The Mediterranean diet is not what it used to be
October 4, 2021 – When Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, some residents of Pompeii, Italy sought refuge in stone vaults on nearby beaches, but to no avail: the lava flows still took their place. life. But the molten rock hasn’t erased the evidence for their way of life and diet. According to new research, their bones tell the story of the Mediterranean diet over time.
In a study published in Scientists progress, the researchers describe the use of proteins from the bones of 17 of these victims to determine the food sources that fed the inhabitants of Pompeii.
We are what we eat, and our bodies build new material using the proteins we take in. Bones are in a constant state of breaking down and forming, and the protein they contain mirrors what is in our recent diets. In a recent study, researchers compared the protein content of bones to those of fish, land animals and food plants from the same period to determine who ate what at that time.
They found that men ate more fish, and women tended to eat more land animal products and locally grown fruits and vegetables. Fish was harder to access and therefore more expensive, according to the authors, suggesting that men’s higher social status may explain the gender gap in their diet.
For modern humans, the results suggest that the Mediterranean diet, often touted as the healthiest for us, has changed quite a bit over the past 2,000 years. The people of the region at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius were probably eating a lot more fish than their current diet, but less grains.
The study approach “also provided sufficiently precise dietary data for comparison with assessments of the food supply of modern populations, opening up the possibility of comparing ancient diets to contemporary contexts where the consequences for health is better understood, ”the researchers said.