Looks Like The Paleo Diet Wasn’t Always So Hot For Ancient Teeth
January 06, 2014
One of the hinge points in human history was the invention of agriculture. It led to large communities, monumental architecture and complex societies. It also led to tooth decay.
When hunter-gatherers started adding grains and starches to their diet, it brought about the “age of cavities.” At least that’s what a lot of people thought. But it turns out that even before agriculture, what hunter-gatherers ate could rot their teeth.
The evidence comes from a cave in Morocco — the Cave of the Pigeons, it’s called — where ancient people lived and died between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago. These were hunters and gatherers; they didn’t grow stuff. And what was astonishing to scientists who’ve studied the cave people was the condition of their teeth.
“Basically, nearly everybody in the population had caries,” or tooth decay, says Louise Humphrey, a paleo-anthropologist with the Natural History Museum in London.
… In this case, Humphrey believes, ground acorn patties. She hasn’t tried them herself, but she plans to.
“I would like to,” she says. “I imagine that they would be something like sweet chestnuts.”
Kind of like the Twinkies of the paleolithic.
The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.