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Health and wellbeing in the ancient world
Health and wellbeing in the ancient world

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1.1 The role of digestion

Digestion (in Greek, pepsis) was seen as a key process in the body, harnessing its natural heat to ‘cook’ food into blood. Galen commented that stale bread made from emmer would make a person feel ‘like a lump of clay is lying in his bowels’.

Because health depended on effective digestion, ways of aiding digestion were used. Apicius’ De re coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking) is a fourth or fifth century CE compilation of earlier Latin cookery books, containing around 500 recipes. Watch Video 2 where Laurence Totelin prepares Apicius’ recipe for oxygarum, an aid to digestion.

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Video 2 The role of digestion
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