The story of diet and disease.
Diet has been used as medicine as early as the 1600s where physicians linked the effect of food on disease. By the late 1800s when my great grandfather (pictured) was practicing as a chemist in the city of Dublin, foods were being prescribed to treat disease but it was not a very scientific process and diets were generally nutritionally inadequate. The best example of this came in 1839 when 2 Scottish doctors invented the digestive biscuit to aid digestion and help overweight privileged members of society to lose weight. Things were not good.
In 1924 the first dietetic department opened in Edinburgh and in 1940 during the second world war, Dr McCance and Widdowson published the first book on the “chemical composition of foods”. Using this they were able to ensure that ration packs were nutritionally balanced to feed the population of Great Britain.
In the 1980s hospital diet kitchens disappeared in hospitals and dietitians moved out to support different areas of medicine. Thankfully these days things have moved on quite a bit since the 1600s. In 2002 the word “Dietitian” and “Dietician” became a legally protected title and today we sit within the group of 15 health care professionals including physiotherapists, paramedics and psychologists known as Allied Health professionals. Dietitians are regulated by the Health care professions Council and are the only nutrition professionals qualified to assess, diagnose and treat nutritional problems.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”Thomas Edison. 1903