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    Iceman's Carbohydrate Diet

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    The Swiss team created new three-dimensional images of the ancient traveler's dentition. These showed that the Iceman suffered a blunt force trauma to two teeth-possibly a blow to the mouth-at least several days before his death and was plagued by both periodontal disease and cavities. The cavities, Seiler said in his talk, confirm that the Iceman ate a diet abounding in carbohydrates, such as bread or cereal, and reveal that he possessed a "heavy bacterial dose on these teeth."
    io9

    To summarise, the iceman of roughly 3000BC was eating a diet based around carbohydrates including breads and cereals.
    This appearing to be a contributing factor to his poor dental hygiene, of which he was suffering from periodontal disease and cavities.

    To me it sounds like mountain ice man should have picked a better trail mix

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    Grains were well established 3000 years ago; but compared to skeletal remains of far older humans, they did not have the evidence of caries/mouth bacteria.
    This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Any given day you are surrounded by 10,000 idiots.
    Lao Tsu, founder of Taoism

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    Quote Originally Posted by H + View Post
    The cavities, Seiler said in his talk, confirm that the Iceman ate a diet abounding in carbohydrates, such as bread or cereal, and reveal that he possessed a "heavy bacterial dose on these teeth.
    Yes, it's interesting that the "mainstream", which is not, of course, particularly anti-carbohydrate, does actually recognize that carbs can pose a problem for people's teeth. It's about the one thing they do recognize against them.

    However, the view that eating carbs causes a "heavy bacterial dose on [one's] teeth" is very much a "mainstream" explanation of why they're a problem for the teeth. This is why the current medical establishment makes such an issue of cleaning one's teeth (to get the bacteria off).

    But there are actually two rival theories of tooth decay. Other people have long argued that sugar (or other refined carbohydrates) are not likely to feed bacteria, and the problem is probably more complex and connected with an overall poor diet, a state of affairs that, they believe, can cause minerals to be pulled from the teeth and bones. One dental researcher considers that it's the calcium–phosphorous ratio in the blood that's responsible: he says there's a right level of so much of each and that when this gets disrupted—as can happen, for example, with blood-sugar spikes—minerals can get pulled from the teeth. I think explanations of this sort sound far more plausible.

    However, it's interesting that the Iceman had poor teeth. One assumes he wasn't eating that much refined carbohydrate. Sugar simply wasn't available to him, and honey and fruit only seasonally. And I assume the cereals he was eating in the form of bread and gruel were not highly refined. I'd be interested to know what stable isotope analysis of his bones would show he'd been mostly eating. Analysis of bones from ten Neolithic sites in England, reported in British Archaeology in 1996, showed values:

    ... as high, and sometimes even higher, than stable isotope values of carnivores.
    British Archaeology, no 12, March 1996: Features

    Those people were eating a lot of meat (and/or dairy products)—and almost no plant-food. The diet in Continental Europe was likely different, and it would be interesting to know what the Iceman's bones can tell us.

    As for his teeth ... the problem may be what was missing from his diet. Or that may be relevant in addition to whatever he usually ate. Good teeth (in the alternative theory of tooth decay) seem to require a good supply of minerals in the diet and high levels of fat-soluble vitamins, particularly D. The three main sources of these nutrients are (1) seafood (including the organs of marine animals), (2) the organs of land animals, and (3) dairy products from grass-fed animals. I guess you're not that close to the sea in the Alps, and what the man's access to foods from groups 2 and 3 were must be an unknown. The other nutrient that's relevant is vitamin C—and there are suggestions that more is needed if a diet contains whole-grain cereals. I don't know that sources of C would have been readily available in the Alpine region around 3,000 BC for much of the year. But I guess you could eat portions of animal carcases that are high in C, and you could boil pine needles for tea ...

    It's an interesting news item. I think there's a lot we don't know.
    Last edited by Lewis; 06-22-2011 at 10:00 AM.

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