Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/387

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undoubtedly arise from errors in dieting, that is, in the quantities of food taken, in its not being adapted to the constitutional requirements and environment of the individual, in its not being properly estimated in its constituents, or applicability to the season of the year; and if, as I said at the commencement of this article, people would take as much trouble in adapting the food to suit their needs as they do in so many other things of minor importance, they would enjoy life more, and see more of it. It is astonishing what a complete change in diet will do. Change in diet acts like change in air, and is a potent factor in the treatment of those conditions that indicate exhaustion of the nervous system, and, as a corollary, general collapse. Man is something like a steam-engine, and he requires fuel according to the work he has to do. The driver of an express train does not have his engine fed as the driver of a slow train does, and so it is with the human engine. The fuel in this case should be to a certain extent adjusted as to whether it is to be utilized for intellectual or muscular work; and if this is done, a large amount of intellectual or physical work may be accomplished without strain. But if these facts are ignored, the complex mechanism on which the happiness and well-being of perhaps even a nation may depend, will collapse like a house of cards.

When the diet is properly regulated for the different seasons of the year in regard to its constituents, there is seldom any necessity to take what some people are so fond of doing, that is, purgative medicines in the spring and in autumn. A little alkaline aperient, such as the "Franz Josef" mineral water, may be taken at any season with benefit by people who live well and who are of sedentary habits, but beyond this it is a mistake to take irritating and powerful purgatives during the early spring and summer, as they are sure to set up diarrhoea that may go on for some time, especially if unreasonable quantities of fruit be indulged in. Fruit in itself is laxative in its effects, and though beneficial, as before borne out, if not taken in excess, will with some people, when more is taken than should be, set up persistent and troublesome irritation throughout the digestive tract. This was one of the evils attending the "grape cure," so much in vogue a few years ago.

In every well-appointed household, dinner is unquestionably the most important meal of the day, and a fashion in regard to this has lately crept into use, which is neither physiologically correct nor conducive to its enjoyment. I refer to the custom now prevalent of commencing dinner with some anchovy toast, caviare, or sardines on bread and butter, or some other savory of a like nature. The proper commencement of dinner should be the old-fashioned dish of good soup, and for this reason: that it