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50. Questions on Diet

[We summarized some time ago Dr. H. C. Menkel's articles in the Oriented Watchman and Herald of Health under headings "Are You Acid?' (issue of February 22nd) and "What and How Much to Eat?' (March 21). A reader of Harijan sent us a few questions arising out of these articles. Dr. Menkel has been good enough to answer those questions for us.

- aid.]

Q. 1. Does 'fruits in syrup' include those cooked with gur (jaggery) or only those cooked with sugar?

A. The reference to "fruits in syrups' usually applies to the fruits in cane sugar syrup as found in the general market. Gur or jaggery would have an advantage over refined cane sugar as it has not been deprived of its valuable mineral constituents. However, it must be emphasized that cooked fruit or fruit put up in syrup can never .take the place of fruit in its raw or ripe natural stage. The cooking process destroys certain valuable constituents, and others are so altered that they are no longer available in their original values.

Q. 2. Can gur be taken (uncooked) wherever honey is mentioned? (Honey is expensive here.)

A. Gur is the best of the available substitutes for honey, but is a different class of sweet, more difficult of digestion and not so well suited for meeting the body requirements as is honey and the natural fruit sugars.

Q. 3. Suppose one is unable sometimes to get the full quantity of vegetables, how much soda should one take per day to give the necessary alkaline effect?

A. Soda bi-carbonate serves as an emergency remedy when it becomes necessary to administer an alkali as a remedy, but it cannot be recommended for regular use to replace the organic alkali salts supplied in natural fruits, vegetables and unprocessed cereals. During the season when vegetables do not thrive well under ordinary cultivation, it has been found possible to grow fresh veg­etables in boxes as these can be kept in a favourable situation to encourage growth. Some are finding it possible to keep fresh green vegetables of the. leafy type, all during the season by planting seeds in different boxes so that they will come to usable size at properly spaced intervals. Another useful substitute is the dried vegetable which may be used during the off-season.

Q. 4. Is butter acid-forming or alkaline?

A. Butter in its natural state is neutral, being neither acid nor alkali.

Q. 5. It is sad to know that boiled milk is acid-forming. Is there any simple means of safeguarding milk with­out boiling it? I have heard of peptorized milk but do not quite know what it is. Likewise can curds be made alka­line?

A. The boiling of the milk is the only easily available means of rendering it safe. The boiling process produces certain chemical changes which renders unavailable some of the alkali salts, and therefore boiled milk serves as a drain on the alkali reserves of the tissue. This gives it an acidlike action in lowering body alkalinity.

Curds being protein, they contain an excess of the acid ash-forming salts. This is the normal construction of proteins and they cannot be rendered alkali. The necessary provision is to use a sufficient amount of alkali ash-forming foods to provide the normal ratio of one part of acid-forming to four parts of alkali-forming. It is not a question of converting the natural acid-forming food into al­kali, but of providing a well-balanced supply, one part of acid-forming into four parts of alkali-forming.

Q. 6. Do you know junket powder (rennet)? It turns milk into junket (sweet curds) within about 15 minutes and without making it sour. Do you know if that is just the same as curds or is it alkaline?

A. Junket made with rennet powder is a very excellent form in which to take whole milk. This is better than curds as it leaves the milk in its normal balance.

Q. 7. The article says that ghee-cooked foods are acid. Is ghee itself just put on the food at the time of eating also acid?

A. Ghee is not acid in itself. When food is cooked in hot fat it produces certain changes in the food, making it difficult of digestion and fixing certain alkali factors so that they become unavailable as such. Food so prepared while not actually acid in itself, does have an acid-like effect in that it calls upon alkali reserves to facilitate its processing within the body. This depleting of the essential reserve alkali produces the same final effect as though the food were actually acid-forming. Cooking in hot fat or frying is the least desirable method of preparing foods. When food is thus prepared it loses important food values and is highly productive of digestive disturbance, fermentation and flatulence.


Harijan, 11-7-1936