Doctors should ask : “What do you have before breakfast ? What do you have at breakfast ? Do you take tea strong or very strong, hot or very hot ? How much milk do you put in, and how much sugar ? Do you use tinned of fresh milk ? Do you use white or brown sugar, white bread or whole meal bread ? How much salt do you take with your egg ? What cooking implements do you use ? Do you use implements made of aluminium or copper ?” After all, there is aluminium poisoning, copper poisoning lead poisoning, if water is taken from hot water taps, etc.
When all that has been taken at the various meals and in between has been put down on paper, then the prescriber will cast his eye over the statement, and he may discover that the patient takes fifteen cups of boiling hot tea daily as black as ink, with together a pound or more of white sugar.
Or he may discover that the individual takes prodigious quantities of salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar pickles, or that the patient takes hardly any liquid, or that he takes prodigious quantities of liquids and hardly any solids. The prescriber cannot be sufficient careful in ascertaining all the facts of patients. A patients will say : “I smoke four or five cigarettes in the course of the day.” In reality he may smoke thirty, forty or fifty, and he is afraid that the doctor may curtail that number.
There are parents who chiefly eat food produced by means of a tin opener. They may feel ashamed of the fact and mislead the prescriber. One must preface ones enquiry by a few remarks pointing out the importance that the patient should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The prescriber should not only ask what is eaten and drunk. He should ascertain the way in which the food is cooked. Overlong cooking of vegetables and stews destroys the vitamins. Simmering for countless hours will make the food more palatable, but will ruin it. The addition of soda or bicarbonate of soda to the water in which vegetables are cooked destroys the vitamins. If potatoes are peeled before they are cooked, the valuable alkalies are leeched out and go down the sink.