Fact: Often times we are so focused on “best practice” or the “newest research” that we can get bogged down in the nitty gritty details. These facts can sometimes be the dry part of our practice. So today I bring you (from the Folks at Random Facts) 10 random facts about nutrition history. All of these facts have been checked and cited by historians. The citations I am leaving on the quotes to continue to properly give credit where credit is due!
- “Many parents during the Roman empire who were influenced by doctors such as Soranus and Galen often denied their babies colostrum (protein-rich breast milk) believing it was too thick and not good for the child’s digestion. They regularly gave their babies to a wet-nurse (though the mother’s milk was usually the best) and were likely to wean their babies onto foods that lacked adequate nutrition, such as diluted cereals and mixtures of honey or wine with softened bread.e”
- “The English are sometimes called “limeys” because British sailors would eat limes to stave off scurvy. Limes were later replaced by lemons due to the lack of adequate vitamin C in lime juice.f”
- “Temperature can affect appetite. A cold person is more likely to eat more food.d”
- “The human digestive system is home to between 10 and 100 trillion bacteria, at least 10 times the amount of cells in the body. Some scholars speculate that intestinal bacteria differ in lean and obese people.i”
- “A person will usually swallow around 250 times during dinner.i”
- “In the United States, it is estimated that every adult unconsciously consumes one pound of insects each year due to garden produce, poor restaurant and home hygiene, and commercial foods for which the USDA allows a certain amount of insect fragments. Peanut butter, for example, is allowed to have 30 insect fragments per 100 grams.b”
- “Eggs contain the highest quality food protein known. All parts of an egg are edible, including the shell which has a high calcium content.c”
- “Ancient Mesoamerican cultures such as the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec used chocolate as medicine and as a medium in which other medicines were taken.b”
- “A 1552 B.C. Egyptian papyrus provides an early description of what seems to be diabetes and specifically mentions polyuria (frequent urination). Up until the eleventh century A.D., diabetes was typically diagnosed by “water tasters” who drank the urine of those thought to have diabetes. Those who had sweet-tasting urine were thought to have diabetes mellitus (Latin for “honey”), or Type 1 diabetes.a”
- “Improved nutrition (as well as vaccinations and antibiotics) has extended the average U.S. lifespan from 30 to 40 years old in the early twentieth century to 70 to 80 years old today.f”
Random Facts References:
a Dalby, Andrew. 2003. Food in the Ancient World: From A to Z. New York, NY: Routledge.
b Etkin, Nina L. 2006. Edible Medicines: An Ethnopharmacology of Food. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.
c Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. 2002. Near A Thousand Tables: A History of Food. New York, NY: The Free Press.
e Garnsy, Peter. 1999. Food and Society in Classical Antiquity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
i Roday, Sunetra. 2007. Food Science and Nutrition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
f Kittler, Pamela Goyan and Kathryn P. Sucher. 1998. Food and Culture in America: A Nutrition Handbook. 2nd Ed. Albany, NY: West Publishing Company.