( Originally Published 1927 )
Seneca wrote, "Man does not die, but kills himself." This is as true of modern Americans as it was of the ancient Romans.
Barring accidents, men and women can live in good health beyond the century mark. Disease can be prevented. Old age can be outwitted. Nearly all have known `hopelessly ill" individuals who returned to health. It is obvious that if a sick person can recover one who is healthy can remain well.
All disease is one—a protest of the body against abuse, that is, a disagreeable reaction resulting from living contrary to natural laws. This is true whether the disease locates in the scalp or in the foot, or midway between. It is true at all ages. The natural and normal is health.
Formerly many babies died before attaining the age of two years. Multitudes of them still perish, but the death rate is far less than it used to be. The reason is obvious. Years ago people were not cleanly in caring for their babies, and they overfed them. There has been vast improvement in the cleanliness and some correction of the overfeeding. When parents learn to give their babies only the amount of food necessary, the infant mortality will become very small—not more than one-tenth of what it is now.
But there has been no improvement in living conditions for adults, so far as health, youth and length of days is concerned. For the man past thirty the outlook for living long is not as good as it used to be. Our knowledge has been increased, so this would seem contrary to what we have a right to expect. Why is it? Because with the broadened knowledge, many fallacies and bad habits have also become firmly established, and we pay for these mistakes in disease, debility and shortened life.
During early life the body needs much nourishment because food is required for growth and for repair, due to the great cell activity. At the age of twenty-five the average individual has attained full physical maturity. Then less food is needed, because body growth is complete and the cell activity decreases. Boys and girls are more active physically than men and women, and need more food to produce energy. After attaining the age of twenty-five years one should reduce the food intake, especially the starches and sweets.
If the food intake continues too great, some abnormal condition arises in the system to re-duce the years of vigor and strength, thus pro-during premature old age. Those with poor digestive organs develop indigestion, and often grow very thin. Those with good digestion and assimilation often become too stout. Many develop general hyperacidity from too free intake of food. Others digest and assimilate the food very well, but they are unable to excrete the excess waste. This waste may find lodgment in joints and muscles, where it produces discomfort, pain and stiffness, and is generally given the name of rheumatism. Or the lungs may be unduly affected, producing asthma or chronic bronchitis. Or the kidneys may bear the brunt, and then we have diabetes or Bright's disease. Or the waste material may select the arterial walls for a resting place. The waste is irritating, and as a result there is an overgrowth of fibrous tissue, which makes the arterial walls too tough. Then the blood finds too much resistance to its travel through the arteries.
Then the heart is compelled to work harder to force the blood to flow. This means increased pressure of the blood against the arterial walls, and now the process is much like the dog whirling about to catch his tail, for the more the pressure increases the more the arteries harden, and the more the arteries harden. the higher goes the pressure. At last a point is reached where either the heart, or the kidneys, or an artery gives way, and the end is usually disablement and premature death.
Hand in hand with overeating goes the consumption of refined food that has been robbed of its health value. Of late we have developed almost a mania for spoiling our foods. For instance, we refine our wheat and other grains until almost all the health values are removed. The residue of starch does produce heat and energy, but it does not repair the body-, and it does not supply the mineral salts needed for producing good blood and health. The bran, which is rich in health values, we feed to the hogs, horses and cows, and we make ourselves ill living on white flour bread, which impoverfishes the blood ! It is the same way with sugar. White sugar is high in heat and energy units; but it is without a trace of health elements. We also take good rice, remove the health-giving outer covering and have left only the starchy white kernel, which is such a poor food that those who largely subsist on it develop acute malnutrition—beriberi, for instance.
Subsisting on such foods helps to build chronic diseases, including arteriosclerosis, for the blood becomes acid and foul, and poor blood builds inferior body. The prevention is plainly evident: Stop the overrefining. Live on whole grain bread, be more moderate in the consumption of white sugar and candy, and use instead honey, maple sugar, grapes, raisins, figs, dates, currants, sweet prunes, ripe bananas, and other sweet fruits. Stop buying white rice and demand the natural rice, which is brownish in color. Stop spoiling milk by pasteurizing it. Use more of the fresh vegetables. In winter use such fruits as apples, oranges and bananas, which can generally be obtained fresh, and use a good quality of raisins, figs, dates, prunes and other dried fruits that are not treated with sulphur or other chemicals. Use the tinned fruits sparingly. Evaporated fruits are good.
As man leaves youth behind he becomes inactive. He fails to get the necessary exercise, and consequently various parts of the body become weak, and tend to stiffen; by the time a person is forty he has lost a large part of his suppleness. Another result of inactivity is that the circulation deteriorates, and the surface is inadequately supplied with blood; that causes poor complexion, and cold hands and feet. Habitually cold feet indicate aging, even if the person is in his teens. Set aside a few minutes for exercise each day, and give the surface of the body a daily rub-down.
Another serious fault is our habit of rushing about—and what good does it accomplish? We have not the time to masticate the breakfast. We have not time for anything. We rush from early morning until late at night. Hurrying produces nervous and physical tension, which further raises the blood pressure. Those who accomplish most usually have plenty of time. Hurry and worry wear one out.
The remedy is to learn to relax, to do one thing at a time, and to omit some of the follies that bring us neither pleasure nor profit.
Tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol poison the body, and produce tension sooner or later.
Coffee, tea and tobacco contain deadly poisons, which are partly absorbed by the body. Alcohol first stimulates various organs, and then causes them to degenerate.
Vaccines,bacterins,serums,and other biologic filth that are injected into the blood stream cause disease. These remedies, at present so popular, are the result of artificial propagation of decaying and diseased matter which is then injected into the human body, sometimes with fatal results.
We destroy our health and shorten our lives through a disregard of natural laws. The remedy is obvious. Let us fall into line with nature so far as body and mind, and even the spirit, are concerned.
We are looking for success, health, prolonged usefulness and youthfulness, which are constructive, positive states. Let us look for the normal, the natural, the truth as applied to man, and practice it ; then we shall have the privilege of living long and well—of outwitting old age.