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Tiger wrote:It will be interesting to see the response of the paleo people, since Dr. McDougall disputes the idea that they didn't eat grains (based on the excerpt I read). Very much looking forward to the May release!
Lessons From Ă–tzi, the Tyrolean Ice Man. Part II
Otzi's digestive tract contains the remains of three meals. They were composed of cooked grains (wheat bread and wheat grains), meat, roots, fruit and seeds (1, 2). The meat came from three different animals-- chamois, red deer and ibex. The "wheat" was actually not what we would think of as modern wheat, but an ancestral variety called einkorn.
Isotope analysis indicates that Otzi's habitual diet was primarily centered around plant foods, likely heavily dependent on grains but also incorporating a variety of other plants (3). He died in the spring with a belly full of einkorn wheat. Since wheat is harvested in the fall, this suggests that his culture stored grain and was dependent on it for most if not all of the year. However, he also clearly ate meat and used leather made from his prey. Researchers are still debating the quantity of meat in his diet, but it was probably secondary to grains and other plant foods. It isn't known whether or not he consumed dairy.
Otzi's diet would have been high in carbohydrate, mostly from einkorn wheat (and perhaps other grains) but also from fruit and possibly legumes. It was probably moderate in protein, with the protein coming from grains, perhaps legumes and some meat. He probably didn't eat much fat, but he did get some fat from nuts and meat.
In addition, his Y chromosome indicated that his paternal lineage (haplogroup G) also has roots in early agricultural populations in the Middle East. This is the same lineage that has been found in other early agricultural remains in Europe (11). This is consistent with his mitochondrial genome and indicates that he descended in large part from early adopters of agriculture in the Middle East.
Why do We Care about Otzi's Genome?
I'm going to begin to answer that question with a question. What was a man of Middle Eastern agriculturalist descent doing on the border of Italy and Austria 5,300 years ago? And what were genes originating from early Middle Eastern agriculturalists doing in many other parts of Europe as early as 8,000 years ago (12)? These findings, among many others, suggest that agricultural populations from the Middle East not only brought their subsistence strategy to Europe, they also brought their genes.
Researchers have found that Paleolithic humans and neanderthals in Europe had a diet that was heavily focused on meat (13, 14), and this has been used to suggest that modern-day people of European descent should eat a meat-heavy, low carbohydrate diet to mimic their own ancestral dietary pattern. But this makes a big assumption: that those Paleolithic meat eaters were the ancestors of modern-day Europeans. If instead, modern Europeans descend from Middle Eastern agriculturalists who originally came from Africa, that means they were never hunter-gatherers in Europe and therefore never ate a diet focused on meat and fat-rich large temperate game. If they descended from Middle Eastern agriculturalists who ate a high-carbohydrate grain-based diet for some 10,000 years, this may lead to different conclusions about the ancestral European diet
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