Paleodietetics: A Review of the Role of Dietary Fiber in Preagricultural Human Diets

  • Michael Kliks


In a biochemical and physiological sense man is not a particularly “modern” animal. Rather, he shares many adaptive mechanisms which were already established several million years ago during the lower Pleistocene era in early homonids, most of which were predominantly herbivorous (26, 46, 52, 57), as is the case today. The manifold physiochemical functions of dietary fiber in human digestive and excretory processes certainly did not develop de novo in man, but were common to all higher primates and many other monogastric terrestrial vertebrates as well (6, 34). These processes and the basic architecture of the gastrointestinal tract quite probably evolved over several hundred thousand generations in response to the continuous, selective pressures of a broadly based but consistently phytic diet (17, 19, 39). It is now apparent that during the last 20,000 years, the human diet has undergone a series of far reaching “revolutions,” the overall trend of which has been away from a coarse, plant-based regime of foraged leafy greens, seeds, stalks, roots, flowers, and other tissues, to a more limited, often monotypic, diet based primarily on a few cereal grains, tubers, and legumes (Figure 1). The importance of the former diet, that of the hunter-gatherer, in shaping the structure and function of the human gastrointestinal tract can hardly be overestimated.


Dietary Fiber Dietary Fiber Intake Trisodium Phosphate Praeger Publisher Froth Flotation 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Kliks
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Entomology and ParasitologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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