06 October 2016

Luigi Cornaro - A Temperate Life

Secrets of a Long Life 

The First Discourse (1 of 4) written at the age of 83
The Second Discourse (2 of 4) written at the age of 86
The Third Discourse (3 of 4) written at the age of 91
The Fourth Discourse (4 of 4) written at the age of 95

Or how to regain health from serious chronic illness, and live a healthy and long life.

These four discourses: How to Live 100 Years, or Discourses on the Sober Life is the earliest and most detailed account on calorie restriction and fasting I have found so far.
Luigi Cornaro was a Venetian noble man in the 1400's who was often weak and ill until the age of 35-40, where he became so sick that he almost died. One physician told him to reduce his food intake to "nothing but that which is necessary to sustain life", and to embrace an "orderly and temperate" life without excesses, which he did. He got so much better within a year, that he not only recovered from his serious ailment, but also lived into his 90's in good health. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, he died at the age of 102.

Here are some details about this temperate and sober life and how to live "in accordance with the simplicity of Nature".

Luigi Cornaro suffered from:
"[...] various ailments, such as pains in the stomach, frequent pains in the side, symptoms of gout, and, still worse, a low fever that was almost continuous; but I suffered especially from disorder of the stomach, and from an unquenchable thirst."
He decided to eat the right quality and quantity of food.

The right quality consisted of food he could easily digest, such as:
  • bread, bread soup, 
  • light broth,
  • egg, egg yolk
  • meats (veal, kid, mutton), 
  • fowls,
  • birds
  • fish
Even though certain foods satisfied his palate, he says that he had difficulty digesting them, so he preferred to avoid these:
  • dry and very cold wine,
  • melons,
  • raw salads
  • certain fish
  • pork
  • tarts, pastries
  • vegetable soups
In terms of quantity, he consumed:
  • 12 ounces (340g) of food per day, divided into 4 portions. 
  • 14 ounces (414ml) of wine every day. 
The wine was less than a year old, as he could not digest the older wine.

At the age of 78, his family members begged him to increase his food intake. He reluctantly increased his regular amount of daily food consumption from 12 ounces to 14, and his wine consumption from 14 ounces to 16.
"The disorder of this increase had, at the end of ten days, begun to affect me so much, that, instead of being cheerful, as I had ever been, I became melancholy and choleric; everything annoyed me [...]. At the end of twelve days, I was seized with a most violent pain in the side [...] followed by a terrible fever [...]. However, i recovered [...] solely by returning to my former rule of life [...]."
He attained perfect health with this lifestyle. As he describes, his voice, intellect, teeth, hearing did not seem to deteriorate with the passing of the years.
"Sobriety purifies the senses; lightens the body; quickens the intellect; cheers the mind; makes the memory tenacious, the motions swift, the actions ready and prompt."
In July and August, he put himself in a quasi-fasting mode, by eating and drinking even less. He became very weak, but by the beginning of September he regained his strength in a few days, by increasing his food and drink intake to the usual amounts.

Jacopo Tintoretto: Luigi Cornaro

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