The Human Machine
( Originally Published 1916 )
The human body is in many respects like an automobile. Each has its framework. The organs of the body correspond to the machinery of the automobile. Food furnishes the body with material for repairs and fuel for heat and energy. In the car, gasoline is carried in one tank for immediate use, and in another, the emergency tank, for reserve. The fat of the body is comparable to the gasoline in the emergency tank.
Man is his own mechanic. He never leaves his machine. He makes all his own repairs. He is his own chauffeur. I do not hesitate to say that he is derelict in his duty. He does not study his task. He has given too little attention to repairs and fuel. He allows sand to clog the gear-box. He is a wonderful mechanism, capable of an immense amount of work. Great accomplishments are his just desert. How few develop their full powers. How few take themselves seriously. Too few know what are the dietetic or fuel requirements of the body. Many load themselves down with excess fat, while others are under nourished.
In the repair work of the body, proteins are the chief requirement. Fifty grams daily are needed for this purpose. If all parts of the body were torn down at a proportionate rate, the entire protein content would be used up in 190 days. The body's supply of sugars and starches is exhausted and replaced daily. In cases of complete fasting, about 1 1/2 pounds are lost in a day, if the person is lying quietly in bed.
The human engine is more efficient than any invented by man. It may develop energy or work to the extent of 45 per cent. from the heat value of the fuel consumed. The Deisel oil engine develops 33 per cent energy. The best steam engine develops only 22 per cent.