UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Quantifying Human Dietary Change over the Last 30,000 Years

Walker, Catherine; (2021) Quantifying Human Dietary Change over the Last 30,000 Years. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

[thumbnail of CBW_PhDThesis_Deposit.pdf]
Preview
Text
CBW_PhDThesis_Deposit.pdf

Download (40MB) | Preview

Abstract

Dietary change has been linked to many aspects of human evolution over the last three million years, including tool use, brain size increase, aerobic capacity and gut biology. Furthermore, failure to adapt to dietary changes over the last 10,000 years has been implicated in a number of complex and chronic diseases including obesity, type II diabetes, some cancers and coronary heart disease. Such ‘diseases of modernity’ are more common in agrarian and industrial societies than among hunter-gatherers, and it has been argued that this is due to a mismatch between modern diets and the ancestral diets to which our metabolism should be optimised. The aims of this research have grown out of the qualitative studies that perpetuate narratives around human and hominin diets, particularly around the central theme of dietary mismatch and ‘paleo’-named diets. In this work, I investigate nutrient-level differences between modern post-industrial diets, modern hunter-gatherer diets, prehistoric (Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age) diets reconstructed from archaeological data, clinical intervention diets, fad diets including The Paleo Diet, Keto Diet and Atkins Diet, fast food diets and milk. Using these data, I develop a hypothesis on the evolution of dietary choice. Modern diets are enriched for certain nutrients, for some of which we have strong taste avidities (e.g. sodium, sucrose, starch, certain fatty acids). By quantifying differences in inferred nutrient profiles between ancestral and modern diets, I examine the nutrients enriched in modern diets, the trajectories of nutrient composition change through time, what might be driving these changes, and why we have evolved taste preferences for some nutrients that in a modern setting are considered ‘unhealthy’. I also examine how nutrients correlate in ancestral foods and explore if avidities for nutrients enriched in modern diets would lead to healthy nutrient profiles in an ancestral setting.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Quantifying Human Dietary Change over the Last 30,000 Years
Event: UCL (University COllege London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131203
Downloads since deposit
2Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item