The most popular sugar substitute in history, but no one dares to taste it now

  Sugar is an irresistible sweet temptation for humans. In today’s developed food industry, we can choose not only natural sugars such as sucrose and fructose, but also many artificial sweeteners, which can meet people’s needs for sweeter and lower calories. Aspartame and other sugar substitutes.
  In the ancient times when sucrose and beets were not widely cultivated, there were few sweeteners available, and natural sweeteners like honey were not affordable for ordinary people. But this still didn’t stop the Romans thousands of years ago from wanting to “kick sugar”, they made a syrup called “sapa” (grape juice).
  Making this syrup is not complicated, just boil the grape juice in a pot and let it concentrate into a pulp. There is nothing wrong with the grape juice itself, the problem is the cookware used by the Romans – the lead pan. During the cooking process, lead ions in the pot seep into the grape juice. Some grape juice produces acetic acid (acetic acid) after fermentation, and when it is boiled in a lead pot, it combines with lead ions to form lead acetate (commonly known as lead sugar), which can make the grape juice more fresh and sweet, but Rome is immersed in sweetness. People don’t realize that this is actually a sugar-coated poison.

Grape juice can make syrup

  And lead ions, as a heavy metal ion, can destroy cells, just play a bactericidal effect, so that food can be stored for a longer time. As a result, leaded grape juice became a common sweetener and preservative in ancient Rome, added to wine and various foods. Little do they know that this sweet killer is slowly eroding their health.
  Not only that, because lead has excellent physical properties such as softness, good ductility, and not easy to rust, lead products have long been used in all aspects of life in ancient Rome. For example, a piece of lead is wrapped in paper as a pen, which is the earliest “pencil”, and now it is replaced by graphite; they also use a lot of lead water pipes, so that lead ions are sent to thousands of households with running water, and this kind of water tastes a little bit. sweet. However, some researchers believe that the scale accumulated in the inner layer of water pipes reduces lead pollution.
  High demand has also fueled a boom in lead mining. Scientists have even found Roman and Greek lead in ice in Greenland. This shows that the lead ore industry in these places was huge two thousand years ago, and the lead that flowed into the environment even polluted the extreme north. We are now aware of the dangers of lead, and there is no safe dose of lead compounds of any kind, including lead acetate. After lead is absorbed by the human body, it is almost harmful to the organs of the whole body, especially the nervous system.
  Lead can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, interfere with the transmission of neurotransmitters, affect cognitive ability, and damage the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory. The effects of lead intake during childhood are even greater, because lead inhibits neuronal growth and reduces their number, so children with chronic lead exposure will also have smaller brains as adults.

Lead sugar (lead acetate) crystals, this is not rock sugar

Lead can harm the nervous system

  Lead poisoning can also harm the reproductive system, leading to lower sperm quality and quantity in men. Women are more likely to miscarry or have low-weight, stunted babies when they become pregnant. Lead in breast milk can also enter the baby’s body. When the lead concentration in children’s blood exceeds 100 micrograms per liter, the probability of developmental defects is greatly increased. The lead concentration in ancient Roman wine was as high as 1,500 micrograms per liter.
The poison that makes wine sweeter

Daily lead intake of ancient Romans

  The nobles of the Roman Empire enjoyed more “sweet” wine and food, and were more poisoned. Some scholars believe that the dementia symptoms and bizarre behavior of the ruling class in ancient Rome may have been caused by lead poisoning. At the same time, the birth rate of the Roman aristocracy was also declining. These may have indirectly accelerated the decline of the Roman Empire.
  Since the harm of lead is so great, why did the ancient Romans not realize it?
  This is because lead has to accumulate in the body to a certain amount to show obvious symptoms of poisoning. It accumulates in bones and organs in the form of lead compounds, slowly eating away at the body like a moth, but not instantly deadly like a highly poisonous one.
  So after the fall of the Roman Empire, people continued to have close contact with lead for centuries. Until the 17th century, adding lead sugar to wine was as normal as adding white sugar to desserts. The key point was that it was also preservative, so why not do it for wine merchants? The lead concentration in wine at the time was even as high as 80 mg/L.
  In 1696, a German doctor (Eberhard Gockel) finally pointed out the dangers of leaded wine. Since ancient Roman times, many people have been afflicted by an inexplicable symptom of colic. No one knew the cause until Gockel’s time. As Gockel researched lead poisoning, he became aware of the link between lead-laced wine and colic symptoms. Gockel’s discovery prompted a Duke Ludwig of Württemberg to ban lead in wine.
  The history of lead sugar as an artificial sweetener doesn’t end there. Unscrupulous wine merchants in the 18th and early 19th centuries still sneak lead sugar into wine.
  In 1827, the famous musician Beethoven died. There are many theories about the cause of his death, among which the most abundant evidence is lead poisoning. The identification results showed that the lead content in Beethoven’s body was far above the normal level, and the symptoms such as neurodegeneration were also consistent with the symptoms of lead poisoning. A major source of this lead may have been the wine he drank on a daily basis. Some scholars believe that lead poisoning is also the culprit that made the music giant lose his hearing. Not only the wine itself may be contaminated with lead, but in the past, lead was used in the containers that held the wine, and even the caps that wrapped the mouth of the bottle.
  In the mid-17th century, glass makers discovered that adding lead compounds to glass raw materials could make the glass brighter, producing the more popular lead glass, also known as crystal glass. After people began to worry about its potential harm, glass manufacturers developed lead-free crystal glass, and lead glass was gradually withdrawn from the dining table. As for lead caps on wine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a decree in 1996 to prohibit the use.

The danger of wine was not small

  The penetration of lead into human history can be said to go deep into the bone marrow, and it is found everywhere from food, medicine, cosmetics to daily necessities. Just a few years ago, lead compounds were the fixatives in some hair dyes, only to be replaced not long ago. Today, we still cannot completely avoid exposure to lead, we can only achieve strict control.
  Although direct contact with lead is harmful to the human body, it is indispensable in military, battery and other industrial fields. As a substance that exists in nature, lead, like other substances, depends on how we use it. Obviously, it is not a friendly food additive.
  Thousands of years of ageing, drink is money, but also lead.

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