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Dr. Philip Norman says: "Possibly the most confusing chapter in medicine today is the one related to the problem of diet. Textbooks on treatment are woefully barren of tangible information. The authors assume that the medical man is sufficiently schooled in dietaries. Instruction concerning diet are usually dismissed with the admonition, 'Of course, the diet must be carefully planned, etc.' The greatest reflection on medical intelligence is to be found in the diet kitchens of the hospitals. The interns, the nurses, and the patients testify voluntarily to the short-comings of hospital fare. It is traditionally accepted by patient and physician as part of the disagreeableness to be expected in the process of hospitalization. Dieticians are too often nothing more than cooks, who feebly attempt to enhance the physical attractiveness of food without thought or knowledge of the patients' nutritional requirements.
"The average meal consumed today is the outgrowth of the efforts of cooks who have catered to taste rather than to reason. The basic plan is to combine proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The conception of the calorie has retarded logical and rational reasoning in regard to diet, more so than any single other factor. The calorie is definitely associated with proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The calorific conception is a fuelistic rather than a nutritional conception. Nourishing such a complex aggregation of cells designated as the body differs widely from the problem of burning fuel to make steam."
Conditions are not much better in the ranks of the various drugless schools. Many of these practitioners give no attention whatever to diet and others almost none. Many of those who give great attention to diet know very little about it and to the everlasting shame of many of these, they are guided by what they have learned from lecturers and written works of a swarm of lecture racketeers, who, while they have many patent foods to sell, have had neither training nor experience in trophology. The lecturers are sadly deficient in knowledge of everything except salesmanship.
"Type feeding," "polarity feeding," feeding according to temperament, and similar attempts to feed "individualized" diets, are based on fallacies and errors of the most misleading kinds. In spite of this, their authors have frequently worked out dietaries that are far superior to the conventional diet.
Another group feeds "specific foods" for "specific diseases." Dr. Harry Finkel says: "It is to be hoped that the future doctors will learn the medicinal value of each particular food and prescribe it in the same manner he does drugs." A formidable dietetic-pharmacopea has been worked out--apricots for nausea, obesity and constipation; beets for the kidneys and bladder; cucumbers to purify the blood; pineapple for "sore throat"; leeks for coughs, colds and insomnia; spinach and beet tops for anemia; olive oil for gall stones; lemons and grapes for cancer; celery and fish for nervous troubles, etc. This is a system of medicine--allopathic medicine.
I agree with Dr. Weger that no food has curative properties per se, and that "it is wrong to ascribe to food the power to cure." He correctly says, "the person who recommends or takes a certain kind of food to cure a certain kind of disease is still in the elementary or kindergarten stage of food and health knowledge."
No confidence can be placed in the claims for therapeutic virtues in special foods. The theories and claims of those who maintain foods have certain specific effects upon certain organs and tissues of the body have been thoroughly studied and tested by the author and by others. Time and time again we have prescribed these foods and watched for their alleged effects. These effects have not shown up.
Similar to the effort to feed special foods in "specific diseases" is the effort to feed special organs of the body. We are told that there are certain foods to feed the eyes, certain foods to feed the nerves, certain foods to feed the hair, certain foods to feed the nails, certain foods to feed the brain, certain foods to make one magnetic, certain foods to make one sleep, certain foods to fill one with energy, etc. No such foods exist. The ensemble of diet must meet the ensemble of the nutritive needs of the body before any organ can be adequately nourished.
Nothing that is good for the muscles is bad for the nerves, or any vital organ. What is good .for the teeth is good for every organ of the body. Foods that promote and preserve beauty of the skin are also best for the brain. Foods that build strong, efficient stomachs are precisely those foods that build vigorous hearts, efficient livers, good kidneys, etc. The good of one is the good of all. That which perfects one organ perfects all the organs. The body is a unit and goes forward or backward as a unit--it must be nourished as a whole, not by piece-meal.
Foods enter the digestive tract and are broken up into their constituent nutritive elements and enter the blood stream as mineral salts, amino-acids, monosaccharides, glycerol and water. These are the things that circulate in the blood and which reach the organs and tissues. The blood succeeds in maintaining a surprising uniformity of structure and composition regardless of the food eaten. It is blood that feeds the organs.
One of the greatest mistakes in those dietaries worked out on the calorie basis is that the chemical reactions which occur in the incongruous combinations usually fed, so change the character and value of the whole mass that the one who eats such menus never receives the calories represented in his meal. The same thing is true of similar menus now worked out with special reference to vitamins.
Due to the prevailing confusion about nutrition and stimulation, many old errors continue to rule the minds and influence the practices of the layman, the dietician and the physician. Dr. Trall protested that physicians were "in the habit of saying to cold, pale, thin, and debilitated patients, for whom some other doctor had recommended a vegetarian diet, that they require a 'more stimulating diet,' meaning, of course, fresh-meat. And I have heard more than one doctor of the 'old school' call 'flesh, fish and fowl' tonic or high diet, in contradistinction to vegetable, which they termed reducing or low diet."
So-called "strengthening" foods stimulate the nerves and muscles, put on fat, color the face and lend a fictitious appearance of health; but they waste strength, "rust" the tissues, distend the blood vessels with plethora, overwork the heart, bring about arterio-sclorosis, and result in premature old age and death.
In dietary matters, as in other matters, it reveals a lack of vision and understanding to consider only immediate and temporary results and not look into the future at ultimate and permanent results. It can hardly be too often repeated that the more you eat, the more you poison yourself and the faster you wear yourself out.
These fallacies about meat and vegetable foods are far from dead and we hear them repeated quite often today. It is no uncommon thing to hear a patient, who is on a fruit and vegetable diet, told that he or she needs "a more nourishing diet," meaning that the patient should have meat or eggs. Nourishment is still thought of in terms not only of stimulation, but also in terms of proteins, carbohydrates and calories.
The term "high living," as commonly employed, means gluttonous indulgence in unhealthful dishes. When those who thus eat become bloated masses of disease or attenuated wrecks of prematurely worn-out bodies, they are said to be victims of "high living." The term and its use implies that it is decidedly vulgar to eat plain, wholesome foods and stay well.
The miserable dyspeptic who has lived on hot biscuits, fried meats, short cakes, plum puddings and other concentrated foods and "knic-knacs," until he is nearly dead, is said to be suffering from the effects of "too good living"--as though healthful living is actually bad. We are told that greasy dishes, gravies, cakes, etc., that prove to be distressing to the digestive organs, are "too rich"--as though foods that are wholesome and good are and must necessarily be poor.
All Hygienists, from the days of Jennings and Trall to the present, have been consulted by "poor, wretched invalids," who have suffered for half a lifetime or more, of misery and infirmity, due largely to improper diet, who upon being told that the adoption of and rigid adherence to a sensible diet of fruits and vegetables would enable them to regain a fair degree of health, comfort and usefulness and materially prolong their lives, reply "with solemn, yet almost ludicrous gravity," as Trall put it, that they "had rather live a little better and not quite so long"--as though healthful living is necessarily not so good.
Obviously no man who is in possession of "definite and correct ideas of the relations of food to health, could ever talk in this nonsensical manner." These expressions not only mislead those who hear them, but they indicate an evident lack of clearness and precision in the minds of those who use them.
"Eat what agrees with you" is the usual advice of the physician to those who seek information about their diet. What agrees with us? This advice, like the advice to eat what appetite calls for, usually amounts merely to the advice to eat according to long established habits. In popular estimation as well as in the view of the physician, the absence of distress in the abdomen immediately following the ingestion of food is evidence that it is causing no harm.
There can be no greater fallacy than this advice and this view. The very worst foods that can be eaten, those that are least valuable or most harmful, seldom produce any abdominal distress. Not only is the digestive system capable of withstanding a great deal of abuse, but the true test of food value is: does the food nourish the tissues?
It does not matter how perfectly the digestive organs may function, nor how easy and comfortable one may be after his meals, the body cannot obtain from food, elements that are not there. If the diet is lacking in some of the essential elements of nutrition, the tissues must suffer because of this lack. And this is the reply to those Chiropractors who assert that "if the Chiropractor restores the digestive organs to normal, the patient may eat what he likes." The body cannot take from its food, elements that are not there any more than a plant can extract elements from the soil if these are lacking.
Finally, imperfect digestion may result in fermentation and putrefaction and the consequent poisoning, with no immediate discomfort after meals. Perhaps a little gas a few hours after eating will be the only abdominal discomfort the individual will experience.
A lack of certain food elements, or an excess of others, or the presence in the food of deleterious elements are all that can cause trouble. We must feed the body, not the organ or the "disease."'
My friend of happy memory, Dr. Wm. H. Havard, suggested the following practical classification of diets, according to the prime purposes they are intended to serve:
1. The Building Diet, or the diet of physical growth, rich in proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, for the growing child, the pregnant mother, the convalescent patient and the person who has had a long fast.
2. The Mature Diet, or the Diet of Maintenance, rich in minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates, but poor in proteins, for the healthy adult individual.
3. The Curative Diet, or Diet of Elimination, rich in minerals and vitamins and practically protein-starch-sugar-fat free, for the chronic sufferer. The eliminating diet is fully discussed in the preceding chapter.
A chasm too great to be bridged with any possible compromise exists between a feeding system that feeds according to digestive and assimilative capacity and all other systems that endeavor to force-feed in keeping with apparent or theoretical systemic needs without regard for or consideration of the patient's ability to digest and assimilate. Hygienists take into consideration, not alone digestive capacity, but also assimilating capacity. We realize that nothing is to be gained from merely passing food that is not used, through the patient.
"'Nourishment' is the prevailing cry of 'those that would cure us,'" says Adolph Just in his Return to Nature; "'You need more nourishment!' But how can a body be nourished when it is incapable of absorbing, and especially incapable of expelling, that which has been already stuffed into it? The fact is that in nearly every instance the sufferer to whom more nourishment is recommended is one who is already brought low by excessive nourishment--he is actually pining through overplus!"
These patients are not only incapable of absorbing but, also, of digesting food. How foolish to give more food when it cannot be digested, absorbed and assimilated! Not more food, but more ability to assimilate and excrete, is needed and must be first provided through rest, fasting and hygiene before food is to be thought of. Nothing is of more advantage in most cases of "disease" than a fast, often a long one. A reduction of surfeit is essential to the most vigorous manifestations of vitality and to the restoration of vigor.
Many doctors of all schools will disagree with this. Since, however, almost none of them have ever undertaken a protracted fast, nor have they ever supervised a representative number of protracted fasts for the benefit of others, and since few of them have ever really studied fasting, they have no right to put forth considered views upon a procedure of which they know little or nothing from the practical viewpoint. There is really no problem of feeding in acute "disease," for no food should be given in acute states.
The amount of food given the patients must always be graduated in proportion to his strength. The feebler the system, always the less digestive power possessed. Stuffing the sick on "rich" viands under the supposition that they need so much food each day, or that "plenty of good nourishing food" will build them up is a common, but fallacious, practice.
Patients should not be fed according to any arbitrary standards, such as that they need and must have 3000 calories each day, or that they need and must have so many ounces of protein a day, but according to their abilities to utilize the food consumed.
It is essential that we recognize that the nutritive needs of the sick organism vary from the needs of the healthy organism. Greater caution must be observed in feeding or in eating where one is trying to eradicate illness than if we have only to maintain health. A firm resolve on the part of the sufferer to do all that is essential, is required. He must abandon his old ways and stick to a new and radically different program.
Where lack of salts and vitamins has exhausted the tissues and organs and where surplus acids exist in the body, one or more crises must usually develop before real improvement becomes apparent.
After controverting the opinion that fleshiness and the muscular power of the body are to be considered as criteria of the excellence of any regimen prescribed for the chronic individual, and pointing out that to eat increases the pain, inflammation, discomfort, fever and irritableness of the system, and does so in proportion to the amount of food eaten and in direct ratio to its supposed nutritive qualities, and that to fast or to consume non-irritating non-stimulating foods and drinks in moderation reduces the "violence" of the disease and renders recovery more certain, Graham says, Lectures, p. 441:
"Nevertheless, the chronic invalid himself, and generally his friends, and sometimes also his physician, seem to think that fleshiness and muscular strength are the things mainly to be desired and sought for, and that any prescribed regimen is more or less correct and salutary in proportion as it is conducive to these ends. Whereas if they were properly enlightened, they would know that the more they nourish a body while diseased action is kept up in it, the more they increase the disease. The grand, primary object to be aimed at by the invalid, is to overcome and remove disease action and condition, and restore all parts to health, and then, nourish the body with a view to fleshiness and strength, as fast as the feeblest parts of the system will bear without breaking down again. (Italics mine, Author). And the regimen best adapted to remove the diseased action and condition, more frequently than otherwise, causes a diminution of flesh and muscular strength (Please note, it is only muscular strength that is diminished. Author's note), while the disease remains, in regulating the general function of nutrition to the ability of the diseased part. But when the diseased action ceases, and healthy action takes place, the same regimen perhaps will increase the flesh and strength as rapidly as the highest welfare of the constitution will admit." The latter increase in weight and strength on the same regimen would not be possible if the previous loss of flesh and strength on it represented an actual loss of vital power. Yet every experienced Hygienist knows that what Graham says here is true. The common practice of stuffing the chronic sufferer like a harvest hand is evil. It is even bad for the harvest hand, but much worse for the invalid. Graham disposed of this practice as follows:
"In regulating the diet of chronic patients, however, it should always be remembered that the extensiveness and suddeness of any change should correspond with the physiological and pathological condition and circumstances of the individual; and most especially should it be remembered that the diseased organ or part should be made the standard of the ability of the system. If the boiler of a steam engine is powerful enough in some parts to bear a pressure of fifty pounds to the square inch, while in some other parts it can only bear ten pounds to the square inch, we know that it would not do for the engineer to make the strongest parts of the boiler the standard of its general ability or power, and to attempt to raise a pressure of forty pounds to the square inch, because some parts can bear fifty pounds; for in such an attempt he would surely burst the boiler at its weakest parts. He must therefore make the weakest parts the standard of the general power of the boiler, and only raise such a pressure of steam as those parts can safely bear. So he who has diseased lungs or liver or any other part, while at the same time he has a vigorous stomach, must not regulate the quality of his food by the ability of his stomach, but by the ability of the diseased part. This rule is of the utmost importance to the invalid, and one which cannot be disregarded with impunity, and yet it is continually and almost universally violated. Few things are more common than to find individuals who are laboring under severe chronic disease, indulging in every improper quality and quantity of food, and other dietetic errors, and still strongly contending for the propriety of their habits and practices, on the ground that 'their stomachs never trouble them.' Alas! They know not that the stomach is the principle source of all their troubles; yet by adopting a correct regimen, and strictly adhering to it for a short time, they would experience such a mitigation of their sufferings, if not such a restoration to health, as would fully convince them of the serious impropriety of making a comparatively vigorous stomach the standard of the physiological ability of a system otherwise diseased. (Italics mine, Author). Science of Human Life, p. 440.
There are dieticians and physicians who work on the principle that if we just put enough of the vitamin, mineral and protein containing foods into the stomach, these somehow will be taken into the blood stream and be utilized.
Vitamin A is supposed to be essential to good eyesight. Peaches and cream contain much more vitamin A than the bread puddings so often eaten as desserts. For this reason, peaches and cream are advised as dessert. Yet these foods eaten on top of a regular meal do not guarantee that the eater will get vitamin A from them. They must be digested, and the dietitian who neglects the digestion of foods, is an ignoramus.
'There is more to supplying the body with appropriate nourishment than the mere eating of foods, even the best of foods. A whole list of conditions, particularly diseases of the digestive tract, such as acute gastro-enteritis, peptic ulcers, chronic and acute gastritis, diarrhea, loss of teeth, nausea and vomiting from any cause, as in pregnancy, heart disease, etc., lack of appetite from any cause, such as fevers, severe inflammations, visceral pain or severe pain in any part of the body, operations and anesthetics, and states of mental depression such as worry, apprehension, grief and neurasthenia and psychoneurosis, interfere with the intake of food. Migraine not only interferes with eating but often results in vomiting, as does epilepsy. The absorption of food is interfered with by diarrheal diseases, enteritis, intestinal parasites, tuberculosis of the intestine, sprue, liver and gall bladder diseases and ingestion from any cause. Diabetes mellitus, diseases of the liver, chronic alcoholism, Bright's disease, heart disease, nervous troubles of various kinds, and a general toxic state interfere with the utilization of foods. Overacidity coupled with insufficient rest and sleep, hyperthyroidism, pregnancy and lactation, the wasting that occurs in fevers, etc., increase the food requirements of the body without always increasing the body's ability to digest, absorb and assimilate foods. Indeed, in some instances, there is a marked decrease in the total ability to utilize the food eaten. Many of the "therapeutic" measures of the disease-treaters of the various schools interefere with the proper nourishment of the body. Sippy diets and mush diets used in stomach ulcers, certain types of reducing diets, minerals, acids and alkalies given as "medicines," laxatives, cathartics, and drugs given to increase the excretion of urine, interfere with the digestion, absorption and utilization of foods. Any influence that enervates the body will lower digestive ability and reduce the body's assimilative powers. A lack of sunshine, lack of exercise, insufficient sleep, emotional disturbances--these and many other factors interfere with the nutritive processes of the body. Tobacco inhibits digestion and thus prevents the proper utilization of the food eaten. Coffee and tea cause a premature emptying of the stomach, thus interfering with digestion. Bitters have a like effect.
This failure of digestion, absorption, and utilization of food is not confined to any particular food factor. Indigestion means fermentation of carbohydrates and putrefaction of proteins. It means that fats decompose and minerals and vitamins are also lost. Failure of absorption from whatever cause means that fatty acids, amino acids, sugars, minerals and vitamins are lost. In diabetes there is chiefly loss of sugar, in Bright's disease there is chiefly a loss of nitrogen, but both of these losses cause a loss of other and correlated food factors. It is folly to attempt to remedy nutritive failures resulting from any or all of these conditions by feeding concentrated vitamins and minerals. The body's ability to absorb and utilize these substances is not increased by having them forced upon it in concentrated form or in increased amounts. Nor are these substances usable in the absence of the proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The only rational plan of caring for cases of these kinds is to correct the causes that have produced and are maintaining the troubles and permit health to return. With the return of health normal digestion, absorption and assimilation will also return.
Treating patients with doses of vitamins, or with mineral concentrates, or with both of these combined, and ignoring all of the many causes of their troubles is identical with the older drug practice. It is simply another of the medicine man's long efforts to "cure" disease without the necessity of removing its cause. There is no more sanity in trying to cure the effects of alcoholism by dosing the inebriate with vitamins and minerals than there is in trying to accomplish the same thing by dosing him with drugs of the older varieties.
Too many dietitians are that only, and give no attention to other and important factors of life. They often complain that a particular patient does not or cannot utilize certain food elements or food factors and resort to drugs or some form of drugless stimulation, to gland extracts or to vitamin injections, or some other futile means of treatment and totally disregard the natural factors upon which good nutrition depends. They ignore the need for sunshine, exercise, rest and sleep, peace of mind and a host of other factors of living that are important to nutrition. Tobacco inhibits digestion, hence it interferes with the proper utilization of food stuffs, yet a biochemist will talk about the inability of certain "healthy" tobacco users to utilize vitamins.
True vitamins are not drugs and it is foolish to say that they are used as drugs when prescribed for certain deficiencies. It would be as correct to say water is a drug when used to revive a man famishing from thirst. They are food accessories, first, last and all the time. Synthetic vitamins are drugs; they are never anything else.
I hear and read much about how vegetables, eggs, fruit and milk "cure" many diseases. I have patients coming to me from all parts of the country who are eating these foods prescribed by physicians of the old school as well as by "irregulars" and they are still sick. One of their troubles is that they are still feeding "plenty of good nourishing food to keep up strength." In other words, they overfeed their patients.
In practice we cannot dissociate the effects of deficient and ill-balanced foods from the effects of toxins. The deficiencies and toxemias are so inextricably bound up that they cannot be separated. They are, in fact, Siamese twins. In some of earlier experiments with deficient diets, the addition of wood shavings, blotting paper and other forms of foodless roughage to the diets of animals was enough to clear up pathological conditions and restore health. Graham attributed these pathologies to poisoning resulting from gastro-intestinal decomposition. This is present in most, if not all, cases of avitaminosis.
Overemphasizing a particular food factor, such as protein, vitamins or minerals, is a mistake. Ideal nutrition is possible only when adequate quantities and due proportions of all food factors are present in the diet. Please note that I said these must all be present in the diet: this does not mean that they must all be present in each meal, as is the thought of those who serve "balanced meals." What is needed is a balanced diet. There is interdependence between the various elements of the diets. Vitamins and all other food factors work best in cooperation.
After discussing the need of the healthy for a balanced diet (please observe that this is not the so-called balanced meals of yesteryear) Victor Lindlahr asks: "Is it not logical to insist that sick people, too, must receive enough (and proper percentages) of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and each of the known minerals and vitamins necessary to life? Of course the sick must receive balanced nourishment before any additions or modifications necessary for their specific disease can be made."
Instead of this statement being true, it is often essential that the sick abstain from food altogether or go on a very restricted diet for a period,, before they can hope to recover health. The balanced diet is more appropriate for upbuilding after recovery is almost completed.
Most of the claims made for the curative virtues of the milk diet are false. Milk contains no excess of vitamins or minerals that will compensate for the use of devitalized foods and is wrongly classed as a "protective food."
Laboratory rats fed on an exclusive milk diet developed anemia. The protracted use of an exclusive milk diet tends finally to render children susceptible to so-called infections in later life, even to develop tuberculosis. Berg, experimenting on humans, found that when only so much milk is given to these as is required to supply them with the bodily protein requirement, the excess of alkalies in the milk did not suffice either for growing youth or adult human beings. Berg, says "natural milk contains acid-rich proteins, and unless these proteins are fully utilized by the body (as they are in the suckling undergoing normal growth) the total surplus of bases is not placed at the disposal of the organism." Lyman and Raymond, experimenting on rabbits, which are very sensitive to acids, found that on a diet of cow's milk, the animals died of acidosis; but when sodium citrate was added to the food, the acidosis disappeared and the urine contained less ammonia. "Milk," says Berg, "is well known to be adequate in respect to inorganic constituents (minerals) only for the earliest period of life; but for adults is rendered adequate by the addition of a little iron. In my own experience, however, as far as adults are concerned, the richness of milk in protein makes the excess of alkali in this food inadequate."
The milk diet requires a lot of juggling to make it serve at all. It produces constipation in about 80% of those who employ it, and diarrhea in perhaps 10%. It causes much gas, abdominal distension and discomfort. It causes nausea in many, bowel inpaction in a few, catarrh in many, increased blood pressure in all and places a heavy tax upon the heart, liver, stomach, intestine, kidneys, lungs and glands of the body. Most patients gain weight rapidly on it, but such weight is not a gain in healthy flesh and is almost never permanent. It completely wrecks many patients.
During the last few years the Salisbury meat diet has enjoyed a short-lived vogue in certain quarters. It is now about fifty years since Dr. Salisbury first announced the use of an exclusive meat diet in the treatment of a number of maladies; including arthritis and tuberculosis. He assumed that most human ailments are due to the development of yeast in the digestive tract. He excluded carbohydrates from the diet to starve out the yeast cells. There was and is no scientific foundation for his notion and, although, he and his followers claimed a remarkable success, his method was short-lived.
Dr. Salisbury correctly described the consequences of the ordinary starch and sugar diet as making a "yeast pot of the digestive tract." The fermentation is real under the usual haphazard eating and the evil consequences of the fermentation are no less real. The remedy, however, is not the substitution therefor of a greater evil--acid formation and putrefaction of meat.
Foods are frequently used, both by laymen and by doctors of all schools, as palliatives, that is, for the relief of symptoms. Honey is used to relieve coughing and dryness and irritation of the throat. Warm milk is often employed to relieve insomnia. Patients suffering with gastric ulcer are fed frequently during the day and sometimes at night to relieve stomach distress. Nervous patients are fed frequently to relieve their nervous symptoms. A large class of incorrigibles eat to relieve headache. These people are food drunkards and are uncomfortable when deprived of the accustomed food. Some food drunkards suffer from nausea when their stomachs are empty. These eat to relieve the nausea. Patients who suffer with gastric catarrh are advised to drink fruit juices or lemonade to cleanse their stomachs of mucus. Food addiction is as real as morphine addiction and produces almost as intense suffering. When deprived of food these addicts suffer the same symptoms as the morphine addict experiences when deprived of his dope. Feeding wheat bran or a lot of bulk and roughage in some other form in cases of constipation, instead of removing the causes of constipation, is a form of symptomatic feeding that has no justification. Symptomatic feeding is like giving drugs to ease or "relieve" symptoms.
The ulcer diets commonly employed are deficient in vitamins and minerals. These diets are devised to avoid mechanical irritation of the ulcer or to use up the excess acid in the stomach, not to provide adequate nourishment for the sufferer. Someday it will be realized that these diets help to perpetuate the ulcer and to make the condition of the patient worse. Such feeding will then be looked upon as malpractice.
It is easily possible to feed a diet that will relieve a symptom and, at the same time, make the patient worse. No better example of this can be given than diets commonly fed in diabetics, which have no regenerative effects upon the pancreatic tissue, but do increase the toxemic condition of the patient. Many of the diets fed to diabetic patients help to keep the urine sugar-free. They reduce the amount of blood sugar. But they are so deficient they lay the foundation for metabolic troubles that are almost as serious as the diabetes.
There is a limit to the possibilities of any trophologic regimen. Even a biologically correct dietary and a complete bionomic program, resorted to at the eleventh hour, may be insufficient to stay the progress of degeneration and prevent its culmination in death.
It is no doubt true that the normal individual is able to eat anything that anyone else may eat. Few, however, are normal and we frequently meet with those who cannot eat certain foods without suffering. Not infrequently a perfectly good food appears to be harmful to some individual and this seems to lend credibility to the old notion that what is one man's boon is another man's bane. Learned treatises have been written about these supposed idiosyncracies; yet, in most if not all such cases the trouble is not due to the food at all.
Some people develop skin eruptions after eating strawberries and some other foods. These people should be placed on a diet of strawberries and fed strawberries exclusively until the trouble ends. Some people are so sensitive to eggs that the consumption of only a small amount of egg will cause nausea, vomiting, purging, headache, urticaria, and other distressing symptoms.
Some people are constipated by cheese. This indicates enervation; correct the cause of enervation.
Oranges cause gas with some. Pears and apples do the same for others. Cooked cabbage and cauliflower produce gas in some. Many will have catarrh and a coated tongue so long as they use milk, even if it is but one glass a day. Some fruits cause diarrhea in some patients. Eggs and meat often bring on asthmatic attacks in certain individuals. This is, however, only after such individuals are already poisoned with an excess of protein. Many patients are made uncomfortable (have a heavy feeling in the stomach) when they eat spinach.
Much of the trouble that a certain food is supposed to give is the result of wrong combinations. Sometimes the trouble grows out of eating the food in excessive quantities, or it is blamed for the trouble caused by a too large meal. In some cases trouble is due to suggestion--the fixed idea that a certain food will cause distress. In many cases the trouble grows out of digestive derangements and ceases as soon as digestion has been restored to normal.
All these things have to be considered in planning a diet for a patient. When normal digestion is re-established these things disappear, but while digestion is still impaired, those foods that cause trouble are best omitted from the patient's diet. Often, however, a patient thinks that a certain article of diet causes him trouble, when it is only the wrong combination that produces the trouble. A patient will complain that acid fruits cause gas. Upon inquiry you find that these have been taken with a breakfast of cereal and sugar, and egg on toast. You put the patient upon an acid fruit diet and no trouble results. Wrong combinations are often the cause of trouble.
Feeding in convalescence is usually a very simple matter. Caution is required in order not to overtax the weakened digestive powers. Moderation should be the rule. Combinations should be the simplest and foods should be simple and wholesome.
A "diet of growth" is demanded, yet, due to the weakened condition of the digestive organs, it is necessary to institute this gradually.
During the prodromal stage of acute disease, say of pneumonia, there occurs an impoverishment of the patient's blood of alkalies; then follows an impoverishment of the tissues of alkalies. This occurs more or less generally, but localizes itself more specifically in the lungs, or in the organ most affected. These alkali-elements are used in neutralizing and detoxifying the toxins causing the trouble. Some have, indeed, advocated the employment of fruit juices in acute disease to supply the body with alkaline elements and some have recorded cases of acute disease in which there was a definite and distinct call for lemons or oranges or other acid fruits. Whether the general use of fruit juices in acute disease is or is not to be recommended, it is obvious that the diet of convalescence should be rich in alkaline elements to restore those that have been used up in the work of cure. It should be equally obvious that the alkali-depleted diet usually fed to patients is not designed to help, but must always injure the patient.
The conventional diet is more or less deficient in alkali-elements due to the fact that it is made up largely of the concentrated proteins, carbohydrates and hydrocarbons, and to the further fact that these have usually been deprived of their alkaline elements in the processes of manufacture and cooking. Practically all the "staple" articles of food used in America today show a relative predominance of acid-forming over base-forming elements.
Such a diet cannot maintain health. Still less can it restore health. It is predominantly acid-forming and does not contain a sufficient amount of base-forming elements to maintain normal excretion. To bring about increased elimination in a sick body an entirely different diet is required.
It is essential that plenty of fresh fruits and green vegetables or their juices be fed to replenish the body's exhausted alkali-reserve and restore the normal alkalinesence of the blood.
Orthodox "science" considers foods to be "nutritious" and "non-nutritious, according as they yield much or little nitrogenous, carbohydrate and hydrocarbon substances. In keeping with this idea foods are classed as (1) proteins, (2) carbohydrates and (3) hydrocarbons. Fruits and green vegetables are practically unclassified. "The wonderful vitalizing acids (organic acids) and salts" which they contain, are relegated to the "ash" column, and practically ignored.
Dr. Trall declared, that "all good fresh fruits and vegetables are antiscorbutic" which is equivalent to saying that they are "base-forming" or anti-"acidity." Fruits and green vegetables yield to the blood more activating acids and bases than all the "nutritious" foods taken together, and yield them with almost no tax upon digestion, absorption and assimilation. "These particular acids and bases readily travel to the blood and are quickly utilized to build up and repair tissues, to promote immunity to and recovery from disease."
Graham declares: "The question is, how to remove all irritations from the system, and restore each part to healthy action and condition. But almost all the articles of medicine, not excepting those called tonics, are either directly or indirectly irritating or debilitating in their effects on the living body, and therefore should be avoided as far as possible. Many of the articles of diet ordinarily used in civilized life are also decidedly irritating and pernicious; and many of the modes of preparing food, are sources of irritation to the system. In fact, when the body is seriously diseased, even the necessary functions of alimentation, under the very best regimen, are, to a considerable extent, the sources of irritation; and where it is possible to sustain life without nutrition, entire and protracted fasting would be the very best means in many cases of removing disease and restoring health. I have seen wonderful effects result from experiments of this kind."--Science of Human Life.
All stimulating and irritating foods should be excluded from the diet. All foods that undergo fermentation very readily should be withheld. No denatured foods--white flour, polished rice, white sugar, degerminated, demineralized corn meal, canned, pickled, embalmed foods, jams, jellies, preserves, pastries, so-called breakfast foods, etc.--should be consumed. All foods eaten should be wholesome, natural foods; condiments of every nature should be tabooed. Bread, even whole grain bread, is especially bad.
Such fruits as dried apples, peaches, pears, apricots, fancy dates, figs and raisins are bleached with sulphurous acid. Crystalized fruit peels, citron, walnuts and almonds are also subjected to this same whitening process. These should never be used, well or sick. The sulphurous acid disturbs metabolism, destroys the blood corpuscles and other cells and overworks the kidneys.
Commercial apple jam and other jams are made up of sulphurated skins and cores. "Chops," as these are called are composed of about 10 per cent fruit, 10 per cent juice. The rest of the jam is composed of about 10 per cent sugar and 70 per cent glucose. The whole is held together and given a jelly-like consistency by phosphoric acid. Amrath, a coal tar dye, gives it a bright strawberry color, while it is prevented from decomposing by benzoate of soda. The government permits one-tenth of one per cent of benzoate of soda to be used and requires that it be stated on the label. It is usually indicated in very fine print. Sulphuric acid is present in almost all commercial syrups and molasses. These syrups have little food value and are harmful in many ways.
It can easily be seen that the use of such foods by either the well or sick cannot result in anything else but harm. We have not yet discovered a way to prepare foods, to add to them and subtract from them, that will make them better than they are as Nature gives them to us. Our preparations only impair their nutritional value. Until such a method is found it is the part of wisdom for us to stick to the natural foods.
Such a diet cannot be made adequate by the addition of synthetic vitamins nor by the addition of vitamins extracted from their natural carriers. Neither will the addition of mineral concentrates nor mineral concentrates and vitamins render adequate a diet made up of such foods.