Luteal phase immunosuppression and meat eating.Riv Biol 2001 Sep-Dec; 94(3):403-26RB
Immunosuppression during pregnancy makes the mother vulnerable to pathogens. Because meat is the principal source of ingestible pathogens, pregnancy raises the costs of meat eating. Natural selection has crafted a mechanism involving changes in nausea susceptibility and olfactory perception that reduces meat consumption during pregnancy. Evidence is presented showing that the luteal phase is marked by both immunosuppression and changes in nausea susceptibility and olfaction; meat consumption may be reduced during this period, suggesting a mechanism similar to pregnancy sickness. Constraints on compensatory increases in meat consumption outside of the luteal phase explain why women eat less meat than men. Meat is the principal target of acquired aversions. Women possess more aversions than men, suggesting that prophylactic mechanisms sometimes result in longstanding dietary changes. Reproductive immunosuppression explains many aspects of dietary behavior and sheds light on factors that may have contributed to gender-based divisions of labor during hominid evolution.