3

votes

Bonobos and Bananas: Are we frugivores?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 01, 2012 at 7:10 AM

Recent research comparing the gut microbiomes of humans and other animals suggests that we are evolved to eat more fruit.

From the Human Food Project:

"Research comparing the gut microbiome of humans and other animals using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences provide some interesting insight into the diet our microbiome might be most accustomed, tuned our immune system, and kept our gut from leaking. When the gut microbiome of herbivores (e.g., sheep, cow, giraffe, gorilla, horse, rhinoceros), omnivores (e.g., ring-tailed lemurs, baboon, humans, chimpanzee, bonobo, spider monkey), and carnivores (e.g., polar bear, dog, hyena, lion) are compared, human samples not surprisingly cluster more closely with other omnivores. Interestingly, when compared to other hominids, humans cluster more closely with the bonobo diet. While bonobos do eat a small amount of leaves and meat, they are true frugivores, with a diet dominated by, as the name implies, fruit. Therefore, from the perspective of the microbiome, humans may be considered frugivores, although specialized, eating seeds and meat depending on availability. Flexibility is fundamental."

Full article here: http://humanfoodproject.com/ghosts-of-our-african-gut/?utm_source=American+Gut&utm_campaign=1374049b23-Human_Food_Project6_30_2012&utm_medium=email

Thoughts? The gut microbiome as one of two human genomes (or a new, combined, human genome) is an interesting paradigm shift. What are thoughts on being 'frugivores?' And what are further thoughts on using gut microbiomes as a basis for the paleo diet?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 02, 2012
at 02:54 PM

We're not that unique, we're like most other omnivores. Despite having symbiotic gut microbes, we do not have a fermentation-based digestive system as herbivores do.

0d7be15fd1a76c7a713b0e2e75381e75

(307)

on October 01, 2012
at 11:35 PM

Not the only person! Got yo back.

2403d227b12f654e84ea0ca6111ad054

(141)

on October 01, 2012
at 07:10 PM

Sorry, i did not notice that this study was comparing gut microbiota. i thought they were comparing gut microbiota.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 07:04 PM

You don't think that all microbiota don't eventually head for the exit?

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on October 01, 2012
at 06:34 PM

http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Fermentation_in_the_gut_and_CFS The human gut is almost unique amongst mammals - the upper gut is a sterile, digesting carniverous gut (like a dog's or a cat's) to deal with meat and fat, whilst the lower gut (large bowel or colon) is full of bacteria and is a fermenting, vegetarian gut (like a horse's or cow's) to digest vegetables and fibre. From an evolutionary perspective this has been a highly successful strategy - it allows Eskimos to live on fat and protein and other people to survive on pure vegan diets.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on October 01, 2012
at 04:10 PM

I'm really the only person who is going to up vote this? WTF? This is one the interesting threads on the entire website.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on October 01, 2012
at 04:09 PM

Only one vote? WTF? This is one of the best questions on this website.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 04:05 PM

That's the whole point of the project; to figure out what affects our gut microbiota. There are going to be interpersonal differences, but we're still all human, all omnivories, we're still going to have very similar gut microbiota as other omnivores.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:38 PM

I'd be interested to see their microbiome 'baseline'. "Human Microbiome Project: Diversity of Human Microbes Greater Than Previously Predicted" http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520141214.htm

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:10 PM

So to paraphrase Fight Club: you are not a unique snowflake.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:08 PM

From the 2008 Science paper: "fecal samples from unrelated healthy human samples cluster with other omnivores, with interpersonal differences (UniFrac distances) being significantly smaller than the distances between humans and all other mammalian species. Although our interpersonal differences appear to be smaller than interspecies differences among mammals, deeper sampling and analysis will be required to circumscribe the gut microbial diversity inherent to humans. This is one of the early goals of the recently initiated international human microbiome project."

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:08 PM

my grade 9 science teacher taught us that you can prove anything you want so long as you choose your facts carefully. it would be interesting to see the demographics of the humans in each study.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:05 PM

and i have to wonder how much fruit the test subject(s) consumed; wouldn't the flora of people who eat fruit regularly vary from mine since i eat no fruit?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:00 PM

You certainly can't dismiss the microbiota studies based on a single study looking at tooth structure.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 12:51 PM

Useless? Did you miss the whole point that this was comparing gut microbiota?

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 01, 2012
at 12:02 PM

Can someone explain. Are they sequencing part of the dna of the bacteria. Part of our dna? What? I find it hard to beleive they are sequencing the entire dna of all of our gut bacteria, alot of the species havent been characterized and cant be cultured. Any gene minded people out there who get what the heck this is actually about?

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 01, 2012
at 09:30 AM

I dont understand the science. Whats the reputed relationship between this gene in our dna, and the bacteria in our gut?

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5 Answers

3
F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

on October 01, 2012
at 11:41 AM

Evolved to eat more fruit? That is probably fine for species that lived (and stayed) near the equator, but for any species heading north, they'd have had to contended with seasonality. Humans became hunters and thrived in ecologically diverse places because of it.

This came out a couple of years ago: "Our human ancestors did not eat much fruit, but instead consumed a lot of root vegetables, nuts, insects and some meat, according to a new study."

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on October 01, 2012
at 06:34 PM

http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Fermentation_in_the_gut_and_CFS The human gut is almost unique amongst mammals - the upper gut is a sterile, digesting carniverous gut (like a dog's or a cat's) to deal with meat and fat, whilst the lower gut (large bowel or colon) is full of bacteria and is a fermenting, vegetarian gut (like a horse's or cow's) to digest vegetables and fibre. From an evolutionary perspective this has been a highly successful strategy - it allows Eskimos to live on fat and protein and other people to survive on pure vegan diets.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:08 PM

my grade 9 science teacher taught us that you can prove anything you want so long as you choose your facts carefully. it would be interesting to see the demographics of the humans in each study.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:00 PM

You certainly can't dismiss the microbiota studies based on a single study looking at tooth structure.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 02, 2012
at 02:54 PM

We're not that unique, we're like most other omnivores. Despite having symbiotic gut microbes, we do not have a fermentation-based digestive system as herbivores do.

1
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on October 01, 2012
at 03:47 PM

The question I have after reading the article was who were these healthy people whose gut bacteria they looked at? How did they determine they were healthy? Did they come from all over the world? Were they just college students at an American university? Were they people who ate a natural foods diet or a factory foods diet, a vegetarian/vegan diet or a low-carb paleo diet? Would it make a difference? Were they born with C-section or vaginally, breast-fed or not and would that make a difference?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 04:05 PM

That's the whole point of the project; to figure out what affects our gut microbiota. There are going to be interpersonal differences, but we're still all human, all omnivories, we're still going to have very similar gut microbiota as other omnivores.

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 11:26 AM

Very interesting idea - sequencing, characterizing and comparing our gut flora. I'm not surprised that humans are generally very similar to other frugivore omnivores. That's where we came from. Certainly shoots down both vegan and meat-crazed paleo theories that we're either herbivores or carnivores. We are true omnivores.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:05 PM

and i have to wonder how much fruit the test subject(s) consumed; wouldn't the flora of people who eat fruit regularly vary from mine since i eat no fruit?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:08 PM

From the 2008 Science paper: "fecal samples from unrelated healthy human samples cluster with other omnivores, with interpersonal differences (UniFrac distances) being significantly smaller than the distances between humans and all other mammalian species. Although our interpersonal differences appear to be smaller than interspecies differences among mammals, deeper sampling and analysis will be required to circumscribe the gut microbial diversity inherent to humans. This is one of the early goals of the recently initiated international human microbiome project."

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 01:10 PM

So to paraphrase Fight Club: you are not a unique snowflake.

0
76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 01, 2012
at 05:30 PM

so this conclusion was drawn from comparing the fecal microbiota of bonobos and humans. correct me if I'm wrong, but the only stuff getting digested in the colon is going to be carbs and fiber, because the fat and protein humans ate got digested way higher up in the digestive system, and the evidence of the consumption of these foods would not show up in the fecal microbiota. the only stuff that would be coming out the end would be fruit and plants and such.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 07:04 PM

You don't think that all microbiota don't eventually head for the exit?

0
2403d227b12f654e84ea0ca6111ad054

(141)

on October 01, 2012
at 11:18 AM

"Research comparing the gut microbiome of bonobo and other animals using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences provide some interesting insight into the diet their microbiome might be most accustomed, tuned their immune system, and kept their gut from leaking. When the gut microbiome of herbivores (e.g., sheep, cow, giraffe, gorilla, horse, rhinoceros), omnivores (e.g., ring-tailed lemurs, baboon, humans, chimpanzee, bonobo, spider monkey), and carnivores (e.g., polar bear, dog, hyena, lion) are compared, bonobo samples not surprisingly cluster more closely with other omnivores. Interestingly, when compared to other hominids, bonobos cluster more closely with the human diet. While humans do eat a small amount of leaves and fruit, they are true omnivores, with a diet dominated by, as the name implies, meat. Therefore, from the perspective of the microbiome, bonobos may be considered omnivores, although specialized, eating seeds and meat depending on availability. Flexibility is fundamental."

Sorry, couldn't resist :3 This study is useless, what about the few gens we do not share with primates? What about the epigenetic influence?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 01, 2012
at 12:51 PM

Useless? Did you miss the whole point that this was comparing gut microbiota?

2403d227b12f654e84ea0ca6111ad054

(141)

on October 01, 2012
at 07:10 PM

Sorry, i did not notice that this study was comparing gut microbiota. i thought they were comparing gut microbiota.

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