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49. What and how much to eat?

[Dr. Menkel’s article “Are you Acid?” reproduced in these columns seems to have proved an eye-opener to many. We summarize three more articles of his from the Oriental Watchman and Herald of Health under a heading which suits the summary.

– Ed. ]

How Much and How Often?

There are diseases consequent to excessive eating, too frequent meals, and the over-indulgence of concentrated starches, sugars and proteins. To avoid them there are certain axioms which should be borne in mind. Only a certain definite quantity of food material can be appropri­ated by the body organism during any given 24-hour day. This required quantity for an average person of about 150 pounds weight has been ascertained to be approximately:

12 ounces starch and sugar containing foods

2˝ ounces protein foods

2 ounces fats

Suitable quantity of roughage

Adequate amount of organic salts

Small but essential quantity of vitamins

The above six classes of food elements are provided by nature in the form of rice, wheat, dal, vegetables, nuts, fruit and milk. The digestion of these requires at least fourteen hours in a normal individual. In a subnormal individual it will require more time. The digestion of food is a physical and chemical process requiring expenditure of a considerable quantity of body energy. It has been estimated that three meals daily require more energy for their digestion, oxidation and elimination than is expended in any other form of average work or play. Three or more meals daily means keeping all body tissues and organs constantly at work without any free period of rest, repair and recharging the vital batteries. This continual strain results in organic exhaustion and needs a regular recurring fast period. The fast is not a prolonged fast, but a regular planned part of daily regime, one or two rest periods between meals, of sufficient length to promote reconstruc­tion and health building. This will require less than three meals during the twenty-four hours. For the average in­valid or below par individual, two meals well digested with plenty of rest period between will promote recovery far better than three meals. Still other would do better on only one meal daily, as this is all they can really digest and assimilate. Begin by dropping first one daily meal. After a few days drop another, until you have reduced the number of meals to two. But do not make the mistake of eating as much in those two meals as you ate before reducing the frequency of eating.

Disease and Its Cure

Barring unusual accidents or strong hereditary transmis­sions, the major cause for ill-health is violation of nature's laws. Drugs never cure. The best that any such so-called remedy can do is to contribute some mineral element, vitamin, enzyme, hormone, chalon, or some other factor which nature can utilize for the emergency. All of what we may call essential medicines are contained in our natural foods.

Col. Robert McCarrison, in a paper read before the Far Eastern Association of Tropical Medicine, stated that "the most fundamental of all rules for the physician" was "that the right kind of food is the most important single factor in the promotion of health, and the wrong kind of food the most important single factor in the promotion of disease." Many of the diseases can be cured by altering our diet and methods of cooking our food which destroy much of the vitamins and mineral elements originally present in our food. The diseases resulting from bad food can be prevented and cured only by the use of less cooked food and more raw fruits, green uncooked veg­etables and sprouted pulses, and by learning to use more freshly ground whole wheat flour instead of polished and stored rice. The following table will provide a ready ref­erence to the more important regulating food factors:

Diseases Due to Deficiency of Vitamin A
Loss of appetite, Physical weakness, tendency to diseases of eyes, ears, kidneys, lungs, skin, bladder, stomach and colon, pyorrhoea, anaemia. Slow mentality.
Food Source
Whole milk, butter, cheese, egg yolk, yellow bhuta, yellow sweet potatoes, carrots and other naturally yellow and green coloured foods, fish oils, — destroyed by cooking of these foods.
Vitamin B
Indigestion of stomach and intestine, Constipation, Loss of weight and vigour, Sub-normal temperature, Paralysis of muscle groups, Neuritis, Glandular and endocrine disturbance including thyroid, adrenals, liver and pancreas.
  Whole grain cereals, milk, buttermilk, green peas and legumes, dal, raw fruits, vegetables, egg yolk, honey, yeast, marmite.
Part of group B is destroyed by cooking of these foods.
Vitamin C
Loss of weight and physical weakness, Rapid heart and shallow rapid breathing, Bleeds easily,
Low red blood count.
Teeth decay easily and become brittle, pyorrhoea, heart and blood vessel dis­ease, scurvy.
  Raw fruit, especially oranges, lemons, tomatoes, guavas, leeches, mangoes, pineapples, chillies, sprouted grams, green leafy raw vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, milk. This vitamin is destroyed by cooking.
Vitamin D
Unstable nervous system. Low resistance to tuberculosis and other infections. Deformed bones, rickets.
  Egg yolk, whole milk, fish oils. Few foods contain this vitamin, but it may be secured by daily exposing some part of the skin to direct sunlight.
Vitamin E
Anaemia due to inability to digest the food iron. Failure of placental function thus affects child-birth.
  Whole grain cereals, milk, green vegetables and raw fruits.
Organic Salts, Sodium
Diabetes, Disturbed bile secretion. Flatulence with indigestion, constipation. Sodium is necessary to render lime and magnesia soluble for assimilation. Elimination of carbonic acid is facilitated by sodium in the blood.
  Raw fruits and vegetables.
Defective growth with impaired glycogen function of the liver.
Low red blood cell formation. Spleen function im­paired. Low nerve energy.
  Vegetables and cereals. Muscle tissue.
Calcium and Magnesium
In nature calcium is always accompanied by magnesium. A large number of diseases of childhood involving tissue changes and development are due to deficiency of these combined elements.
  Fruit, vegetables and cereals. The green leaves contain relatively more calcium, while the seeds contain relatively more magnesium.
Abnormal intrauterine development and difficult patturition.
Softening of bones (magnesium).
  Nuts, milk, yolk of eggs.
About 75 grains of iron in the human body. It en­ters into the most compli­cated compound found in the human organism. Good blood with all its vital con­sequences can only be formed with the presence of organic iron compounds.
  Green leafy vegetables, onions, radishes, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, dates, apples, figs, coconut, walnuts. Bran of rice and wheat. Pulses, yolk of egg, milk.

Avoid Wrong Combinations

A modified form of mono-diet is often useful in some circumstances as a therapeutic measure. This may be ac­complished by eating only one kind of food at a meal but varying the food with each meal to avoid monotony and still provide needed factors found in different foods. For persons with impaired nutritional function, this regime permits the digestive organs to give full attention to the

digestion of the one food partaken during that meal. It also encourages better mastication and discourages over­eating.

Recently while reading the book Ministry of Healing I found this very practical advice on the matter of food combinations: "Here is a suggestion for all whose work is sedentary or chiefly mental; let those who have sufficient moral courage and self-control try it: At each meal take only two or three kinds of simple food, and eat no more than is required to satisfy hunger."

It is not well to eat fruit and vegetables at the same meal. If the digestion is feeble, the use of both will often cause distress, and inability to put forth mental effort. It is better to have the fruit at one meal, and the vegetables at another.

The plan here suggested of allowing each meal to dominate in one distinctive type of food can with advan­tage be extended beyond the two examples mentioned. A favourable plan is to divide the daily food ration into one protein meal, one starch meal, and one fruit meal.

The first rule is to avoid combining at any one meal foods of a decided starch nature with foods that are acid.

Starch-containing foods require the fullest possible action of the alkali saliva for their digestion. Therefore such foods should be retained in the mouth and masticated until quite dissolved and reduced to a semi-liquid state. Each mouthful of starch food should receive this treat­ment which is not difficult after one has formed the habit of thorough mastication.

For this reason it is advisable to recommend taking one's starch requirement at one meal during the day, and refraining from introducing any form of acid food or acid- containing combination of food at that meal. Such combinations as follows are to be avoided:

Tomato sandwiches: Tomatoes with potatoes; Tomatoes and rice or breads; Macaroni with tomatoes; Pies, tarts and pudding made of flour or other starch with acid fruits; Orange and corn flour pudding; Orange juice and bread, rice, potatoes or banana, should not be taken to­gether; Vinegar, chutni or pickles should not be taken together with any starchy food like rice or potatoes; Marmalade or jam made of acid fruits, with bread or cake; Tea is acid, it will retard digestion if taken with bread, cakes, or other starch foods.

In our experience at the Simla Sanitarium we have ob­served that the foods which combine best and cause the least trouble during their combined digestion are :

1. Fruits and milk, 2. Bread, chapati or porridge cereals with butter or cream, may be combined with any one or two of the following:

2. Bananas, almonds, dates, figs, sweet raisins, honey, milk. Any three of these would make a good combination.

3. Bread, chapatis, porridge or rice will also combine with vegetables and dal but none of the above fruits should then be used.

4. Rice with tuber and green vegetables, dal and olive oil.

5. Green leafy vegetables, both raw and cooked, com­bine well with such protein food as fish, fowl, eggs or meat, if one is using animal foods.

6. Flesh foods combine best with green leafy vegetables, but they will also combine well with acid fruits as apples, guavas, pears, oranges, mangoes, but it is best not to use both vegetables and acid fruit at the same meal with meat.

Harijan, 21-3-1936