People under five and thirty should keep sharp eyes on their intestinal mechanism. No study is better re-paid. In the case of young women the element of good looks also enters into consideration because they are casting an anchor to windward against a pallid and unhealthy skin, with its occasional accompaniment of pimples and various other blemishes.
Young people react favorably and promptly to simple remedies that are worthless to those of advanced years. The reason is youth has strength; age, weakness. Also youth has not committed the sins of omission and commission against health that can be charged up against the great majority of the aged. The musculature of the great intestinal tract in youth will make a quick response to intelligent treatment, whereas in age the abdominal viscera are not only frequently prolapsed (fallen) but have become weakened and misshapen.
So that a youth who is experiencing early difficulties with the digestive tract must at once address prompt attention to the cause and the remedy. Neglect, in-difference and ignorance at such time will later exact a heavy penalty.
If youth will again consider the life of primitive men certain interesting and instructive facts will be discovered. They not only live night and day in the open but eat coarse food of few varieties. The modern dietary, especially of the wealthy, is adapted to the palate rather than the digestive organs. Rich desserts, pies, cakes, marmalades, meats, gravies and dressings of various kinds are the rule, while with it often goes an indolent existence and bad ventilation. Primitive men not only live in the open but they are almost continually on the move, stooping to pick up things, thus exercising their abdominal muscles hundreds of times a day, throwing stones, climbing trees, running so that they breathe hard and deep, and lying down at night in the open with tired muscles to sound sleep.
When young people of 20, 30, or even 40 years of age find themselves with headache, frequent colds, coated tongue, lack of appetite, weakened efficiency and more or less constant attacks of constipation, the first course to be pursued, according to leading authorities, is to simplify the diet and promptly adopt the proper regimen given in detail elsewhere. The 3 glasses of water in the morning are generally sufficient. An examination of the abdominal muscles will probably find them flabby. In this condition they lack the necessary propulsive power for the act of defecation. This is one of the most important facts in abdominal physiology and is repeatedly called to the attention of the reader in several chapters of this book by the most eminent authorities.
The groundwork for the above conditions in the young is nearly always to be charged up to poor parental supervision during childhood. Fothergill says the girl needs a well-developed chest, vigorous limbs and healthy abdominal organs just as much as the boy. And how is she to get them without exercise? You may as well expect her to be educated without lessons. As a medical man our author expresses a certain mistrust of the neat little girl who never soils her clothes. She is very nice to look at; her mother is naturally proud of her; she will do very well for a picture; but she is not suited for the battle of life. She is not a healthy young animal as she ought to be. She is angelic and will soon be with the angels is the forecast of the physiologist. Says the mother: “I see all this quite clearly but I cannot allow my daughter to grow up a tomboy.” But conventionality is put away at the seashore where children are expected to romp in the sun and dig in the sand. The skipping rope, basket ball, the long walk, the romp and the swing are all available, the last for even big girls. In the many years Fothergill was attached to the London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest he says he had it burned in on his experience and memory that great danger underlies the flat, narrow chest in any disease of the lungs, especially in tuberculosis. Such lungs in health are barely sufficient for the needs of the organism. When invaded by disease the fight becomes a hopeless one. Insist on the development of the chest to the uttermost during the period of growth. Start a contest between the children. Carefully keep a record of chest measurements. Set a goal. Offer a prize when the expansion reaches 3 inches, 3% inches, 4 inches, 4% inches. Encourage emulation of those who have a good chest expansion. Make it a matter of frequent observation.’
Of young women our author says no one is more in need of information than they. Unless a girl is obviously in ill health and the doctor sent for, no attention is likely to be paid to matters which every experienced physician knows to be of cardinal importance.