Obesity

Obesity

Recent History

January 1, 205

A Comparison of Ancient Greek and Roman Sports Diets with Modern Day Practices

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Galen says on usage of broad beans as food: "Our gladiators eat a great deal of this food every day, making the condition of their body fleshy – not compact, dense flesh like pork, but flesh that is somehow more flabby."

In terms of diets, we also know that specific types of athletes were fed in ways that matched their needs and improved their performance. One such form of sport was the ancient gladiator, and here we learn from Galen, that beans were highly recommended in order to build bulk into such athletes. Galen even goes so far as to state that the bean should be boiled long enough in order to avoid flatulence [28].

On broad beans: “There is also much use made of these, since soups are prepared from them, the fluid one in pots and the thick one in pans. Our gladiators eat a great deal of this food every day, making the condition of their body fleshy – not compact, dense flesh like pork, but flesh that is somehow more flabby. The food is flatulent, even if it has been cooked for a very long time, and however it has been prepared, while ptisane gets rid of all flatulent effect during the period of cooking.”

January 1, 1673

Directions for Governing the Appetite Or, Directions against Gluttony

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Richard Baxter, a priest born in 1615, wrote about the sin of gluttony and says the causes are both excess and "Or else it may be an excess in the delicious quantity, when more regard is had to the delight and sweetness than is fit."

I. Gluttony is a voluntary excess in eating, for the pleasing of the appetite, or some other carnal end.

(1.) It is sometimes an excess in quantity, when more is eaten than is fit.

(2.) Or else it may be an excess in the delicious quantity, when more regard is had to the delight and sweetness than is fit.

(3.) Or it may be an excess in the frequency or length of eating; when men eat too often, and sit at it too long.

(4.) It may be an excess in the costliness or price; when men feed themselves at too high rates.

Common gluttony is when it is done for the pleasing of the appetite, with such a pleasure, as is no help to health or duty, but usually a hurt to body or soul; the body being hurt by the excess, the soul is hurt by the inordinate pleasure.

Yes, it is a kind of gluttony and excess, when men will not fast or abstain when they are required, from that which at other times they may use with temperance and without blame. If a man is accustomed to not eat excessively nor deliciously, yet if he will not abstain from his temperate diet, either at a public fast, or when his lust requires him to take down his body, or when his physician would diet him for his health, and his disease else would be increased by what he eats—this is an inordinate eating and excess to that person, at that time. Or if the delight that the appetite has in one sort of food, which is hurtful to the body, prevails against reason and health so with the person that he will not forbear it, it is a degree of gluttony, though for quantity and quality it is in itself but ordinary.

By this you may see:

1. That it is not the same quantity which is an excess in one, which is in another. A laboring man may eat somewhat more than one that does not labor; and a strong and healthful body may eat more than the weak and sick. It must be an excess in quantity, as to that particular person at that time, which is, when to please his appetite he eats more than is profitable to his health or duty.

2. So also the frequency must be considered with the quality of the person; for one person may rationally eat a little and often, for his health; and another may luxuriously eat more often than is profitable to health. Ecclesiastes 10:16, 17, "Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, for strength and not for drunkenness."

3. And in point of costliness, the same measure is not to be set to a prince and to a ploughman; that is luxurious excess in one, which may be temperance and frugality in another. But yet, excessive cost, which, all things considered, would do more good another way, is excess in whomever.

4. And in tastiness of diet a difference must be allowed: the happier healthful man need not be so particular as the sick; and the happy ploughman need not be so particular, as state and expectation somewhat require the noble and the rich to be.

5. And for length of time, though unnecessary sitting out time at table is a sin in any, yet the happy poor man is not obliged to spend all out so much this way, as the rich may do.

6. And it is not all delight in food, or pleasing the appetite, that is a sin; but only that which is made men's end, and not referred to a higher end; even when the delight itself does not tend to health, nor alacrity in duty, nor is used to that end, but to please the flesh and tempt unto excess.

June 10, 1772

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772

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As to the persons of the Northern Indians, they are in general above the middle size; well-proportioned, strong, and robust, but not corpulent.

As to the persons of the Northern Indians, they are in general above the middle size; well-proportioned, strong, and robust, but not corpulent. They do not possess that activity of body, and liveliness of disposition, which are so commonly met with among the other tribes of Indians who inhabit the West coast of Hudson's Bay.


Their complexion is somewhat of the copper cast, inclining rather toward a dingy brown; and their hair, like all the other tribes in India, is black, strong, and straight. I have seen several of the Southern Indian men who were near six feet high, preserve a single lock of their hair, that, when let down, would trail on the ground as they walked. This, however, is but seldom seen; and some have suspected it to be false: but I have examined the hair of several of them, and found it to be real.


Few of the men have any beard; this seldom makes its appearance till they are arrived at middle-age, and then is by no means equal in quantity to what is observed on the faces of the generality of Europeans; the little they have, however, is exceedingly strong and bristly. Some of them take but little pains to eradicate their beards, though it is considered as very unbecoming; and those who do, have no other method than that of pulling it out by the roots between their fingers and the edge of a blunt knife. Neither sex have any hair under their armpits, and very little on any other part of the body, particularly the women; but on the place where Nature plants the hair, I never knew them attempt to eradicate it.

Their features are peculiar, and different from any other tribe in those parts; for they have very low foreheads, small eyes, high cheek-bones, Roman noses, full cheeks, and in general long broad chins. Though few of either sex are exempt from this national set of features, yet Nature seems to be more strict in her observance of it among the females, as they seldom vary so much as the men. Their skins are soft, smooth, and polished; and when they are dressed in clean clothing, they are as free from an offensive smell as any of the human race.


Every tribe of Northern Indians, as well as the Copper and Dog-ribbed Indians, have three or four parallel black strokes marked on each cheek; which is performed by entering an awl or needle under the skin, and, on drawing it out again, immediately rubbing powdered charcoal into the wound

January 1, 1777

John Rollo

John Rollo by Alexander Marble

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Dr Rollo finds a case of Diabetes Mellitus in a weaver in Edinburgh

"In the year 1777 ... I saw a case of the Diabetes Mellitus in a weaver at Edinburgh. He had been at least four months in the Royal Infirmary without having derived any advantage, and was chiedy under the care of the late Dr. Hope, Professor of Botany. When the patient was discharged, a Mr. Johnstone, then a Student of Physic, and myself, detained him a few days, and paid his expenses, in order to bleed him, and obtain some of his urine, so as to ascertain the appearances and spontaneous changes. I well remember that the blood and urine exhibited the appearances discribed by Dr. Dobson; but the papers, and a portion of the saccharine extract which I carried with me abroad, were lost in the hurricane at Barbados in 1789."

January 1, 1778

John Rollo

John Rollo by Marble

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Mr. Cruickshank turns 36 ounces of diabetic urine into honey.

Rollo, with the aid of Cruickshank, carried out laboratory studies with his patients to ascertain the results of treatment and to elucidate the nature of diabetes. The fluid intake, urine output and the body weight were determined. The urine was tasted to indicate the presence of sugar and subjected to experiments before and after evaporation to determine its chemical composition and content of sugar. At the beginning of treatment when Captain Meredith was passing up to twelve quarts of urine in twenty-four hours, the following notes were made: 


"Mr. Cruickshank took 36 ounces troy weight of urine voided today, and it yielded by evaporation three ounces and one drachm of saccharine extract, of the appearance of molasses, but thicker, having nearly the consistence of wax, and somewhat tenacious. If, therefore, the whole of the day's urine had been evaporated it would have yielded about 29 ounces troy weight, an astonishing quantity to be formed and seperated form the system. By standing in the air it became moist, and of nearly the consistence, smell and appearance of treacle." 


"Treating some of this extract with the nitrous acid, he procured the saccarine or oxalic acid; and with a smaller proportion of the acid it produced a substance, which in resemblance, and smell, could not be distinguished from honey."

Ancient History

Luxor, Luxor Governorate, Egypt

2475

B.C.E.

The Earliest Record of Sudden Death Possibly Due to Atherosclerotic Coronary Occlusion
WALTER L. BRUETSCH

The sudden death of an Egyptian noble man is portrayed in the relief of a tomb from the Sixth Dynasty (2625-2475 B.C.). Since there is indisputable evidence from the dissections of Egyptian mummies that atherosclerosis was prevalent in ancient Egypt, it was conjectured that the sudden death might have been due to atherosclerotic occlusion of the coronary arteries.

It may be presumptuous to assume that an Egyptian relief sculpture from the tomb of a noble of the Sixth Dynasty (2625-2475 B.C.) may suggest sudden death possibly due

to coronary atherosclerosis and occlusion. Much of the daily life of the ancient Egyptians has been disclosed to us through well-preserved tomb reliefs. In the same tomb that contains the scene of the dying noble, there is the more widely known relief "Netting Wildfowl in the Marshes." The latter sculpture reveals some of the devices used four thousand years ago for catching waterbirds alive. It gives a minute account of this occupation, which in ancient Egypt was both a sport and a means of livelihood for the professional hunter.

The relief (fig. 1), entitled "Sudden Death," by the Egyptologist von Bissing2 represents a nobleman collapsing in the presence of his servants. The revelant part of the explanatory text, as given by von Bissing, follows (translation by the author):


The interpretation of the details of the theme is left to the observer. We must attempt to comprehend the intentions of the ancient artist who sculptured this unusual scene. In the upper half (to the right) are two men with the customary brief apron, short hair covering the ears, busying themselves with a third man, who obviously has collapsed. One of them, bending over him, has grasped with both hands the left arm of the fallen man; the other servant, bent in his left knee, tries to uphold him by elevating the head and neck, using the knee as a support. Alas, all is in vain. The movement of the left hand of this figure, beat- ing against the forehead, seems to express the despair; and also in the tightly shut lips one can possibly recognize a distressed expression. The body of the fallen noble is limp. . . . Despite great restraint in the interpretation, the impression which the artist tried to convey is quite obvious. The grief and despair are also expressed by the figures to the left. The first has put his left hand to his forehead. (This gesture represents the Egyptian way of expressing sorrow.) At the same time he grasps with the other arm his companion who covers his face with both hands. The third, more impulsively, unites both hands over his head. ... The lord of the tomb, Sesi, whom we can identify here, has suddenly collapsed, causing consternation among his household.

In the section below (to the left) is shown the wife who, struck by terror, has fainted and sunk totheflor. Two women attendants are seen giving her first aid. To the right, one observes the wife, holding on to two distressed servants, leaving the scene. . . .

von Bissing mentions that the artist of the relief must have been a keen observer of real life. This ancient Egyptian scene is not unlike the tragedy that one encounters in present days, when someone drops dead of a "heart attack." The physician of today has almost no other choice than to certify the cause of such a death as due to coronary occlusion or thrombosis, unless the patient was known tohave been aflictedwith rheumatic heart disease or with any of the other more rare conditions which may result in sudden death.


Atherosclerosis among the Ancient Egyptians 


The most frequent disease of the coronary arteries, causing sudden death, is atherosclerosis. What evidence is available that atherosclerosis was prevalent in ancient Egypt?

The first occasion to study his condition in peoples of ancient civilizations presented itself when the mummified body of Menephtah (approx.1280-1211B.C.), the reported "Pharaoh of the Hebrew Exodus" from Egypt was found. King Menephtah had severe atherosclerosis. The mummy was unwrapped by the archaeologist Dr. G. Elliot Smith, who sent a piece of the Pharaoh's aorta to Dr. S. G. Shattock of London (1908). Dr. Shattock was able to prepare satisfactory microscopic sections which revealed advanced aortic atherosclerosis with extensive depositions of calcium phosphate.

This marked the beginning of the important study of arteriosclerosis in Egyptian mummies by Sir Mare Armand Ruffer, of the Cairo Medical School(1910-11). His material included mummies ranging over a period of about 2,000 years (1580 B.C. - 525 A.D.).

The technic of embalming in the days of ancient Egypt consisted of the removal of all the viscera and of most of the muscles, destroying much of the arterial system. Often, however, a part or at times the whole aorta or one of the large peripheral arteries was left behind. The peroneal artery, owing to its deep situation, frequently escaped the em- balmer'sknife. Otherarteries,suchasthe femorals, brachials, and common carotids, had persisted.

In some mummies examined by Ruffer the abdominal aorta was calcified in its entirety, the extreme calcification extending into the iliae arteries. Calcified plaques were also found in some of the larger branches of the aorta. The common carotid arteries frequently revealed patches of atheroma, but the most marked atheroselerotic alterations were in the arteries of the lower extremities. The common iliae arteries were not infrequently studded with calcareous plaques and in some instances the femoral arteries were converted into rigid tubes. In other mummies, however, the same arteries were near normal.


What is known as Mdnekeberg's medial calcification was also observed in some of the mummified bodies. In a histologic section of a peronieal artery, the muscular coat had been changed almost wholly by calcification. In one of Ruffer's photographic plates, a part of a calcified ulnar artery is shown. The muscular fibers had been completely replaced by calcification.


In the aorta, as in present days, the atherosclerotic process had a predilection for the points of origin of the intercostal and other arteries. The characteristics and the localization of the arterial lesions observed in Egyptian mummies leaves litle doubt that atherosclerosis in ancient times was of the same nature and degree as seen in today's postmortem examinations.


As to the prevalence of the disease, Ruffer ventured to say that the Egyptians of ancient times suffered as much as modern man from arterial lesions, identical with those found in our times. Ruffer was well qualified to make this statement having performed many autopsies on modern Egyptians, Moslems, and other people of the Middle East. In going over his material and examining the accompanying photographic plates of arteries, one can have litle doubt that what Ruffer had observed in Egyptian mummies represented arteriosclerosis as it is known today.


Although the embalming left no opportunity to examine the coronary arteries inl mummified bodies, the condition of the aorta is a good index of the decree of atheroselerosis present elsewhere. In individuals with extensive atheroselerosis of the aorta, there is almost always a considerable degree of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries. If Ruffer's statement is correct that the Egyptians of 3,000 years ago were afflicted with arteriosclerosis as much as we are nowadays, coronary occlusion must have been common among the elderly population of the pre-Christian civilizations.


Furthermore, gangrene of the lower extremities in the aged has been recognized since the earliest records of disease. Gangrene of the extremities for centuries did not undergo critical investigation until Cruveilhier (1791- 1873) showed that it was caused by atherosclerotic arteries, associated at times with a terminal thrombus.


SUMMARY

The record of a sudden death occurring in an Egyptian noble of the Sixth Dynasty (2625-2475 B.C.) is presented. Because of the prevalence of arteriosclerosis in ancient Egyptian mummies there is presumptive evidence that this incident might represent sudden death due to atheroselerotic occlusion of the coronary arteries.

Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Egypt

945

B.C.E.

Cardiology in Ancient Egypt by Eugene V. Boisaubin, MD

Egyptians describe coronary ischemia: "if thou examinest a man for illness in his cardia and he has pains in his arms, and in his breast and in one side of his cardio... it is death threatening him."

The classic pattern of cardiac pain--radiation to the left arm--was so well known that the ancient Egyptians and Copts even identified the left ring finger as the "heart" finger.


Altogether, ancient Egyptians were aware of a variety of abnormal cardiac conditions, particularly of angina pectoris and sudden death, arrhythmia, aneurysm, congestive heart failure, and venous insufficiency. Numerous remedies for afflicitions of the heart are found throughout the Ebers payrus. 

There were a range of them using different foods, some even including carbohydrates like dates or honey and dough, but interesting, there is another combination of "fat flesh, incense, garlic, and writing fluid".


Extensive histologic analysis of mummies began, however; well before the development of the scanning electron microscope. In 1912, Shattock' made sections of the calcified aorta of Pharaoh Merneptah; and the work of Sir Marc Armand Rufer, published posthumously in 1921, is our most valuable early source of information about vascular disease in ancient Egyptians. Ruffer was able to study a relatively large number of tissue specimens from mummies, mainly from New Kingdom (1600-1100 BC) burials, but covering a wide period of time. In a mummy of the 28th to 30th Dynasty (404-343 BC), he observed atheromas in the common carotids and calcific atheromas in the left subclavian, common iliac, and more peripheral arteries. Ruffer concluded from the state of the costal cartilage that this mummy was not that of an old person. A mummy of a man of the Greek period (ca. 300 to 30 BC), who died at not over 50 years of age, showed atheromas of the aorta and brachial arteries. Since the discoveries of Rufer, numerous other mummies, whose ages at death ranged from the 4th to the 8th decade, have shown similar vascular changes (Fig.4).


In 1931, Long described a female mummy of the 21st Dynasty (1070-945 BC), found at Deir-el- Bahari-that of the lady Teye, who died at about 50 years of age. The heart showed calcification of one mitral cusp, and thickening and calcification of the coronary arteries. The myocardium is said to have had patchy fibrosis, and the aorta "nodular arteriosclerosis." The renal capsule was thickened, many of the glomeruli were fibrosed, and the medium-sized renal vessels were sclerotic. The condition appears to be that of hypertensive arteriosclerotic disease associated with atheromatous change. In the 1960s, Sandison examined and photographed mummy arteries using modern histologic methods (Fig.5). Arteries in the mummy tissues were described as tape-like, but could be dissected easily, whereupon arteriosclerosis, atheroma with lipid depositions, reduplication of the internal elastic lamina, and medial calcification were readily visible under microscopy.


Still more recently, one of the most extensively studied Egyptian mummies has been PUMIL from the Pennsylvania University Museum(hence its initials), now on loan to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. It is believed to be from the later Ptolemaic period, circa 170BC. The heart and portions of an atherosclerotic aorta were found in the abdominal cavity. Histologically, large and small arterioles and arteries from other organs showed areas of intimal fibrous thickening typical of sclerosis. These findings are particularly striking since the estimated age of PUM I at time of death was between 35 and 40 years.

Books

Calories Don't Matter

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Dr Carlton Frederick's Low Carbohydrate Diet

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January 1, 1965

Dr Carlton Frederick's Low Carbohydrate Diet

Eat, drink, and get thin: The Last Diet Book You'll Ever Need

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January 1, 1969

Eat, drink, and get thin: The Last Diet Book You'll Ever Need

Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution

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October 1, 1981

Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution

Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life

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Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

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November 14, 2008

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet

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The Fat Switch

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Facultative Carnivore

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