Current Views on Hunter-gatherer Nutrition

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Yearbook of Physical Anthropology





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Diet composition and food choice are not only central to the daily lives of all living people, but are consistently linked with turning points in human evolutionary history. As such, scholars from a wide range of fields have taken great interest in the role that subsistence has played in both human cultural and biological evolution. Central to this discussion is the diet composition and nutrition of contemporary hunters and gatherers, who are frequently conscripted as model populations for ancestral human nutrition. Research among the world's few remaining foraging populations is experiencing a resurgence, as they are making the final transition away from diets composed of wild foods, to those dominated by domesticated cultigens and/or processed foods. In an effort to glean as much information as possible, before such populations are no longer hunting and gathering, researchers interested in the evolution of human nutrition are rapidly collecting and accessing new and more data. Methods of scientific inquiry are in the midst of rapid change and scholars are able to revisit long-standing questions using state of the art analyses. Here, using the most relevant findings from studies in ethnography, nutrition, human physiology, and microbiomes, we provide a brief summary of the study of the evolution of human nutrition as it has specifically pertained to data coming from living hunter-gatherers. In doing so, we hope to bridge the disciplines that are currently invested in research on nutrition and health among foraging populations



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