Interesting Facts About Food

There are many  unhackneyed facts on the subject of diet, some of which are assembled in this chapter.

If a weak, half per cent solution of boiled starch is taken into the mouth and kept there for but 20 seconds and then expelled into a test tube, it will be found that the starch has disappeared and that in its place is sugar. It is evident that saliva will have but a short time to act upon the food but the action is continued for a while in the stomach, 20 minutes being sufficient to convert the greater part of the cooked starch into dextrine and sugar.’

The sugar of ripe grapes is simple or invert sugar and consists of equal parts of glucose, or grape sugar, and fructose or fruit sugar. When fermentation occurs in the compound sugars, such as cane or malt sugar, these are first converted by ferments in the digestive fluids to the simple sugars, glucose and fructose. If grape sugar be taken with the food it is absorbed into the blood without change. Kellogg says the sugars of honey are levulose and glucose, in about equal parts.

Cereals a Poor Food.—The consumption of cereals to the extent of 35-40 per cent of the food supply, as is now the rule in parts of Europe and America, is an innovation in human experience. There are two kinds of evidence available in abundance which point unmistakably to the belief that we have already exceeded the limit of safety in this regard unless careful attention is given to the remainder of food supply (particularly the addition of milk and the leafy vegetables, like spinach). These two kinds of evidence are (a) the overwhelming knowledge of the debilitating effects on animals of such diets as are now in common use by many families—the white bread, meat and potato type of diet. Milled cereals have, it will be observed, essentially the same dietary proper-ties as bolted flour. (b) The great increase in certain physical defects in man in recent times, the principal features of which are easily reproduceable in animals by defective diets. We need only mention retardation in growth of children, faulty posture, tendency to nervousness and irritability, defective teeth and faulty skeleton development. No one will be likely to dispute the statement that most people are unwell. Under faulty nutrition the machinery of the body tends to break down in places and with frequency.’

The validity of the conclusions drawn from human experience and animal experimentation has already been verified in several places by the scientific feeding of school children. Notable among these are the triumphs of Mrs. Ira Conch Wood of Chicago, 2 and Miss Maude A. Brown of Kansas City.’ These results have been obtained essentially by liberal feeding of milk to under-nourished children who have had a bad start in life, with retarded growth. The corrected dietary tends to over-come the injurious effects of diseased tonsils, poor and infected teeth, tympanitic abdomen (distension of abdominal walls with gas), poor posture, diseases of the eye, enlarged glands, rales (bronchial or lung sounds). In Kansas City each child received from 1 to 2 pints of milk with cereal and fruit every day. The remainder of the food up to 1000 to 1200 calories (totaling the daily rations for a child) was supplied in soups, vegetables, sandwiches, frequently cocoa, and occasional treats of cookies and milk chocolate.’

Cheese as a Food.—The difficulty in the digestion of cheese lies in the fact that it is permeated with fat and this forms a coating to the cheese particles that does not easily permit the union of the gastric juices and the casein (of milk), a form of protein which is the real sub-stance of the cheese. The dryer the cheese and the finer it is grated the easier it is digested. A better plan in pre-paring it for food is to dissolve the cheese and then mix it with some other form of food, such as slices of toasted bread. Casein forms a soluble compound with the alkalis. An able writer 1 says that as much bicarbonate of potash as will lie on an English 3-penny piece (a silver coin smaller than the American dime) is sufficient to dissolve a quarter pound of finely grated cheese. By the addition of milk and eggs a fondu can be prepared at small cost. It is only in the stomach that the difficulty of digesting cheese occurs. Once in the intestines nearly 90 per cent of the energy is available.*

Cream or cottage cheese, when freshly made, is more wholesome than meat and more nutritious. According to Williams 20 pounds of cheese contains as much nutrient as the carcass of a sheep weighing 60 pounds. Cheese contains more fat and more protein than beef and less than half as much water. The energy value of an ounce of cheese averages about 135 calories. Even cottage cheese from skimmed milk has more than half the food value of a sirloin steak of the same weight. Cheese is also rich in essential vitamins which are lacking in meat, and contains a rich store of food lime which is almost absent in meat. Cheese poisoning is due to tyrotoxicon. Vaughan made a special research into the cause of between 300 and 400 cases of cheese poisoning occurring in the state of Michigan and found them due to the above cause. Cheese containing this poison does not differ in appearance from ordinary cheese but cats and dogs re-fuse it.* In the matter of foreign cheeses Adametz estimated the bacteria present in cheeses like Camembert, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton number 25 million to the ounce. Roquefort is made by adding to the curd of milk mold from a dough made from barley flour wiih which yeasts and sometimes vinegar has been mixed. The mold which forms on this dough when allowed to stand is rubbed into a powder and added to the milk. Einhorn has shown that these molds sometimes take up their abode in the stomach, form colonies and thus become a cause of grave disease.’

Eggs.—Kellogg is of the opinion that the eating of eggs needs careful supervision. The whites of five eggs given to a 15 pound dog caused very offensive discharges with much mucus, indicative of putrefaction. Even when small amounts of raw white of egg are eaten unchanged albumen can be recovered. According to Prof. Linossier, a member of the Academy of Medicine of Paris, there is in eggs a toxic form of albumen (white of the egg) to which some people are susceptible either by heredity or through acquirement as the result of disorder of the liver or intestines. This poison, according to Linossier, is destroyed by heat. These peculiarities disappear when it is cooked at a temperature of 160° F. Egg yolk is very digestible whether eaten raw or cooked. The giving of raw eggs to invalids, with or without milk, and the giving of white of egg to infants should be discontinued. In fact the egg in any form, as so frequently used in the sick room, is under suspicion and must be eaten in moderation and with caution to make sure that it is fresh and free from infection. Many persons cannot eat any part of an egg without most unpleasant con-sequences, among them nausea, vomiting, purging, headache, and nettle rash. A good way of boiling eggs is to drop three in a quart of boiling water. Remove at once from the source of heat. In ten minutes the eggs will be found to be uniformly soft-boiled or “jellied.” If eggs when eaten happen to be a little stale the resulting putrefaction and intestinal intoxication are greatly intensified. When eggs are used as a source of food-iron, to enrich the blood in anemia, it is the yolk only that is useful. As a source of iron the egg yolk supplies the iron deficiency in milk. Half an ounce of egg yolk contains a little more than 2/5ths of a grain of lime. The yolk contains per ounce nine times as much lime as the white. But the lime of a glass of milk equals that of three or four eggs. An ounce of chard (Swiss lettuce) nearly equals two egg yolks in the amount of lime contained and even celery furnishes as much lime as the same weight of yolks, while an ounce of turnip tops supplies as much lime as the yolk of four eggs and an ounce of mustard greens as much as a half dozen yolks. Fresh milk and fresh eggs are highly preferable to meat as sources of animal protein. Meat is wholly lacking in lime and its iron is inferior. Milk is rich in lime salts and both eggs and milk are rich in essential vitamins. Persons suffering from Bright’s disease, or who have albumen in the urine should avoid the use of eggs or should, at least, eat no more than the yolk, which is readily digestible even when hard boiled.

John Burroughs, the noted naturalist and author, said he was in his 70’s before he learned that a certain form of illness he had suffered from at intervals all his life was due to eggs. He acquired his information from a chance reading of a book on Nutrition by Prof. Chittenden of Yale.

Since the investigations of Rettger 2 it is known that a large percentage of all eggs show bacteria. The yolk is infected more than the white. The U. S. Government investigations report, says Kellogg, one egg in seven, on the average is infected with harmful bacteria, which are only destroyed by thorough cooking. The yolk of a hard-boiled egg should be cooked until it can be crushed into a mealy state by a fork.

Value of Milk as Food.—Milk is not only the most perfect human food but is unsurpassed as a nutrient medium for the growth of bacteria. Hence it is very likely to become unwholesome unless it is properly handled. In hot countries and among pastoral peoples who live under primitive conditions the practice is to promptly sour all milk through the aid of lactic acid-producing bacteria. This protects the milk against unwholesome decomposition, because the rise of acidity is so rapid that all forms other than the acid-forming organisms and certain yeasts are killed or their growth prevented. Sour milk is a highly wholesome food and is used in enormous quantities in Asia, Arabia, the Balkan States, Northern Africa, and in the grazing sections of Abyssinia’

If milk is pasteurized, as is the practice in America, great care must be exercised in the matter of cleanliness, and refrigeration. City milk supplies can be pasteurized by heating for 30 minutes to a temperature of 145 ° F, with prompt cooling and bottling in sterile containers.’

Simple Diet.”It is my conclusion that more than one half of the chronic complaints which embitter the middle and latter part of life among the middle and upper classes are due to errors in diet. . . . I advise more emphatically than ever simplicity of diet. Not only should the quantity of food taken be gradually diminished in proportion to decreased activity of body and mind, but no more than two or three kinds of food should be served at any one meal. . . . No one should permit himself to become the subject of obesity in advancing years; and almost invariably it is his own fault if he does.” “The average man with ordinary habits of diet consumes more nitrogen (the essential element of protein food) than the body can possibly make use of “because the actual need of nitrogen is so small that an excess is always furnished with the food.”

Condiments.—Mustard, pepper, pepper sauce, cayenne, horseradish and the whole list of hot, irritating concoctions that are frequently added to food as seasoning, become more and more concentrated. in the lower part of the small intestine and colon as the food sub-stances with which they are eaten are digested, leaving the indigestible parts of the condiments behind. These substances produce at first irritation, then catarrh of the stomach and intestines, leading to inflammation of those organs and later to the degeneration of the gastric glands. They are one of the causes of constipation and, as a consequence, of acute and chronic appendicitis, catarrh, hemorrhoids, and ulcers.

Cancer of the colon constitutes about nine per cent of all cancers, the most frequent locations being in the cecum and ascending colon and in the pelvic region, points where the greatest delay and hence the greater irritation occur.

Vegetable and Meat Proteins.—It was as late as 1900 before sound views began to develop as to the differences in the nutritive value of proteins derived from different sources. Prior to that time protein from one source was deemed as good as that from another. Beans and peas, for example, contain about 23% of protein and compare favorably on this point with lean meat. We now know that these vegetable proteins have peculiarities in their composition which make them of relatively low value in nutrition.

Brown Bread or White Bread.—Wheat flour is very deficient in the vitamins A, B and C.4 Both whole wheat and white flour bread need to be carefully supplemented by other properly selected food. Milk and the thin leaves of plants are of especial worth in enhancing the dietary values of nearly all other foods and they are therefore of particular importance. In a lesser degree eggs and the glandular organs of animals serve this purpose of improving the quality of cereals, tubers, fruits, roots and meats of the muscle type, but they lack sufficient calcium. Of common articles of diet the richest in calcium is milk.

Bolted white flour consists essentially of starch, protein and inorganic salts. Its protein is of relatively poor quality and its mineral content is conspicuously lacking in calcium, chlorin, iron and phosphorus, essential elements we expect to find in our foods.

The proteins of bolted flour are practically limited to gliadin and glutinin. They cannot be utilized as body proteins unless they are combined with other foods wisely chosen.

Bolted white flour has excellent keeping qualities. When properly combined with other foods to make a well proportioned diet, every factor adjusted to meet needs of the body, it becomes an entirely satisfactory part of the diet to people of normal digestion. Whole wheat flour is decidedly more suitable to maintain well-being for a short time if it serves as the sole food. It also is a decidedly incomplete food and needs to be properly supplemented. Dyspeptics who rely on it for a palliation of their symptoms should seek relief through , a carefully balanced diet nicely adapted to their needs.

Starch Indigestion.—The main sources of starch, says Russell, are cereals, rice and potatoes; of protein, meat, milk and eggs; of fat, butter, milk and meat. Starches are unfit for human food in an uncooked state. Cooking breaks down the starch capsules and disintegrates the starch particles so as to expose them to the digestive activity of the saliva and other secretions. Long cooking at a low temperature (140° to 165° F.) greatly facilitates speedy conversion. This process continues in the stomach until by the pouring out of hydrochloric acid the gastric contents acquire an acidity of 3-100ths of 1 per cent, according to Chittenden and Smith. When this acidity reaches a certain degree the digestion of starch ceases, but the digestion of proteins, already begun, is accelerated by the increase of hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen (secretion of the stomach changed into pepsin by hydrochloric acid). These three chemical phenomena—starch digestion, arrest of same and protein digestion—are those upon which the unconscious comfort or conscious discomfort of digestion depends. The disturbing factor is the hydrochloric acid. Protein elements in the food are digested with alacrity and it might be thought that the finely divided starch particles would also readily pass out of the stomach with the protein. But a considerable portion of unaltered starch is retained in the stomach. The physiological concept is that the undigested starch readily passes into the duodenum (first section of the small intestine immediately below the stomach) and that its digestion is completed in the intestine, but only after much discomfort which may result in rejection of the material by vomiting. There may be a considerable percentage of milk fat present from which the casein has disappeared. As gastric secretion continues an excess of hydrochloric acid may develop, as there is no element present with which it can combine, thus developing a high degree of acidity.

Once the residuum of the starch becomes very acid it cannot escape because of the closure, sometimes by spasm, of the lower end of the stomach (pylorus). That the cause is not disordered nerves as set out by some authors, our author says is proved by the instant relief caused by emptying the stomach, sometimes by dilution with drinking water, or by the administration of neutralizing remedies, such as baking soda. (See page 16 herein). Where there is the other condition, of a deficiency of hydrochloric acid, a tonic laxative like cascara is indicated in small doses after each meal or in a larger dose at night. Many cases are benefited by a course of acids, such as dilute hydrochloric acid or fruit acids, which are generally craved, and a course of bitter tonics, such as quassia or the more aromatic gentian. Meat should be strictly limited and finely divided and the starches properly cooked for easier digestion. For instance, where it has been the habit to stir raw flour into batter cakes the flour should be first cooked at a slow heat in the oven, and oatmeal receive a slow cooking of 2 or 3 hours. The griddle cakes can be further greatly improved as to digestibility by being made of sour milk and very little soda, not enough to destroy the sub-acid of the cakes. With the batter made very thin, so that the cakes are difficult to remove from the griddle, a much-liked product, fit for the human stomach, is produced. The necessary amount of pre-cooked flour in a bowl should have salt added and the yolk of one egg for each two cups of flour or less; to be thinned with thick sour milk or butter-milk. To each cup of milk there is to be added the scant half of a leveled, small teaspoon of soda dissolved in a little warm water. There should be no taste of the soda in the cakes. The pre-cooking of the flour adds to the popularity of the cakes, even when it is slightly browned, partly on account of its laxative effect, and is made up of the whole rye grain crushed. It can be broken up and used as a cereal with cream.

Apples.—Many people’ improve their health by eating every day, particularly at breakfast well-ripened raw apples, the acidity of which assists in the action of gastric juice; it also stimulates the flow of pancreatic secretion, which acts as a solvent of almost all food constituents. Sir William Osler called the attention of Sir Hermann Weber (whom we are quoting) to a pas-sage in “Laurentius” to this effect: “. . . and especially those apples which have a marvelous propertie in curing melancholy.” Apples contain a larger proportion of soda salts than pears, which are richer in potash salts. A winter apple should be in a month or two off the tree before it is fit to eat; then it is relatively easy of digestion. (See reference to apples under vitamins.) Apple sauce should be on the breakfast table the year round, made with little sugar, little water and not cooked until it is mushy. In other words it should be distinctly sub-acid. A little cinnamon sprinkled on top adds flavor.

Salt.—Sir Hermann Weber remarks that in cases of renal (kidney) disease one often sees the disappearance of dropsy result from a comparatively saltless diet. He further observes that in most people the tendency to eczema is increased by the use of much salt; when used freely it increases the blood pressure and is there-fore likely to promote arterio-sclerosis. With high blood pressure the use of salt should be restricted.

The use of salt, Kellogg says, raises the blood pressure. When salt is removed from the body by copious water drinking or by profuse sweating the blood pressure falls. Dropsy is produced in a large percentage of cases by the accumulation of salt in the tissues. Many observations have shown that the kidneys fail to remove salt at the usual rate in various diseases, particularly in pneumonia, pleurisy, Bright’s disease, some forms of heart disease, erysipelas, typhoid fever, jaundice, cir rhosis of the liver, scarlet fever, small-pox, and dropsy. Hence in these disorders salt should be withheld or at least greatly reduced. Salt is merely a concession to an artificial appetite. A herd of tame deer on the author’s place that had never been given salt refused to touch it when the naturalist Seton Thompson offered it to them. M. Achard and Professors Strauss, Weidall, Lemierre and Javal found in cases they investigated that albumin was made to disappear from the urine by with-holding salt. The great importance of this discovery can only be appreciated when one considers the enormous and indiscriminate use of salt by a large percentage of per-sons in this country.

Honey.—Cane sugar, says Fischer, should be eaten only in moderation. Otherwise it causes acidity and gives rise to gastric catarrh and indigestion. Grape sugar, such as that of honey, raisins, figs, fruit and malt sugar, is wholesome. Comb honey is laxative. Some persons well known to Weber ascribed their good health to the regular use of honey at breakfast. Comb honey was largely used by the ancients. Golden colored honey is the best, the light colored variety is not desirable, having its origin in sugar fed to the bees.

Many people who eat large quantities of cane sugar especially with cereals, where it often develops fermentation, will be surprised to know that if grape sugar and fruit sugar are introduced into the blood they can be directly utilized by the body, whereas cane sugar when so injected is useless. When eaten it must be changed into grape sugar before it can be utilized.

Genuine honey is a food like none other; the sugars in it are directly assimilable. It imparts to the human economy more full value than meat or eggs. The energy or fuel value of an egg is 83 calories, while an ounce of honey furnishes 95 calories. The formic acid it contains prevents fermentation and its accompanying symptoms of flatulence and toxemia. An analysis shows that while sugar contains no lime or iron, honey has 6.70 per cent of lime and 1.20 per cent of iron.

American reports vary to such an extent, owing to different units used, that the above table was taken from the Encyclyopedia Britannica, vol. 8, p. 216, except the spinach, which is from a U. S. Government report. If butter is added to potato or cream or milk to oat-meal or strawberries of course their food value can thus be greatly improved.

Calory.—The method of standardizing food by the caloric method is very simple. One has merely to multiply the percentages of protein or carbohydrate it contains by 4.1 and the percentage of fat by 9.3 to get the total calories or combustible value of 100 grams of food.

A specimen of 100 grams of milk that contains 2 per cent of protein, 4 of fat and 6 of carbohydrates will yield

Protein 2 X 4.1 = 8.2 Fat 4 X 9.3 = 372 Carbohydrate 6 X 4.1 = 24.6 70.01

“Combustible value” as used above means that a calory is the measure of heat derived from food when dried and burned. Thus a calory is the amount of heat required to raise one gram of water (about 1/4 of a teaspoonful or 1 cubic centimeter) 1 degree Centrigrade in temperature.