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"Diet well ordered bears the greatest part in the prolongation of life."|
Ideally, our food should be palatable, unfragmented, whole, unprocessed, uncooked and uncontaminated; in other words, as nature provides it in the wild.
All scientific evidence that we can unearth, tells us that man is not a carnivorous animal. Comparative anatomy and physiology, anthropology and archeology all point to the fact that man is best constituted to live on fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The idea is not new. Wise men have advocated vegetarianism for ages.
Pythagoras, born on the island of Samos in 582 B.C., warns: "Forbear, mortals, to pollute your bodies with the flesh of animals. There is corn; there are the apples that bear down the branches by their weight; and there are the grapes, nuts and vegetables. These shall be our food."
Eight hundred years ago, Maimonides, greatest Jewish philosopher of the middle ages and physician to the court of Saladin in Egypt, treated his sick patients by prescribing vegetable diets.
Today, hygienists echo the same viewpoint. They teach that eating small amounts of food at a time enables the body to digest and absorb the food more thoroughly than otherwise, thus ensuring adequate assimilation of vital ingredients our body needs.
We should allow sufficient time to elapse between each meal. The stomach empties itself normally in four hours. wheti an interval of five hours is allowed between meals, it has an hour in which to completely empty and disinfect itself, as well as to recruit the energies of its gland cells in preparation for the work of digesting the next meal.
Eating in between meals leads to poor digestion. Late suppers are particularly injurious. They not only lead to impaired sleep, but by exhausting the stomach, take away hunger from breakfast time. It is very common for the late hour diner to suffer from heaviness and a feeling of malaise and inefficiency the next morning.
Eating when one is not very well is another destructive habit. Most of us do this because we have been taught from our childhood that "one must eat to keep up one's strength" or that one should "feed a cold and starve a fever."
When we are ill, our body usually takes our hunger away. Instinctively we no longer want food; but we eat nonetheless because we are afraid that something awful will happen if we do not.
When one is ill, it is time to fast. If you feed a cold - you will have to starve a fever because the simple cold is complicated by feeding and fever results.
Eating when exhausted or very fired because of great mental or emotional or physical effort or shock is also a pernicious habit and conducive to indigestion. Digestion fails because the body has no energy left for production of enzymes and digestive juices. Rest, especially sleep, is indicated rather than food.
For "superior nutrition" one needs not only high quality foods (nutrients) but a high quality of physiological functioning of the whole body that can only take place when all the requisites of life are met.
Sleep, rest, relaxation, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, emotional and mental poise have to be supplied to the body if we want the process of nutrition to take place.
Drinking at meals is not conducive to proper digestion of food. Liquids dilute the digestive juices and thus interfere with their work.
Very hot foods are objectionable because the excessive heat injures the delicate mucous membrane lining the stomach and intestines. Dr. William Mayo, the eminent surgeon, has for years maintained that taking of hot food and liquids into the stomach is one of the causes of gastric ulcer.
Very cold foods, e.g. ice water, ice cream, are also questionable items. If taken at all, they should be used in limited quantity and so slowly sipped, chewed and swallowed that before reaching the stomach they acquire a temperature near that of the body.
All food contains both artificial and natural poisons. So don't be discouraged if you discover that lettuce contains belladona or spinach contains oxalic acid. It is only when a food is more harmful than helpful that it can be classified as a poison.
Sugarcoated drugs, tea, coffee, cocoa and "medicinal herbs" can hardly be glorified as food because the poisonous quality overwhelms the nutritional value.
Life depends on several factors - one of them is food.
All growth, repair of tissues and vital functions are the result of the process of nutrition.
A food can start off as a "food" but by the time it is cooked, pasteurized, synthesized, extracted, homogenized, adulterated with additives, and devitalized by processing for commercial use and storage, it is rank poison. Animals that consume such foods exclusively become progressively deformed and infertile with each generation.
Herbs must be considered as poisons rather than food because their consumption is followed by physiological changes similar to changes which follow administration of the drugs which they contain. Thus coffee resembles caffeine, foxglove resembles digitalis, tea resembles tannin, and the bark of the cinchona tree resembles quinine in their effect upon the body.
To speak of food and to use food as "medicine" is to transfer to food all the misconceptions about drugs. It is to replace the notion "drugs can cure you". with the notion "food can cure you". Food is material for use by the body. Food does not do anything; it is done unto - digested, absorbed and metabolized.
The consumption of a particular food or foods cannot nullify the necessity of abandoning poor foods and removing the other causes of disease, such as cigarette smoking, insufficient sleep and lack of exercise.
Usually, the avoidance of specific foods is more important than the eating of specific foods.
Advising a diet change for the sick is not necessarily diet therapy unless we think of "therapy" as everything a sick person does that facilitates the achievement of health.
To use diet therapeutically leads to trouble. For example; a few years ago the most common medical dietary recommendation for diverticulosis was "avoid coarse foods; they irritate the bowels". Unfortunately, this therapy only made the situation worse, because the aim had been to reduce symptoms. Now, it has been proved that a lack of coarse foods causes diverticulosis. So, today most physicians advise patients with this disease to eat more coarse foods - a complete about face.
Thinking of diet as a therapy - even if it is a healthful one - blinds the sick to the realization that health depends upon providing the factors that favor life and removing the factors that do not.
Understanding that food is for living - not for curing - is the most important step toward learning how to achieve prolonged and abundant health.
The Hygienist, 1978
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