High dietary intake of prebiotic inulin-type fructans in the prehistoric Chihuahuan Desert

Br J Nutr. 2010 Jun;103(11):1558-61. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510000966. Epub 2010 Apr 26.


Archaeological evidence from dry cave deposits in the northern Chihuahuan Desert reveal intensive utilisation of desert plants that store prebiotic inulin-type fructans as the primary carbohydrate. In this semi-arid region limited rainfall and poor soil conditions prevented the adoption of agriculture and thus provides a unique glimpse into a pure hunter-forager economy spanning over 10 000 years. Ancient cooking features, stable carbon isotope analysis of human skeletons, and well-preserved coprolites and macrobotanical remains reveal a plant-based diet that included a dietary intake of about 135 g prebiotic inulin-type fructans per d by the average adult male hunter-forager. These data reveal that man is well adapted to daily intakes of prebiotics well above those currently consumed in the modern diet.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agave / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Archaeology
  • Desert Climate
  • Diet / history*
  • Feces
  • Fossils
  • Fructans*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Liliaceae / chemistry
  • Male
  • Onions / chemistry
  • Plants, Edible
  • Prebiotics / history*
  • Texas


  • Fructans
  • Prebiotics