[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.
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
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
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 ashforming 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
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
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
H. C. MENKEL