Explaination of: DIET AND GOOD HEALTH
Let us begin by affirming the necessity of self-control in appetite. This means that unless we aim at mastering our bodies, all our knowledge of food science will be of little use. To control one’s own stomach is a task requiring no small amount of self-denial and almost heroic endeavour.
We must bear in mind, also, the fact that all knowledge is relative, that right diet necessitates right living. For instance, it is unwise for people who live pent up in cities to give up the use of all stimulants immediately or to adopt suddenly an uncooked diet of nuts, fruits, and salad vegetables. It is much better to make a gradual change in the daily menu until we have become accustomed to new tastes and appetites. The desire for stimulants must be distin-
guished from a real sense of hunger or natural appetite. Obedience to this simple rule would solve many a dietetic problem, and would reveal new tastes in food hitherto unknown. It is essential, also, that we chew all food thoroughly, for it is not how much we eat but how much we assimilate that is important. Dry food is much more easily digested than sloppy food, thus we should avoid soft mushes made with cereals. Children especially should be
taught the benefits of efficient mastication, so that they may grow up with strong and good digestions.
THE NATURAL FOOD OF MAN
The kind of food we require is determined chiefly by the nature of our digestive organs, and the country in which we live. Most scientists are agreed -that man’s physical anatomy shows that he is adapted to live mainly upon nuts, fruits, and other vegetable products. In the words of Baron Cuvier, a Man resembles the frugivorous or fruit-
eating animals in everything, the carnivorous or flesh-eating animals in nothing. . . The natural food of man, judging from his structure, appears to consist principally of the fruits, roots, and other succulent parts of vegetables. This view is also held by Owen, Idnnseus, Haeckel and Darwin.
In reply, it may be contended that man is not always living to-day in his natural climate, and that custom and experience prove that he can adapt himself or become omniorous to almost any kind of diet. While admitting that there is considerable truth in this statement, on the other hand there is no evidence to show that man has altered in his physical structure. Let me quote the words of the late Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson, M.D. :By weighing the facts that now lie before us, the inference is justified that in spite of the very long time during which man has been subjected to an animal diet, herdlains in preponderance his original and natural taste for an innocent diet derived
from the first-fruits of the earth.
With regard to climate, it is true that we are not living in our natural climate, and apparently can thrive fairly well on almost any diet. But this is no- reason why we should ignore our physiological food, or refuse to adapt our dietaries to our changed conditions. No one would think of feeding a horse or any other animal irrespective of its natural order of food habits. Besides, there is abundant evidence to prove that many of our diseases are due to eating not only impure but wrong and unbalanced foods. Hence it is that we must consider now food values and the proper
nourishment of the human body.
Foods are classified according as to whether they contain Proteids, Carbohydrates, Fats, or Mineral Salts. These compounds are built up chiefly of the elements oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, potassium, sodium,
magnesium, phosphorus, chlorine, sulphur, silicon, iron, fluorine, and manganese.
The main source of food supply is the vegeable kingdom, in combination with the oxygen from the atmosphere. It is important to note here that practically none of these elements can be assimilated in an unorganised state ; even oxygen must be organically combined with other elements during the process of its being absorbed by the lungs.
Oxygen is the most important food element of the body, as we can only live without it for a few minutes. It exists in a free state in the atmosphere, and enters the lungs as a gas, where it unites with minerals to be carried to the tissues for energy and equal distribution of vitamins and nutriants.