Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, June 19, 2019 10:12:49 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

How cheese shaped human evolution

20,000 years back, no adult could digest milk. But now, thanks to the interesting role cheese played in shaping our evolution, we can sit back and enjoy our dairy - be it a bucket of ice cream, melting cheese on top of a pizza or a buttered toast

20,000 years back, no adult could digest milk. But now, thanks to the interesting role cheese played in shaping our evolution, we can sit back and enjoy our dairy - be it a bucket of ice cream, melting cheese on top of a pizza or a buttered toast
photo by

By
14th-Sep-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Weekend Plus Desk :
While ‘you are what you eat’ is a contested statement, what we consume over many generations can shape the way we evolve as a species. Diet, in more ways than we can imagine, can change the human anatomy - what we eat today will influence the direction we take tomorrow.
A couple of weeks back, the world's oldest cheese was found in Egypt. This was an important discovery because, in a way, it displayed the importance of cheese in the diets of our ancestors - given it was an offering at burials.
But even if we shared our fondness for cheese with our ancestors 3200 years back, today, about two-thirds of the world's population is lactose intolerant or have reduced lactose tolerance after infancy.
This brings us to wonder - how did we transition from lactose tolerance to lactose intolerance or is it the other way round?
Even if dairy products form a part of the regular diet for people in Europe, Northern India, and North America, drinking milk in adulthood was only possible from the Bronze Age - over the last 4,500 years. Just 20,000 years ago, no one past infancy could digest milk sugar, called lactose.
When mammals are young, they produce an enzyme called lactase. Lactase helps in breaking down the sugary lactose found in their mothers’ milk.
But up until several thousand years ago, once a person came of age, they stopped producing that enzyme - meaning most adults were naturally lactose intolerant.
So how exactly did humans start becoming lactose tolerant?
Around 8,000 years ago in what's now Turkey - just when humans were starting to milk newly domesticated cows, goats, and sheep - mutations in the gene that produces the enzyme lactase started occurring often - which led to adult lactose tolerance. According to varying estimates, genetic mutation responsible for this may be between 2,000 and 20,000 years old.
In addition to it, during times of famine in Northern

Europe, instances of drinking milk probably increased in the region. And the people who shouldn’t have been consuming high-lactose dairy products ideally - the hungry and malnourished - were the ones who ended up consuming it more. Milk's ill-effects on the lactose intolerant separated them from people with lactase mutation in their genes who would have been the ones more likely to survive and pass on that gene.
Lactase tolerance offered an advantage to people who were able to pass this mutated gene on to their offspring.
This offered an added advantage because of increased calorie and nutrient intake - it is believed lactose tolerant populations could better survive famines, and may also have been better at conquests, aiding the spread of their civilizations and cultures.
While being able to digest milk could have been a boon in the past given the limitations of a nutrition-limited competitive environment, humans had already learned to tweak milk products to make it consumable and include it in their diet.
To cater to the lactose intolerant, the Neolithic populations were already processing milk into products they could consume - like cheese.
In the process of fermentation of milk, the bacteria breaks down milk sugars in milk, converting them into acids and easing digestion for those who have lactose intolerance. Cheese is low in lactose because it involves separating curd from whey. While curd is used to process cheese, the majority of the lactose sugars get separated with the whey.
To support it, archaeologists have discovered clay sieves from Poland - in which evidence of lipids were found in the pores of clay - which suggests they were used to separate the curd from the whey.
Even before genetic mutation supported lactose tolerance, humans by way of fermenting milk to make cheese had already found ways to safely include dairy products in their daily diet. This shows humans are capable of tweaking food to include it in their diet and making efficient use of resources available to them just like eating what we eat can lead to an evolution in our genetic makeup.

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Business & Economy »

MBL's award giving ceremony held


Economic Reporter :Mercantile Bank Ltd on Monday organised the 'Mercantile Bank Sommanona-2019' to award four eminent personalities and one institution for their outstanding contributions to the society. Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir handed over the gold medals, crests and cheques to all the awardees at a graceful ceremony at Hotel ...

Entertainment »

Maera Mishra is excited about her upcoming projects!


Maera Mishra is an Indian actor and model. She is as in the 11th season of MTV Splitsvilla. Ever since she featured in Splitsvilla Maera has not looked back. Maera is also a budding actor and she could be seen in love on the run on MTV, Savdhan India, Fear ...

Entertainment »

Soundarya Sharma yet again strikes a humanitarian chord


It was just recently when she instead of attending an event chose to help an injured cyclist. Now we just learned that Actor Soundarya Sharma is sponsoring health care for an elderly couple for a year, she came across an article about how elderly are lacking proper health care, as ...

International »

Trump heads back to base for 2020 campaign kickoff


President Donald Trump will get a big crowd of his most loyal supporters at Tuesday's official 2020 reelection campaign kickoff in Florida but dismal early poll numbers show the larger-than-life Republican businessman is vulnerable.Organizers claim the Orlando rally has sold out a 20,000-seat arena, with many more to gather outside, ...

International »

China warns US against opening ME 'Pandora's box'


AFP, Beijing :China on Tuesday warned against opening a "Pandora's box" in the Middle East after the United States announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the region amid escalating tensions with Iran.Foreign Minister Wang Yi also urged Tehran to not abandon the nuclear agreement "so easily" after Iran ...

Cricket »

Shakib Al Hasan: A man born to create milestone


Talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan now won two matches for Bangladesh in this World Cup, all by alone. When most of his teammates looked inconsistent, he did it by his own almost, albeit with little support from two different men in two different games.In Bangladesh's 21-run victory over South Africa, ...

Editorial »

No development projects destroying the Sundarbans


TRANSPARENCY International Bangladesh has called upon the government to immediately suspend all controversial projects, including the Rampal Power Plant near the Sundarbans. TIB also expressed deep concern following the UNESCO's recent proposal to put the Sundarbans on the list of "World Heritage in Danger" in the proposed agenda for its ...

Cricket »

Jason Roy to miss Afghanistan, Sri Lanka games with hamstring tear


England opening batsman Jason Roy, who left the field during the team's eight-wicket win over West Indies, has been ruled out of their next two matches, against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, an England and Wales Cricket Board release announced on Monday, 17 June.Roy had left the field during the West ...

International »

"Khashoggi death painful, stop exploiting case": Saudi Crown Prince


 AFP, Riyadh :Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has warned against "exploiting" the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for political gains, in what appeared to be a veiled attack on Turkey.Turkey's ties with Saudi Arabia have come under strain since the brutal murder last October of Khashoggi in the Saudi ...

Editorial »

No end to pain and miseries of slum dwellers


LOCAL Government Division Minister on Sunday informed the National Parliament that about 6.46 lakh people were living in 3,394 slums in the capital city Dhaka. Responding to a question from a lawmaker, he said there were 1,639 slums housing 4,99,011 people in the Dhaka North City Corporation area and 1,755 ...

Entertainment »

Taylor Swift releases new single You Need To Calm Down


Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift needs us to calm down but with the release of her latest single we just can’t! The 29-year-old singer dropped her new single titled You Need To Calm Down from her upcoming studio album Lover. The artist shared the lyrical video of the song on her official ...

Cricket »

No fracture found on Mushfiqur's forearm


Bangladesh heaved a huge sigh of relief after an X-ray report revealed that Mushfiqur Rahim had no fracture on his forearm.Mushfiqur, considered as the most dependable batsman of the country, got hit on his right forearm during a batting practice session while facing a bouncer from pace bowler Mustafizur Rahman.He ...

International »

Saudi Crown Prince lashes out at arch-rival Iran over tanker attacks


AFP, Riyadh :Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused arch-rival Iran of attacks on oil tankers in a vital Gulf shipping channel, adding he "won't hesitate" to tackle any threats to the kingdom, according to an interview published on Sunday.Two tankers were struck by explosions on Thursday in the Gulf ...

Cricket »

More than just a game: India face Pakistan in World Cup battle royale


Virat Kohli will have history on his side when India take on arch-rivals Pakistan in a World Cup blockbuster on Sunday -- a clash that is always more than just a game of cricket.India cut off bilateral cricket ties with its neighbour after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, with authorities ...

Cricket »

Eoin Morgan downplays England's injury concerns


England captain Eoin Morgan said that his team is "not at panic stations", after he and Jason Roy left the field with discomfort during the game against West Indies in Southampton on Friday, 14 June.Both Roy and Morgan had left the field at different points during West Indies' innings and ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news