Why Be Tired:
Energy For Sedentary Workers
How To Do More Work Without Getting Tired
Conquering Your Fatigue Problem With Food
Improving Your Energy Machine With Exercise
Use Your Glandular Energies
Sex And Energy
Test Your Efficiency
Conquering Your Fatigue Problem With Food
( Originally Published 1936 )
As I promised, there are several ways to prevent fatigue. You can settle your fatigue problem with any one of these methods, or by gathering the simplest hints from all. If you have great ambitions and need great energy to pursue them, you can make a full use of all these methods and become a human dynamo of energy. I suggest that you let the size of your ambition determine the amount of energy you cultivate ; it is rather pointless to seek energy if you have no use for it, and lethargy may even be a pleasant opiate if time is only something which you have to "kill." However, if you lack ambition but would like to be-come ambitious, it is well to remember that a chief and often necessary ingredient of ambition is excess energy. And even if you think you prefer the indolent life it might be well to ask if you adopted that attitude of your own free will or had it thrust upon you fatalistically by a lack of active energy feelings ; we probably contribute more to the starkness of fate than does our often-blamed environment.
How much could you benefit by better food ?
Energetic food faddists have made you pretty skeptical on the diet question by telling you that you will die shortly if you do not eat whole-wheat bread, or that your teeth will fall out if you do not consume quantities of oranges. Let me assure you, as you al-ready know, that you eat sufficiently well and a whole lot better than any faddist you ever met. Fads and facts have a way of avoiding each other.
But you wouldn't maintain, any more than I should, that you could not eat a little better. The only question is whether better nutrition would bring sufficient results to warrant investigation. That, and the proof, is certainly inoffensive and acceptable information.
Henry C. Sherman of Columbia University has no colorful theories and nothing to sell, so there is a chance that you are not familiar with his work as one of the foremost nutrition scientists in the world. His "Chemistry of Foods and Nutrition" is the standard technical book of its kind and covers the entire nutritional field, but we are interested only in his experiments in getting the maximum results out of food. Before these experiments we knew that the infant profited greatly by the very best feeding, but we did not know if this applied to the more hardy adult.
Sherman experimented with two batches of rats for 35 generations. One batch he fed a diet similar to our average diet ; fully adequate, as was shown by the fact that the rats prospered for the 35 generations, healthy, strong, active and well-grown rats. He gave the other batch of rats a better diet-nothing fancy or involved, but particularly containing more of the important minerals and vitamins. In this second batch the rats were even stronger, larger, more energetic, more healthy and lived longer. The difference was amply sufficient to interest us in feeding ourselves better.
Sherman, who has had many years of experience in translating experimental results, translated the results of this better diet into human values.* It will make you, even if you are an average careful and intelligent feeder, some Io% to 20% more energetic, active, healthy and mentally alert, and will increase the length of your life by seven years and defer old age by ten or more years. (Premature old age is now considered an avoid-able disease of poor nutrition.)
What total advantage would this mean ? Well, say your working years are forty ; merely by adding ten years of vigorous middle life, the most productive years, to that forty you have an increase of 25%. A certain 1o% addition to energy brings that up to 35%. Throw in the increased health and mental alertness for anything at all and you have a percentage worth considering.
How well are you nourished ?
I have no way of knowing how well, individually, you are nourished. I do not want to be an alarmist, and I am certain your particular case is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, I do not want you to assume too quickly that you already eat too well to gain by eating better. There is statistical evidence that even in this richest country in the world we average rather poorly in nutrition.
Dr. Hazel K. Stiebeling, once a research assistant under Sherman, computed a maximum diet for the U. S. Department of Agriculture (published in Circular 296, U. S. Department of Agriculture). The Agricultural Adjustment Administration computed the effect an inclusive use of this maximum diet would have upon agriculture. It would necessitate an increase of 204% in truck vegetables, 51% in citrus fruits, 112% in other tree fruits and grapes, 76% in dairy cattle. The only conclusion is that a good many people are not eating as well as they should.
It is well to remember, too, that body weight is not the only, or even the chief, thing to consider in poor nutrition. Fat people may be poorly nourished in more essential food elements. The symptoms of poor nutrition stressed by Dr. L. Emmett Holt in, "Food, Health and Growth," are lack of energy, inattention, poor memory, slow comprehension and nervousness.
How to get all the vitamins you need.
A sufficient shortage of vitamin A causes xerophthalmia, a disease of the eyes. It was formerly assumed that if you did not have this disease you were getting all the vitamin A you needed. Sherman found that you can profit by four times this sternly necessary amount. If you do not get this much vitamin A you show lesser symptoms of malnutrition than eye disease. These symptoms are, in greater or lesser degree, poor growth, poor appetite, poor digestion, failing energy, greater susceptibility to disease (particularly diseases of the mucous membranes such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and colds), lessened reproductive fertility and early aging. Vitamin A is found in milk, butter, eggs, yellow and green vegetables, and most of all halibut and cod-liver oils. You will get enough of this vitamin to insure best results if you drink a quart of milk and eat a green salad every day. However, many nutritionists show a preference for the sure and easy method of fish-liver oil, either plain or in capsules or pills, the dose recommended on the bottle or by your physician.
Vitamin D is usually listed along with A, since it is also found in fish-liver oils. Vitamin D enables the body to use calcium, so that a bad shortage results in rickets. You may get enough to avoid rickets and still have narrow jaws with crowded teeth, teeth which decay too readily, a narrow chest and pelvis (this latter of great importance to women in that it makes child-bearing dangerous), and a susceptibility to diseases of the respiratory tract. This vitamin is not very widely distributed though it is found in milk, eggs and irradiated foods, and can be manufactured by the body when it is exposed to sunlight. But the easiest and surest thing seems to be, again, to advise the standard dose of fish-liver oil taken daily.
Vitamin B shortage of a serious nature will cause polyneuritis, a disease of the nerves. You may not have polyneuritis and still be sufficiently short on this vitamin to have some degree of poor appetite, poor digestion, poor elimination, enlarged and flaccid intestines, nervousness and, if you are a mother, scant lactation. Green leafy vegetables and whole grains are the richest natural sources of vitamin B. However, yeast and the wheat germ (a commercial form is Bemax) are by far the richest sources of this vitamin. Research on this vitamin is not yet complete but some authorities have reported so much benefit following a liberal surplus in the diet, and nervousness and poor digestion are so prevalent, that I am going to take it more or less upon myself to recommend the daily dose of yeast or wheat germ prescribed by the manufacturer. I follow my own advice in this matter with apparently good results.
Vitamin G, furthermore, can be got from the same source, making it convenient for memory and pocket book. A bad shortage of vitamin G causes pellagra You need three or four times the amount which prevents pellagra to prevent all symptoms of early aging, nervous depression, unhealthy skin, low vitality and impaired digestion. The liberal inclusion of milk, eggs, liver and green vegetables in the diet will insure vitamin G in plenty, but I prefer to take mine concentrated at break-fast and get it off my mind.
Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy. A lesser deficiency results in lowered health and energy, poor teeth and gums, low resistance to infection, sallow complex-ion, pains in the joints and limbs, injury to the vital organs and fragile arteries similar to aged arteries. You need double the amount necessary to prevent scurvy. An orange, or half a grapefruit, or a tomato, or a quart of milk, along with a green salad, every day will supply this vitamin.
Vitamin E is the specific reproductive vitamin, though several of the vitamins are sufficiently related to reproduction to cause sterility if entirely lacking in the diet. Vitamin E is so widely distributed in the diet that there is no danger of not getting all you need, and it is therefore not a factor in cases of sterility.
Getting your full supply of minerals.
A better-than-average supply of minerals also played an important part in Sherman's better feeding experiments. Of the seventeen minerals necessary to the body only four need be considered here, as there is no danger of not getting the others in sufficient quantities for best results.
Iron is used by the red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues. If you are lacking in iron you are anemic, or suffering from oxygen shortage just as surely as if your nostrils were partly closed. This reduces the rate of burning, or energy formation, in the body just as closing the draft on a stove makes coal burn slowly. And just as there will be more clinkers of imperfectly burned coal in the stove there will also be more poisons of imperfectly burned food in the body ; this is so true that the anemic person suffers quite as much from toxic poisoning as from oxygen shortage. Further-more, you know that an oxygen shortage causes your heart to speed up in an effort to compensate ; anemia thus often causes a rapid heart beat which breaks the law of efficient rhythm and overworks the heart. A large supply of iron is therefore a valuable energy addition, and since the red blood cells are short-lived the iron supply must be renewed daily. There is much more partial anemia, particularly among young women, than is commonly supposed. The best way to get your full supply of iron is to eat a green salad and a fruit every day and eggs or liver three times a week.
Calcium is often mentioned only as being necessary for the formation of bones and teeth. It is also necessary for a more general use by the body and has a very high relation to physical tone, general health and resistance to common diseases. Milk is the richest source of calcium, and milk calcium is most easily used by the body. You need as much calcium as is found in a quart of milk. However, if you drink a pint of milk a day, get some foods prepared with milk, and eat your green salad and fruit you will get sufficient calcium.
Phosphorus is used in combination with calcium and the two must approximately balance in amount. Fortunately, this balanced amount is got when you eat the above calcium foods.
Iodine is the necessary food for the thyroid gland, one of our most important energy glands. Lack of iodine causes mental and physical sluggishness, excessive fatiguability and susceptibility to diseases. It is of particular interest to most of us that children in Day-ton, Ohio, showed a substantial increase in mental ability when fed iodine regularly. But it is only in such regions that iodine is lacking in the drinking water and foods to a dangerous extent. These regions are the states bordering upon the Great Lakes, including New York State, and parts of the Northwest. Ask your doctor about your locality if you are in any doubt. Sea foods, particularly oysters, clams and salmon roe, are rich in iodine. But the use of iodized salt for cooking and table use has been recommended as the most practical way to get iodine (editorial in Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 91, page 1720).
The foods you must get.
Let us bring together the most convenient rules for getting the foods which are so important to energy, and which the average diet tends to neglect.
These foods are: a pint of milk, a green salad, a citrus fruit or tomato, some preparation of fish-liver oil, and the germ of wheat or yeast every day ; two eggs or liver three times a week ; iodized salt in goiterous regions.
Increasing energy by eating less.
On the other hand, we commonly eat too much of the bread-and-meat foods, the foods rich in calories but containing few vitamins and minerals. You know the lethargy following a heavy meal and have a good idea of the cumulative cost of continual indulgent eating, but you probably do not know that you may be able to double your endurance in six months by making slight reductions in your calorie foods.
An excess of starches and sugars reduces energy in several ways, but probably most by upsetting the liver, a very important organ to both energy and digestion. The liver stores digested starches and sugars, hence an excess overloads and deranges it. This is particularly true of sugars, as they are rapidly absorbed from the stomach and reach the liver in large and sudden quantities (our sugar consumption has increased 100 pounds a year per capita in the last century). Biliousness, which is a lack of bile rather than too much, results. Bile helps to digest food in the small intestine, stimulates the intestines and is an intestinal antiseptic, so indigestion, constipation and excessive putrefaction result from biliousness. Poisons, many of them active muscular poisons, are then absorbed from the intestines and the energies succumb to various elements of languor and worse. The partly overworked liver is a common cause of decreased energy.
An excess of protein results in colonic putrefaction and consequent auto-intoxication, the accumulation of harmful compounds of nitrogen in the body, and an excess of uric acid. Again biliousness may result as a reaction.
Furthermore, both starches and proteins leave an acid ash in the body and when eaten in excess tend to overbalance the alkaline ash. While this fact has been magnified in importance and the healthy body seems able to balance itself under almost any conditions, it appears true that an acid-forming diet may in time injure some important organs. At any rate, it is considered wise to avoid a great excess of acid-forming foods.
How much less food, how much more energy ?
It is easy to say that a man weighing 150 pounds, doing light work, needs about 2400 food calories a day, 240 of these calories in protein. But it is more important to know if the average man eats enough more than that to reduce his energy materially.
We are indebted to Irving Fisher, the Yale economist, for experiments in this direction.* Russell H. Chittenden, also of Yale and author of "Physiological Economy in Nutrition," is an authority on what he calls the "low protein diet." Fisher became interested in this branch of economy and decided to see what effects nutritional economy would have upon energy in a practical experiment.
He used post-graduate students for the experiment and gave them a thorough and exhausting test with repetitional exercises, recording each man's repetitions in each exercise, to determine their endurance at the beginning of the experiment. The average amount of food eaten by each man was weighed and the calories computed. Fisher then reduced this amount to the amount approved by Chittenden's figures. He found it necessary to reduce the average total calories by 21% and the protein calories by 48%. The men were kept on this diet for six months, were not allowed to take any exercise as it might increase endurance irrespective of the diet, and then given the repetitional exercises again. Their average increase in endurance was 101%.
Some of the gains were incredible. One man who repeated the exercise of rising on the toes 333 times at the beginning of the experiment increased this number to 3000 at the end of the experiment. Another man pressed two five-pound dumbbells above his head 185 times at the beginning, 501 times at the end. And all the men said they were not nearly so exhausted after the last endurance test as they had been after the first.
Results like that, backed both by nutritional computation and experiment, are worth investigating.
Now let us make a rough estimate to see if you are in the class of over-eaters. An average man of 15o to 16o pounds weight absolutely must have 45 grams of protein. He can use a little more than this to advantage, as protein is something of a stimulant, so 6o grams become his most efficient protein quantity. Roughly speaking this is about the amount of protein found in eight ounces of steak — all a man needs for the day. Multiply 6o by 4 and you have the required protein calories, or 240 per day.
Now suppose you have two eggs for breakfast, or 50 protein calories ; a small piece of fish for lunch, or 5o more protein calories ; eight ounces of steak for dinner, 240 protein calories. Meat, fish, fowl, eggs and cheese are the richest protein foods, but all foods contain a little protein so that you will get at least 100 protein calories from other sources. The total protein consumption for the day will then be 440 calories. And this is pretty nearly what you do, Mr. Average Man ; a nutritional survey found the average protein consumption to be 424 calories.
Can you use this additional energy ?
There is one more point to consider concerning this experiment. You may say that the nature of the en-durance test' indicated that this gain was in "physical energy," and that you need another kind.
We have seen that fatigue, no matter where it originates, enters the blood and becomes general fatigue. Reverse that and you discover that energy, no matter where it is used, first existed in the blood as general energy. Strictly speaking, there is no foundation for dividing energy into mental and physical ; those terms indicate where it is used but not where it is made. Energy comes from the stomach, the heart, the lungs, the vital organs in general and the ductless glands. From them it goes into the blood and may be used equally well by the legs, arms, nerves or brain. No matter where it is used it is still the same kind of energy and used by the same process of burning.
Thus while Fisher did not measure the increase in "mental energy" occurring in the students, there was ample evidence that there was an increase. The subjects began, on the efficiency diet, of their own free will to study so late at night that Fisher had to remonstrate with them lest they interfere with the energy results through late hours and excessive mental work. When students behave like that I should say that the results are beyond question. One of Chittenden's chief claims for the diet is "greater aptitude for work." In short, the way you get energy places no restriction upon the way you use it ; get it any way you can and then use it any way you want to.
Indigestion and constipation will convert any kind of food into poison instead of energy. This fact is often of major interest to the somewhat disrepaired adult.
The fundamental causes of these conditions are, more or less in he order of their prevalence, (I) the wrong kinds of food, (2) eating when tired, hurried, nervous or emotional, (3) lack of sufficient physical exercise. Since this chapter will remove the first cause, Chapter II will remove the second cause and Chapter IV will remove the third cause, it seems unnecessary to give detailed information on the treatment of various types of digestive disorders. Furthermore, the stubborn case which fails to respond to sane and simple treatment may mean an inflamed appendix, stomach ulcers, gall-bladder infection or some other serious condition demanding medical attention. It is well to remember that no matter how sanely you care for your personal hygiene, life-insurance statistics show a yearly medical examination to pay about as well as any other major energy rule. Furthermore, this sound method of substituting prevention for cure has been shown to reduce your medical bills in the long run.
But I am going to stress one other food element which pertains strictly and only to digestive health, and which must be included in the perfect diet. This element is roughage, or fibrous material which is not digested. It is needed in the stomach to prevent the indigestion which comes from rich or concentrated foods. It is needed to carry moisture into the colon, to give body to the colonic contents, and to stimulate the mechanical contractions of the intestines to carry food remains on to evacuation before they become poisonous. Observations at the Mayo Clinic indicate that you need two pounds of fibrous fruits and vegetables every day for maximum colonic health.
Putting all food knowledge into one menu.
It is now time to bring all this food knowledge together in practical menu form, a menu which will confer all the benefits of increased health and energy that food scientists have got from maximum feeding.
"Diet" has been so often associated with colorful, strenuous and otherwise strange and radical notions that you may fear to turn the page and see what be-comes of our nice theories in actual practice. What new "fad" will you be asked to adopt ?
To the contrary, this diet or food plan is so similar to that already used by many families that it sometimes is not sufficiently impressive. You may say : why, you eat just about that, and pass it off with a shrug.
But please do not hold its simplicity and sanity against it. No matter how nearly it resembles your average diet I want you to check yourself carefully in at least three important items. First, do you always make sure to get your daily maximum of vitamins and minerals ? Second, do you keep your protein calories somewhere near the advised limit ? Third, do you occasionally estimate your total calories and keep them roughly near your needs ? Those things are of great importance and commonly receive little attention even from people who make a point of eating unusually well.
How to use these menus.
It is neither possible nor necessary to be letter-perfect in following these menus. I have figured an ample margin in vital elements to cover variations, and the sizes of portions will tend to balance themselves by a mistake first in one direction then the other.
That is, leafy vegetables are sufficiently alike to be interchangeable; and so with fruits, meats, starchy vegetables, cereals and cooked-fruit desserts. Simply decide which class a food belongs to, estimate the proper amount by referring to that class of food in the menu, and substitute it in the menu where it belongs.
Hedge a bit on this menu, too, when appetite desires variety. It will do no harm to substitute white bread for whole-grain bread when you please ; the whole-grain bread is recommended because it is a little the better, but the elements it contains are amply supplied in other foods. Occasionally substitute fruit or berry-pie for stewed fruit or berries when your appetite feels frivolous, but remember that pie contains more calories and is not so digestible. Vary it thus as you will, within reason. This diet wears better, too, if you leave Sunday out of it as a day to eat without a care or thought.
The important thing is to get the fundamentals of this diet into your head for good and all : The vitamin foods, the cooked and raw vegetables and fruits, the milk, the fibrous foods, the small quantities of protein foods, the absence of large and concentrated sweet dishes, fat foods, pastries, fried foods and other rich and indigestible foods. When you dine out all you need remember is not to eat too much, particularly of rich foods and meats, avoid foods which you find difficult to digest, and do not eat hurriedly or nervously.
Perhaps l had better mention that coffee is included in the menu because many people find it a pleasant and harmless habit. You can add a hundred calories to your fruit or vegetable dishes, or take tea, cocoa or some other hot or cold beverage of similar nature if you do not care for coffee. People with a tendency to nervousness, nervous heart and acid stomach will profit by not drinking coffee. Please note that the menu advises half-milk and half-coffee at dinner, as relaxation should be sought at this hour more than stimulation. The average cup of coffee contains from two to three grains of caffein, the stimulating element; it acts upon the heart and nervous system, but unlike most other stimulants is not followed by a depressing reaction. ("... authorities . . . all agree that it should never be given to children." — "Nutrition in Health and Disease," Cooper, Barber and Mitchell.)
The calories in this menu are suitable for the average man, 150–16o pounds, who does sedentary work and takes about as much exercise as is advised in the following chapter. Add 150 calories for every ten pounds of weight you go above this, preferably of the fruit and vegetable dishes. In fact, if you keep to these non-concentrated foods you may safely let your appetite decide the total calories.
Drink a glass of milk in the middle of the morning, the middle of the afternoon and half an hour before retiring and you have changed it into a gaining pro-gram. By leaving out the stewed fruit at breakfast or dinner, and the sweet fruit at lunch, this menu may be converted into a sensible reducing diet for those a little overweight. However, if you are very fat it may mean something more than too much food, and you should see your doctor. In any case of disease you must get your diet from your doctor, as diet is very important in many diseases and varies widely in different cases. Too much stomach acid feels the same as the fermentation caused by too little stomach acid, but the diets for the two cases are exact opposites. Hygiene pre-vents diseases and doctors cure them ; they are two different things and do not conflict. You can get hygiene out of a book, but you cannot get medical attention that way.