THE LAW OF DIET SELECTION–CONTRARIA.
This division of children into the three classes (1) normally developed, (2) those struggling with acidity, and (3) those obstructed with an excess of alkalinity makes the selection of the proper food an important and serious question.
We might formulate the rule that the lack in the given child must be supplied. In general, we attempt to supply the loss or deficiency. Even in the overfed excessively alkaline child there are serious deficiencies in nerve centres and muscular if not bony development.
The law of the diet is contraria—The mass of the profession have followed this rule even into the realm of drug therapeutics, therefore the line where food leaves off and remedies begin is not clearly defined.
The feeding of the child to secure its proper development so as to avoid both disease extremes should, if possible, begin in ante-natal life. The wise expectant mother will consult her physician and avoid following her own whims or dietetic vagaries and the thoughtless advice of others.
TO PREVENT ACIDITY.
The expectant mother, slender and active, preferring acid articles–pickles, vinegar, lean meat, tea and stimulants (including tobacco smoke)–should understand that she is not living to herself alone, but for the future governor, who is entitled to as perfectly a developed body and mind as circumstances allow. She should live so that, e.g., her gastritis will not be inherited and develop an acrid tendency in the child. She should be impressed with these dietetic rules:
RULE 1. Acids, spices, stimulants and activity interfere with digestion and assimilation, besides tending to tear down what is already built up.
RULE II. Fats, sweets, starchy food, water and quiet aid digestion, absorption and the genesis of white blood. They nourish and fatten the body. (See How to be Plump.)
Like water, fat is a vital element. Milk contains a large amount of both water and fat. The student of histology is aware of the large amount of fat in all the normal tissues of the body. A well-nourished system is loaded with fat. If the fat of the food is deficient, the system of the mother will be torn down to supply this vital element necessary to cell development and activity. It is believed that fat as well as water is manufactured in the system.
The chief difference between the acid and the alkaline child is in the development and activity of the lymphatic system, as well as the liver. In the alkaline child they are well developed, hence we find a large amount of white blood and the tissues loaded with fat–and water. It is believed that the lymphatics may be developed de novo under the stimulus of proper nutrition.
HOW TO FEED AN ACID CHILD.
One of the first things the author orders a lean child is an oil bath. This is given, by the nurse rubbing into the skin oil once or twice a day. The oil preferred when it can be obtained is mutton or sweet almond oil. The latter is without odor and is to be preferred. The oil should be taken up by the skin. If any remains unabsorbed it is apt to become rancid and produce irritation. If the oil is rancid, sour (i.e., the fatty acids liberated), the effect upon the skin will be manifest by redness and eruptions. From this we get a little idea of what takes place in the alimentary canal from acidity.
A warm water bath with milk in it should be given these thin acid babies once or twice a day. It is needless to say that soap that soap that robs the skin of its fat should be used sparingly, if at all. The oil well wiped off will leave a clean skin. The oil bath may follow the water bath at night, especially if the child is restless. The rubbing, if done quietly and gently, tends to soothe and helps to secure more sleep that these acid children need so badly. The oiling and bathing gives the system a food that passes directly into the circulation and also stimulates the absorbent lymphatics. The result is a great increase of white blood corpuscles, the tissue builders.
Whether the child should be oiled once or twice a day depends upon its development, the condition of the mother and its digestive ability. The warm milk bath in the morning will soak into the tissue food so that no extra oiling may be needed. This kind of a soak may be best at night, even when the digestive organs are fairly active. If the child is premature or immature it may be oiled twice or thrice a day. If the mother is feeble and has scanty milk, neutral or acid, the child should be oiled perhaps twice a day for a time, i.e., until its pabulum is ample and of good quality. If the mother is very fleshy and has been gaining in flesh during gestation we may conclude that her milk will be like cow’s milk, hard to digest, and both she and the child should have much water to render it nutritious and easily digestible. Under such circumstances the child will grow and thrive better if oiled. Acid children should be given warm water to drink. If the acid child is being reared on artificial food then we must give close attention to its digestive capacity and needs. The acid digestive secretions must be lessened and their harmful effects antidoted. To outline a course of feeding for each case is necessary and often difficult. Diluted cream stands at the head of the available forms of natural food. This may be the top of the milk after standing a couple of hours. Casein stimulates the gastric secretion, and it may be necessary to remove it, giving only whey and cream. The casein, if given, must be prevented from curdling into hard masses by adding sugar of milk, cooked starch, cracker water, gelatine, barley water, etc., or one of the dextrine foods. Malted milk now fills all the requirements for most of these cases. Nestle’s food, Carnrick’s soluble food and many others are offered for selection. Predigested food is best for these children with feeble digestive capacity. To quiet the colicky pain induced by tardy digestion free draughts of warm water may be given. This not only washes the food out of the stomach and duodenum, but relaxes the constricted intestines and thus aids its digestion, absorption and assimilation. Acid children need their food very much diluted. They are capillary feeders. Sometimes cow’s milk diluted with sweetened water (2-8 parts) will agree and nourish the child. The feebler the child the more the milk should be diluted, as a rule. Milk modified as to proteids (casein), fats, water and sugar should be ordered by the attending physician.