Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/359

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345
A QUESTION OF EATING.

Sterling, who was there also on account of chest-weakness. A letter of warm acknowledgment to Mr. Barclay Fox, of Falmouth, for the attention bestowed on Henry by his family, is for Mill unusually effusive, and teems with characteristic traits. One not a Christian, addressing a Christian family upon death, and wakening up the chords of our common humanity, is a spectacle worth observing.

 

A QUESTION OF EATING.
By WILLIAM BROWNING, Ph. B.

IT has long been considered, as by common consent a law of health, that all food should be eaten slowly, not swallowed until well masticated.

Some observations and experiments, however, have been recently made which indicate strongly that this principle of slow eating, so far as health is concerned, is not true with respect to all varieties of food.

Animals in a state of nature, as is generally recognized, tend to accommodate themselves in the most favorable manner to their conditions: if a cow naturally ruminates, why should a dog naturally take a chunk of meat at a swallow without stopping to chew it? It may be said that the ruminant has a special digestive apparatus, but the fact remains that the food is eaten as is best suited to it, and the dog, following nature, does what is best for him, or, in other words, if it disagreed with his digestion to eat rapidly, he would reform, and take it more slowly. Following out this idea, experiments were made upon a dog, with the following results: It the meat, before being fed to the dog, was reduced to a hash, or cut into fine pieces, the digestion was at best imperfect, a considerable portion of the undigested or imperfectly digested meat being found in the excreta. If, under the same conditions, meat was fed to the dog in large pieces, it was bolted at a gulp, with the result that little, if any, passed through undigested; compared with the result from the chopped meat, it could be called a perfect digestion for the coarse form, as compared with a decidedly imperfect digestion for the fine form. So far as simple experiment goes, this must be pretty conclusive for the dog; but can the same hold true with respect to the human subject?

A brief review of the first portion of the digestive process, so far as understood with regard to man, will help in answering this; and first to be considered is the mouth and chewing apparatus. Says Foster: "The chief purpose served by the saliva in digestion is to moisten the food, and so assist in mastication and deglutition. . . . In man, it has a specific solvent action on some of the food-stuffs. On fats it has only a slight emulsifying action, and on proteids none. Its character-