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Danger To The Heart From Anti-Fat Treatment

( Originally Published 1921 )

So many people with dangerously weak hearts, a condition resulting from various forms of treatment to reduce flesh, have come under my notice that it seems worth while to devote a chapter to the subject.

The weight of the body is a matter of nutrition, and nutrition is under the control of a force having its origin in the nervous and glandular systems that regulate development. Some families are naturally stout and some are naturally thin. The same is true of individuals. By limiting food and increasing exercise it is possible to remove unhealthy fat, and with a knowledge of chemistry, one can easily calculate to a nicety what diet will reduce a person who has been fattened. by food. However, a person who is stout does not lose weight except when he becomes ill, or through the reduction of the amount of food and by increasing exercise.

If one takes mineral salts to a degree to produce a constant diarrhea, the effect may be the same as an attack of that disease, but the fat is lost at the expense of strength and health, and an alarming weakness of the heart often results. The same is true of other drugs that reduce weight. They do so by profoundly disturbing some part of the system, and in every instance they have a dangerous effect on the heart. I have known a person to be sick for many months with weakness of the heart as a result of taking anti fat remedies. Courses of treatment for the reduction of weight should be undertaken only under the care of a skilful physician.

The nurse may have much influence with persons who are trying to reduce themselves and should exercise her influence against harmful methods. She should arrange the diet according to the principles I have laid down in other chapters; but in this case the number of heat units should be reduced by substituting food of a low caloric value for ordinary diet. When the heart and kidneys are sound, protein may have its place.

The restriction of fluids is an important part of dieting, and, as far as I know, never does any harm. The total quantity of food should be kept down to the lowest possible point without making the patient weak.

By "restricting fluid with meals," I mean never more than five ounces of fluid of any sort for each of three meals a day. If the person eats oftener, he should take less at each meal. Five ounces is a small cupful.

Soups of all kinds should be forbidden. Sugar should be prohibited, and fat used sparingly. Fresh fruit and green vegetables, such as grow above ground, are allowed.

The nurse should remember that while lean meat forms the basis of diet, an unrestricted diet of lean meat may lead to various intestinal troubles that cause heart disease. This is particularly likely to happen if the meat diet is combined with alkaline mineral waters, for the reason that an alkaline condition of the bowels favors putrefaction. Where a patient has a hearty appetite, a little fatty food will often satisfy much more quickly than anything else and does less harm than an excess of bread or other starchy food.

Many of the fads about eating depend for their success upon a limitation of food. Eating only one dish at a meal' is not healthy, and a person soon becomes satiated with one thing. The hint of avoiding variety at meals, how-ever, is a good one. How often one can re-member a tempting dish being brought after the appetite is satisfied, and yet being indulged in. While quantity of food is as important as quality, and the patient may be allowed all kinds of food provided the quantity be regulated, the following table taken from Thompson's book on Practical Dietetics is interesting for review.

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