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The Ice Man's Diet

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#1
Rad Warrier

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Our Paleo friends might find [URL="http://http://www.fasebj.org/content/13/3/559.full.pdf"]this[/URL] paper a little disconcerting :D. The title of the paper is "The Ice Man’s diet as reflected by the stable nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition of his hair "

With the remains of goat fur found on this site, one might intuitively suggest that goat meat was a significant component of the Ice Man’s diet. However, if this were the case, the stable nitrogen isotope composition of his hair should have been 3‰ enriched
relative to the goat d15 N value, and clearly this is not so. Rather, the d15N value for the Ice Man’s hair is approximately 3‰ enriched relative to the d15 N values of plants, indicating that plants were likely a primary component of his diet at the time of his death. The stable nitrogen isotope composition of the Ice Man is consistent with that observed for modern vegetarians with low levels of animal protein in their diet (Table 1) and who are depleted in 15 N by several per milligram relative to modern humans on omnivorous diets. The goat should reflect the vegan diet, being enriched by 3‰ over primary production. In all likelihood it does, but represents an integration of browsing on a variety of terrestrial plants, some of which may be more depleted in 15 N owing to nitrogen fixation. The fact that the d 13 C value of the Ice Man was depleted in 13 C reflects a high percentage of grains in the diet that can be attributed to plants that utilized the C-3 pathway for photosynthesis (Table 1). In general, C-3 plants (e.g., wheat, rice, legumes) are depleted in 13 C by 5 to 15% relative to C-4 plants (e.g., corn) due to differences in enzymes used for the primary fixation of carbon (e.g., ref 23). A similar preference for C-3 plants (or for organisms that subsisted on C-3 plants) was reflected in the diets of the other omnivores, all of which are expected to be enriched in 13 C by a few per milligram relative to their respective C-3 sources. Strict adherence to only vegetation is not suggested,however. Small amounts of animal protein in the diet, as well as variation in the isotopic signals of potential plant and animal foods, could be masked by the consumption of large amounts of plant proteins.


I have no doubt that it is in the interest of the diabetic (especially type 2 diabetic) to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates as needed. But I find it really comical whenever I see the insistence that man's original diet was near-zero-carb animal food based and that all, including non-diabetics should adopt this diet .:)

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Rad

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#2
PlantCityRose

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"Hunter - Gatherer" Meat & veggies, sounds like a balanced diet to me.
I limit my carbs to less than 100 grams a day, but I eat everything.
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#3
Hammer

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The problem with that analysis is that it doesn't give us the whole picture. For example, we have no way of knowing what the circumstances were surrounding this Ice Man's environment. We don't know if meat wasn't available to him so he had to subsist on whatever he could find, like berries and fruits or whatever he could grow.

By the same token, how old did he live to be?.....30? Okay, so he lived on very little protein but he only lived to be 30....or whatever. It would be interesting to know all of the story, not just this tidbit.:)

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#4
Rad Warrier

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By the same token, how old did he live to be?.....30? Okay, so he lived on very little protein but he only lived to be 30....or whatever. It would be interesting to know all of the story, not just this tidbit.:)


My immediate ancestors lived to be 80, 90 and more. Well, they did not live on ice, but in a warm, humid, land. The little protein and fat they got were entirely of plant origin (except the very little protein and fat they got from milk, yogurt and clarified butter.) And I myself am a little above 30 living mainly off plants :)

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Rad

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#5
foxl

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Interesting article! I went in search of his Y-chromosome haplogroup (since I have been studying my Dad's lately ... turns out that despite his lengthy English heritage, his Hg R1a1a(7) originated in the subcontinent). Anyhow, they did Utzi's mtDNA, Ice Man - Otzi of Italy

Widely known as "Otzi (Oetzi)" the Iceman found in 1991 in the Italian Alps, is also known as "Similaun Man". Of the Neolithic era, Otzi lived between 3350-3300 B.C. in the "Copper Age". He was believed to be 46-years old when he died at the top of a mountain pass from wounds received. (More)

Name Haplo Haplotype
Ice Man K 16224C, 16311C

But evidently could not determine his Y ... if he were R1a or J2, we'd know why he ate so much veg!
Linda


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#6
ShottleBop

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Apparently the Ice-Man lived in an area that already practiced agriculture: NEOLITHIC FARMING IN EUROPE. (Note, the Ice-Man lived in "neolithic" times, not "paleolithic".)

See also this account of his last meal (based on the contents of his transverse colon), from Nova's site: The Ice-Man's Last Meal. Excerpt:

The meal was a simple affair, consisting of a bit of unleavened bread made of einkorn wheat, one of the few domesticated grains used in the Iceman's part of the world at this time, some other plant, possibly an herb or other green, and meat.

Oeggl reconstructed the Iceman's last meal from his microscopic analysis of a tiny sample removed from the mummy's transverse colon, the part of the intestine just beyond the stomach. . . . .

. . .

Oeggl's sample was barely the size of his little fingernail. Under the microscope, he quickly identified the flake-like, semi-digested material that made up the bulk of the sample as einkorn, the most important wheat of the Neolithic, the period of prehistory in which people lived in semi-permanent settlements and survived by agriculture and keeping animals. The discovery of einkorn, which does not occur naturally in Europe, in the Iceman's intestinal tract suggested that he had contact with an agricultural community. The dominance of bran in the sample led Oeggl to believe that the wheat had been finely ground into meal and made into bread, rather than eaten as a porridge, where the grains would have been eaten whole and found in larger pieces in the colon. . . .


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#7
ZoraP

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I live pretty close to the valley where he was found and have a science-oriented daughter who went on a mummy craze a couple of years ago, so I've actually seen "Oetzi" (the Ice Man) in person -- twice -- in his museum home in Bolzano/Bozen, Italy (South Tirol). It's interesting to see him up close, but also the artifacts that were found with him. Shottlebop is right; he was neolithic, and his people did practice agriculture. I highly recommend Bolzano as a tourist destination, by the way. Especially if you like mountain hiking (summers) or skiing (winters). The town itself is charming, too, and many of the natives speak German. So if your Italian is rusty you can always switch to German. ;)
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#8
samorgan

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Interesting article! I went in search of his Y-chromosome haplogroup (since I have been studying my Dad's lately ... turns out that despite his lengthy English heritage, his Hg R1a1a(7) originated in the subcontinent). Anyhow, they did Utzi's mtDNA, Ice Man - Otzi of Italy

Widely known as "Otzi (Oetzi)" the Iceman found in 1991 in the Italian Alps, is also known as "Similaun Man". Of the Neolithic era, Otzi lived between 3350-3300 B.C. in the "Copper Age". He was believed to be 46-years old when he died at the top of a mountain pass from wounds received. (More)

Name Haplo Haplotype
Ice Man K 16224C, 16311C

But evidently could not determine his Y ... if he were R1a or J2, we'd know why he ate so much veg!



Oops! The common claim of the paleos and others is that agriculture has "only" a 10 thousand year history or if our entire history was a year, sometime yesterday. The time period in which this ice man lived was only 5 thousand years ago (or last night sometime). I don't think anyone disputes that agriculture was practiced at that time.

Interesting how excited some people got about this "finding", though!
Salim Morgan, T2
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A1C 5/2010: 6.0 (DX + 8 months)
A1C 8/2010: 5.7 (DX + 11 months)
A1C 11/2010: 5.1 (DX + 14 months)
Diet: Approximately C:10;P:15;F:75 (as % calories)
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#9
DeusXM

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Well of course, the fact is that even 5000 years ago, Europeans were living on diets that were probably high in carbs and low on fat. A common thread for most paleos/low carbers is that the modern diet is too high in carbs but then there seems to be this awkward doublethink that says what were eating 400 years ago was fine but also that we should be eating like cavemen. The problem is that humans have been eating high carb/low fat for at least 5000 years yet heart disease, obesity and T2 only seem to have become commonplace in the last 50.

People also seem to forget that for most of human history, meat was a luxury. The default diet for Europeans for at least 10,000 years has been grain, mostly as bread and porridge. It's possible for different human populations to metabolically diverge significantly in less than 5000 years (compare the presence of alcohol processing enzymes in people of Asian descent to European descent). Therefore the question remains; given that for at least 100 centuries, people seem to have managed to live quite well on grains, what has happened in the last 50 years to disrupt this. Clearly there is something more to the issue than a simplistic 'carbs are bad' approach (at least, for the general population as low carb can be an excellent diabetes management technique).

#10
stardustshadow

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That is amazing that you have been able to see him! How fascinating...!
I am an Anthropologist, so of course this would be right up my alley;)
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