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When Fire Met Food, the Brains of Early Humans Grew Bigger

Cooked Food

Story at-a-glance -

  • Ancient humans had to graze constantly to find enough calories to live on, but as there are only so many hours in a day, and raw, mostly vegetable, foods do not contain many calories, this put a metabolic limitation on how big the brain could grow.
  • Researchers believe that it was the shift to a cooked-food diet that gave humans the extra calories they needed to allow their brains to get bigger.
  • Even when ancient humans moved their meals to the hearth, they still ate a far more significant portion of raw foods than people do today – and their food was in unprocessed form.
  • There is a growing movement of people who believe eating foods that are concordant with your genetic ancestry can help you avoid many of the diseases associated with our modern diet, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

By Dr. Mercola

Generally speaking, the larger the mammal, the larger its brain will be. Humans are a bit of an anomaly among primates, however, because we have the largest brain and number of neurons, but not the largest body. Great apes, for instance, have much bigger bodies than humans, yet much smaller brains.


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