Centenary nutritional advice – the Perpetual Lunarium

The nutritional advice of the Perpetual Lunarium


Find out what nutritional advice your great great grandmother was into. We brought back a 16th century lunarium and looked at it with today’s eyes.

The Lunário Perpétuo (Perpetual Lunarium) is one of my favorite books [1]. To such extent that we have three editions of this almanac at hand’s reach. First published in 1524, this almanac offers all kinds of advice regarding the phases of the moon, horoscopes, eclipses, agriculture, holy days, health, nutritional advice and weather forecasts, among others. Regarding health advice, the author gathered a miscellanea of informations relative to nutrition, which have as provenance ancient greek, arab and persian medicine.

In sequence, we will list some of the best nutritional advice (Q:), preceded by some proposed sayings, and followed by our little comments (C:).


Hot bread fades the complexion


Q: “(…) The second verse states that bread should not be eaten hot (…). That is, hot bread is not well received by nature, for it causes thirst, and those who continually eat it, always have a colorless complexion.”

C: I don’t care if I’m pale, I can’t resist a hot bun.


Over food you shalt not sleep


Q: “The first verse prohibits sleeping after eating, or at least sleeping very little, for if it is too much, it causes much damage, such as stomach indigestion, headaches, and very serious vein blockages, and according to Avicena, from this come fevers, catarrh, feeble appetite, tiredness and a very extraordinary laziness of the limbs.”

C: Sometimes I really wish I could take a nap after breakfast. But then my legs would get all lazy, you know.


Bad meat, bad blood


Q: “These verses mean that the meat from goats, either nannies or bucks, hares and ox is not good for maintaining good health, this is because, according to Rhazer Almanços, chap. de anima, such meat generates thick humors and melancholic blood.”

C: According to the OMS [2], this might not be completely silly.


Over egg should fall wine


Q: “This verse says (considering the aforementioned rule) that over each egg one should drink a gulp of good wine; because, according to (…) Arnaldo de Villanova, it settles the stomach, and aids the penetration of the nourishment in every limb.”

C: This is nice for those who like bacon and eggs for breakfast. And also, that’s why your legs and arms tingle after a bit too much wine.


After meat, must come cheese


Q: “(…) after eating meat, it is convenient, for good health, to eat a piece of cheese, since it settles the food and improves digestion, etc. (…) That is, cheese causes food to descend to the deepest part of the stomach, where there is more strength and vigor in the digestion”.

C: That’s why burgers have cheese, obviously.


Old cheese for sniffles. Cottage cheese for cholera. 


Q: “Cheese is good if you eat little of it (…) old cheese is good for the flegmatic, and cottage cheese for the choleric, because you do not feel the salt as much in the cottage cheese, than in old cheese.”

C: This is particularly true if the old cheese is really ripe. It really cleans up your sinuses.


More salt, less tears


Q:A lot of salt, or overly salty food, wastes life, because it dries the humidity of the eyes, with which they are conserved. It causes much itching on all of the body, and generates mange, because salt creates scathing humor, which is also adjust and penetrating, and from which comes,a according to Almançor, chap. 3, mange, leprosy, and other illnesses.”

C: According this, the traditional portuguese salted cod is worse than a full on lice infestation.


God gives nuts to those who eat fish


Q: “The first verse states that health is very much preserved if after you eat fish, you eat a nut; and, according to Avicena, the nut should be nutmeg, which eliminates the flegma that fish usually generates, (…) it soothes the stomach and the eyes.”

C: Well this is a nice one. Eating nutmeg can make you hallucinate [3]. Eating some kinds of fish (sea bream) can also make you hallucinate [4]. This might be a comical, but tragic, combination.


Salt at the table makes the diner happy


Q: “The first verse states that the table is never set without salt. (…) the first thing that should be put in front of diners, it salt, (…). For eating foodstuffs seasoned with salt, there are many benefits, and you avoid a some damage. Firstly, it helps digestion, tightens the meat, moves the appetite, and makes one eat with zest. Salt avoids the corruption of humors (…).”

C: Nobody likes bland food. Duh.

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