Food Minerals Essential To All Life
( Originally Published 1921 )
A MOST interesting parallel is observed in the study of the composition of the human body, the cells of plants, and fertile, fruit-bearing soil. Professor Sherman,' of the Columbia University, gives the following list of elements as composing the human body : oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, iron; iodine, fluorine, and silicon in very minute quantities; also traces of manganese and aluminum. The same text shows that natural, unrefined foods contain these same elements in varying quantities and proportions.
Analysis of normal soil reveals the same elements to be contained in earth, and experience teaches us that these various mineral elements in the soil are absolutely necessary to insure a paying crop of grain or vegetables. The average farmer seems to recognize instinctively that a lack of soil minerals would result in a feeble or stunted yield, hence he looks well to the matter of the richness of the soil before casting in his seed. Intelligent stock raisers, who make a business of feeding cattle for definite ends, calculate the results according to fixed laws. Proper food is the means whereby they supply the essential building material for the physical needs of the animals in which their money is invested.
With respect to his own food, however, man persistently violates one of the most beneficent of nature's laws, in that he submits his most staple foods to a process of hulling and scouring that leaves them almost void of the mineral and vitamine on which life is so dependent. These very important parts of our food are carefully separated from our food and fed to farm animals, thereby developing magnificent specimens of stock, while our own health suffers proportionately from a lack of these elements.
To a certain extent, these elements are constantly given off by the body; and consequently our food must furnish a continual resupply of them. The carnivorous as well as the herbivorous animals must have these needs satisfied; but in flesh foods, these elements are not evenly distributed. Hence the carnivora eat the whole carcass,— viscera, hide, bone, and all,— in order to obtain these mineral elements, which are found largely in the bones and other hard parts. When we use flesh as food, we select for alimentation only the muscular parts, which are poorest in mineral.
With this, there is the growing tendency to rely upon artificially prepared foods,— sugars, white bread, white rice, package foods, etc.,-- from which the greater portion of essential mineral and vitamine has been removed. This in itself would be sufficient to constitute a potent factor in degeneracy and disease, even with an abundant supply of otherwise energetic food.
While it would be a question of the greatest difficulty to determine exactly how much of each of these numerous mineral elements we need, it suffices us to know that they are most important, and it would seem reasonable that we should have all that natural foods contain. The condition of the blood depends upon the character of the food supplied to the digestive organs. In compounding that marvelous stream, which carries life to every tissue and organ of the human body, nature obtains her building materials from food, just as she obtains food from soil, water, and air.
The different mineral ingredients present in the internal secretions of the human body have their definite functions to fill in the maintenance of good health, and are not present there through blind accident. The Master Architect who made the human body, and who declared that "the blood is the life," placed these food essentials called vitamines, and the various mineral ingredients, in the fruits, the grains, the nuts, and the vegetables ; and these elements must be in the food in order for the body to take them from the food. The removal of one or more of these constituents from our food may mark the beginning of disaster to the body.
In their absence, the body may make use of others until the handicap asserts itself ; then the physician is sought, or perhaps resort is had to some drug, in a vain effort to correct the disorder.