History of Food: What Went Wrong With Our Diet

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Dr Shah provides the latest information and insights on how to optimize your diet for optimal health and wellness using the Pareto principle by teaching the top 10 things you need to know to become a nutrition expert and truly change your life. From exploring the history of our food and what went wrong with our modern diet to understanding the power of phytonutrients and embracing the healthy side of fats, we cover a range of topics to help you make informed choices about what you put on your plate. Dr Shah delves into effective strategies for weight loss and sugar reduction, as well as the benefits of protein and supplements. Additionally, we explore the power of mindful eating and the benefits of mastering fasting and meal scheduling.

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History of Food: What Went Wrong With Our Diet

The human diet has evolved over time, but in recent decades, certain unhealthy food choices have epitomized the modern diet. Our modern diet is rife with processed foods, refined sugars, saturated fats, and sodium-laden fast foods, all of which have contributed to increases in obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. This article looks at the history of food and the changes that have taken place in the human diet over the years, discussing the implications for modern health and the role of governments in providing better health education and improving access to healthier meals. It argues that unhealthy diets are largely a consequence of food choices and inadequate knowledge of nutrition, and that governments should do more to help people make healthier choices and combat food deserts.



Ancient Eating Habits

Tracing the history of our diets can be a complex and tricky task, as humanity’s ancestral diets as well as regional differences can vary drastically. That said, early records point to the fact that the broad range of food we ate during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic eras often mimicked the foods that were available during that time. According to archeological research and the study of fossilized bones in these time frames, humans often subsided on animal proteins like fresh fish, game, and shellfish as well as fat sources like marrow and lard. Plants, too, were important and included tree fruits, nuts, wild greens, and grains, albeit in limited amounts due to more widespread variation in their seasonality.

Nutritional Knowledge and Agricultural Revolution

The discovery of agricultural practices around the year 10,000 BC led to significant changes in the human diet. This event became known as the Agricultural Revolution and there is evidence suggesting it altered the structure of our diets for the better. The evidence suggests that agricultural-based diets contained higher levels of starchy carbohydrates and that the production of these grains allowed people to use them as staples for the foreseeable future. This type of calorie-dense food likely created a great deal of energy stability and would have been a major benefit for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Additionally, these grains allowed for the development of fermentation processes, which not only led to an increased flavor variety, but had the potential to provide more anti-patogenic compounds, thus improving the quality of food consumed.

Modern Dietary Choices and Their Impact

Fast forward to present day and the once ideal nutritional benefits associated with the Agricultural Revolution have been eroded away by current diet trends. This is largely due to the recent concept of 'convenience' when it comes to food consumption. The constant availability of unhealthy fast foods, the continual rise of ultra-processed food products, and the widespread acceptance of unhealthy cooking habits have had a significant negative impact on our overall nutrition. This is of particular concern as these unhealthy dietary choices can have serious negative effects on our overall health, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

To combat this, health professionals are actively engaged in educating individuals and communities on the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and the benefits associated with doing so. By teaching people to pursue a diet that is rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and lean proteins, we can help ensure that the right nutritional balance is being achieved in order to ensure a long and healthy life.

In conclusion, the history of food has taken a concerning turn in recent years. In order to counter this, it is essential that every individual work to ensure that they are getting the necessary nutrition from a wide variety of natural sources. With education and a bit of effort, we can ensure that our diets will continue to provide us with the nutrients we need for many years to come.

We might like to think that the food choices available today are as healthy today as they were when our great-grandparents were young. But like with most things, the way we eat has changed drastically in the last century. What's more is that our diet has changed in such a way that it is increasingly linked to the onset of chronic illnesses like obesity and diabetes, as well as contributing to environmental degradation. In exploring the history of food and its connection with modern health risks and problems, we must firstly examine its evolution, followed by the changing trends in dietary habits over the last century, an examination of the health risks related to processed foods, and finally, the role of agribusiness in today's world.

The Evolution of Diet

What we eat has come a long way since our hunter gatherer days. Although what exactly our ancestors ate is impossible to know for certain, it is thought that hunter gatherer diets relied heavily on wild animals and fish, as well as gathered nuts, fruits and some plant material. This is in contrast to what we eat today, where diets are typically centered around domesticated animals, cereals, sugar and processed meats. Meat and animal products have always been an important part of the human diet, but the amount and type of animals we consume have changed drastically over time.

The Shifting of Dietary Habits

The dietary habits of early humans changed dramatically once they stopped relying on hunting and gathering and started cultivating their own crops, around 8000 years ago. This was the dawn of agriculture and with it came imported new forms of food, particularly cereals and legumes, into the human diet. This meant that fewer animals had to be hunted and killed, and the animals that were killed were usually cows, goats and pigs, rather than wild animals. With the dawn of the industrial revolution, a large switch towards processed and packaged foods was seen. Processed food, made with refined sugars and fats, became increasingly popular and has been linked to the rising number of lifestyle diseases we are seeing updated.

Processed Foods and Health

It is a well-established fact that processed foods, those made with heavily refined ingredients, are significantly less nutritious than those made with whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. Although the technology to refine foods existed for centuries, it was not until the mid- 1900s that it became widespread, leading to an increased focus on convenience and less focus on nutrition. Processed foods are generally high in fat, sugar and salt and as such, they have been linked to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

The Impact of Agribusiness

The advent of agribusiness, or the large-scale production of food to meet the growing demand, has had a significant impact on what we eat today. Agribusiness has made it possible to produce the same foods in large quantities, at cheaper prices, meaning that customers get more bang for their buck. Unfortunately, this means that food production is often focused on profit rather than health outcomes. This means that unhealthy yet cost effective foods such as highly processed meats, oils and sugars are often prioritized, leading to increased consumption of these unhealthy foods.


In summary, the history of food has gone through a range of drastic changes over the last century. We have shifted from diets mostly consisting of wild game and gathered nuts and berries, to a diet centered around heavily processed and refined foods. The widespread consumption of these processed foods has been linked to an increase in chronic illnesses such as obesity and diabetes. Finally, agribusiness has become a significant force in modern food production, leading to an increased consumption of cost-effective yet unhealthy foods.


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