Food and Health II
April 23, 2018
Following up on last weeks article.
Mid Victorian England, 1850 -1880, was believed to be a time of poor quality nutrition and poor health. Historians had based their belief that we are healthier today on mortality rates and perceptions of causation.
A three article series by Clayton et. al. in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2008 sheds light on a reality that is vastly different.
1850-1880 was a golden age for health in England. Life expectancy paralleled ours today, however, without death based on degenerative diseases and with no modern pharmaceuticals, surgeries or other health initiatives.
How could this be? We have modern medicine right? The authors looked at mortality rates in England and realized that when you remove the high death rate for children between the ages of 0-5 years from infectious disease, then the average adult lived until 75 years old. They further went on to evaluate the causes of death.
Death at the mid 19th century was almost universally from infectious disease and not cancer, diabetes or heart disease. This is surprising considering the belief that these people had a poorly nourished diet and should have developed many diseases like cancer and diabetes as they lived into the 70's.
After further analysis, it turns out that the Victorians ate a diet very much like a cross between the paleolithic and Mediterranean diets. They ate mostly fresh, local vegetables and fruits (10 servings a day), legumes and nuts, local seafood, free range meats weekly, eggs and dairy products, and a fair amount of whole grains that were never processed beyond stone ground flour. Food never had added salt or sugar!!!!
Current statistics show that males will spend on average 7.7 years of their lives with a medical dependency with increasing morbidity. They had no such issues back then. They had compressed mortality; live and die quickly from a rapidly consuming illness like pneumonia.
The conclusion of this data set is to eat a predominantly plant based, fresh diet, exercise daily and live long and disease free.