What food did our ancestors eat?

2023 © Wikiask
Main topic: Health
Other topics: Diet
Short answer:
  • People who lived in the Paleolithic era and subsisted by hunting and gathering ate a varied diet that included vegetables, fruit, seeds, and insects in addition to meat, fish, and shellfish.
  • In certain societies, subsisting off the land has always been and continues to be an integral part of daily life. That implies putting more of an emphasis on meats, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, roots, fruits, and berries that can be harvested by hunting, fishing, or gathering.
  • The concept behind the Stone Age diet is to be healthier, reduce weight, and be able to prevent sickness.

In general, leaves, which were fibrous and bitter, were eaten at breakfast, along with fruit. Bark, bananas, raw monkey meat, and brains for lunch and Dinner primarily included grubs; leaves; fruit by ancestors.[1] It is possible to discern a noticeable shift to canines that are thinlyed and highly textured, which are indicators to diversity in food.

Offerings to ancestors

How did uncooked meat and grains helpd ancestors gain the minimum required nutrition?[edit]

Ancestors were known to consume raw meat and chew it very thoroughly before swallowing it. This was necessary for them to accomplish in order to be able to swallow the food and get any nutritional value from it. 

Even if they just chew it a little bit before ingesting it, they will still be able to benefit nutritionally since they have the digestive fluids and enzymes necessary to break down the meat.

Grain and seeds provide a greater challenge since, in order for us to digest the edible portion of the grain or seed, they first need to break the indigestible outer layer, which must be done by grinding or crushing the grain or seed. They were also consuming fruits and vegetables.[2]

The raw meat juice was helping ancestors to gain nutritional value. Source: HyVee

Switch to a Non-Vegetarian diet and its effects[edit]

About 2.5 million years ago, ancestors started eating meat regularly. At first, they received their meat by scavenging the carrion left behind by deceased animals. Later, though, they began to supplement this practice with hunting. These hominids possessed huge teeth and a digestive system that allowed them to crush and digest their food, which was an essential characteristic. It is believed that an individual's time spent chewing food comprised 25% of their total waking hours during that era.

The creation of sharp tools made it possible to penetrate the skin of deceased animals, allowing people to access the flesh as well as other parts like bone marrow and brain. Because roasted meat is much simpler to chew, tooth size dropped as well. Another change was an increase in the dimensions of the skull, which led to a bigger and more complex brain with a higher number of neural connections, which enhanced hunting effectiveness.[3]

Average caloric requirements of ancestors[edit]

The majority of studies on hunter-gatherer diets use the assumption that calorie intakes were roughly 3,000 kcal/day. This is an inordinately high number that is higher than normal modern intakes. About 25–29 percent of the calories they ingested came from protein, 30–39 percent from fat, and 39–40 percent from carbohydrates. The degree of energy expenditure required by pre-agricultural lifestyles, on the other hand, was far more than what is required by the ordinary person living in the current day.[4]

Did ancestors used fire to cook the food?[edit]

The earliest people in Europe consumed raw meat and vegetation that had not been cooked. However, their raw food wasn't part of a fad diet; rather, they hadn't yet mastered the art of cooking with fire. In 2007, the Atapuerca research group collected samples of dental plaque from a hominin molar that was approximately 1.2 million years old. Subsequently, a team of archaeologists derived microfossils from dental plaque in order to gain additional knowledge regarding the diet of early humans.[5]

The researchers detected no signs of microcharcoal inhalation, which is often an indicator that a person was in close proximity to a fire. In addition, none of the fibers in the plaque had been charred.[6]

At least one million years ago, at the period of direct ancestor Homo erectus, traces of ash were discovered in a cave in South Africa called Wonderwerk. These traces show that hominins were managing fire at that time. Fragments of bone that had been burned that were also discovered at this site provide evidence that Homo erectus was preparing the meat. The earliest known evidence of evident hearths dates back just 400,000 years.[7]

How many meals in a day ancestors were having in a day?[edit]

Following the period of people who hunted and gathered their own food, the agricultural revolution occurred around 10,000 years ago, ushering in massive social and medical advancements. The cultivation of crops, the rearing of animals, and the accumulation of surpluses all at once established a reliable supply of sustenance. It was no longer necessary for people to travel kilometers each day in search of large animals or to spend hours spearfishing in the neighborhood stream.

In many different communities, the primary component of their cuisine was a single staple crop such as rice, cassava, or potatoes, coupled with a few other seasonings or vegetables. Their eating habits were more restricted, and it is believed that this adjustment was responsible for the decline in both their health and height. People became less tall and suffered from nutritional inadequacies, both of which increased the risk of sickness.

However, as a result of the increasingly constant food supply, populations exploded, and farmers eventually became more abundant than foragers.

Ancestors nonetheless experienced insulin decreases and accessed fat storage because they spent the day working in the fields producing crops and caring to animals because of their sedentary lifestyles.[8]

During the time of the Industrial Revolution, labor moved from farms to factories, which coincided with a change in the eating schedule of humans to the now-standard pattern of three meals per day that is prevalent in Western societies.

Offerings to the Gods

How ancestors were doing intermittent fasting, and dieting?[edit]

The ancestors were hunters and gatherers who often went without food for extended periods of time while they were out gathering. The human race had developed a tolerance for the uncertainty of where their next food would come from.

It wasn't until people had a stable supply of food that they even entertained the idea of giving up eating. After the agricultural revolution, people did start to engage in fasting on a voluntary basis, but not for reasons related to their health but rather for reasons related to their spirituality. People are able to discover a sense of solidarity and identity in their eating choices, which contributes to the growth of diet culture to the lack of guidance from organized religion.[9]


  1. "Ancestral Food-Ways". WELLFORCULTURE. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
  2. "How raw meat -- and our ancestors' inability to chew it -- changed the course of human evolution". Los Angeles Times. 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2022-10-30.
  3. Viciano, Joan; López-Lázaro, Sandra; Tanga, Carmen (2022-08-10). "Post-Mortem Dental Profile as a Powerful Tool in Animal Forensic Investigations—A Review". Animals. 12 (16): 2038. doi:10.3390/ani12162038. ISSN 2076-2615. PMC 9404435 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 36009628 Check |pmid= value (help).
  4. "Hunter-gatherer Nutrition and Its Implications for Modern Societies".
  5. "The Evolution of Diet". National Geographic. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
  6. "Raw foodies: Europe's earliest humans did not use fire". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
  7. Lawton, Graham. "Every human culture includes cooking – this is how it began". New Scientist. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
  8. "Dawn of agriculture took toll on health". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
  9. Pattillo, Ali. "Is Intermittent Fasting "Natural"? History Experts React to the Controversy". Inverse. Retrieved 2022-10-29.