Pier (Pierre) Albrecht: History of the diet

Diet as part of a global medicine and health science:

Chinese medicine

Historically, the most ancient references to dieting to stay healthy come from Asia. China and India are areas where traditional medicine established life rules and, more specifically, dieting rules, which are totally inserted into their medical tradition.

Indian medicine

Chinese energetic medicine and Indian ayurvedic medicine include very strict dieting rules as a basis for health, to the extent that Chinese doctors used to advise people and only got paid when the patient was cured. Ill patients ceased to pay until recovery.

There is a certain logic to it; unfortunately, modern medicine and its science are based on studying diseases and fighting them, and there are only few references to positive health science. In medical schools students learn about diseases but not about health. We need only remember the words of the father of modern French medicine: “Health is the silence of the organs”, quite a limited definition if we take into account that certain organs, like the heart, remains silent until it suffers a heart attack, even when a long time goes by from the moment the coronary arteries begin to clog until the stroke.

Egyptian and Jewish diet

Surely Egyptians must have had their own tradition but it is not known with certainty. What is known is that they were greatly influenced by Hebrews, they have dietary recommendations in their sacred books and a very interesting tradition called “kosher” food which forbids eating pork, pre-weaning veal and fermented bread, fast.

It is somewhat more advanced than dieting in the Christian tradition, fast and Good Friday.

Greek diet

In the lay Western world, it is in Greece where we find the oldest tradition of life hygiene based on proper dieting. The greek word “diaita”, life style, the art of living, can be translated as pro-hygiene life in general. The latin word “diaeta”, diet, eating habits, refers to a therapeutic protocol.

In Plato we can already see an interest in diet, in statements such as “Let dietetics be your first medicine”, “If you fall ill, a proper diet will give you the best opportunity to heal”.

Another philosopher, Socrates, also said “May each person take a look at themselves and write down what food, drink, and exercise is good for them and how to use them to stay in perfect health.” Hippocrates, father of medicine, used to teach about the influence of food over the human body: “Each of the substances of a man’s diet acts upon his body and changes it in some way, and upon these changes his whole life depends, whether he be in health, in sickness, or convalescent”. “Eating more than is demanded by nature is, surely, exposing ourselves to several diseases”.

For the Greeks, dieting is hygiene of life and in the 5th century B.C. dietetics was already regarded as a medical philosophy.


Editorial: Dr. Pier Albrecht, Dr. Pierre Albrecht, Dr. Pierjean Albrecht,

Dr. Pier Jean Albrecht, Dr. Pierre F. Albrecht, Dr. Pierre Frank Albrecht,

Dr. P. Frank Albrecht, Dr. Pierjean Frank Albrecht, Marbella Clinic