13

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Irish Ancestral Diet

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 19, 2012 at 2:43 AM

Since I'm of Irish decent on both sides, I thought I would look into what ancestral diet of the Irish was and see how well I do with that.

I've done a little research, but I was wondering if any fellow Irish folk could help me out!

First, it seems the Irish have the most incidence of Celiacs.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11482004

This is fitting since wheat caused me cystic acne, bloating, and other digestive woes. So we don't do well on wheat.

Other sources highlight fatty fish, oats, butter and milk, lamb, seaweed, leeks, onions, garlic, apples, strawberries, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and kale as the staples. Lots bits about barley and other random grains as well. I have also read that chestnut was a staple.

Wikipedia claims that "pork was the most commmon meat" and another source says chicken was very rare.

Then of course, the potato was introduced in the mid 16th century. That gave my ancestors about a little over 500 years to adapt to the potato and perhaps high carb intake before giving birth to me!

More interestingly is the Hemochromoatosis link http://www.americanhs.org/celtic.htm

Personally, I know that after 1.5 years of Paleo I had a ferritin of of 140 and a fairly high iron saturation. It is possible that have the Hemochromoatosis gene but I did not check... instead I cut my iron intake down and gave blood till my ferrtin hit 27. I felt considerably better after that.

Irish and Scottish are more prone to rosacea, and I know that skin problems run in my family. Acne is gone on "Paleo".

It's hard to say how well I tolerate carbs. I have been lean my whole life although around 15-16 I put on some weight when I got into drinking and eating crap. I didn't get fat but I was pudgy for my size. At 17 I switched to a low fat, high carb whole grain diet with oatmeal every morning. I also started cross country and did about 12 miles a week. I lost a good 12lbs and was very fit, although quite thin. Went overboard and lost too much weight to the point where I had sit down and gain a good 25lbs back in a few months. Most of it came back as fat as I resorted to eating junk to put the weight on.

I am now quite fit again (22 year old), but I struggle with finding the optimal diet. Supplements and all that are all dialed in. I take D, Iosol, Selenium, mag, Zinc. Eat liver, bone broths other organs, potatoes, yams, greens (though I skimp on these alot) and fruit at the moment. Sometimes raw milk. I am currently at a higher carb level (50-60%). Some days this is great and others not. I think I may not be active enough for it at the moment (only doing resistance training 2-3x a week, some light walking and a standing desk). Sometimes I feel like I do higher fat better, but I had cortisol issues with low carb (perhaps I was overdoing things...did VLC for about 6 months). I also seem to do well with moderate Iodine supplementation and a higher fatty fish intake (calms the ADHD!)

So enough about me... what say you Irish brothers and sisters? Do we have any commonalities in our issues? What ratios work best for you, Low carb, high carb? Whats your activity level, age, fitness, etc. Do you do well with dairy?

Does anyone have any photos of ancestral irish people? Were they lean before and/or after the potato? Anything I missed about their diet?

Ecb90bbbd5a15868b2592d517a4a5e82

(280)

on June 11, 2012
at 11:09 PM

Archeological evidence doesn't support any evidence for human habitation of Ireland until the Mesolithic (Ireland was apparently still covered in ice during the Paleo period). Mesolithic peoples probably waded/walked to Britain when it was still attached to France - the Channel was shallow enough to cross. Humans didn't come to Ireland until 8000 BC, when they crossed from Scotland on rafts. Tools show similarity. Early Irish found impenetrable forest. Evidence shows they lived on the coasts by fishing, hunting, gathering. Later British farmers invaded them. So eat fish & seaweed, not oats!

94480caec9fbbaacc386d86a45efa720

(1007)

on June 11, 2012
at 01:37 PM

I used to have that "always hungry" feeling. I also used to think I had a high metabolism because I could eat a lot and not gain until I quit working in smoky bars (nicotine keeps celiac latent) and then the pounds poured on. Then I was diagnosed with celiac disease, went strict glutenfree and now I can fast for a day and feel fine, not be hungry and have gotten down to a normal weight much more easily. On gluten, my weight wouldn't budge downward no matter how hard I worked.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 19, 2012
at 10:38 PM

+1, I think most Americans have at least a smidge of Irish heritage.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 19, 2012
at 10:33 PM

+1 for scotch eggs! Wrap ground sausage around a boiled egg, wrap that with bacon, bake until the meat is done. Pure awesome!!!

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 19, 2012
at 09:31 PM

Yeah, I'd like to know what symptoms you had with the high iron as well. Was it problems with glucose control?

94cef4c67be3c88ec0ba2765253bce4c

(237)

on January 19, 2012
at 03:52 PM

At Cory151: I'm afraid you are going to be very disappointed! The Irish are just as much entralled to processed foods as everyone else unfortunately!

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on January 19, 2012
at 03:01 PM

wow, your post resonates...i dont know how irish i am but the confusion with carbs/fat and finding and optimal diet are my predicament...and the iron

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:27 AM

Fantastic question I will be heading to Ireland in the spring and I shall have to do some research abroad.

9bd33dab06ad6696b1b6a06aed818f05

(659)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:23 AM

I am also of Irish decent and have had haemachromatosis. Just wondering what you saw the biggest effects/symptoms were.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on January 19, 2012
at 03:34 AM

I think hunt gather love blog has a post or two about related stuff

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10 Answers

2
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

I am only 1/8th Irish but my current diet seems to be a close fit to your description:

Lamb, Pastured eggs, Potatoes and Spinach.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 19, 2012
at 10:37 PM

I've done some reading on this. No real agriculture in Ireland until potatoes were introduced in the 1500s.

Fruit trees were HIGHLY valued. The Irish ate lots of pork, fish, wild fowl, game, and wild veggies. A big staple was dried and salted meat in the winter, as well as a dish very similar to cottage cheese. Dairy is your friend.

I'm a good part Irish, and the Irish genes seem to be the dominant ones for me. Have the Irish teeth, the Irish skin (reddish hair, freckles, very sensitive skin), and the Irish temper. Not to mention an affinity for bag pipe music from all over the Celtic world...

2
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on January 19, 2012
at 05:34 PM

I'm half Irish give or take a drop and celiac runs strongly in my family. We also eat a lot of traditional foods. As such, a big source of my starchy carbs has been potatoes. I also eat a lot of carrots, turnips, kale, and onions. When I think of "Irish food" though, I think of my grandad's all-beef bangers (for bangers and mash), or my Ma's lamb stew which also has mushrooms and peas in addition to the other veggies I mentioned. Or another dish is ground meat baked around a hard-boiled egg. I knew them as Scottish eggs, but they're common in Ireland as well, and my go-to paleo snack-food. I find I also eat a lot of salmon, and this has been a major source of energy for me. I guess my body really likes omega-3s.

When it comes to dairy, I do like sheep products as well as cow. There are plenty of sheep in Ireland, and my family there are and were fisherman and sheep herders. It makes sense, I think, when you consider that a lot of Irish families had a cow or a few sheep not only for milk but also for meat.

The only non-paleo Irish food I really miss is the oat porridge, but I will on occasion indulge, especially when home with my parents.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 19, 2012
at 10:33 PM

+1 for scotch eggs! Wrap ground sausage around a boiled egg, wrap that with bacon, bake until the meat is done. Pure awesome!!!

2
94cef4c67be3c88ec0ba2765253bce4c

(237)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:12 PM

I'm Irish and it is a subject that is very interesting to me. I post on another Irish discussion forum and this topic has come up previously. Another user here (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=76296329&postcount=12) has read this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Feast-Famine-Nutrition-Ireland-1500-1920/dp/0198227515. It apparently reported that poor Irish people survived off gallons of milk and pounds of potatoes and not a whole lot else for about 400 years! No wonder we were decimated by the potato blight.

I don't seem to tolerate gluten myself and wonder is it anything to do with the fact that, due to the variable Irish climate, good wheat is not reliably grown on our island. Last year there was a twitter campaign/effort where some folks tried to eat only Irish food for a week. One of these folks tried to source Irish only grown wheat and couldn't, see here: http://forfoodssakeireland.blogspot.com/2011/05/day-2-eat-only-irish-for-aisling.html

1
C28553de25a0771e40997e7aff08ec52

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

i just was looking into this myself. i have 3 irish grandparents and one scot. i just found the weston price classic "nutrition and physical degeneration" in pdf form on the web. there is a section on the scots. if you are unfamiliar with weston price, he was a dentist who in the 1930's traveled the world to examine the overall health of people who ate as their ancestors had as opposed to people who ate a "modern" diet consisting of lots of wheat flour and refined sugars. dr. price stressed that it was important to stick to your particular ancestral diet, not try on someone else's for size. the photos are startling, the changes are dramatic. scots, and it can be assumed celts from all over the british isles, ate a lot of oats and a lot of fish, both fresh and ocean. apples and berries grow in many of the areas. leafy greens would have been available too. before the english arrived and ruined it forever, ireland was quite wooded and hogs, venison, and a variety of birds and their eggs were available. the irish also raised cattle and used them as currency, so beef and dairy became a big part of the diet as well. because of my gluten and lactose intolerance, i tried to go straight paleo, but found after a good 6 months that i need some starchy carbs to feel good. i have some white potato once on a while now, and i am going to experiment with making traditional oat cakes, which are a crisp bread type thing. oh, i would gladly give up the potato (except on holidays) in exchange for a crisp grain product! with honey and walnut butter, some jam or a good aged cheese!

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on June 11, 2012
at 02:07 PM

All of the ancient pictures of the Irish depicted (get it, de-pict?, hah!) them as muscular savages, similarly portrayed as the Native Americans of the US were. irish-ancestral-diet

As for myself, the overall bulk of my ancestry is British Isles (Welsh, mostly), with small smatterings of German and Native American in there.

I don't do extraordinarily well on high carb, and especially grain. I enjoy carbs immensely, but tend to gain weight very quickly when I eat them, as well as suffer some gastric problems (although this is likely from having gut/GI bacteria more adapted to a lower-carb approach). I have significant issues with lactose (soft dairy, cottage cheese, cream cheese), but no issues with casein (hard cheese, butter).

1
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on January 19, 2012
at 10:21 AM

my mother's parents were born and raised in Ireland. i am intolerent of gluten and most seed oil. since eliminating both along with grains, legumes and processed dairy, without doing so deliberately, i eat very little chicken and pork, rice and potatoes. i do miss the morning oatmeal.

0
64a29aa2fdc019a2f160587d0a81b7bc

on November 07, 2012
at 04:14 PM

My family is very heavy in Irish/Scottish roots as well, with my Grandparents having come directly from Ireland (our predecessors having settled in Ireland during the Ulster Plantation, regretfully)to Canada, and Coeliac/gluten intolerance runs in our family, as do autoimmune diseases. I've been primal for the past 3 or 4 months, and the difference in how I feel & look is remarkable, to say the least. I've lost 20lbs, my hair is growing back (whether it had thinned due to stress, adrenal fatigue or iron depletion is uncertain), the mild case of spots I've always had on my forehead is pretty much gone, my mouth feels cleaner and much less 'gunky'even upon first waking up :), my hormones seem to be moving toward normal levels rather than away as they had been, and my digestion is doing much, much better. My depression, anxiety, mood in general and brain fog have improved dramatically. I am no longer plagued by hypoglycemia, mood swings and bouts of irrationality and borderline paranoia when I don't eat something every few hours. In fact, I've gone without eating for more than half a day with no effects other than being hungry, and now "being hungry" means my stomach is telling me I need food, as opposed to before where I would get the previously mentioned slew of stressful effects, and be hungry to the point of nausea. My sense of taste has changed and things taste different now....I just ate some berries, and they tasted so much better than I remember them being before! :D

As for iron overload, I can't say I have that particular problem, and I've not heard of anyone else in our family being diagnosed with said. Of course, that's not a guarantee it's not there somewhere in our family tree, just that I've not heard of it/nobody's actually been diagnosed. I've chronically suffered from the opposite problem, actually, and am somewhat anxiously awaiting some more time to go by so I can see if my iron levels have improved at all. :) I suppose I shouldn't set my hopes too high, but I am cautiously optimistic. ;)

So nice to see that there are a number of 'us' who have gone Paleo/Primal! Nice to meet y'all...

0
94480caec9fbbaacc386d86a45efa720

(1007)

on June 11, 2012
at 01:42 PM

I am of about 50% Irish heritage - the rest is Scottish and German/Polish. I am a diagnosed celiac. My iron used to run at low normal. I don't know what it is now being gluten-free for three or more years. I have also given consideration to what my ancestors ate and thought about some of what I ate when I was in Ireland 20 years ago (just a few visits or short work stints.) There was plenty of north atlantic salmon around, some liver pates, root veggies (incl potatoes), venison, and of course awesome breakfasts with eggs, sausage, bacons, and oatmeal. I don't really miss oatmeal that much but I have had Cream of Buckwheat cereal once in the last 3 or 4 months to satisfy a craving. I now live landlocked in the center of the north american continent - decent seafood is hard to come by. I also don't think I convert ALA very well, possibly because my ancestors didn't need to, so I do take 1 to 2 grams of fish oil a day unless I eat fish that day and I also eat some seaweed now to get my iodine. I stick with rutabagas, turnips, and sweet potatoes for my root veg - I have a white potato maybe twice a year.

0
6df93895a73b1b9a44e2124d5539bcb0

on June 11, 2012
at 11:39 AM

I am mostly irish decent. I also struggle to eat wheat. It causes acid reflux, acne, messed up hormones and insulin resistance for me. I'm looking into eating Paleo vs my all grain eating Italian bf lol. It's quite a mission. My all irish mum brought us up on mostly heart, liver, minced beef, stews with carrots and potatoes, white fish, prawns, cabbage, ribs, bacon, eggs, chicken sometimes and lots of other veg, all cooked in beef lard. My skin was perfect and I was underweight and hyperactive. Then I grew older,moved out and started eating wheat products and junk, I soon grew fat. So I went back to meat, fruit and veg, pulses etc and it dropped off. Then I met my Italian bf 4 years ago and have gained weight from the wheat products. Totally different metabolism. My mum now eats bread, cakes etc and suffers with skin rashes, bloating, IBS and weigh gain. I'm sure it's the wheat. We are not designed to eat it yet, but my Italian bf lives off the stuff. I find corn is ok.

Have you noticed you also have a higher metabolism than most being Irish. I have. Always hungry.

94480caec9fbbaacc386d86a45efa720

(1007)

on June 11, 2012
at 01:37 PM

I used to have that "always hungry" feeling. I also used to think I had a high metabolism because I could eat a lot and not gain until I quit working in smoky bars (nicotine keeps celiac latent) and then the pounds poured on. Then I was diagnosed with celiac disease, went strict glutenfree and now I can fast for a day and feel fine, not be hungry and have gotten down to a normal weight much more easily. On gluten, my weight wouldn't budge downward no matter how hard I worked.

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