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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

Some Common Food Fallacies

( Originally Published 1940 )

1. Hot breads are hard to digest.

If the bread is thoroughly baked, it is digested as well when hot as when cold. When bread or biscuits are not well baked, the inner part, consisting of soggy dough, is not thoroughly digested by the digestive juices and this may cause "gas" and cramps.

2. Meats cause high blood pressure, kidney disease and rheumatism.

This is not true for the normal person. The Eskimos live on flesh and fats and have less of these disorders than we do. Meat is harmful only when the kidneys are so badly damaged that they cannot excrete nitrogen products. In certain kidney disorders, on the other hand, large amounts of meats are prescribed. Meat is harmful in gout, which is a disorder entirely distinct from rheumatism or arthritis. In arthritis, meat is valuable.

3. Oysters should not be eaten in months without an R.

Oysters may be eaten at any time, but they are not so good when full of spawn, or directly after spawning. The spawn gives them a flat taste and just after spawning the flesh is stringy. This occurs in the months of May, June, July and August.

4. Skimmed milk is valueless.

When cream is removed from milk, the fat content is reduced, the flavor is changed and there is a loss of vitamin A contained in the cream; but skimmed milk is still rich in milk sugar, which yields energy; in valuable protein for tissue building; in mineral salts, particularly calcium and phosphorus, essential for health of teeth and bones; in vitamins B1 and B2 essential for carbohydrate metabolism and growth; and in the pellagra-preventive vitamin.

5. Fruit juices are acid foods.

The so-called acid fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit and tomatoes, have a slightly acid taste and contain weak organic acids which are easily oxidized in the body. After digestion is completed, a residue of alkaline minerals remains. Actually, therefore, these are alkaline foods. Vegetables and nuts also furnish alkaline minerals. The true acid foods are meat, fish, eggs, bread, corn and rice. These furnish acid minerals after digestion. Acid foods are scientifically known as acid-ash foods. Alkaline foods are scientifically known as alkaline-ash foods.

6. Eating acid fruits or vegetables and starches together causes indigestion.

While the tomato, for example, is an acid food, the acid facilitates and does not interfere with the digestion of potatoes or other starchy foods. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and can be profitably included in any meal.

7. "Acidosis," or "acid in the blood," is caused by eating combinations of bread and meat, fruits and starches, or proteins and starches.

Acidosis is a serious condition occurring in specific serious ailments, such as diabetes and kidney disease. Acid does not accumulate in the blood either in health or in any but a few diseases. The reaction of the blood and tissues is one of the most constant things in the life of an organism. It is not affected ordinarily by the kind of foods eaten. In the average mixed diet, foods such as meat, fish, eggs, bread, corn and rice, which yield an acid mineral residue, are eaten together with foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, which yield an alkaline mineral residue, so that there is never any danger of a disturbance of the acid-alkaline equilibrium of the body. Acidosis never results from so-called acid foods.

8. Acid foods cause "gastric hyperacidity."

Hyperacidity of the stomach occurs in organic diseases of the stomach such as ulcer; or after too much smoking or drinking or during emotional upsets. It is rarely caused by any specific food itself.

9. The symptoms of fatigue, a "dark-brown taste," "jitters" and headache are due to "acid foods."

These symptoms are caused by any one of a hundred or more ailments, some of them serious. They can never be attributed to the mineral content of a food.

10. "Acid foods," such as tomatoes or strawberries, cause hives.

Hives may be due to sensitivity to tomatoes, not be-cause the tomato is an "acid food,'' but because it contains a specific substance capable of exciting a skin disorder in a sensitive person. The same is true of straw-berries or any other food. Many foods can cause indigestion or skin disorders, not because of their mineral con-tent but because they contain a substance which excites a reaction of the digestive tract or skin.

11. Milk and fruit juice taken together will upset the stomach.

All fruit juices contain a slight amount of acid which does curdle milk. But the normal stomach contains hydrochloric acid which always curdles milk in the normal course of digestion. Therefore, fruit juices simply facilitate or supplement the action of the gastric juices.

Doctors often advise mothers to add orange juice to milk for baby feeding. If the fruit juice does not cause trouble when taken alone, it will not cause trouble when taken with milk.

12. Starches and protein foods are incompatible and should be eaten at distinct and separate meals. The system of dieting popularized by Dr. Hay is based on this idea. It is claimed that, because starches require an alkaline medium for their digestion and proteins an acid medium, when both are eaten together an incompatibility or antagonistic effect is developed which seriously interferes with the digestion of each of the foods.

The facts are:

1. A large proportion of staple articles of food con-tain both starch and protein. The cereal grains, wheat, rye, barley, oats and corn contain from 9-12% or more of protein, and about 60% of starch. Rice contains 7% protein and 80% starch. Beans and peas are rich in protein and starch, containing 20-25% protein and 40-50% starch. Chest-nuts contain 9-10% protein and 20-30% starch.

2. Generations of people have found combinations of starch and protein wholesome. Witness the popularity of meat and potatoes, bread and milk, and bread and cheese.

3. Dr. Walter C. Cannon of Harvard University has shown that a mixture of carbohydrate (starch) and protein foods is discharged from the stomach in shorter time than protein alone, showing that the addition of carbohydrate to the diet accelerates digestion and the discharge of stomach contents.

4. A detailed study by Drs. Rehfuss and Hawk and other medical investigators on more than 20o normal men and on medical invalids has proven the falsity of the incompatibility idea.

13. Only one kind of starch and one kind of protein should be eaten at a time.

All starches yield on digestion the same thing—the sugar known as glucose. Single proteins may be deficient in essential amino acids. Therefore many proteins are desirable at a meal so that all essential amino acids may be absorbed. Thus, the proteins in the endosperm of cereal grains in general are deficient in lysine and tryptophane—two amino acids indispensable for growth and normal nutrition. The proteins of meat, milk and eggs, on the other hand, are excellent sources of these amino acids. The value of cereal proteins in the diet will be in-creased by inclusion of these protein foods in the diet.

14. Milk and sea food should not be eaten at the same meal. Lobster and ice cream should not be eaten at the same meal.

Pickles and ice cream should not be eaten at the same meal.

These are three common fallacies. Milk and sea food are common combinations in many European countries. Oyster soup is a delicious combination of milk and oysters rejected by those who believe in the first fallacy. Lobster and ice cream are both rich foods, but can be enjoyed together. A good rule about food combinations is that if a food can be eaten alone without trouble, it can also be eaten in combination without trouble.

15. Spinach is rich in iron.

That is true; but not in the kind of iron that is easily absorbed by the body. Liver, molasses, lima beans, and egg yolk are richer in absorbable iron than spinach is.

16. Roughage foods are necessary for good bowel function.

Roughage food, such as bran, can cause severe irritation of the bowel and aggravate constipation. The amount of residue in a normal diet is usually sufficient for ordinary bowel functions.

17. Indigestion is caused by "rich" foods.

The foods that commonly cause indigestion are not what are commonly called rich foods, but such ordinary staples of diet as onions (usually raw), milk, raw apples, cooked cabbage, chocolate, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers and eggs.

18. Thunderstorms sour milk.

Souring of milk is caused by the action of fermenting bacteria. The warm atmosphere that often accompanies a thunderstorm may increase bacterial growth if milk is not properly refrigerated and cause milk to sour in less time than it otherwise would.

19. The use of salt may be responsible for Bright's disease, high blood pressure, cancer and tuberculosis.

Salt in quantities ordinarily used in diet or even in excess will not cause any of these diseases.

20. White meat is less harmful than dark or red meat. There is no basis for the belief that either white or dark meat is harmful.

21. Raw eggs are more nutritious or more digestible or more readily assimilated than cooked eggs.

There is no basis for this belief. In fact, the contrary may be true.

22. Raw meat is more healthful than cooked meat.

Raw or incompletely cooked pork or pork products, such as sausages and hamburgers, may cause trichinosis. The trichinella parasites are killed by thorough cooking of pork products.

23. Other common fallacies:

Tomatoes cause cancer.

Meat makes a person belligerent.

Meat is an aphrodisiac.

Celery is an aphrodisiac and "nerve" food.

Lettuce and cucumbers "cool the blood."

Fish is a good brain food.

Garlic "purifies" the blood.

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