Monday, January 6, 2014

Knowledge: As early hunter-gatherers had caries - Tagesspiegel

clock 00:00 By Joachim Czichos (wsa
. Holes Hardly any of the caveman had healthy teeth photo:. I. De Groote image Holes. Hardly any of the caveman had healthy teeth. Photo: I. De Groote

Crucial for bad teeth is carbohydrate-rich foods – not the beginning of agriculture


to agriculture caries came previously thought. Only when people switch their diet about 12 years ago 000 caries bacteria in the human mouth felt good. The pathogens utilize carbohydrates, relying free acid that attacks the teeth. But now British archaeologists were able to demonstrate that already suffered some hunter-gatherers under massive tooth decay. The researchers analyzed 14000-15000 year-old teeth from people who subsisted mainly on acorns and other seeds and fruits of wild plants. The proportion of decayed teeth was similar among residents of today’s industrialized countries at them, the scientists report in the journal “PNAS”.

“Our findings are contrary to the popular belief that high caries rates are characteristic of agricultural crops,” write Louise Humphrey from the Natural History Museum in London and her colleagues. They examined 52 human jaw from a Moroccan cave, which served “Grotte des Pigeons” at Taforalt, the Stone Age hunter-gatherers as a residential and burial ground. The teeth were not only very badly worn. 51 percent of the teeth showed typical signs of tooth decay. Only three of the adults had no dental caries. Such poor dental health was previously known only from sedentary people groups, operated the farming. These 2 to 48 percent of the teeth are suffering from tooth decay, among hunters and gatherers values ??between 0 and 14 percent have been determined.

Numerous plant remains from the cave shed light on the diet of the inhabitants. They ate mainly acorns of holm oak Quercus ilex and Pinus pinaster pine nuts of the maritime pine. In addition, there were traces of wild legumes, wild oats and pistachios. All these foods are rich in carbohydrates. From the fruit ripening period include the archaeologists that the cave was inhabited at least from late spring to autumn. But as acorns and pine nuts can be stored as stock, maybe a longer stay over the winter would be conceivable. The systematic collection and storage of wild plant foods could therefore have made these people settle down for a long time before the start of agriculture.

From other studies it is known that people have collected the edible acorns in an immature state and stored after drying. For human consumption, they were either crushed or cooked as a whole. In particular, the consumption of acorns may have contributed to the spread of caries, the researchers suggest. The fruits contain not only strength, but also sugar whose content increases further during storage. A prepared from cooked food would be the one easy to digest. On the other hand remained sticky residue on the teeth hanging out, so that lactic acid bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans grown and could have colonized the mouth permanently. Probably have then developed more aggressive pathogen over time that were easily transferable to a close contact of the cave dwellers and a rapid expansion enabled. Joachim Czichos (wsa )

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