(From Der Wendepunkt)
INCURABLE diseases are largely caused by dietetic faults. Their significance is scarcely sufficiently appreciated. The first warning of the danger of dietetic faults was given to the world by the beri-beri disease. That terrible disease was produced by feeding the people of the East on rice from which the outer skin and the germ had been removed. Polished rice may look more attractive than the brown rice, but it is deadly to those who endeavour to live on it. White wheat flour also is apt to produce beri-beri. When the Madeira-Mahmora railway was built in South America, the labourers were fed principally on white flour and 4,000 of them died of beri beri.
The milling industry treats in the identical way grains of every kind, wheat, maize, oats, rye, barley, depriving these of their most valuable constituents and in the same way sugar is made dangerous by the process of refinement which gives us a beautifully white sugar, pleasing to the eye, but dangerous to health. In the kitchen the most important food elements are wasted. The water in which vegetables have been boiled contains the most important food elements of the plants. It is usually thrown away by the cook. It is also a mistake to peel apples and pears because the skin and the core contain vitamins, Iodine, Fluoric acid, etc.
We must remember that bread constitutes about 40 per cent. of the food of mankind, and practically all the bread eaten by the civilized is white bread. An additional large proportion of our food consists of puddings, cakes and confectionery made of de- vitaminized and de-mineralized white flour, white sugar, etc. The consumption of sugar per head has increased about ninefold during the last century.
The variety of foods obtainable by the masses has greatly increased but the foods obtainable by the masses has greatly increased but the foods supplied to us are largely deprived of their vitamin contents, of their Iodine, of their Magnesium, etc., and millions of civilized men suffer from deficiency diseases which would not exist if they lived on entire foods, such as wholemeal bread, unrefined sugar, etc.
If we study the composition of the wheat berry we find that Nature distributes the various food elements contained in it in a mysterious way, placing some into the flour, some into the germ, some into the skin of the berry, the bran. These elements are carefully balanced and are calculated to serve the growing plant in a way past our understanding. No one can calculate these elements and their proportions, nor can anyone replace them by some artificial combination.
We do not know the balance of nutritional elements needed by the human body. We have discovered only quite recently that that balance is of decisive importance for life, growth and health. Further, we do not know how the balance of food elements contained in the wheat compares with the food balance in the human body. We know, however, that there is an enormous difference between white bread and wholemeal bread which is entirely in favour of wholemeal bread.
The principle that men should live on entire foods applies to all foods, both of vegetable and of animal origin. As disorders and diseases created by deficiency foods develop only slowly and in the course of years, it is extremely difficult to ascertain the connection between deficiency foods and diseases. For instance, it is difficult to prove the damage done by over- consumption of sugar. It is, of course, obvious that men would rapidly sicken and die if they tried to live on sugar alone.
No one would be willing to undergo the experiment of being fed exclusively on sugar. However, it is well known that an excessive sugar intake is apt to produce anaemia and disease of the liver and pancreas. The danger of an excessive sugar intake is obvious to all thinking people.
Meanwhile, the sugar- producers spend large sums of money in order to teach the people by articles and advertisements that the consumption of sugar is perfectly harmless, that refined sugar is healthy and extremely nutritious. We must ask ourselves whether the sugar producers are most strongly interested in the health of the race or in the prosperity of their industry.
The objections to the over-consumption of sugar are so strong that no conscientious doctor can fail to see the danger. The sugar produced by the sugar refineries is entirely different from the sugar produced by nature. Every ounce of sugar contained in foods rich in natural sugar, such as grapes, carrots, pears, etc., is carefully balanced by important mineral elements, vitamins, etc., which are lacking in the white refined sugar generally employed.
Many years ago the eminent physiologist, Von Bunge, warned against the danger of the growing sugar consumption. Chemists and physiologists dependent on the sugar industry have proclaimed that there is no danger in refined sugar. We doctors ought to be independent and should not allow ourselves to be misled by the spokesmen of the sugar industry.
The principle that men should live on entire foods is disregarded in the kitchen. The water in which vegetables have been cooked is thrown away and vegetables are artificially whitened for the sake of appearance. In Switzerland goitre is very frequent. An enquiry into the incidence of goitre revealed the fact that in those cantons of Switzerland where vegetables are conservatively cooked goitre is rare.
Our ancestors considered it a wicked shame to discard the skin and core of apples and pears. The core of an apple contains twenty times as much Iodine as the flesh of the whole apple. Further, the Fluoric acid contained in skin and core is of infinite value for forming enamel of the teeth. People who have weak teeth will be able to eat whole apples by grating them.
In order to prevent incurable diseases we must treat with the highest respect entire foods, which the wisdom of nature has created. We must return to the use of wholemeal bread, limit the consumption of sugar and cook vegetables conservatively. We must also eliminate the mistakes made in the production of foodstuffs. The indiscriminate use of human excreta and of chemical manure spoils fodder plants and injures the animals feeding on them, their milk, their meat, and the men who live on these products.
The soils also requires a balanced diet. Artificial fertilizers, chemical fertilizers are supplied mainly for the purpose of increasing the quantity of products, not their quality. Food producers should aim at producing foodstuffs of the highest quality.
The use of tinned and preserved foods is permissible only in emergencies. The foodstuffs sterilized by heat have lost much of their value, not only as regards vitamin C. The most innocent method of food preservation consists in drying, but also in dried vegetables many essential food elements are lost. The addition of chemical preservatives and poisonous chemical dyes, such as sulphate of copper is not permissible.
Preserved foods should be used only if fresh foods are unobtainable. Rusks and biscuits are in the same category as preserved foods and should not be used for the sick.
There is further the danger of over-great consumption of salt. The more the food has been de-natured the more faulty it is, the more it is salted. It is becoming widely known that the addition of considerable quantities of salt is dangerous to health. Many condiments contain an unduly large proportion of salt. We can make food attractive by using herbs and herbal preparations in moderation.
The habitual consumption of intoxicants, especially alcohol, and of stimulants, such as coffee, tea, cocoa and mate, the latter contains the smallest quantity of injurious substances, is undesirable. Their use induces people to go beyond their strength and these stimulants are taken very largely because people feel weak owing to the faulty food on which they live.
Over-nutrition is another fault which has to be avoided. People over-feed largely because the deficient foods on which they subsist fail to satisfy. Besides, many believe that as strength is derived from food, increase of intake will increase strength. This is a great mistake. If too much coal is put on the fire it goes out. Dr. Steve-Halle has shown that a prolonged course of over-intensive nutrition is apt to destroy all the ova within a woman and may make her infertile for life. Over-eating is a disease.
It is a mistake to have numerous small meals, or two or three large meals with various small meals in between. Two or three meals a day are ample for everyone.
Another nutritional fault consists in insufficient mastication, which means insufficient salivation, and the hasty swallowing of food which has not been sufficiently elaborated in the mouth. Insufficient mastication is frequent among those who have deficient teeth. People with powerful teeth enjoy chewing hard food thoroughly. Those with weak or defective teeth swallow things without chewing.
The new science of nutrition provides us with vast possibilities for the prevention of incurable diseases. The people in general do not suspect the dangers of present nutrition and they must be taught. They must be taught that the products of the soil are of the greatest importance in ones diet and that the proportion of protein, and especially of animal protein needed, should be small.
All should strive to live on entire foods, such as wholemeal bread. Fertilizers producing high-class foods should be used. Chemical additions to foods should be prohibited and the addition of poisonous substances should be made punishable. It is the duty of all doctors to help this reform forward and they can render invaluable assistance by giving to their patients, and especially to their serious cases, a diet containing natural and entire foodstuffs, as nearly as possible in the natural condition.