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Effects Of Insufficient Nutrition

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The blood is the stock of material on hand, from which the supplies of the constantly wasting system are withdrawn, and this stock is but small. It contains, dissolved, only about one eighth of the dry matter of the body, so that the strength can be sustained only a very short time without external supplies. Yet when food is withheld, life holds its ground against extensive changes. An animal does not die of starvation till it has lost two fifths of its weight and more than a third of its heat. Yet, so important is the prompt and regular ingestion of aliment, to keep the system up to the par of its activity, that even transient interruptions produce serious disturbance. As the demand for nourishment is the prime necessity of our being, taking precedence of all other needs, if the supply be suspended, the clamors of the system for food rise at once above all other wants. Until hunger is appeased, there is disquiet; the mind traverses with less than its usual freedom, the temper is more easily started, and sleep fails to invigorate as usual. There was shrewd practical wisdom in the warning of Cardinal De Retz to politicians, never to risk an important motion before a popular assemblage, however proper or wise it might be, just before dinner. Of the effects of insufficient food, Moleshott speaks as follows: "There is another instinct by which the vigor of the mind is vanquished in a more melancholy way. Hunger desolates head and heart. Though the craving for nutriment may be lessened to a surprising degree during mental exertion, there exists nothing more hostile to the cheerfulness of an active, thoughtful mind, than the deprivation of liquid and solid food. To the starving man, every pressure becomes an intolerable burden; for this reason, hunger has effected more revolutions than the ambition of disaffected subjects. It is not, then, the dictate of cupidity or the claim of idleness which prompts the belief in a natural human right to work and food."

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