Sunday, April 30, 2006

Generations of Food Advice...

The Timeline of Dietary Advice actually starts with quite a few descriptive entries. Warning, it's a timewaster: take 123 CE, for example
By 600 B.C. Hindu physicians had identified the clinical symptoms of diabetes, blaming the condition on 'dietary indiscretion'. Around 400 B.C. an Indian physician, named Susruta suggested that diabetes may be linked to an excess of sugar, flour and rice in the diet.

Recommendations in the Caraka Samhita (c.123 A.D.) were for a moderate diet high in fibre and carbohydrates to counter these excesses.
And you just have to keep clicking. Of course, they highlight the prescient early citations and the really bad modern ones (OK, there's the goofy middle ages, too).... But it's still fun reading. It would be an interesting exercise to give this to some students and see what sort of "history" they could draw from these facts.

The Social Issues Research Center has some other fascinating papers, too, including a guide to flirting (one wonders if they are trying to take all the fun out of it) and a detailed and vigorous defense of gossip as an essential social function enabled by wireless and asynchronous communications.

3 comments:

Grant Jones said...

The newest version can be found in the Diamonds' work "Fit For Life." Breakfest should be fruit, nothing heavy, they advise.

Grant Jones said...

P.S. I disagree, fasting can be very helpful if properly done. It allows the body to detox and rest.

Ahistoricality said...

Everything in moderation, I suppose.

I'm deeply suspicious of any dietary advice which locks you in to a particular pattern of eating. I tend towards light breakfasts myself, but there are times -- such as meetings where lunch is rarely available -- where a very large breakfast is entirely appropriate.

As far as fasting goes, while it's an interesting religious discipline, I've never felt healthier at the end....