The Ötzi Diet

When I read this article yesterday, I was amazed. With a history studies background and a love for South Tirol (the first name of my son Laurin was actually inspired by a regional fairy tale about a dwarf named Laurin), Ötzi moved me since my visit to Bolzano, Italy many years ago. But even if you are not a history freak like me, this 5300 years old Iceman can teach us all a lesson.

An Omnivore Diet

When a team of scientists finally found Ötzi's stomach, they confirmed that the Iceman ate an omnivore diet. There were 'tiny flecks of undigested fibers of plants and meat visible in the sample, surrounded by a cloudy haze of fat.' Lipids and protein analysis indicate that Ötzi was eating smoked or dried muscle and fat of a goat still common in the Ötztal Alps, a piece of red deer (researchers couldn't figure out what part of the creature Ötzi ate - possibly organs, like the spleen, liver, or brain). Ötzi also ate einkorn wheat and the toxic bracken fern (wrapping his food, or treating stomach ache?).

These findings are very interesting when it comes to the question 'what the heck should we eat?' In the 80s and 90s there was the low fat diet, then vegan, paleo and now it's keto. Crazy, right? Although I am not against veganism or vegetarianism (though my body tells me I can never become one), Ötzi's example clearly shows that our diet has always been an omnivore diet. Plus, it also suggests that high fat diet (and not some sugary energy drinks) is much more helpful in a cold environment (yes, winters are long in the Alps) and when your body needs to do vigorous exercise (such as climbing, hunting and maybe running from a predator). Einkorn wheat (my favorite grain as you might already have noticed) suggests, that people ate also some small amount of grains (sorry paleo followers). But remember, these grains were not processed into bagels, pasta and such, they were whole, maybe soaked, maybe crushed to obtain a simple porridge.

The lesson Ötzi's stomach teaches us

So how can Ötzi inspire us in the 21st century? Eat whole, unprocessed foods, eat what is in season, eat high quality meat with fat and eat the whole animal (carcasses in bone broths, organ meat in broths or turned to liver pate). Eat small amount of unprocessed grains (soaked if possible), pick herbs (learn what is edible in your area). Because it is a shame that with all that medical care, running water, hygiene and all that 'stuff' which makes our life easier, we as a population are much more sicker than Ötzi 5300 years ago.

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