Researchers who examined the bones of Roman gladiators say that some of the mightiest fighters in history were in fact vegetarians. The researchers from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the MedUni Vienna claim the bones collected from the city of Ephesos (now Turkey) reveal that the gladiators enjoyed a diet of mostly grains and meat-free meals, suggesting that even super athletes can thrive without meat.

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Historically, gladiators of the 2nd or 3rd Century BC were nicknamed “Hordearii,” which translates to barley eaters. This nickname directly coincides with the athletes’ strict diet, noshing on grains like barley and wheat, as well as vegetables to keep them strong and agile.

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Examining their bones using spectroscopy, researchers also uncovered a higher ratio of strontium in the gladiators, indicating a mineral-rich diet. Legend has it that the athletes drank a concoction of plant ash after competing, which was said to replenish vital minerals. Like today’s vitamin and sports drinks, the plant-ash drink was consumed after exertion to promote better bone healing. The bones of the Ephesos gladiators reveal this legend to be likely true.

So the super athletes of yesterday were not only strong vegetarians, but also promoted their own health with the very first sports drink. The study will continue to compare the gladiator’s bones to those collected from other regions to determine whether this plant-based diet was consistent throughout the Roman empire.

Via Phys Org

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