With regards to the OP's question: As a 64 year old I actually knew people who were born in the 19th Century, including quite a few great grandparents, great aunts and uncles etc who were in their 90s and getting around just fine. Apart from my Grandad who had a bike accident and my Dad who died of leukemia I have never had to visit a family member in any hospital, honest.
However our families were always working class but not poor. I grew up in the UK which was quite socially stratified and your health and diet depended very much on where you lived and where you worked, I expect the same was true in the USA.
For example I'd expect the people crowded into tenements in lower Manhatten in the 1870s with no bathrooms had far different health outcomes to people in fairly prosperous Mid Western small towns. In the UK the average height of the Lancashire (a poor factory "satanic mills" area) regiment in the first World War was 5 ft in their stockinged feet. When Americans GIs flooded into England during the Second World War people used to marvel at the fact that most of them were six footers at least. However in the South East of England where there was more prosperity people were taller and healthier.
So it's impossible to define a 19th Century Diet that would be of any practical use. Nonetheless I well remember the sort of diet that the OP is probably harking back to, because I grew up on it after the War - bacon, eggs, black pudding etc for breakfast, a cooked meal of meat and vegetables for Dinner ("dinner" was the meal served in the middle of the day) and a light meal for "Tea" which is now called Dinner in most of the English speaking world. This was often just a couple of pieces of toast, or some cake, or scrambled eggs, but a couple of times a week there would be "high tea" which would be a similar meal to the mid-day "dinner".
Once a week someone would be sent out to the fish and chip shop for a big serve of cod and chips or haddock and chips, all fried in beef dripping. There wasn't a lot of fruit and vegetables as available today but when you did "snack" it was nearly always an apple or banana or orange.
What there was NOT: vegetable oils, processed foods other than canned food, frozen desserts, pizza - rice was rarely eaten, and pasta was a strange thing that "Ities" ate.
No fast foods other than Fish and Chip shops. No Maccas, no takeaway Indian, Chinese, Thai.
No post mix litre cups of cola. Sodas came in little bottles.
All school children ate in school canteens and factory workers ate in works canteens, to a proper sit down dinner.
Then along came the 1960s and it all started to drift away. Oh dear.
The Gluten story goes well beyond Gluten, Coeliac disease is being termed the tip of the iceberg, that is suggesting that 90% of the problems with Gluten and grains are only just now being recognised, you want to bury your head in a bucket of wheat, go for it, that's your choice, but be warned just because you get a warm fuzzy feeling after downing your pizza doesn't mean it is doing you good.
Last edited by Omni; 03-11-2013 at 02:32 AM.
It's not about saying "Demon wheat is the source of all evil in the world!" It's about saying "I can make a better choice, even if it is another food that isn't as good as it used to be."
My sorely neglected blog - http://ThatWriterBroad.com
Natural selection has been weakened to the point of inconsequence with regards to modern humans. There's no significant genetic change taking place at the species level, despite your misleading attempt to imply that there is.
Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like the Perfect Health Diet a lot.
Griff's cholesterol primer
Selecting: I don't mind it too much when someone is ignorant about something and they admit it -- but to be this ignorant and so strongly opinionated is insanity.
Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
bloodorchid is always right