Good Health and Bad Medicine:
Diet - Part 2
Diet - Part 3
Diet - Part 4
Diet - Part 5
Some Common Food Fallacies
Teeth - Part 1
Teeth - Part 2
Teeth - Part 3
Obesity - Part 1
Obesity - Part 2
Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine
Diet - Part 2
( Originally Published 1940 )
The importance of minerals for normal health and nutrition is well established. The relation between simple goiter and a deficiency of iodine in food and water was an important discovery. It explained the prevalence of goiter in the Great Lakes region of the United States where there was a deficiency of iodine in food and water, and the relative scarcity of goiter on the seacoast where water and food are rich in iodine. In the goiter region of the United States, iodized salt (see Goiter, page 309) is now being used to prevent goiter. Thus, the discovery of the relation between iodine and goiter is saving thousands of children and adults from deformity and ill health.
Calcium and Phosphorus
During the past thirty years there has accumulated a great deal of knowledge about the minerals, calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are necessary for normal development of the bones and the teeth. They also play a role in the function of other organs, and so must never be ignored in consideration of diet. It is fortunate that phosphorus is plentiful in so many foods (meats, milk, vegetables, etc.) so that no special attention need be given to getting enough of it.
The situation is just the opposite with respect to calcium, since its occurrence in most foods is small as compared with the large amounts needed. Since calcium is needed chiefly for the development of bones, it is especially important during infancy, childhood, youth and pregnancy. Although adults require less than children, a considerable amount is necessary for good function of the digestive tract and nervous endocrine systems.
Long continued calcium deficiency in adults results in digestive, nervous and other disturbances. But it is not necessary, as advertisers claim, to buy calcium wafers, or other prepared calcium products to supply the body needs. Milk and cheese are the best sources of calcium. The infant obtains adequate calcium and phosphorus from mothers' or cow's milk, and the addition of cod-liver oil assures adequate utilization of the calcium. The growing child and the pregnant and nursing mother should receive at least one gram of calcium every day. This is adequately supplied by a daily quart of milk. One pint of milk, four ounces of cream, about three ounces of cheese and a large serving of a leafy vegetable a day will provide about the same amount of calcium as one quart of milk. The adult will get an adequate amount of calcium from one pint of milk or in part as cocoa, cream soup, creamed vegetables, custard, ice-cream, junket and puddings—or about three ounces of cheese.
No country can maintain and develop its industries unless it can obtain large stores of iron for the manufacture of steel. Likewise, no human being can maintain good health unless the body has adequate stores of iron to utilize. Hundreds of pounds of iron are necessary to make a steel girder, but only 1/96,000 of a pound (.015 gram) of iron is sufficient for the average normal person.
Iron is necessary throughout life, but there are certain conditions in which adequate amounts are absolutely essential. Recent investigations have shown that a large proportion of child-bearing women suffer from simple anemia. This lack of iron becomes more pronounced during pregnancy and the suckling period when the mother has to give up a large amount of her iron stores to the child.
During the first year or more of infancy there may also be a moderate anemia in children. The infant is born with an abundant supply of iron stored in the liver, but this store is gradually used up and is not replenished, so that at the end of two to three months almost every child shows some degree of anemia. This anemia, however, is unavoidable and is not dangerous. During this period the child is fed exclusively on milk, a food which furnishes almost every essential except iron. However, as soon as the infant begins to eat eggs, green vegetables and meat, the anemia is corrected. Infants who do not receive solid food until much later than usual because of ignorance on the part of the mother, because of digestive disturbances, or, as is too often the case, because there is an actual lack. of good food in the home, develop a more marked anemia and their poor nourishment makes them susceptible to infections.
Anyone will obtain an adequate amount of iron when the diet includes eggs, meats—especially organs such as liver, kidney and heart-fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals.
Contrary to popular belief, spinach has no special virtue in the prevention of anemia. Although its total iron content is high, the absorbable iron or the amount that can be extracted by the body for use in the formation of red blood cells is very small.