Trying to follow a healthy diet, but don't know which one? Well, in that case, you should opt for a 'Medieval' diet. It has been claimed by a general practitioner that medieval humans might have enjoyed healthier lifestyles than their descendants today because of their diet.
Dr Roger Henderson said that the low-fat, vegetable-rich diet, which was washed down by weak ale, of the medieval people was far better for the heart than today's starchy, processed foods. Henderson added that while the people of those times consumed more food, they burnt off calories in a workout of 12 hours' labour.
However, he submits to the fact that life in those times, for even prosperous peasants was tough. Also, after examining the available records Henderson suggested that medieval meals were perhaps much better than the much-touted "Mediterranean" diet enjoyed by the Romans.
The Mediterranean diet involved fish, fruit, whole grains and olive oil, as well as red wine, but because of the overindulgence of the rich it does not much up to the Medieval diet in which the poor might not always have been able to obtain food for them.
However, the average medieval peasant would have eaten nearly two loaves of bread each day, and 8oz of meat or fish.
The Medieval lifestyle includes:
- Calories: 3,500 - 4,000
- Nearly two loaves of bread
- Three pints of ale
- Up to 12 hours labour each day
All this would have escorted by liberal quantities of vegetables, including beans, turnips and parsnips, and washed down by three pints of ale.
Significantly, there was little refined sugar in their food, while biscuits, cake and sweets dominate modern eating habits. "If you put this together with the incredible work load, medieval man was at much less risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes than we are today," BBC quoted Henderson, as saying.
The Modern lifestyle includes:
- Calories: 2,700
- Fat intake exceeds recommendations
- Less than 20 minutes exercise each day
- Greater risk of heart disease and diabetes
Henderson acknowledged that in today's time people did have one advantage over their ancestors when it comes to staying alive. "If you got to 30 in those days you were doing well, past 40 and you were distinctly long in the tooth," he said.
Anna Denny of the British Nutrition Foundation said: "This research highlights how much lifestyles have changed over the centuries. Today, the majority of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, but energy intakes have actually been decreasing for several decades."