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Thread: Victorian English health

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    SF Bay Area, California
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    Last edited by cantare; 03-22-2013 at 03:37 PM.
    6' 2" | Age: 42 | SW: 341 | CW: 198 | GW: 180?

    “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
    ― Søren Kierkegaard

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Santa Barbara
    I think some of everyone's comments was the whole point of the article. First of all, hygiene and clean water stuff hadn't quite been invented yet so there was a lot of typical stuff that couldn't be factored in for their longevity. The new technology that had really helped was the railroad bringing fresh food into the cities, otherwise rural folks were enjoying good health already. Then the people living in the cities were all hard, physical laborers whose exercise allowed them to eat a crap ton of food, much of which was vegetables and fish, so they got a lot of omega 3 and a lot of general nutrition.

    We today are basically malnourished. We don't eat enough and can't eat enough because we'll get fat because we don't work hard enough and our food is depleted of nutrition anyway. Hygiene and the germ theory helped as did trauma care, but since then, modern medicine has mostly only provided symptom relief for our degenerative diseases caused by malnutrition.

    The author did mention the paleo diet but his article was on Victorian England since there is actually real data about Victorian life.
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    land of the glass pinecones
    i think the authors offer some good points, especially this: The Victorians died rapidly of infection and/or trauma, whereas we die slowly of degenerative disease.

    however, they seem to wear rose-colored glasses about what was really going on the u.k. during their timeline:

    the irish potato famine began in 1847, killing at least 1 million irish and pressing at least that many to emigrate.

    during the 1860s and 70s, british beer consumption was over 50 gallons per capita, and that beer was MUCH stronger than the modern brew -- possibly 50% stronger. booze was sold off street carts and in the many, many alehouses. urban laborers drank more than the farmers, men more than women and young men more than old. during the latter part of that century, the working poor spent more on hooch than on bread or meat.

    in scotland, where the drinking was harder, whisky was graded by the devastation it caused: sudden death, fighting stuff, over-the-wall, pick-me-up, knock-me-down. sudden death was nearly pure alcohol. one mid-century observer thought most navvies (canal diggers or track-layers) averaged thirty gallons of booze a week. Another thought a thousand pounds was spent on drink for every finished mile of track: twenty-five thousand pounds, perhaps, in today's money. even with the hyperbole of a temperance zealot that was an ocean booze.

    it was not uncommon for children to consume alcohol, especially since the water wasn't always potable and milk possibly tainted:

    The Silk-Buckingham Committees of 1834 reported that in 14
    public houses in London, 18,391 children entered one of these during one week. Twenty
    years later, a select committee reported of public houses in Manchester “on a single Sunday
    in 1854 there were 212,243 visits to drink shops and 22,132 of these were made by
    children, some of whom went to drink on their own account - some to fetch drink”.
    Hope of the Race -The Centenary History of the Band of Hope).

    while citrus had been traveling to britain in ships for many decades, (easily transportable because of its thick rinds), and lemons were easily had, fresh imported fruit was something only the very wealthy could afford.

    poor boys and girls did not attend school, since their parents couldn't afford the fees.

    even by the authors' account, it was less than a generation before these brits supposedly went from being strong and tall to being too poorly nourished to serve in the army.

    Last edited by noodletoy; 03-22-2013 at 07:31 AM.
    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    – Ernest Hemingway

  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by noodletoy View Post

    during the 1860s and 70s, british beer consumption was over 50 gallons per capita, and that beer was MUCH stronger than the modern brew -- possibly 50% stronger. booze was sold off street carts and in the many, many alehouses. urban laborers drank more than the farmers, men more than women and young men more than old. during the latter part of that century, the working poor spent more on hooch than on bread or meat.

    I have just read the article - I didn't draw from it the same conclusions that you did. It makes quite clear that the average beer in this period was SUBSTANTIALLY weaker than present beers. And that much less was consumed than now. And that 30 % + of households were teetotal.


    Beer was the most commonly consumed form of alcohol, but with an alcohol content significantly lower than today’s beers. Careful reading of contemporary sources including cookery and domestic economy books suggest that the alcohol percent of beer consumed in the home was probably only 1% to 2%; often less as it was watered down, especially for consumption by women and children [43,46,47]. In pubs, the alcohol content of beer was more regulated and generally higher, ranging from 2% to 3%. These are still weak beers, compared to today’s average of around 5%. Spirits were more intermittently consumed by men and rarely by women: respectability and gin did not go together [48]. Working class men and women seldom drank wine, except for port or sherry. A third or more of households were temperate or teetotal, partly due to the sustained efforts of the anti-alcohol movement. [49,50]."

    And fruit was commonly consumed


    Apples were the cheapest and most commonly available urban fruits from August through to May; with cherries taking over in the May– July period, followed by gooseberries in June, up to August, then plums and greengages in July through to September [41]. Dried fruits and candied peel were always cheaply available, and used to sweeten desserts such as bread puddings and for cakes and mincemeat. They were also consumed as an afternoon snack, particularly by children, according to Victorian cookery books [42,43] and many other sources from Dickens to Mayhew. All fruits and vegetables were organically grown, and therefore had higher levels of phytonutrients than the intensively grown crops we eat today [44]."

    And the authors intentionally make the point that the population went from being tall strong and well nourished to being smaller and poorly nourished due in part to imports of less nutritious foods. It is surely one of the main thrusts of the article that the population began to eat less nutritious foods and suffered the consequences.

    "Unfortunately, negative changes that would undermine these nutritional gains were already taking shape. Thanks to her dominant global position, and developments in shipping technology, Britain had created a global market drawing in the products of colonial and US agriculture, to provide ever-cheaper food for the growing urban masses. From 1875 on and especially after 1885, rising imports of cheap food basics were increasingly affecting the food chain at home. Imported North American wheat and new milling techniques reduced the prices of white flour and bread. Tinned meat arrived from the Argentine, Australia and New Zealand, which was cheaper than either home-produced or refrigerated fresh meat also arriving from these sources. Canned fruit and condensed milk became widely available [25]."
    Last edited by breadsauce; 03-23-2013 at 04:04 AM.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Fascinating, thank you.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Shop Now
    Thanks to the OP for the link. I've sent this link on to several friends who have had health problems. They know that I've cut out grains, wheat legumes, seed oils etc. and they've seen my health and appearance improve massively, but who have carried on eating the same old SAD way. TWO have been so impressed by the Victorian England argument that they are trying to implement it in their daily lives.

    If they do find an improvement in their health in any respects, I'm hopeful that they might go further down the Primal route.

    So again, thanks to the OP for bringing this to my notice!

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