forum that wolves and other facultative carnivores do eat plant foods like berries), the "omnivore" term may remain dominant, despite the fact that it is more a colloquial term than a scientific one.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 06:25:26 am by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2011, 06:24:15 pm »
i have no time right now to answer the above in my usual lengthy way. due to internet issues, but i would at least ask PP to never again cite wrangham again let alone any study wrangham participated in, without masssive qualifications about his lack of credibility etc.. I have already pointed out several examples of wrangham´s fraudulent behaviour. Will try to reply when my pc is back to normal.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 03:30:35 pm by TylerDurden »
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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2011, 08:07:57 pm »
I didn't cite Wrangham, the author, Jean-Jacques Hublin did and I didn't think that even you would object to his cite since it was accompanied by a second cite and so is superfluous, and I also provided a second source beyond Hublin (and I think I provided yet another one in a past thread). I can't edit the post, but you can consider the Wrangham cite deleted if you wish, since it's unecessary to my post. And as before I was referring to raw Paleo underground storage organs that were consumed by Australopithecines. Not even Wrangham argues that Australopithecines cooked, so trying to connect the post to cooking would be a straw man.

Here's yet another source that you may find more acceptable than Wrangham, Stephan Guyenet...he seems to eat more carbs than you do and I've never seen him cite Wrangham--at least not yet: Stephan reported that the hunter gatherers of Kitava eat a diet high in starch, getting starch from yams, sweet potatoes, breadfruit (a starchy fruit that is cooked), and nuts. So it's not just the Hadza that eat a starchy diet. Yes, I know, the Kitavans cook most of their starches, so the question remains, how much starch did their ancient ancestors eat and what did they eat before the advent of cooking. I've provided some of the recent research on that question and it deserves more study. Since the Hadza and Kitavans seem to do fairly well on starchy diets (though it's difficult to know what's going on inside them), it seems at least plausible that starchy foods (starting with raw starches before the advent of cooking, of course) were part of the diet of Australopithecines and other hominins.

See:

The Diet-Heart Hypothesis: Oxidized LDL, Part II, Saturday, August 8, 2009, http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/08/diet-heart-hypothesis-oxidized-ldl-part.html

Glucose Tolerance in Non-industrial Cultures
Saturday, November 20, 2010
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/11/glucose-tolerance-in-non-industrial.html

Interview with a Kitavan
Sunday, December 5, 2010
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/12/interview-with-kitavan.html
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 10:05:22 pm by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2011, 06:23:08 am »
BTW, I should make clear that I'm not arguing that humans are definitely best classed as facultative carnivores. From the very beginning I've never meant to give the impression that I was taking a certain position on whether facultative carnivore or omnivore or some other term best describes humans and/or is most scientifically apt. I did posit the hypothesis that humans are facultative carnivores, but it was just that--a hypothesis--rather than a conclusion. I was then and am now interested in people's counterpoints against facultative carnivory, even though I may poke holes in them now and then where I think they warrant it.

I only labeled myself facultative carnivore because it was the best description of what I was doing at the time and I didn't want people thinking I was a ZC/obligate carnivore ideologue. I didn't see it as a certain final diet for even myself, much less humanity. With my recent experiments the term doesn't currently apply to me.

Folks tended to react most strongly when I talked about facultative carnivory and there tends to be much misunderstanding about it, so I ended up posting the most about it. Humans seem to be somewhere near the edge of facultative carnivory and "omnivory." In the past I had always assumed that humans are effectively omnivores and I was even skeptical of Loren Cordain's prohibition of all tubers as non-Paleo given that all HGs that have access to them eat them and given that almost no one was talking about what our ancestors ate before they ate cooked tubers (I figured they might possibly have eaten plenty of raw underground storage organs as well as more meat and then transitioned to cooking the USOs, and recently evidence of this has been reported), then I found some interesting information about tarsiers, giant pandas and other stuff and for several months I was leaning toward thinking that facultative carnivory might be our morphological optimum, then I was totally on the fence, and now, given my additional reading over the past couple years about hunter-gatherer (such as the Kitavans and Hadza) and Stone Age starch and honey intake, plus what I already knew about fruit/berry intake, plus the evidence that dietary adaptability was a major factor in what enabled humans to dominate the planet, I'm leaning toward omnivory, for lack of a better term. Maybe scientists should come up with a new term, like "adaptivore" or something, so people don't assume that omnivore means that everyone has to eat a generous amount of both plant and animal foods and all the macronutrients.

There were also the interesting examples of people thriving here and at other dietary forums on much more than 25% of calories as plant carbs. As I think I've mentioned before, I suspect that people like me that don't handle that much carbs well have incompletely resolved GI, metabolic, or other health issues and possibly also more carnivorous-like genetic heritage than average. The features I share with Neanderthals, supposedly the heaviest meat eaters among H. sapiens (and even they ate some plant foods too--or at least some of them) are tantalizing along those lines.

Lately I've been most fascinated with the new info coming out about underground storage organs, but once again that doesn't mean that I think that USOs are necessarily optimal foods or that we are definitely starchivores or anything like that. The new research also seems to be causing a shift in the Paleo movement towards seeing the starchier USOs, including cooked tubers, as Paleo, with Paul Jaminet even giving the impression that this should be obvious to all. A possibility I think both the cooked and raw Paleo/traditional crowd may be giving insufficient consideration to is that raw USOs were probably consumed for a very long time before cooked USOs were. Also cooked Paleos tend not to consider that lots of meats could have been eaten raw even after the advent of cooking.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 06:34:50 am by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline kurite

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2011, 11:26:50 am »
Despite a genetic difference of as little as 2% between humans and gorillas (Sibley and Ahlquist 1984), the human colon may contribute as little as 2–9% to total energy (Livesey and Elia 1995, McBurney 1994, McNeil 1984) compared with possibly 30–60% for the gorilla.
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/127/10/2000.full
Do you have percentages for other monkeys like chimps?
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2011, 03:35:52 pm »
Well, I would say that that report on the Hadza I showed previously likely shows that a) tubers were the least favoured of raw foods among HGs in palaeo times, no doubt because the antinutrient levels in raw tubers made them unpalatable and b) they were perennial foods that were primarily eaten when other, better foods were unavailable.
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Offline cliff

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Re: Are humans carnivores, omnivores, or just adaptive?
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2011, 07:09:24 am »
Do you have percentages for other monkeys like chimps?

It should be similar to gorillas as they have very similar gut anatomy.

Quote
Are you implying that a measurable amount of energy is gained, if any at all, from the fermentation?

I'm not implying anything, its a fact.  Fermentable fiber produces short chain fatty acids in the colon which are absorbed and used as energy.

Fiber behaves differently depending on whether its fermentable or not.  Your assumption that all fiber irritates the digestive system and causes stress isn't really backed up by anything.  I don't think theirs even evidence that non-fermentable fiber behaves the way you think it does.

 

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