10 Strange and Dangerous Diets from the Past
In the modern world, the problem of obesity and related diseases has become truly global. Our ancestors, who were, as a rule, engaged in hard physical labor, were worried more about the search for food than about its excess, but the fat men met even then (although much less often than now). Therefore, the idea of weight loss with dietary restrictions is not new. From our point of view, many diets that are popular in the past look wild. Today we will acquaint readers with the most exotic food systems – Strange and Dangerous Diets.
King William’s Alcoholic Diet
William the Conqueror, one of the most famous political figures of the Middle Ages, who ruled England in the second half of the XI century, was a man so obese that it was difficult for him to pick up riding horses. In an effort to limit his weight, Wilhelm invented a diet, the meaning of which was the replacement of any food with wine or beer.
Apparently, this kind of food did not bring any special results. Historians believe that the king not only did not lose weight, but to some extent became a victim of overweight. In one of the battles, the horse dropped William, unable to bear the severity of his body, and he died from the effects of the injury sustained during the fall.
Lord Byron’s Acetic Diet
Contemporaries of George Gordon Byron (1788–1824) believed that the pallor of the skin and the elegance of the figure were signs of aristocracy and spiritual refinement. The great poet all his life was considered to be what is nowadays called the icon of style. In an effort to maintain a popular image, Byron in the last years of his life he ate exclusively products soaked in vinegar, and used a mixture of acid and water for drinking. After the death of the poet, the doctors who opened the body left a report in which they noted that almost all Byron’s internal organs had serious injuries.
Fletcher Chewing Diet
At the beginning of the 20th century, the diet widely invented by Horace Fletcher spread widely throughout the world. In this case, the restriction concerned not so much specific products, as the way of their absorption. Fletcher followers believed that any food should be chewed at least 32 times. After such grinding, the head should be thrown back and, without making swallowing movements, to wait until the food has flowed into the esophagus. The failure was interpreted as a failure of the body to eat, then it was recommended to spit out the chewed piece.
Information about the success of the Fletcher diet has not been preserved, but it is known that it was extremely popular. Oddly enough, it still had some meaning: according to modern concepts, to get fewer calories before the feeling of satiety, you need to eat slowly, and careful chewing allows you to extract a maximum of nutrients from food. At the same time, it is obvious that the way of losing weight, invented by Fletcher, could be harmful to health, since a significant part of the consumed products simply did not get to its intended purpose.
In the 1930s, American doctors noticed that employees of explosives depots and factories producing them quickly lost weight. Dinitrophenol, a substance that activates metabolism, turned out to be the culprit. Some pharmaceutical companies immediately began to release diet pills with dinitrophenol, which have gained wide popularity through advertising. However, it soon became clear that taking the “miracle remedy” leads to severe damage to the eyes. After several cases of blindness and even death, the production of “explosive” drugs was prohibited.
In the first half of the 20th century, the well-known tobacco company Lucky Strike conducted an obsessive advertising campaign under the slogan “Take a cigarette instead of candy.” The slogan was picked up by many young women, sincerely confident that smoking reduces appetite and discourages the desire to eat confectionery. (Incidentally, this is not true: many experienced smokers are sweetened.) At that time, the harmful effects of smoking were still little studied. Attempts to replace food with cigarettes undermined the health of more than one generation.
HCG-diet Dr. Simeons
The middle of the XX century was marked by the appearance of the so-called HCG diet, invented by the English doctor Simeons. The author of the method recommended to combine the restriction of daily food intake to 500 kcal with daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (the main hormone of pregnancy).
Obviously, such an aggressive effect on hormonal background was fraught with serious disturbances in the body. Followers of the diet for years were treated for depression, headaches and blood composition disorders.
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For the first time the idea to use worms for weight loss appeared in the middle of the XX century. One of the followers of the method was the famous singer Maria Callas, who was overweight. The tool was a set of two capsules, one of which contained the eggs of the intestinal parasite, and the other – an effective anthelmintic drug.
Needless to say that attempts to lose weight in this way are associated with a high risk: the anthelmintic agent, of course, killed the parasite artificially introduced into the intestine, but did not rid the body of intoxication and disorders caused by its metabolic products.
In the 70s of the 20th century, a weight loss system based on an increase in the duration of sleep was widely spread in the USA. The idea that a person does not eat while he sleeps, consequently does not receive extra calories, turned out to be very attractive for those who want to lose weight, without making any effort for this. The disadvantage of the method was that for its implementation the natural rhythm of sleep and wakefulness was disrupted. Sleep for so long was possible only with the help of potent hypnotic drugs, the uncontrolled reception of which sometimes caused the most sad consequences.
Diet “on the horns and hooves”
No less popular in the United States was a diet based on the use of the Proline drink, which should have been replaced food. The tool was invented by Dr. Robert Lynn and was a highly boiled broth made from bones, tendons, skins and hooves of cattle. One glass of drink contained only 400 kcal. He really reduced his appetite, thanks to which supporters of the diet got rid of excess weight, but had a serious side effect: it caused disorders in the functioning of the digestive organs.
American cleric George Malkmus invented a diet based on the use of “god-pleasing” foods. This is a system of low-calorie vegetarian food with the content in the diet of cereals, vegetables and fruits, which, according to the priest, fed the biblical forefathers of humanity in the paradise bushes. Against the background of other exotic diets, this method of losing weight looks the most harmless.
However, this diet is not balanced due to the complete absence of animal proteins, which are the main source of essential amino acids.
According to today’s ideas, all the described diets are more dangerous than useful. Modern nutritionists believe that parting with extra pounds should be based not on aggressive effects on the body, but on maintaining the right balance between consumption and expenditure of calories. At the same time, it is necessary to pay attention not only to a well-designed diet, but also to regular physical activities that take into account the health status of a particular person.
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