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appleA diet is a set of nutrients taken during the regular consumption of foods. Popularly, and in the case of humans, the diet is wrongly associated with the practice of restricting food intake to just get the nutrients and energy they need, and thereby achieve or maintain a certain weight.

The human diet is considered balanced if it provides the nutrients and energy in amounts that maintain body functions in a context of physical and mental health. This particular diet is balanced and individuala adapt it to their sex, age, weight and health status. However, several factors (geographical, social, economic, pathological, etc.) are influencing the balance of the diet.


Etymologically the word “diet” comes from the Greek dayta, meaning ‘life scheme’. Accepted as the ‘set and quantities of food or food mixtures commonly consumed’. You can also refer to the regime that, in certain circumstances, make healthy, ill or convalescing in eating, drinking and sleeping.

History of human diets

It seems that some hominids (Spain, France and Germany), as Homo antecessor, practiced cannibalism. This is demonstrated by the archaeological sites of the Sierra de Atapuerca (Spain) through the study of the marks on the bones found in the cave of Gran Dolina. Possibly this practice is not attributable to a lack of food and lacked any intent ritual, but was made with what are termed as “gastronomic cannibalism”. It can therefore be considered as the earliest reference of cannibalism in Europe (more than 800,000 years old).

Due to the biological limitations, the human species invented weapons in order to hunt other animals and discovered how to make fire for cooking.

The physiological characteristics of the current human species Homo sapiens (standing, morphology of the jaw and teeth or hand) have conditioned their diet. These characteristics facilitated harvesting techniques and game, prevailing consumption of animal foods. During the Neolithic there was a shift in their food gathering techniques to develop farming methods and livestock, which also changed from a model to another sedentary and nomadic diet was more varied.

Translated and adapted from Wikipedia under GNU Free Documentation License.

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