Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/44

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34
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"Flesh-food imparts courage, but also aggressive moods and bad temper, with intervals of gloom and hypochondria; excessive use of pork can produce a mental nausea, known to the Hungarians as the Tzömör, which may lead to insanity and suicide. The ichthyophagous tribes of northern Siberia are rendered stupid and sluggish by an exclusive diet of fish. Fish and fowl in moderate quantities and in combination with vegetable food, produce no appreciable injurious effects. The influence of ripe fruit is benign, exhilarating without the eventual reaction that always follows alcoholic excitement. Milk, too, especially the rich milk of sheep, has an assuaging, mildly cheering effect even on hypochondriacs and dyspeptics. Pure fat of any kind exercises a calming influence on excited passions, but if long continued as an article of diet tends to somnolency and lassitude. Strong cheese operates as a sedative and a check to the activity of the brain-functions — makes us stupid in other words, and can also result in a half-physical, half-psychical dejection not dissimilar to the Tzömör.

"Wheat-bread is neutral, a most excellent though not all-sufficient article of food, and, like a blank sheet of paper, serves as a foil to whatever you may combine it with, while sour rye-bread is a tonic and reacts on the temper in a feeble way. Eggs, raw or soft-boiled, are more nourishing than meat, stimulate muscular activity, and produce reflective rather than vindictive moods. Sugar alone, or preponderating in made dishes, causes vague uneasiness in some and merriment and wantonness in other constitutions, but moderately combined with farinaceous substances and fat, is inferior only to fruit as an alimentary corrective. Potatoes and the legumina (beans, peas, and lentils), inasmuch as they are farinaceous, are a legitimate article of food, yet not as healthy as the cereals. They lack the brain-forming elements, and, though like bread they might sustain life, they would operate depressingly — produce weariness and ennui, without the addition of saccharine and sub-acid food.

"The nervousness and peevishness of our times are chiefly attributable to tea and coffee; the digestive organs of confirmed coffee-drinkers are in a state of chronic derangement, which reacts on the brain, producing fretful and lachrymose moods. Fine ladies, addicted to strong coffee, have a characteristic temper which I might describe as a mania for acting the persecuted saint. Chocolate is neutral in its psychic effects, and is really the most harmless of our fashionable drinks. The snappish, petulant humor of the Chinese can with certainty be ascribed to their immoderate fondness for tea. Beer is brutalizing, wine impassions, whisky infuriates, but eventually unmans.

"Alcoholic drinks combined with a flesh and fat diet totally subjugate the moral man unless their influence be counteracted by violent exercise. But with sedentary habits they produce those unhappy flesh sponges which may be studied in metropolitan bachelor-halls, but better yet in wealthy convents. The soul that may still linger in a fat Austrian