My great-grandma was a tough ol’ chick.
She ate real, traditional food and could cook up fried chicken from scratch. When I say “from scratch,” I literally mean “from scratch.” As in, she would kill a chicken, dress it, coat it with flour and fry that baby up in a big ol’ frying pan of lard.
She was an amazing woman, my great-grandma. That woman wasn’t afraid of anything. She’d sleep out in the dark woods with hungry bears if you dared her to. She was that tough.
Naturally, when I started to research traditional, nourishing foods, I thought of my great-grandmother. I knew SHE would have supported my lifestyle, and probably could have taught me some amazing traditional cooking skills. But…
Did Grandma really know best?
One of the most common questions when talking about the wisdom of traditional diets is…..“Didn’t people way back then drop dead at 40? They ate a lot of meat and fat. They must have had a shorter life expectancy, right?”
The truth is, life expectancy is NOT a recorded number of the age people died, but rather an average of all deaths, with a very high number of infant deaths. High infant mortality rates before 1900 skewed the numbers. The high infant mortality rate before the 1900s was due to unclean conditions and poor medical care. Subsequently, life expectancy numbers before the year 1900 gets easily knocked down to a low life number.
Because infant mortality rates decreased as medical technology increased, the average life expectancy for men in 1907 was 45.6 years. In 1957, it was 66.4. In 2007 it reached 75.5. The increase in life expectancy numbers is due mostly to a decreasing infant mortality rate, which decreased from 9.99% in 1907 to 2.63% in 1957, and then all the way down to 0.68% in 2007.
The truth is the human lifespan has been consistent for more than 2,000 years!
“The inclusion of infant mortality rates in calculating life expectancy creates the mistaken impression that earlier generations died at a young age; Americans were not dying en masse at the age of 46 in 1907. The fact is that the maximum human lifespan — a concept often confused with “life expectancy” — has remained more or less the same for thousands of years. The idea that our ancestors routinely died young (say, at age 40), has no basis in scientific fact. When Socrates died at the age of 70 around 399 B.C., he did not die of old age but instead by execution. It is ironic that ancient Greeks lived into their 70s and older, while more than 2,000 years later modern Americans aren’t living much longer.”
– Benjamin Radford, Bad Science Column
Just for curiosity, I decided to research my own ancestral line as well as my husband’s ancestral line to find out how long our very own ancestors lived.
- My husband’s great-great-great-great grandfather Augustas Oliver Artemas Stowell, was born June 4th, 1783 and died August 23, 1860 at age 77.
- My husband’s great-great-great-great grandmother Mary Stephens Holmes, was born Sept. 15th, 1797 and died Nov. 20th, 1885 at age 88.
- My great-great-great-great grandfather James Monroe Lindsey, was born December 30th, 1829 and died January 9, 1912 at age 83.
- My great-great-great-great grandmother Mary Sarah Ann Little, was born July 2nd, 1832 and died March 5th, 1910 at age 78.
Crazy, right? Turns out Grandma and Grandpa knew how to live a long, healthy life with traditional food!
An excerpt from my great-great-great grandmother Martha Lindsey’s journal shows the amazing VITALITY the traditional diet brings.
“The day and night before school started in 1901, I worked one hundred buttonholes and sewed on one hundred buttons, trying to finish up the children’s school clothes. I was still sewing at dawn. I milked the cows and fixed breakfast. I worked all morning about the house and cooked dinner. Then that afternoon I gave birth to my tenth child.”
That’s a REAL LIVE journal entry from 1901, you guys.
Our ancestors didn’t worry about heart disease, cancer or diabetes. They didn’t fear Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. These diseases were incredibly rare before the 1900s, to the point where they didn’t need scientists to solve mysteries about their prevalence. There was no mystery! Our ancestors simply ate food (real food) and were nourished. Sure, there was illness and life was not perfect. But chronic degenerative diseases rates were incredibly low.
The leading cause of death before 1900 was usually one of four things: Infancy death, death from childbirth, death from infections, and death from accidents.Today, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer. Clearly, there’s something that needs to change.
Following a traditional diet will give us optimal health. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains, milk, butter, cream, meat, seafood, eggs, all in the best form possible and if you can digest them, is the key to weight loss and disease reversal.
Avoiding fake foods like store bought crackers, cookies, cereals, granola bars, protein mixes as much as possible (without stressing about it too much) is the key to keeping our bodies clean and toxic-free.
So, next time someone says to you that bacon is bad, that lard will clog your arteries or that fat will make you fat, have them read this article. Or this one, or this one. Or better yet, have them read my new book here. If your friends and family don’t believe a little ‘ol blogger like me, give them this book and this book.
It’s time for us all to wise up and discover the healthy, delicious food of our ancestors. It’s time to get back the skills of our great-grandmothers and become nourished.