Popular Science Monthly/Volume 27/July 1885/Diet in Relation to Age and Activity I
|←Railroads, Telegraphs, and Civilization||Popular Science Monthly Volume 27 July 1885 (1885)
Diet in Relation to Age and Activity I
By Henry Thompson
|An Experience with Opium→|
By Sir HENRY THOMPSON.
ENOUGH, and more than enough, perhaps, has been uttered concerning the prejudicial effects on the body of habitually using alcoholic beverages. It is rare now to find any one, well acquainted with human physiology, and capable of observing and appreciating the ordinary wants and usages of life around him, who does not believe that, with few exceptions, men and women are healthier and stronger, physically, intellectually, and morally, without such drinks DIET IN RELATION TO AGE AND ACTIVITY. 323
than with them. And confessedly there is little or nothing new to be said respecting a conclusion which has been so thoroughly investigated, discussed, and tested by experience, as this. It is useless, and indeed impolitic, in the well-intentioned effort to arouse public attention to the subject, to make exaggerated statements in relation thereto. But the important truth has still to be preached, repeated, and freshly illustrated, when possible, in every quarter of society, because a very natural bias to self-indulgence is always present to obscure's men views of those things which gratify it. While, in addition to this, an exceed- inly clever commercial interest of enormous influence and proportions never ceases to vaunt its power to provide us with ' ' the soundest," " purest," and most to be suspected of all with even " medically certified," forms of spirit, wine, and beer ; apparently rendering alco- holic products conformable to the requirements of some physiological law supposed to demand their employment, and thus insinuating the semblance of a proof that they are generally valuable, or at least harmless, as an accompaniment of food at our daily meals.
It is not, however, with the evils of " drink " that I propose to deal here : they are thus alluded to because, in making a few observations on the kindred subject of food, I desire to commence with a remark on the comparison, so far as that is possible, between the deleterious effects on the body of erroneous views and practice in regard of drinking, and in regard of eating, respectively.
I have for some years past been compelled, by facts which are con- stantly coming before me, to accept the conclusion that more mischief in the form of actual disease, of impaired vigor, and of shortened life, accrues to civilized man, so far as I have observed in our own country and throughout Western and Central Europe, from erroneous habits in eating, than from the habitual use of alcoholic drink, considerable as I know the evil of that to be. I am not sure that a similar compari- son might not be made between the respective influence of those agencies in regard of moral evil also ; but I have no desire to indulge in speculative assertion, and suspect that an accurate conclusion on this subject may be beyond our reach at present.
It was the perception, during many years of opportunity to ob- serve, of the extreme indifference manifested by the general public to any study of food, and want of acquaintance with its uses and value, together with a growing sense on my own part of the vast importance of diet to the healthy as well as to the sick, which led me in the year 1879 to write two articles in this review entitled " Food and Feeding." And since that date fresh experience has, I confess, still enhanced my estimate of the value of such knowledge, which indeed it is im- possible to exaggerate, when regarding that one object of existence which I suppose all persons desire to attain, viz., an ample duration of time for enjoying the healthy exercise of bodily and mental func- tion. Few would, I presume, consider length of life a boon apart
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from the possession of fairly good health ; but this latter being grant- ed, the desire for a prolonged term of existence appears to be almost universal.
I have come to the conclusion that a proportion amounting at least to more than one half of the disease which imbitters the middle and latter part of life among the middle and upper classes of the population is due to avoidable errors in diet. Further, while such disease renders so much of life, for many, disappointing, unhappy, and profitless, a term of painful endurance, for not a few it shortens life considerably. It would not be a difficult task and its results if displayed here would be striking to adduce in support of these views a numerical statement showing causes which prematurely terminate life among the classes referred to in this country, based upon the Registrar-General's reports, or by consulting the records of life-assur- ance experience. I shall not avail myself of these materials in this place, although it would be right to do so in the columns of a medical journal. My object here is to call the attention of the public to cer- tain facts about diet which are insufficiently known, and therefore in- adequately appreciated. And I shall assume that ample warrant for the observations made* here is within my reach, and can be made avail- able if required.
At the outset of the few and brief remarks which the space at my disposal permits me to make, I shall intimate, speaking in general terms, that I have no sympathy with any dietary system which excludes the present generally recognized sources and varieties of food. It is possible, indeed, that we may yet add considerably to those we already possess, and with advantage ; but there appears to be no reason for dispensing with anyone of them. When we consider how varied are the races of man, and how dissimilar are the climatic conditions which affect him, and how in each climate the occupations, the surrounding circumstances, and even the individual peculiarities of the inhabitants, largely differ, we shall be constrained to admit that any one of all the sources of food hitherto known may be made available, may in its turn become desirable, and even essential to life.
To an inhabitant of the Arctic Circle, for example, a vegetarian diet would be impracticable, because the elements of it can not be produced in that region ; and, were it possible to supply him with them, life could not be supported thereby. Animal food in large quantity is necessary to sustain existence in the low temperature to which he is exposed. But I desire to oppose any scheme for circum- scribing the food resources of the world, and any form of a statute of limitations to our diet, not merely because it can be proved inappli- cable, as in the case of the Esquimaux, under certain local and circum- scribed conditions, but because I hold that the principle of limiting mankind to the use of any one class of foods among many is in itself an erroneous one. Thus, for example, while sympathizing to a large
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extent myself with the practice of what is called " vegetarianism " in diet, and knowing how valuable the exclusive or almost exclusive use of the products of the vegetable kingdom may be for a considerable number of the adult population of our own and of other countries in the temperate zones, and for most of that which inhabits the torrid zone, I object strongly to a dogmatic assertion that such limitation of their food is desirable for any class or body of persons whatever. Moreover, an exclusive or sectarian spirit always creeps in sooner or later, wherever an " ism " of any kind leads the way, which sooner or later brings in its train assertions barely supported by fact, the equiv- ocal use of terms, evasion in short, untruthfulness, unintended and unperceived by the well-meaning people who, having adopted the "ism," at last suffer quite unconsciously from obscurity of vision, and are in danger of becoming blind partisans.
Thus the term " vegetarian," as used to distinguish a peculiar diet, has no meaning whatever unless it implies that all the articles of food so comprised are to be products of the vegetable kingdom ; admitting, of course, the very widest scope to that term. In that sense the vege- table kingdom may be held to embrace all the cereals, as wheat, barley, rye, and oats, maize, rice, and millet ; all the leguminous plants beans, peas, and lentils ; all the roots and tubers containing chiefly starch, as the potato, yam, etc. ; the plants yielding sago and arrowroot ; the sources of sugar in the cane and beet, etc. ; all the garden herbs and vegetables ; the nuts, and all the fruits. Then there are the olive and other plants yielding the important element of oil in great abundance. An admirable assortment, to which a few minor articles belong, not necessary to be specified here. An excellent display of foods, which suffice to support life in certain favorable conditions, and which may be served in varied and appetizing forms. And to those who find their dietary within the limits of this list the name of vegetarian is rightly applicable. But such is by no means the practice of the self- styled vegetarians we usually meet with. It was only the other even- ing, in a crowded drawing-room, that a handsome, well-developed, and manifestly well-nourished girl "a picture of health" and vigor in- formed me with extreme satisfaction that she had been a " vegetarian " for several months, and how thoroughly that dietary system agreed with her. She added that she was recommending all her friends (how natu- ral !) to be vegetarians also, continuing, "And do you not believe I am right?" On all grounds, one could only assure her that she had the appearance of admirably illustrating the theory of her daily life, whatever that might be, adding, "But now will you tell me what your diet consists of ? " As happens in nineteen cases out of twenty, my young and blooming vegetarian replied that she took an egg and milk in quantity, besides butter, not only at breakfast, but again in the form of pudding, pastry, fritter, or cake, etc., to say nothing of cheese at each of the two subsequent meals of the day : animal food,
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it is unnecessary to say, of a choice, and some of it in a concentrated form. To call a person thus fed a vegetarian is a palpable error ; to proclaim one's self so almost requires a stronger term to denote the departure from accuracy involved. Yet so attractive to some, possess- ing a moral sense not too punctilious, is the small distinction attained by becoming sectarian, and partisans of a quasi-novel and somewhat questioned doctrine, that an equivocal position is accepted in order to retain if possible the term " vegetarian " as the ensign of a party, the members of which consume abundantly strong animal food, abjuring it only in its grosser forms of flesh and fish. And hence it happens, as I have lately learned, that milk, butter, eggs, and cheese are now designated in the language of " vegetarianism " by the term " animal products," an ingenious but evasive expedient to avoid the necessity for speaking of them as animal food !
Let us, for one moment only, regard milk, with which, on Nature's plan, we have all been fed for the first year, or thereabout, of our lives, and during which term we made a larger growth and a more important development than in any other year among the whole tale of the life which has passed, however long it may have been. How, in any sense, can that year of plenty and expansion, which we may have been happy and fortunate enough to owe an inextinguishable debt to maternal love and bounty, be said to be a year of "vegeta- rian diet " ! Will any man henceforward dare thus to distinguish the source from which he drew his early life ? Unhappily, indeed, for want of wisdom, the natural ration of some infants is occasionally supplemented at an early period by the addition of vegetable matter ; but the practice is almost always undesirable, and is generally paid for by a sad and premature experience of indigestion to the helpless baby. Poor baby ! who, unlike its progenitors in similar circumstances, while forced to pay the penalty, has not even had the satisfaction of enjoying a delightful but naughty dish beforehand.
The vegetarian restaurant at the Health Exhibition last summer supplied thousands of excellent and nutritious meals at a cheap rate, to the great advantage of its customers ; but the practice of insist- ing with emphasis that a "vegetable diet" was supplied was wholly indefensible, since it contained eggs and milk, butter and cheese in great abundance.
It is not more than six months since I observed in a well-known weekly journal a list of some half-dozen receipts for dishes recom- mended on authority as specimens of vegetarian diet. All were savory combinations, and every one contained eggs, butter, milk, and cheese in considerable quantity, the vegetable elements being in comparatively small proportion !
It is incumbent on the supporters of this system of mixed diet to find a term which conveys the truth, that truth being that they abjure the use, as food, of all animal flesh. The words " vegetable " and
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" vegetarian " have not the remotest claim to express that fact, while they have an express meaning of their own in daily use namely, the ohvious one of designating products of the vegetable kingdom. It may not be easy at once to construct a simple term which differentiates clearly from the true vegetarian the person who also uses various foods belonging to the animal kigndom, and who abjures only the flesh of animals. But it is high time that we should be spared the obscure language, or rather the inaccurate statement, to which milk and ee^ consumers are committed, in assuming a title which has for centuries belonged to that not inconsiderable body of persons whose habits of life confer the right to use it. And I feel sure that my friends "the vegetarians," living on a mixed diet, will see the necessity of seeking a more appropriate designation to distinguish them ; if not, we must endeavor to invent one for them.
But why should we limit by dogma or otherwise man's liberty to select his food and drink? I appreciate the reason for abstaining from alcoholic drinks derived from benevolent motive or religious principle, and entertain for it the highest respect, although I can not myself claim the merit of self-denial or the credit of setting an ex- ample abstaining, like many others, solely because experience has taught that to act otherwise is manifestly to do myself an injury.
This brings me to the point which I desire to establish, namely, that the great practical rule of life in regard of human diet will not be found in enforcing limitation of the sources of food which Nature has abundantly provided. On the contrary, that rule is fulfilled in the perfect development of the art of adapting food of any and every kind to the needs of the body according to the very varied circumstances of the individual, at different ages, with different forms of activity, with different inherent personal peculiarities, and with different environ- ments. This may read at first sight, perhaps, like a truism ; but how important is the doctrine, and how completely it is ignored in the experience of life by most people, it will be my object here to show.
I have already alluded to the fact that the young and rapidly grow- ing infant, whose structures have to be formed on the soft and slender lines laid down before birth, whose organs have to be solidified and expanded at one and the same time, in which tissues of all kinds are formed with immense rapidity and activity, requires animal food ready prepared in the most soluble form for digestion and assimila- tion. Such a food is milk ; and, if the human supply is insufficient, we obtain in its place that of the cow, chiefly ; and during the first year of life milk constitutes the best form of food. After that time other kinds of nourishment, mostly well-cooked wheaten flour in various shapes, begin to be added to the milk which long continues to be a staple source of nourishment to the young animal. Eggs, a still more concentrated form of similar food, follow, and ultimately the dietary is enlarged by additions of various kinds, as the growing pro-
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cess continues through youth to puberty, when liberty arrives more or less speedily to do in all such matters " as others do." On reach- ing manhood, the individual in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred acquires the prevailing habit of his associates, and he feeds after that uniform prescription of diet which prevails, with little disposition to question its suitability to himself. A young fellow in the fullness of health, and habituated to daily active life in the open air, may, under the stimulus of appetite and enjoyment in gratifying it, often largely exceed both in quantity and variety of food what is necessary to sup- ply all the demands of his system, without paying a very exorbitant price for the indulgence. If the stomach is sensitive or not very powerful, it sometimes rejects an extravagant ration of food, either at once or soon after the surfeit has been committed ; but, if the digest- ive force is considerable, the meals, habitually superabundant as they may be, are gradually absorbed, and the surplus fund of nutrient ma- terial unused is stored up in some form. When a certain amount has been thus disposed of, the capacity for storage varying greatly in dif- ferent persons, an undesirable balance remains against the feeder, and in young people is mostly rectified by a "bilious attack," through the agency of which a few hours of vomiting and misery square the ac- count. Then the same process of overfeeding recommences with re- newed appetite and sensations of invigorated digestion, until in two or three, or five or six weeks, according to the ratio existing between the amount of food ingested and the habit of expending or eliminating it from the body, the recurring attack appears and again clears the sys- tem, and so on during several years of life. If the individual takes abundant exercise and expends much energy in the business of life, a large quantity of food can be properly disposed of. Such a person en- joys the pleasure of satisfying a healthy appetite, and doing so with ordinary prudence not only takes no harm, but consolidates the frame and enables it to resist those manifold unseen sources of evil which are prone to affect injuriously the feeble. On the other hand, if he is in- active, takes little exercise, spends most of his time in close air and in a warm temperature, shaping his diet nevertheless on the liberal scheme just described, the balance of unexpended nutriment soon tells more or less heavily against him, and must be thrown off in some form or another.
After the first half or so of life has passed away, instead of periodi- cal sickness, the unemployed material may be relegated in the form of fat to be stored on the external surface of the body, or be packed among the internal organs, and thus he or she may become corpulent and heavy, if a facility for converting appropriate material into fat is consistent with the constitution of the individual ; for some constitu- tions appear to be without the power of storing fat, however rich the diet or inactive their habits may be. When, therefore, this process can not take place, and in many instances also when it is in action, the
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oversupply of nutritious elements ingested must go somewhere, more or less directly", to produce disease in some other form, probably at first interfering with the action of the liver, and next appearing as gout or rheumatism, or to cause fluxes and obstructions of various kinds. Thus recurring attacks of gout perform the same duty, or nearly so, at this period of life, that the bilious attacks accomplished in youth, only the former process is far more damaging to the constitution and materially injures it. In relation to liver derangement and inordinate fat production, we may see the process rapidly performed before our eyes, if we so desire, in the cellars of Strasburg. For the unfortunate goose who is made by force to swallow more nutritive matter than is good for him in the shape of food which, excellent in appropriate con- ditions, is noxious to the last degree when not expended by the con- sumer I mean good milk and barley-meal falls a victim in less than a month of this gluttonous living to that form of fatty liver which under the name of foie gras offers an irresistible charm to the gour- met at most well- furnished tables.* The animal being thus fed is kept in a close, warm temperature and without exercise, a mode of feeding and a kind of life which one need not after all go to Strasburg to observe, since it is not difficult to find an approach to it, and to watch the principle carried out, although only to a less considerable extent, anywhere and everywhere around us. Numerous individuals of both sexes, who have no claim by the possession of ornithological character- istics to consanguinity with the animal just named, may be said never- less to manifest signs of relation in some sort thereto not creditable perhaps to the goose, the Strasburg dietary being an enforced one by their habit of absorbing superfluous quantities of nutriment while living a life of inactivity, and of course sooner or later become invalid in body, unhappy in temper, and decrepit in regard of mental power.
For let us observe that there are two forces concerned in this mat- ter of bountiful feeding which must be considered a little further. I have said that a hearty, active young fellow may eat, perhaps, almost twice as much as he requires to replace the expenditure of his life and repair the loss of the machine in its working without much inconven- ience. He, being robust and young, has two functions capable of act- ing at the maximum degree of efficiency. He has a strong digestion, and can convert a large mass of food into fluid aliment suitable for absorption into the system : that is function the first. But, besides this, he has the power of bringing into play an active eliminating force, which rids him of all the superfluous materials otherwise destined,
- In passing I would strongly commend the condition of those poor beasts to the con-
sideration of the Antivivisection Society, since more disease is artificially produced among them in order to furnish our tables with the " pdle " than by all the physiologists of Eu- rope who in the interest, not of the human palate, but of human progress as affected by therapeutic knowledge, sometimes propagate and observe certain unknown forms of dis- ease among a few of the lower animals.
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as we have seen, to become mischievous in some shape : and that is function the second. To him it is a matter of indifference for a time whether the quantity of material which his food supplies to the body is greater than his ordinary daily expenditure demands, because his energy and activity furnish unstinted opportunities of eliminating the surplus at all times. But the neglect to adjust a due relation between the " income " and the " output " can not go on forever without signs of mischief in some quarter. A tolerably even correspondence between the two must by some means be maintained to insure a healthy condi- tion of the body. It is failure to understand, first, the importance of preserving a near approach to equality between the supply of nutri- ment to the body and the expenditure produced by the activity of the latter, and, secondly, ignorance of the method of attaining this object in practice, which give rise to various forms of disease calculated to im- bitter and shorten life after the period of prime has passed.
Let it be understood that in the matters of feeding and bodily activ- ity a surplus of unexpended sustenance here referred to as " the bal- ance " is by its nature exactly opposite to that which prudent men desire to hold with their bankers in affairs of finance. In this respect we desire to augment the income, endeavoring to confine expenditure within such limits as to maintain a cash balance in our favor to meet exigencies not perhaps foreseen. But, in order to preserve our health when that period of blatant, rampant, irrepressible vigor which belongs to youth has passed away, it is time to see that our income of food and our expenditure through such activity as we have constitute a harmonious equality, or nearly so. It is the balance against us of nutritive material which becomes a source of evil. And it is a balance which it is so agreeable and so easy to form, and which often so insidi- ously augments, unless we are on our guard against the danger. The accumulated stores of aliment, the unspent food, so to speak, which saturate the system are happily often got rid of by those special exer- cises to which so large a portion of time and energy is devoted by some people. It is to this end that men at home use dumb-bells or heavy clubs, or abroad shoot, hunt, and row, or perform athletic and pedestrian feats, or sweat in Turkish baths, or undergo a drench at some foreign watering-place all useful exercises in their way, but pursued to an extent unnecessary for any other purpose than to elimi- nate superfluous nutrient materials, which are occasioning derange- ments in the svstem, for which these modes of elimination are the most efficient cure, and are thus often ordered by the medical adviser. But as we increase in age when we have spent, say, our first half-century less energy and activity remain, and less expenditure can be made ; less power to eliminate is possible at fifty than at thirty, still less at sixty and upward. Less nutriment, therefore, must be taken in pro- portion as age advances, or rather as activity diminishes, or the indi- vidual will suffer. If he continues to consume the same abundant
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breakfasts, substantial lunches, and heavy dinners, which at the summit of his power he could dispose of almost with impunity, he will in time certainly either accumulate fat or become acquainted with gout or rheumatism, or show signs of unhealthy deposit of some kind in some part of the body, processes which must inevitably empoison, under- mine, or shorten his remaining term of life. He must reduce his " in- take," because a smaller expenditure is an enforced condition of exist- ence. At seventy the man's power has further diminished, and the nutriment must correspond thereto if he desires still another term of comfortable life. And why should he not ? Then at eighty, with less activity there must be still less " support." And on this principle he may yet long continue, provided he is not the victim of an inherited taint or vice of system too powerful to be dominated, or that no unhappy accident inflicts a lasting injury on the machine, or no unfor- tunate exposure to insanitary poison has shaken the frame by long, exhausting fever ; and then with a fair constitution he may remain free from serious troubles, and active to a right good old age, reach- ing far beyond the conventional seventy years which were formerly supposed to represent the full limit of man's fruitful life and work on earth.
But how opposed is this system to the favorite popular theory! Have we not all been brought up in the belief that the perfection of conduct consists, truly enough, in temperate habits in youth and middle life, such duty, however, being mostly enforced by the pleasant belief that when age arrived we might indulge in that extra " support " seductive term, often fruitful of mischief which the feebleness of advancing years is supposed to deserve? The little sensual luxuries, hitherto forbidden, now suggested by the lips of loving woman, and tendered in the confidence of well-doing by affectionate hands, are henceforth to be gratefully accepted, enjoyed, and turned to profit in the evening of our declining years. The extra glass of cordial, the superlatively strong extract of food, are now to become delicate and appropriate aids to the enfeebled frame. Unhappily for this doctrine, it is, on the contrary, precisely at this period that concentrated ali- ments are not advantageous or wholesome, but are to be avoided as sources generally prolific of trouble. If the cordial glass and the rich food are to be enjoyed at any time, whether prudently or otherwise, like other pleasures they must be indulged when strength and activity are great, in other words, when eliminating power is at its maximum, assuredly not when the circulation is becoming slow and feeble, and the springs of life are on the ebb. For the flow of blood can not be driven into any semblance of the youthful torrent by the temporary force of stimulants, nor is it to be overcharged by the constant addi- tion of rich elements which can no longer be utilized. And thus it is impossible to deny that an unsuspected source of discomfort, which in time may become disease, sometimes threatens the head of
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the household a source which I would gladly pass over if duty did not compel me to notice it, owing as it is to the sedulous and tender care taken by the devoted, anxiou3 partner of his life, who in secret has long noted and grieved over her lord's declining health and force. She observes that he is now more fatigued than formerly after the labors of the day, is less vigorous for business, for exercise, or for sport, less energetic every way in design and execution. She naturally desires to see him stronger, to sustain the enfeebled power which age is necessarily undermining ; and with her there is but one idea, and it is practically embodied in one method viz., to increase his force by augmenting his nourishment ! She remonstrates at every meal at what she painfully feels is the insufficient portion of food he consumes. He pleads in excuse, almost with the consciousness of guilt, that he has really eaten all that appetite permits, but he is besought with plaintive voice and affectionate entreaty " to try and take a little more," and, partly to stay the current of gentle complaint, partly to gratify his companion, and partly, as with a faint internal sigh he may confess to himself, " for peace and comfort's sake," he assents, and with some violence to his nature forces his palate to comply, thus adding a slight burden to the already satiated stomach. Or if, perchance, endowed with a less compliant nature, he is churlish enough to decline the prof- fered advice, and even to question the value of a cup of strong beef- tea, or egg whipped up with sherry, which unsought has pursued him to his studv, or been sent to his office between eleven and twelve of the forenoon, and which he knows by experience must if swallowed inevitably impair an appetite for lunch, then not improbably he will fall a victim to his solicitous helpmeet's well-meaning designs in some other shape. There is the tasteless calf's-foot jelly, of which a portion may be surreptitiously introduced into a bowl of tea with small chance that its presence will be detected, especially if accompanied by a good modicum of cream ; or the little cup of cocoa or of coffee masking an egg well beaten and smoothly blended to tempt the palate types of certain small diplomatic exercises, delightful, first, because they are diplomatic and not direct in execution ; and, secondly, because the supporting system has been triumphantly maintained, my lord's natural and instinctive objections thereto notwithstanding.
But the loving wife for whom my sympathy is not more profound than is my sorrow for her almost incurable error in relation to this single department of her duty is by no means the only source of fallacious counsel to the man whose strength is slowly declining with age. We might almost imagine him to be the object of a conspiracy, so numerous are the temptations which beset him on every side. The daily and weekly journals display column after column of advertise- ments, enumerating all manner of edibles and drinkables, and loudly trumpeting their virtues, the chief of which is always declared to be the abundance of some quality averred to be at once medicinal and
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nutritious. Is it bread that we are conjured to buy? Then it is warranted to contain some chemical element ; let it be, for example, " the phosphates in large proportion " a mysterious term which the advertising tradesman has for some time past employed to signify a precious element, the very elixir of life, which somehow or other he has led the public to associate with the nutriment of the brain and nervous system, and vaunts accordingly. He has evidently caught the notion from the advertising druggist, who loudly declares his special forms of half-food, half-physic, or his medicated preparations of beef and mutton, to contain the elements of nutrition in the highest form of concentration, among which have mostly figured the aforesaid ' phosphates " as if they were not among the most common and generally prevalent of the earthy constituents of all our food ! Then, lest haply a stomach, unaccustomed to the new and highly concen- trated materials, should, as is not improbable, find itself unequal to the task of digesting and absorbing them, a portion of gastric juice, borrowed for the occasion, mostly from the pig, is associated therewith to meet, if possible, that difficulty, and so to introduce the nourish- ment by hook or by crook into the system. I don't say the method described may not be useful in certain cases, and on the advice of the experienced physician, for a patient exhausted by disease, whose sal- vation may depend upon the happy combination referred to. But it is the popular belief in the impossibility of having too much of that or of any such good thing, provided only it consists of nutritious food, that the advertiser appeals to, and appeals successfully, and with such effect that the credulous public is being gulled to an enormous extent. Then even our drink must now be nutritious ! Most persons might naturally be aware that the primary object of drink is to satisfy thirst, which means a craving for the supply of water to the tissues the only fluid they demand and utilize when the sensation in question is felt. Water is a solvent of solids, and is more powerful to this end when employed free from admixture with any other solid material. It may be flavored, as in tea and otherwise, without impairing its solvent power, but when mixed with any concrete matter, as in choco- late, thick cocoa, or even with milk, its capacity for dissolving the very quality for which it was demanded is in great part lost. So plentiful is nutriment in solid food, that the very last place where we should seek that quality is the drink which accompanies the ordinary meal. Here at least we might hoj>e to be free from an exhortation to nourish ourselves, when desirous only to allay thirst or moisten our solid morsels with a draught of fluid. Not so ; there are even some persons who must wash down their ample slices of roast beef with draughts of new milk ! an unwisely devised combination even for those of active habit, but for men and women whose lives are little occupied by exercise it is one of the greatest dietary blunders which can be perpetrated.
�� � One would think it was generally known that milk is a peculiarly nutritive fluid, adapted for the fast-growing and fattening young mammal—admirable for such, for our small children, also serviceable to those whose muscular exertion is great, and, when it agrees with the stomach, to those who can not take meat. For us who have long ago achieved our full growth, and can thrive on solid fare, it is altogether superfluous and mostly mischievous as a drink.—Nineteenth Century.
[To be continued.]