Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/127

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PHYSIOLOGICAL ECONOMY IN NUTRITION.
PHYSIOLOGICAL ECONOMY IN NUTRITION.
By RUSSELL H. CHITTENDEN,
DIRECTOR OF THE SHEFFIELD SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL OF YALE UNIVERSITY.

AMONG the many problems awaiting solution, none is of greater importance for the welfare of the individual and of the race than that which relates to the proper nutrition of the body. Man eats to live and to gain strength for his daily work, and without sufficient nutriment the machinery of the body can not be run smoothly or with proper efficiency. The taking of an excess of food, on the other hand, is just as harmful as insufficient nourishment, involving as it does not only wasteful expenditure, but what is of even greater moment, an expenditure of energy on the part of the body, which may in the long run prove disastrous. While it is the function of food to supply the material from which the body can derive the necessary energy for its varied activities, any excess of food over and above what is needed to make good the loss incidental to life and daily activity is just so much of an incubus, which is bound to detract from the smooth running of the machinery and to diminish the fitness of the body for performing its normal functions.

A proper physiological condition begets a moral, mental and physical fitness which can not be attained in any other way. Further, it must be remembered that lack of a proper physiological condition of the body is more broadly responsible for moral, social, mental and physical ills than any other factor that can be named. Poverty and vice on ultimate analysis may often be traced to a perversion of nutrition. A healthy state of the body is a necessary concomitant of mental and moral vigor, as well as of physical strength. Abnormal methods of living are often the accompaniment or forerunner of vicious tastes that might never have been developed under more strictly physiological conditions. Health, strength (mental and physical) and moral tone alike depend upon the proper fulfilment of the laws of nature, and it is the manifest duty of a people hoping for the fullest development of physical, mental and moral strength to ascertain the character of these laws with a view to their proper observance. Poverty, crime, physical ills and a blunted or perverted moral sense are the penalties we may be called upon to pay for the disobedience of nature's laws; penalties which not only we may have to pay, but which may be passed down to succeeding generations, thereby influencing the lives of those yet unborn.

There is to-day great need for a thorough physiological study of