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Old October 18th, 2012, 08:00 PM   #1
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What does History have to say about a healthy diet?


Healthy diet theories are an amazing thing in the way they contradict each other. Science is even better on this topic one day presenting something as unhealthy only to find some years latter that it was a healthy thing after all. So far the only conclusive thing with which everyone seems agree, except for doctors treating anorexia, is that you are better off if you eat below the daily amount of calories needed.
Can History tell something about it? Higher allergenic foods like wheat, corn and milk were introduced latter in history. It seems the incidence of intolerance also varies according to ethnic group.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 01:25 AM   #2

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Healthy diet as in good nutritious value and the allergenic reactions of some individuals to certain food products is two separate things.

For example the [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_diet]Mediterranean diet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame] is considered very healthy, but it does include a sizeable amount of cereal products and moderate amounts of dairy.

A lot of Asian cuisines, especially the Japanese and especially the local variety on Okinawa is considered to be very healthy, but it consists also of among other things shellfish, which some people also can be allergic to.

So I think it is important to separate the discussion between what is technically healthy and nutritious and contains the right amounts of minerals and energy for your body, and allergies, as the latter aren't a consistent phenomenon in every individual, and thus is something that requires individualised diets.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 01:31 AM   #3
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I may be wrong but I read somewhere that the decline of the Roman Empire was in some way related to the predominance of soft and rich foods in the latter day Roman Diet.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 01:57 AM   #4

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I may be wrong but I read somewhere that the decline of the Roman Empire was in some way related to the predominance of soft and rich foods in the latter day Roman Diet.
That sounds highly unlikely, since the majority of the population would have dined on a stable diet of bread, soup, vegetables and beans all their life.

It sounds like something from the "Rome ended because of its decadence"-theory, which was popular in the 19th century, but has little historical merit.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 04:17 AM   #5
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Healthy diet as in good nutritious value and the allergenic reactions of some individuals to certain food products is two separate things.

For example the Mediterranean diet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is considered very healthy, but it does include a sizeable amount of cereal products and moderate amounts of dairy.

A lot of Asian cuisines, especially the Japanese and especially the local variety on Okinawa is considered to be very healthy, but it consists also of among other things shellfish, which some people also can be allergic to.

So I think it is important to separate the discussion between what is technically healthy and nutritious and contains the right amounts of minerals and energy for your body, and allergies, as the latter aren't a consistent phenomenon in every individual, and thus is something that requires individualised diets.
Yes, I agree. However some of the foods that cause more alergy were introduced latter in the history of mankind. I read that wheat, corn and milk are the foods that cause more allergy in the US. There is also intolerance which is different from allergy like intolerance to gluten and lactosis. I read among Asians intolerance to milk can affect as much as 70% of the population, while the North of Europe will only affect 30%.

On the other hand nutrients can be a tricky think. For instance some foods that are known to have certain nutrients are also known to be associated with the loss of the same nutrients. Milk has calcium, and people are advised to drink it, but societies that drink more milk have higher rates of ostheoporosis. On the other hand most animals in the animal kingdom don't drink milk past infancy and they have strong bones and so had neanderthals and paleolithic men who would hardly eat anything besides meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.

So maybe finding the proper diet can be more useful than looking at the nutritious value of food alone. Since before the refining and processing of food everything had a nutritious value. Unlike many foods today which only or almost only provide calories.

Last edited by Yōḥānān; October 19th, 2012 at 04:23 AM.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 05:13 AM   #6

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I may be wrong but I read somewhere that the decline of the Roman Empire was in some way related to the predominance of soft and rich foods in the latter day Roman Diet.
A factor of Saturnism in Roman society was lead coming from pipes that poisoned their water.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 05:22 AM   #7

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Cow milk is for calves and shouldn't be drunk as often as it is by humans. It has been associated with lots of deseases: cancers, tumors, immunodeficiency, diabetes, etc. Instead of augmenting Calcium in your bones, by drinking milk you're taking the Calcium out, because the high intake of protein it has in big proportions acidifies our blood. Also is highly allergenic. I have heard North Americans, lets say US people, drink milk as water, is this true? Why?

If there's something we have being eating since millennia is meat, seeds, fruits, nuts. That kind of stuff.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 05:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Gudenrath View Post
That sounds highly unlikely, since the majority of the population would have dined on a stable diet of bread, soup, vegetables and beans all their life.

It sounds like something from the "Rome ended because of its decadence"-theory, which was popular in the 19th century, but has little historical merit.
My source may be wrong, maybe it was another Internet Forum on History. Maybe it was just the ruling class which became addicted to soft and rich foods. Anyways, I am no expert on Roman History. I certainly think the current predominant diet in the US is not healthy.

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A factor of Saturnism in Roman society was lead coming from pipes that poisoned their water.
I wasn't aware about that carevic. Thanx a lot for increasing my awareness about History. Lead is certainly not good for our brains. Would you say Saturnism helped in the decline of the Roman Empire. Did it prescribe certain principles for a Healthy Diet?
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Old October 19th, 2012, 05:29 AM   #9

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A lot of Asian cuisines, especially the Japanese and especially the local variety on Okinawa is considered to be very healthy, but it consists also of among other things shellfish, which some people also can be allergic to.
It is interesting that the pre-modern Japanese diet had a restricted calorie intake, which research seems to suggest is linked to longer life.

But the diet of the upper classes during the Edo period was based on highly polished white rice, which led to an increase in beri-beri as it didn't provide adequate levels of thiamine.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 05:50 AM   #10

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A factor of Saturnism in Roman society was lead coming from pipes that poisoned their water.
I have read that this is also a myth. The water in Rome tended to be very hard (that is having a high mineral content), and this very quickly created a protective layer of calcium on the inside of the lead piping, thus minimising the lead poisoning effect of drinking the water.
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