The Hygienic System
By: Herbert M. Shelton
Among the civilized as among
savages, social activities center
about sex and food. Civilization
grew up in fertile sections, where
food was abundant--where food
was scarce nomadic tribes
roamed in savagery or semi-savagery.
Man's food and his ways of procuring his
food have largely shaped his whole
social, political and religious history.
The study of food and its relations to the structures and functions of the body
constitutes one of the most important subjects that can occupy our minds.
It is unfortunate that the knowledge of diet possessed by the ancients was
permitted to perish during the Christian era and people were taught to "take
no thought of what ye shall eat or drink" for "it is not what goeth into a man's
body, but that which cometh out that defileth him."
It is now over a hundred years since the study of food was revived and, while
much valuable knowledge has been accumulated during that time, it has
been slow in reaching the minds of the people.
The spread of such knowledge has met with organized opposition from the
medical profession, which has been able to keep many people in almost
complete ignorance of how to feed their bodies.
Modern dietary science, trophology may be said to have had its beginning
with Sylvester Graham, and his Lectures on the Science of Human Life is still
abreast of our time in most particulars. If you want "the newer knowledge of
nutrition" you'll find most of it in this book.
It will be recalled that in Vol. I of this series we recounted Graham's
experiences in preventing cholera by dietetic and general hygienic means
and how the movement initiated by him grew and spread.
Despite its overwhelming success, the medical profession, as stubborn then
as now, in its opposition to dietary advancement, heaped ridicule and slander
upon Graham and the Grahamites.
In his efforts at diet reform, as in all of his other efforts at living reform,
Graham ran up against the stonewall of established prejudices and practices
and the active opposition of vested interests who saw in his efforts a serious
threat to their incomes and investments. Not the least of these interests was
the medical profession.
From Europe the early American settlers had brought the idea that fruits and
vegetables and, especially uncooked fruits and vegetables, were to be
The New York Mirror warned, Aug. 28, 1830, that fresh fruits should be
religiously forbidden to all classes and especially to children. Two years later
the same paper carried the information that all fruit is dangerous and,
because of the cholera epidemic city councils prohibited their sale in the
cities. "Salads were to be particularly feared."
Robley Dunglison, the famous physiologist of the period, appears also to
have shared this view. In August 1832 the Board of Health of Washington, D.
C. prohibited, for the space of ninety days, the importation into the city of:
"Cabbage, green corn, cucumbers, peas, beans, parsnips, carrots, eggplants,
squashes, pumpkins, turnips, water melons, cantaloupes, muskmelons,
apples, pears, peaches, plums, damsons, cherries, apricots, pineapples,
oranges, lemons, limes, coconuts, ice cream, fish, crabs, oysters, clams,
lobsters and craw fish. The following articles the Board have not considered it
necessary to prohibit the sale of, but even these they would admonish the
community to be moderate in using: potatoes, beets, tomatoes and onions."
Beef, bacon and bread, with beer and wine were about all they left for the
people of Washington to eat. The Board said that the prohibited articles:
"are, in their opinion highly prejudicial to health at the present season." The
Board were probably afraid that these wholesome foods would cause ague,
chills, fever and even cholera.
In that very year (1832) Dr. Martyn Paine, of the New York University Medical
School was arguing that garden vegetables and almost every variety of fruit
had been known to develop the deadly cholera and that to avoid it the people
should restrict themselves to lean meat, potatoes, milk, tea and coffee.
It was in New York City in 1832, the very year that the cities were prohibiting
the sale of fruits and vegetables because they cause cholera, that Graham
launched his attack upon the false beliefs concerning fruits and vegetables
and endeavored to induce Americans and, indeed, the world, to eat more
fruits and vegetables and cease eating animal foods.
Graham not only challenged the view that fruits and vegetables cause
cholera and that plenty of meat and wine will prevent it; but he declared that a
diet of fruits and vegetables with entire abstinence from all alcoholics,
tobacco, condiments, etc., and from all animal foods, was the best preventive
It is interesting to note, in this connection, that Graham's first observations of
the effects of diet upon health were made in Philadelphia and related to the
part a vegetable diet apparently played in preventing Cholera.
A small sect of Bible Christians had migrated from England to Philadelphia.
These people abstained from all animal foods--flesh, eggs, milk, cheese, etc.--
and from all condiments and stimulants. They used no tea, coffee, alcohol or
tobacco. It was their view that flesh eating violated the first command given
by God to man--the instruction to Adam that he should eat the fruit of the
trees of the Garden.
Ten years before Graham lectured in Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania
Temperance Society, this city had experienced a severe epidemic of cholera.
There were many cases with a high death rate. Contrary to what was
expected from the medical teachings of the time, not a single member of the
Bible Christian Church had cholera.
This fact made a deep and lasting impression upon Graham and caused him
to turn his attention to the study of diet. No longer was he a mere temperance
lecturer. His first series of lectures given the following year in New York were
upon the causes and prevention of cholera.
So radical and revolutionary did his lectures seem to the medical profession
and most of the educated people of the time that it required nearly another
quarter of a century for them to discard their false notions about vegetables
and fruits causing cholera and concede that Graham may have been right.
Fallacy dies slowly. Deep-rooted prejudices are not easily uprooted. Old
habits are not quickly abandoned. The world's leaders do not like to admit
that they have been wrong and have been misleading the people. They did
not give up without a struggle--indeed, it may be truthfully said that they have
not given up entirely to this day.
Many who heard Graham's lecture followed his advice and, thereupon, the
physicians, butchers and others of New York reported that the Grahamites
were dying like flies of the cholera.
Graham returned to New York and being unable to find a single instance of
death from cholera, and only one or two instances of cholera (these in people
who had not carried out his advice) among those who had adopted the plan
of eating and living he offered, challenged, through the public press of the
city, his traducers to bring forth a case of death among his followers. This
they did not and could not do, but they did not cease to peddle the lie.
Graham pointed out in reply that in America, where animal food is almost
universally consumed in excess, and where children are trained to the use of
it, even before they are weaned, scrofulous affections are exceedingly
common, and lead to that fearful prevalence of pulmonary consumption,
which has rendered that complaint emphatically the American Disease.
In addition to this, Graham pointed to "well-fed vegetable-eating children of
other countries in all periods of time" and to examples of "feeble and cachectic
children, and even those who are born with a scrofulous diathesis" who had
been "brought into vigorous health on a well ordered vegetable diet, under a
correct general regimen" as proof that the "very best health can be preserved
in childhood without the use of flesh-meat."
Graham was an educated man and the same cannot be said of most
physicians of the period. It were folly to say to a man who knew the history of
Sparta, that health and strength cannot be built and maintained on a
The people were not all fools and the colleges and universities were not then,
as now, dominated by big business interests. The teaching profession gave
strong support to the movement for diet reform.
Professor Reubin Mussey of Dartmouth College openly advocated
vegetarianism and invited Graham to address the students of Bowdoin
College and also to speak in Hanover. Professor Edward Hitchcock delivered
a series of lectures on diet and regimen in Amherst College and these were
enthusiastically received by the students.
Even the unexpected happened: The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, a
conservative and established periodical, endorsed his cause in its issue of
Oct. 21, 1835 and declared that Graham's introductory lecture in Boston
would have reflected honor upon the first medical men in America.
No doubt the Journal later repented of this serious breach of medical ethics,
for its editors missed few opportunities to lampoon Graham, although
accepting an occasional article from his pen.
The fear of the produce of garden and orchard lingered on for many years
after Graham's work began. Indeed, the author recalls many stories of how
watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers and a few other fruits and vegetables
cause malaria, which he heard when a boy.
During the cholera year of 1849 the Chicago Journal strongly condemned the
city council of that city, for not prohibiting the sale of fruits and vegetables as
had been done in other cities, since, as the Journal said, the "sad effects" of
using such foods were "so apparent."
The Democrat carried the story of two boys who ate freely of oranges and
cocoanuts and then went to the circus. "In a short time one was a corpse and
the other reduced to the last stage of cholera."
Even as late as 1867 it was reported by the press that someone by merely
passing a fruit stand laden with spoiled peaches had suffered an "attack" of
the gripes, a not impossible psychic reaction. But they reached the
conclusion that "if bare proximity to those peaches caused him so much pain,
the eating of them would have been certain death." Today we witness a
similarly asinine procedure in the prohibition of the sale of raw milk in the
Certain of the old physio-medical physicians condemned the eating of
tomatoes because these contained calomel; lettuce was long said to contain
opium; acid fruits were held responsible for rheumatism, arthritis and other
"acid diseases." Apples were condemned by many physicians because they
I recall hearing one aged physician (this was over thirty years ago) telling of
the evils of apples and said:
"I would rather give my patients a dose of poison than to give them apples."
He was daily dosing them with poisons, though withholding apples.
"Medicine" does not easily give up; it does not readily admit its mistakes. If
Graham and his co-workers and successors had demonstrated that fruits
and vegetables were not dangerous and they did not produce cholera and
other "diseases" the profession of medicine would find other reasons for
rejecting these foods and sticking to their meats and meat soups.
They invented the idea that while these things may be pleasing to the sense
of taste they have no food value.
As late as 1916 we find Dr. Richard C. Cabot of Harvard writing:
"Lettuce for instance, is a food practically without value--nice and pleasant to
look at, and valuable so far as it has dressing (made with oil). But the dressing
is the only thing that has any food value." Also: "Tomatoes are ninety-four
percent water; there is hardly any nutrition in them." These statements are
typical of the medical view of fruits and vegetables in general.
In their efforts to discourage the eating of uncooked fruits and vegetables the
regular profession pictured these as reeking with typhoid germs and the
germs of other diseases. Cooking was necessary in order to destroy these
germs. Lettuce, now shipped all over the country and eaten raw by
everybody, was especially covered with hidden dangers in the form of
Not until the discovery of vitamins did the medical profession lose its fear of
germs on vegetables and fruits sufficiently to enable it to sanction the use of
uncooked foods. Even so, they never mention Graham, except to ridicule
But it was too late to stop the civilized world from eating fruits and
vegetables. Graham and the other food reformers had done their work too
well. The annual per capita consumption of plant foods was then, and still is,
The medical profession still opposes vegetarianism and continues to insist
upon the use of meat and meat soups, but they have lost on all fronts and
have been forced to acknowledge the value of the fruits and vegetables, even
if they do continue to ignore Graham.
When the discovery of vitamins was first announced, the physiologist,
Professor Percy G. Styles, stated that the theory is a restatement of Graham's
Professor Styles was probably duly penalized for this breach of scientific
ethics; for, apparently, neither he nor anyone else has dared reaffirm such a
It is agreed that no discovery is a discovery unless it is made by one of the
boys in the inner circle of ''science." If they have not educated him; if he
teaches not their doctrines; he is unworthy of a place in the Hall of Fame or is
it the Hall of Infamy in which the "scientists" sit?
Graham made the "mistake" of offending the bakers, millers, brewers,
distillers, saloon keepers, tobacco growers and sellers, butchers, packers,
etc. There was no dairy industry then, but had there been one the members
of this would have joined in the effort to mob him as they now join in the
conspiracy of silence against him.
Despite professional opposition and the opposition of the vested interests
who saw their interests threatened, Graham's work prospered and grew.
Soon he had many helpers, among them, Dr. Trall.
In his Hydropathic Encyclopedia, 1851, Dr. Trall declared to the world that all
fresh fruits and green vegetables are antiscorbutic (opposed to the
development of scurvy).
Trall soon joined Graham in his crusade for vegetables and fruits and whole
grain bread and against meat, eggs, milk, white bread, wines, narcotics, etc.
Graham died in 1851. Trall carried on until his death in 1879. By this time the
workers were many. Dr. Jennings joined them early in Graham's crusade.
After Dr. Trall's death, Drs. Page and Densmore added to our fund of
knowledge about trophology.
The next great advance in our trophologic knowledge came in 1891 when Dr.
H. Lahmann, of Germany published his Dietetsche Blutentmischung, in which
he presented the results of his investigations of the "ash" (minerals) of food.
Lahmann was a German "regular" practitioner who had forsaken the pill bags
and poison bottles and joined Louis Kuhne in his establishment. Lahmann
gave us our first real knowledge of the value of food minerals.
His work was rejected by the medical profession, though eagerly accepted by
Hygienists and "faddists" with whom he had associated himself. Forty years
ago Dr. H. Lindlahr brought Lahmann's discoveries back to America with
him. Otto Carque and Alfred W. McCann quickly seized upon this new
advance and began the work of acquainting the American public with it.
Ragnar Berg, a Swedish chemist, associated himself with Lahmann and
began the development of the world's greatest food scientist. Lahmann died,
but Berg still carries on. Lahmann's sanitarium fell into the hands of others.
Lahmann's work was declared obsolete, the institution was given over to
"experiments a la Steinach" and Berg was discharged.
It should be borne in mind that with the exception of certain investigations
made by Ragnar Berg, absolutely no research of any kind has been
undertaken on the complete metabolism of the mineral salts, either in man or
animal. The Physiology of Nutrition, London, 1927.
Within recent years laboratory workers have attacked the subject of diet and
these have added to our detailed knowledge of foods if not to our practical
knowledge. These experiments have now been carried on long enough that
we feel safe in asserting, on the strength of their results, that foods are really
good to eat and that they do actually nourish the body. We feel safe in going
even further and asserting that we must have foods to grow.
These "biochemists" discovered that cabbage, lettuce, celery, tomatoes,
apples, oranges, etc., are really valuable foods. Their discovery so shocked
and surprised the medical world that it completely forgot that the "faddists"
had been eating these foods for a long time and had declared them to be
superior to white flour, salt bacon, pigs knuckles, sausage, lard pies and
It was really a remarkable discovery--all they now need to do is to become
"faddists" with the rest of us and make use of the things Graham, Trall, Alcott,
Densmore, Page, Oswald, Kuhne, Lahmann, Berg, etc., had long taught.
Much of the experimental "findings" is sheer nonsense. Many of the
experimenters are subsidized by interested commercial firms. There are
many green vegetables that are as valuable as spinach, but none that have
"growers" organizations back of them to subsidize research.
The manufacturers of yeast, of cod-liver oil and halibut-liver oil have
subsidized research workers. So have the big milk producing companies.
The same is true of the citrus industry. The gatherers and sellers of
seaweeds have their scientific prostitutes also.
When we see some special food heralded as an apple from the "Tree of Life"
and see its value over-emphasized in books, magazines, newspapers and in
physicians and "research" workers' reports we may be sure that there is
money behind it.
The work of the biochemist tends to center around the vitamins and is
confined largely to animal experimentation. It lacks the importance
possessed by the work of those who feed human beings and who do not
confine their attention to one food factor, but attend to the whole diet and to
the whole program of eating.
I do not desire to minimize the serious work of the laboratory experimenters,
but I would call attention to the fact that the "faddists" have preceded them
with a whole series of much more important experiments.
The "faddists" are of all varieties and kinds and they have many different
notions and practices. They have, in other words, carried out, in human
beings, many dietetic experiments. Some of these experiments have
involved thousands of individuals and three or four generations.
These experiments and their results are not to be lightly cast aside because
those who make them lack training in the diploma mills of medicine, or
because they were not "controlled." Hail to the faddists. They have
performed a necessary work.
In this work we do not intend to ignore the work of the "faddists" but shall
make use of it just as we shall draw upon the work of the laboratory men to
confirm the findings of the "faddists." For it was the "faddists" and not the
"bio-chemists" who initiated the movement for dietary study and reform and,
who, by their results, compelled the medical world to take notice. Except for
the "faddists" the "biochemists" may not have been born.
The medical profession showed no interest in dietetics until an awakened
public demanded to know how to feed itself. Trophologists were ridiculed as
faddists, fanatics, extremists and unqualified practitioners, or quacks by the
Dr. Trall's words in his Hydropathic Cook-Book (1853) are still true:
"However strange may seem the assertion, it is nevertheless true, that the
philosophy of diet has never been taught in medical schools. Physicians
generally are as profoundly ignorant of the whole subject as are the great
masses of people."
Back in 1916 Dr. Richard C. Cabot, one of the outstanding physicians of the
"Almost nothing is known about diet. There are numerous books on the
subject which are useful for pressing leaves, but not for much that they
I believe that Dr. Cabot's evaluation of medical literature on diet was correct at
the time he first published his statement and that the condition has not
greatly improved since.
In Nov. 1926, R. G. Jackson, M.D., Toronto, Canada, declared that although
diet had "long been ignored and its few advocates been relegated to the
category of 'cranks,' proper feeding is beginning to be recognized by the
medical profession as a most important adjunct to our therapeutic
"Diet was not 'scientific medicine,' therefore it was not anything. And besides,
diet was a measure advocated by 'cults' outside the profession; therefore it
ought to be frowned upon."
Note that Dr. Jackson recognizes that his profession is accepting diet merely
as an adjunct to their "therapeutic armamentarium" and not as a very
foundation stone of life and health.
"Moreover, modern dietetics is not the creation of our profession. It has been
developed in its scientific aspects largely by our friends, the biochemists, and
through them almost forced upon us. But now our authorities are beginning
to put their O.K. upon it and marking it as their own; so it becomes respectable
and will soon belong to 'scientific medicine'."
The "bio-chemists" entered the field of dietetics at a rather late stage and
have succeeded, by laboratory experiments, in confirming practically the
whole of the trophologic philosophy and practice of the Hygienic school.
They, like Dr. Jackson, omit to mention this fact, in their public writings.
There is not a medical college in the United States that has a course in
dietetics and the number of physicians who make an effort to acquire
knowledge of dietetics after graduation is exceedingly small. They usually
plead lack of time and opportunity but they find time and opportunity to play
golf, take post-graduate courses in other and much less important subjects
and even to go abroad.
Dr. Phillip Norman ascribes their persistence in ignorance of how to feed the
body to a lack of interest in the subject. Diet has never been an essential part
of a physician's prescription and physicians have never known and do not
know anything about diet, as they so freely admit.
Eighteen years ago doctors were still ridiculing those who advocated dietary
measures. Thirteen years ago it was still not a factor in the treatment of the
sick and occupied no place in the discussions in medical journals. Much fun
was poked at "diets," "dieting" and "diet systems" by the regular medical
profession until it suddenly dawned on them one fine day that the people
were asking for diet.
Today it is a factor in the care of patients in the practice of only a few
physicians, has just reached the point of discussion by the profession and is
still subject to ridicule by many of the dignitaries in the profession.
Despite their confessed ignorance of diet, despite their lack of training in
dietary science and their lack of experience in dietary practice, they are ever
ready to assume an air of pontifical infallibility in their criticisms of those of us
who do employ a knowledge of food science in our care and feeding of the
well and the sick.
Some of our medical critics, some of the leaders in the ranks of materia
medica, accuse "diet fads" of causing "nutritional diseases" "metabolic
disorders" and cancer. Diet "fads" cause fewer evils than poisonous drugs,
putrid serums, rot vaccines, dirty soups, and unnecessary surgical
Although freely admitting that they know nothing of diet and of trophology,
they declare, "It's all wrong anyway." Another objection frequently met with is
that "only a fool will bother about his diet when he is the right weight, sleeps
well, enjoys life and is happy."
This objection assumes either that correct eating is only for the invalid, or,
else, that one should not make an effort to preserve his health, but should eat
haphazardly until he becomes ill and then should try to restore his health.
The intelligent person will seek to prevent rather than remedy ill health. It too
often happens that when a medical man does become interested in dietetics
he absorbs as much of the work of the Hygienic school as he can and passes
it out to the public as his own.
For example, some of them tell us that they "have found" that raw starch is
digestible and that it is not well to eat proteins and starches at the same meal,
but they forget that those they decry as "faddists" preceded them with these
I do not want to be understood as saying that there are no medical men who
possess a knowledge of diet. The heaven is at work in the profession and its
more progressive and honest members have seen the light and have shown
the rare courage that is required to break with professional precedent and
follow that light.
I am happy to have a number of such men, in various parts of the country,
among my friends. To these men, I look with confidence, to lead their
profession out of its self-imposed darkness. But for the great mass of
physicians there is no newer knowledge of nutrition.
They make no advance in dietary science. Indeed, some of their leaders labor
to prove that the discoveries in the field of diet only reveal that they were
feeding correctly all the time. It is lamentable, but true.
A tubercular specialist wrote a booklet a few years ago on feeding in
tuberculosis. He briefly reviews the highlights of dietary research and says
that these findings only prove that they have been feeding tubercular cases
correctly all the time.
Physicians really seem to be unable to grasp the truths that have been
uncovered about diet and seem incapable of comprehending their
significance. They have never fed their tubercular patients correctly and are
not doing so now.
Logan Clendening asserts that:
"Researchers on diet have not created a new dietary: they have simply proved
why the old one so long in use was effective. It is really safer to stick to the
long-established diets we have been all using and liking than to the
pronouncements of the food dogmatists."
He here expresses the old "conservative" resistance to change and progress,
the inertia of the "long-established." In the same article he asserts that the
present eating habits of "the average human being" were formed "since he
became a prosperous animal" and this is tantamount to the admission that
our eating habits are not "long-established" ones.
If he will look a little deeper he may discover that the food manufacturers are
responsible for many of our recent eating habits and that processed foods
are of recent modern origin.
I agree with Clendening that dietary research has not caused the medical
profession to change its feeding plans and programs. They are still feeding
their families and their patients as they were forty years ago. They are still
defending white flour and coffee. They are still counting calories and lauding
meat and a high protein diet.
Go into the hospitals and there you will find white flour, white sugar,
denatured cereals, coffee, tea and the like served to patients. You discover
that these same foods are eaten by the nurses.
The hospital diet is notoriously unsatisfactory, as is testified to by physicians,
interns, nurses and patients. It is miserably prepared and served with no
consideration for its dietary value and with no regard for combinations.
Meat, potatoes, white bread, cornstarch, pudding and tea are likely to form
the bulk of the hospital diet. The discoveries of dieticians and scientists in
the realm of food science are utterly disregarded in these medical
Dr. Victor Lindlahr admirably expresses the Hygienic view of this matter when
"Certainly marble halls, X-ray apparatus microscopes, rounded corners,
patented beds and all the frills and doo-dads that the hospital heads so delight
in, do not contribute to the building of a patient's body cells. The human
tissues that heal a wound do not sprout from equipment, architecture, or
Wouldn't it be better to have less pretentious hospitals, less equipment, less
staff but more vitamins, mineral salts and better cooks and care of the
preparation of food."
Visit the homes of their patients and see these eat; or, better still, consult the
written or printed diet prescriptions the physician gives to his patients, where
he gives any thought to diet at all, and note the whole long list of denatured
They are still advising "standardized" and antiquated diets and pleading as an
excuse that they "are too busy to keep up with the news of progress or are
too far away from the places in which that information is readily obtainable."
This is the poorest kind of an excuse for ignorance of a subject so vital, all
the more so when we consider that these same physicians manage to keep
up with the "advances" in drugs, serums, operations, etc.
Dietary knowledge is too easily obtained for us to accept this as an excuse
for their failure to acquire and make use of it. Medical colleges certainly
cannot offer this as an excuse for not establishing a Chair in dietetics.
Go into the homes of physicians and you soon discover that they and the
members of their families are eating denatured foods of all kinds. There is
white bread on the table. There is also white sugar, commercial syrups and
sulphured and canned fruits.
Denatured cereals are there, as are also coffee and tea. Their food is
prepared according to conventional methods and is eaten in the customary,
haphazard manner, with no regard for combinations or other essential
Dr. N. Phillip Norman, Instructor in Gastro-enterology, New York Polyclinic
Medical School and Hospital, says, in an article in the Journal of Clinical
Medicine, July 1925:
"The average medical man seems to have so little interest in dietary matters
that I feel I should like to say or write something, at every possible
opportunity, to stimulate his interest to a more definite understanding of the
nutritional principles that should be applied to every person, regardless of
whether he is sick or well."
Progress in dietary science, trophology makes it essential that intelligent men
and women reform their eating habits, even if physicians will not. I always
suspect commercial motives in the physician, however high his standing,
who disparages dietary reform and who sings that "the old time religion (diet)
is good enough for me."
Orthotrophy, from the Greek Orthos--straight, erect, true--and Trepho--
nourish, was coined by the author to designate correct nutrition and separate
it from the great mass of fallacies that make up what now passes under the
Orthotrophy--correct nutrition — is broad in its meaning and covers more
than is implied under the term, food. We, therefore, employ the term
trophology the science of food, in the narrow sense of food and food
chemistry. Trophology will be used to supplant the term dietetics.
Orthotrophy means correct nutrition. There are times when to abstain from
food is not only right but imperative; when to eat is not to nourish the body,
but to poison it. Therefore fasting, or negative nutrition, comes, properly,
under the heading of Orthotrophy. Although frequent references to fasting
will be made in this volume, the subject will be fully covered in Vol. III of this
Philosophy of Nutrition
Several generations of study of cell development and heredity have ignored
almost completely the more important study of nutritional habits as these
determine and predetermine cell developments and affect reproduction and
survival. The role of nutrition in integration, reintegration, and disintegration
has been shamefully neglected.
For the most part, it has been taken for granted that it matters not what kind
of food an organism consumes, so long as it consumes "enough" and more
than "enough." Plenty of food and lack of food are chiefly considered as of
importance. This places most importance upon quantity rather than quality
Only recently have we begun to seriously investigate the physiological basis
of life and the incidences of nutrition as they affect growth and reproduction,
both in a physiological and pathological sense. It is true that hints of the role
of nutrition in health and disease have come to thinking members of our race
during the past several thousand years; but scientists have considered such
things unworthy of their notice.
Nutrition is the sum total of all the processes and functions by which growth
and development, maintenance and repair of the body, and, by which
reproduction are accomplished.
It is the replenishment of tissues and not the accumulation of fat and not the
"stimulation" (excitation) of the vital powers. Due to the great
misunderstanding and confusion that exists about "stimulation" we are
inclined to associate it with nutrition.
"Pure and perfect nutrition" says Dr. Trall, "implies the assimilation of
nutriment material to the structure of the body, without the least excitement,
disturbance, or impression of any kind that can properly be called stimulating.
All stimulus, therefore, is directly opposed to healthful nutrition, and a source
of useless expenditure or waste of vital power."
Food, we define as any substance the elements of which are convertible into,
and do form, the constituent matters of the tissues and fluids of the body and
are employed by the organism in the performance of any of its functions. Life
depends on food. All growth, repair and maintenance of tissues and all
development of vital power are the results of nutrition.
All parts and products of the body are elaborated from the blood, and all the
functions of the body depend upon the blood for material supplies. The
blood is elaborated from air, water, food and sunshine. These are essential
and all that are essential, so far as materials are concerned, for the
production of good blood and sound tissues and organs and functional
During life two simultaneous processes are in continual progress--a building
up and a breaking down process. The two processes taken together are
called metabolism. The constructive process is known as anabolism, the
breaking down process as catabolism.
In the healthy organism, during childhood and youth and well into maturity,
the constructive process exceeds the destructive process. During sickness
and in old age the destructive process exceeds the building up process.
During complete rest and sleep all the general life functions are carried on as
during waking hours, only less actively. The heart continues to pulsate, the
chest to rise and fall in breathing, the liver and digestive organs and other
internal organs all go on working. All of the body cells work.
The metabolism carried on at complete rest is called basic metabolism. The
metabolic rate is determined by measuring the amount of oxygen used. This
varies with age, sex, climate, race, habits, diet, mental state, etc.
It is lower in women than in men, higher (nearly double) in infants than in
adults, lowest in advanced age. It is lower in Orientals (Japanese and
Chinese); higher in athletes than in sedentary men. Americans living in Brazil
show a lower basal metabolism than in this country. It is greater after effort
(but during sleep) due to muscular tension. It rises during the day, being
higher in the afternoon than in the morning. It is lower in vegetarians than in
Orthodox science cannot tell what is a standard metabolism and a standard
of biological relation. As in everything else, the standards for "normal basic
metabolism" are mere statistical averages made, for the most part, on over-
stimulated, over-fed and particularly over-protein-stuffed subjects. The ideal
or biological norm can be determined only from healthy individuals living a
truly bionomic life.
It is the Hygienic view that normal metabolism must be based on a normal
mode of nutrition, which involves not only the kind, quality and amount of
food eaten, but also, and very importantly, the kind and amount of work--
"sweat of the brow"--expended in earning this food. No mode of nutrition can
be considered normal that does not involve work--counter-service--in
Predacity, parasitism, saprophytism, and similar modes of stealing supplies
or of living without work involve, not only a disturbance of the normal work-
food ratio, but also feeding upon inferior foods. Metabolic abnormalities
growing out of such modes of nutrition result in losses and exaggerations of
structure and in disease in general.
7,000,000 of the 25,000,000,000,000 red blood cells in the body of an average
man die every second, so that 7,000,000 new ones must be produced every
second of our lives--a wonderful example of the creative operations always at
work in our bodies. The materials out of which these new cells are built are
supplied by food. This represents only a small part of the creative work that
goes on. Similar destruction and reconstruction occur in other tissues of the
The human body is made up of twenty-two chemical elements, as follow:
Oxygen, Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium,
Manganese, Sodium, Silicon, Iron, Lithium, lodin, Sulphur, Zinc, Chlorine,
Flourine, Bromine, Nickel, Copper, Arsenic, Magnesium.
The nutritional roles of about a dozen elements, such as aluminum, arsenic,
boron, bromide, nickel, silicon, vanadium and tin, which appear in human and
animal bodies in minute amounts, are still unknown.
They are all supposed to be concerned with catalysis, or the instigation and
speeding up of chemical reactions in the body. It is not certain that they
belong in the body. They may be found there only as foreign elements. The
evidence offered of the need for boron is very circumstantial and far from
These elements do not exist in the body in their "free" state, but in organic
combinations with each other, and are variously distributed in the various
tissues and fluids of the body. Roughly, they are grouped in our foods as
proteins, carbohydrates, hydrocarbons, water, mineral salts, vitamins, and
indigestible portions--bulk or roughage.
Each element serves a definite and indispensable function, which no other
element can serve for it. All of them are essential to wholeness of life, to
health, growth and to continued existence.
It is to supply material with which to carry on the building up of tissue and
replace that which is broken down; in other words, to supply material for
growth and repair, that we eat. At least this is one of the purposes served by
Other processes besides those of growth and repair are continually going on
in the body. For example, there is the work of preparing food for use by the
body. This work is known as digestion and is accomplished largely by the
action of certain juices or secretions that act upon the food chemically.
These juices have to be manufactured by the body for its own use. Food
furnishes the materials necessary for the production of these and the many
other secretions of the body.
The broken down products of the cells are acid in character and are highly
irritating and poisonous. If permitted to remain in the body unchanged they
would soon destroy life. Therefore, they are not only eliminated, but are
changed chemically by being combined with certain alkaline mineral
elements, thus rendering them less irritating and harmful and also preparing
them for elimination. The mineral elements with which this detoxifying
change is made are supplied by our food.
Foods are burned in the body to supply heat and energy. At least this is the
present theory of scientists. There are those who deny this and who insist
that both the heat and energy of the body are independent of its food supply,
that food serves solely as replacement material in building up new and
repairing old tissues and in forming the body's secretions.
The claim has been made that heat is derived from the assimilation of food
rather than from its oxidation. It is also claimed that the body's heat is due to
We eat carbon, take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. It is quite evident
that the carbon is oxidized in the body. It would certainly give off heat in this
process. The body may have other sources of heat, but this seems to be
certainly one of them. The amount of heat produced by the body seems to
parallel the amount of carbon dioxide it gives off.
The chemical energies of the body are directed by something which is not
itself a chemical energy, but which is intimately associated with the organic
synthesis which the chemical energy serves to maintain. At least, I cannot
see how we can escape this position. I have no doubt that chemical as well
as mechanical energies are utilized in the body, although, they are
subordinate to a controlling and unifying non-chemical force.
However, this is still a much mooted question and will be solved only in the
future. I do not think that all the energies of the living body are derived from
The normal specific gravity and normal alkalinity of the blood are maintained
by food. As will be shown later, these two functions are performed chiefly by
the minerals of the diet.
These uses of food may be summed up in a few words by saying: food is any
substance which, when taken into the body, can be used by it for the
replenishment of tissue (growth and repair) and for the performance of
organic function. This definition can be made to include water and the
oxygen of the air; however, water and oxygen are not usually classed as
Such substances, if they are to be classed as true foods, must be with
deleterious effects. Many things that are eaten by man have deleterious
effects, although, they do possess food value. Obviously, such foods should
be abstained from so long as other foods are to be had.
The human body is a wonderfully complex and ingenuous mechanism made
up of thousands of different parts and containing hundreds of different
chemical compositions. Yet all of these must be nourished by a single blood
stream, a stream which itself is of remarkably uniform composition so far as
any chemical analysis can determine.
If the blood derived its substance from a single source of supply, as does the
blood of a nursing baby, for example, life would seem marvelous enough.
But, when one considers that the blood is often nourished by hundreds of
different food substances, particularly in the case of modern civilized man, it
seems almost inconceivably complex. We find it difficult to comprehend how
life can exist at all.
The body must secure all the necessary food elements from all the great
mass of diverse foods, in order to avoid the deficiencies or "starvations" and,
at the same time, it must avoid all excess of certain materials, which we
almost always consume in excess. Food substances, which are not needed
and cannot be used, injure and do not help the body.
As the study of nutrition continues, the essentials of man's diet multiply. The
older books gave man's nutritive requirements as proteins, carbohydrates
and fats. Today we say he needs proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals,
vitamins and cellulose, or roughage. The normal dietary should include all of
Since food serves so many and such vital functions in the body, it is highly
important that we supply our bodies with all of the needed food elements. It
is essential that the diet adequately nourish the whole body and not merely
some part or parts of it. The dietary ensemble must meet all of the needs of
the ensemble of nutrition.
The whole of the diet and not one article of food or one element of nutrition,
determines the nutritive result. The adequacy of a given dietary to feed the
whole body and not its theoretical adequacy to meet the needs of one organ,
will determine its fitness in any given case.
The human body has never been fully analyzed nor has there ever been
made a full and complete analysis of all foodstuffs. This, however, is not a
matter of great importance. Neither man nor foods can be analyzed without
thoroughly destroying him or them.
The products of the destructive processes are not the same as those that
exist in the cells and tissues of the body or of the food. It is only possible to
analyze a dead body and this throws but little light on the chemistry of a live
one. An analysis of a dead body and an analysis of a handful of soil will
show them to both be composed of the same elements, but no one can
mistake the flesh of a man for a handful of soil.
An apple, too, is made up of the same elements as the soil, but we easily
recognize the vast difference between this product of vital synthesis and the
soil in our garden.
Fortunately it is not necessary to know the exact chemistry of the body or the
exact chemistry of foods in order to properly feed ourselves, our families and
our patients. If we feed our bodies natural foods, so that we may be sure they
contain all the nutritive essentials, we can trust the orderly and very ancient
processes of life to take care of the rest of the matter for us.
See Part 2 of 2
Vegetable vs Animal Proteins