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HEALTH > DIET AND DIET REFORM > PART I > SECTION I : GENERAL > Unfired Food Experiment
06. Unfired Food Experiment
Unusual and unexpected interest has been evoked by my experiment in unfired food. It has given rise to interesting and instructive correspondence. I observe that there is quite a number of men living on unfired food and many more who have at one time lived on such food. My correspondents will excuse me for my not acknowledging all such letters individually. But they may rest assured that I have taken in whatever was new and acceptable in their suggestions. Several have asked me for further information on the progress of my experiment.
The experiment still continues. There have been moments when I have weakly doubted the wisdom of continuing it. This was when extreme weakness had overtaken me during the Andhra tour. But my faith in the correctness of the theory behind unfired food and my partiality for it are so great that I would not easily give up the experiment. For it has for me a value not merely sanitary but also economic and moral or spiritual. It is of great importance to national workers who have to work in different parts of the country often in trying circumstances. This food surmounts all the difficulty arising from the different food of the different provinces. But of this more if I can write of the experiment with fairly absolute confidence. At the time of writing all I can say is that it seems to have done me no harm. Dr. Ansari, who knows my body well, examined it carefully whilst I was in Delhi on the 5th instant and was of opinion that he had never found me to be in better health than now. My blood pressure (systolic) which after the breakdown at Kolhapur had never been found to be below 155 was now registered at 118, pulse pressure at 46. Though 118, he thought to be subnormal, it was no bad sign as I had just risen from a slight attack of malaria and I was then living on juicy fruits only.
My resolve to continue the experiment has been considerably strengthened by reading Dr. Muthu's great work on Tuberculosis and Colonel McCarrison's instructive and carefully written food primer. The former contains an illuminating chapter on diet and the latter which is dedicated to the children of India is popularly written and gives in a very concise manner all the information on nutrition that a layman need possess. It is a book which needs to be read with caution. It puts, naturally for the author but unduly, according to my experiences, much emphasis on the necessity of animal food such as meat or milk. The unlimited capacity of the plant world to sustain man at his highest is a region yet unexplored by modern medical science which through force of habit pins its faith on the shambles or at least milk and its by-products. It is a duty which awaits discharge by Indian medical men whose tradition is vegetarian. The fast developing researches about vitamins and the possibility of getting the most important of them directly from the sun bid fair to revolutionize many of the accepted theories and beliefs propounded by the medical science about food. Be that as it may, both these authors seem to me to agree that it is best to take all foods in their natural state if we are to derive the highest benefit from them and especially if we are not to destroy some of the important vitamins they contain. They opine that fire destroys some of the vitamins and the most essential salts and vitamins are removed when the covering of wheat is removed for the attainment of extreme fineness or of rice for its polish.
In my previous article, I have warned the reader against copying my experiment. But after two months' trial I am able to say with confidence that anyone may try it provided he retains a small quantity of milk and ghee. Though my own experiment is both unfired and milkless, I am not yet in a position to recommend avoidance of milk and ghee. Though my belief in the possibility of avoiding milk and ghee without endangering health is unshakable, I cannot claim as yet to have found a combination of vegetarian foods that will invariably produce the results claimed today for milk. These authors are undoubtedly of opinion that little addition of milk and or ghee (pure) raises the food value of vegetarian proteins and fats and promotes assimilation of the latter.
I may now tell the reader what I am taking at present:
Neither the quantity nor the variety is absolutely fixed. Often I avoid almonds or wheat or both. Sometimes I take sprouted gram and grated coconut instead of wheat and almonds. The reader need not take honey. He may take gur but in no case white sugar which is decidedly harmful. Sugars are best obtained from raisins, figs or dates all of which should be taken in moderation. He may increase the quantity of wheat if he finds it to be insufficient. In the beginning stages there will probably be a feeling of emptiness. It will be due to the fact that by ill usage the stomach is distended. Till it assumes its natural size, the emptiness should be put up with. It may be partly overcome by taking juicy fruit or a little more vegetable or better still by drinking plenty of water, never by exceeding the maximum quantity of wheat or gram. Milk may undoubtedly be increased if the purse allows it. Over thirty comrades have taken up the experiment with me. The maximum fixed for them is:
The quantity of milk and ghee is the minimum. Those who need more are at liberty to take more. We all take a little salt. I omitted it for one month. But some medical friends have warned me against giving it up. And fancying that I was feeling weak or being really weak, I began taking salt in Almoda. The quantity taken by me is not more than 30 grains during the day. Honey is taken 3 times a day separately with hot water. Too much stress cannot be laid on the great necessity of thorough mastication. We have so ill used our teeth and gums that we now find it difficult to make proper use of them.
Young India, 18-7-1929