Nutrition Past And Present
( Originally Published 1954 )
Nutrition has been an art throughout the ages. The procurement of food has always been the crux of struggles for survival. Before modern science was developed, food preparation was an art and a craft that was developed by trial and error. Our ancestors devised tasty dishes, fine cakes, delectable liquors, and other things solely to please the sense of taste.
Feasting has been part of religious ritual in all ages. Those who could afford it had delicious dishes for holidays and feast days. In some localities people grew strong and lived long. In other places there were pronounced signs of deficiencies in nutrition and consequent effects on the growth of the body. Disease was very often caused by faulty and unhygienic regional customs in food and drink.
By the middle of the nineteenth century general chemistry was already an established science. Some pioneers in the field of chemistry began to analyze food products. The vitamins were also being studied in the nineteenth century and earlier, by guesswork as well as by scientific deduction.
Modern nutrition, however, has become an established, well-systematized science only in the last fifty years. American food chemists and biochemists have played a major role in establishing the science which is known as the New Knowledge of Nutrition.
What is the New Knowledge of Nutrition? The New Knowledge of Nutrition is an aggregate of facts about food in relation to the animal and human body, under varying conditions of health and disease. Professors E. V. McCollum, H. C. Sherman, R. Chittenden and others contributed to the organization and application of data in this new field. These scientists used animal and human subjects to observe and study the effects of various food mixtures on the body. Thus we have today gained a comprehensive knowledge of food in relation to nutrition and health.
The New Knowledge of Nutrition is, however, applied in the dietaries of civilized people to a very minor degree. For example, the raw vegetable salad as an important daily food course is not served in the majority of homes. The scientists in the nutrition field have been stressing, for the last quarter of a century or longer, that the salad is important to human health; yet people remain untrained in the regular eating of raw salad. We may say that the salad, composed of raw vegetables, is the "staff of life."
Most people eat canned, frozen, dehydrated, devitalized mixtures while neglecting the more important food staples—the raw salads, raw fruits, and slightly cooked fresh vegetables. They have to be made aware of the facts about food that have been discovered in the last hundred years. These facts are quite easy to grasp and just as easy to apply, by those who realize the importance to health of the new knowledge of food and nutrition.
In the American dietary, prepared packaged desserts are used to a very large degree. Most of those products are sugar-sweetened and flavored with coal-tar products. These desserts are not as wholesome as fresh raw fruits. They tend to deplete the body of its alkali reserves, because sugar wastes soak up alkaline minerals from the blood and tissues in order to be excreted from the body. They rob the blood, the muscles and the bones of important elements. Raw fruits as dessert would contribute toward the good qualities in the cells and tissues of the body.
In order that the taste of raw foods, raw carrots, celery, cabbage, lettuce, turnips and tomatoes may be appreciated, they must be fed to the young child as soon as he can chew. Children who are trained to eat raw vegetables and fruit will be free from diseases of the mucous membranes and from dental decay. While milk is recognized as an important food for old and young, its good effects are negated to a large extent by the fact that it is being used as a supplementary and not as a basic food.
The New Knowledge of Nutrition is applied in animal-feeding more consistently than in human dietaries. There are so many disease problems overwhelming us simply because we eat wrong. The diseases that affect the sinuses and the breathing channels are, caused by a depleted tissue chemistry, which in turn is the result of an acid-ash diet. The typical diet, consisting of bread, pastry and cooked foods to excess and not enough raw foods, undermines the normal state of the blood and tissues with respect to essential chemical elements. The result is susceptibility to various disease affections and infections.
The nervous system is undermined by faulty blood and cell chemistry, thus making it susceptible to diseases that otherwise would not occur. Poliomyelitis—an inflammation of the nerve trunks which affects the skeletal muscles of the body—has been plaguing children and adults to an overwhelming extent, because nerve health is undermined by faulty body chemistry, among other causative factors. Excessive play, excessive work and overfatigue are also causes of polio.
The degenerative diseases that affect old people—hardening of the arteries, heart disease, arthritis, tumor, cancer would also be ameliorated if nutrition were more balanced. "We are what we eat" is an old truism. It certainly is true with regard to human nutrition.
The physician should be courageous enough to apply the dietetic knowledge that he has to the treatment of the sick and to the prevention of disease. He should not hesitate to change a patient's diet. He should help to break him of the bad habits that caused the breakdown in his health. The sick can be regenerated by the right food, by adequate rest of body and mind, and by other hygienic methods that help the body eliminate, eject or burn up its accumulated metabolic wastes.
Let the school curriculum include courses for younger and older students on the New Knowledge of Nutrition. Such courses should put the health-impairing products in the right light in the impressionable students' minds, so that they will not easily become dope fiends, cigarette fiends, or candy-eating addicts. The school neighborhood will then provide a fresh-fruit store instead of a candy store.
We have all read in the press, and have heard over the radio, about the narcotic problem among our growing generation. When our children are better enlightened on health and food, the dope peddler will not be able to tempt them into buying his poison. Victimizing the young is a crime not only on the part of the degenerates of the underworld but also on the part of the social conditions that foster such a state of affairs. To educate our youth for basic health consciousness would build new moral strength and stamina.
High school students should be taught the toxicology of tobacco smoking, of liquor drinking, of dope-taking, of faulty eating. True knowledge is the strongest weapon against wrong-doing. The young are, as a rule, very impressionable and eager to do what is right when they are presented with the facts.
Modern food preparation and eating can be a fine art and science. To apply that science and art, the people must know the facts, which should be presented in simple language.
Real food for human nutrition must be as fresh as possible—undercooked, rather than overcooked—so that its good qualities and flavor will be enjoyed in every morsel. An adequately prepared and combined food tray for a sick individual provides life-giving medicine. Foods can, indeed, be more potent medicines than the most powerful drugs.
Here and there a pioneer in the medical field has used food as medicine with good results. Food correctly used can arrest many diseases in their degenerative, chronic earlier stages. Even in very late stages of chronic ill-health, the sick body responds favorably to pure, freshly made orange juice, grapefruit juice, and raw salad juice.
Biochemistry is one of the new sciences. This science has been evolved in the last fifty to seventy-five years. We learn from biochemistry exactly why the wrong food can degenerate and disintegrate the sick, suffering body. Every physician acquires a basic knowledge of biochemistry, the chemistry of the living organism. This science supplies a great deal of knowledge on the correct feeding of both the well and the sick.
For example, the biochemistry of the blood reveals the interesting fact that this vital vehicle, which carries foods to the tissues an wastes from the tissues, maintains a normal chemical reaction ever 4 up to the very late stages of incurable diseases. How the blood maintains its normal chemical condition is a process which lies in the very nature of life and survival. When the blood is short of minerals or vitamins or of any other nutriment that is not being supplied by the ordinary daily food intake, it draws them from the bones, the nerves, the muscles, and other bodily structures. Vivid examples of this vital process may be observed by anyone who studies an individual suffering from a wasting disease.
In order to maintain a normal blood condition, the sick must be supplied with vital, fresh, easily digestible raw foods. Such foods help to prevent wasting of the tissues, and also help to prevent primary and secondary anemias, spontaneous fractures of bones, indolent ulcers, diabetic gangrene, etc.
The diabetic patient provides a good example of depletion of the vital chemical reserves from the tissues of the body. When a diabetic individual manifests such morbid affections as ulceration and inflammation of terminal structures—toes, feet, etc.—his bodily tissues are saturated with sub-catabolic wastes. If the diabetic individual were fed a dietary that contains adequate amounts of raw vegetables and raw fruits, he would have healthy cells and would not have any tendency to ulceration, infection and gangrene.
Similarly, the cancer victim would not deteriorate to the late cachectic stages if, in the early stages, he were fortified with a dietary of raw vegetable juices and raw fruit juices. Let the hospitals take note of these important clinical discoveries. The vital foods, raw vegetables, freshly made juices of salads and fruits, will do much to cure the sick and to keep the healthy from getting sick.
Every home should own a food liquefier and juice extractor in order to prepare easily digestible fruit and salad beverages. There are times when one is too tired to sit down and chew a salad. In such cases a glass of freshly made raw celery and raw carrot juice is a healthful and refreshing drink better than an ordinary soft or hard drink for the restoration of energy.
Food knowledge will do much toward keeping young and old from illness. Food knowledge will also help to cure those who are sick. Excessive medication or drastic surgery should not be imposed upon the sick before a rest cure and raw fruit and vegetable liquids have been tried for a few weeks.
The modern health food store is competing with the drug store to a large extent. The health-food dealer is often consulted by his customers for health guidance.
Those who are sick need not linger in misery as so many do today. The New Knowledge of Nutrition will help humanity to prolong the life span in healthy happy living.
The human mind is supposed to reach maturity when the individual is past fifty. In a sick body the mind is destroyed too soon—a tragic loss to the race and to progress. If the New Knowledge of Nutrition were applied in daily eating, the specially talented individuals of each generation would no longer succumb in the prime of life, as so many do, but would live to a ripe old age, to make the lot of all mankind happier.