Sunday, 5 September 2010

Gettin' Medieval on Yo' Ass

The paleo approach is simple.  If you look back far enough in history, you can see how we were forged in the fires of evolution.  You could go back to the 1970's for nutritional direction , and your diet would probably be better than what is available now.  You could dip a bit further back - to what your great grand-parents ate and things would be better again.

What about going further back?  You might think that an Egyptian diet would be agreeable but evidence of tooth decay and arthritis in their skeletal remains suggest otherwise.  The Roman diet favoured by gladiators led to obesity and should similarly be avoided (obesity being a visible marker of a whole host of nasties).  A growing body of evidence suggests that an optimal diet requires that you go back at least 10,000 to leverage the pre-agricultural advantage...

My attention was drawn to this article on the BBC website; Medieval diet aids healthy eating message.  So what can the Medieval period tell us?  Dr Iona McCleery, a lecturer in medieval history at Leeds University, observes,
  • ...whereas in the past it was the rich who risked weight gain, today poorer people are more more likely to become obese.

    "Interestingly it was the peasant class, whose diet would class today as healthy," she said.

    "The poorer you were, the higher chances you ate more vegetables and had more mixed grains in your diet.

    "The poor were semi-vegetarians who simply could not afford meat and social status. Wealth is very much associated with diet."

    Food historian Caroline Yeldham agreed, saying that highlighting modern eating patterns and contrasting them to medieval diets would make people think about what they ate.

    "The medieval diet was very fresh food. There were very few preserves so everything was made fresh and it was low in fat and low in salt and sugar."
I'd wager there was no 'five a day' nor 'low fat' mantras.  Nor any talk of 'complex carbs' and food pyramids.  I would imagine that there was a lot of seasonal eating, foraging and the eating of organ meets and saturated fat.  So why focus on the grains, fruit and veg?  They also omit to mention that there was also lots of tooth decay....

And as for 'less salt' - anyone want to guess how meat was cured?

The nutrition message is definitely going in the right direction, but until they break through the pre-agricultural boundary (PEB), they'll get close, but no cigar.

No comments: