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What is a food? What is nutrition? Nutrition is a vital process that is carried on only in living organisms. It is a process of development, growth, repair and invigoration. In a complex organism various processes are in continuous operation and these processes contribute to and are intended for the one great end and aim of life--nutrition. It is for this reason alone that we eat and digest, that we breathe, that we secrete and excrete. For this reason alone, the heart and arteries, the veins and lymphatics, perform their varied functions. Function is the great end and aim of life and we are men, strong, vigorous and healthy or feeble, debilitated and worn out, just in the extent to which we have good nutrition.
We cannot move a muscle nor think a thought without using up and deriving the power to do so from the organs which are the seat of the action. This is also true of our involuntary motions--digestion, circulation, etc. It follows that life can be maintained only by constant recuperation and replenishment. As every movement, however slight, expends energy and substance, exhaustion would soon result except for the provisions for recuperation. Food, therefore, is any substance which can be utilized in building and replenishing the vital organism. In short, food is building material; it is the substance out of which the physiological elements are evolved and by which the vital machinery is kept in action.
The functional processes and movements which constitute and continue us as living beings can be carried out only by means of an adequate supply of those elements the physiological combinations of which constitute the several phenomena of organic life. To serve as food a substance must be of such a character as the living organism can appropriate and transform into substance like unto or identical with its own substance. To be classed as food a substance must serve the following legitimate purposes:
A substance is food in proportion to its adaption to these several ends. Food includes all those substances the elements of which are convertible into, and do form, the constituent materials of the tissues. This is to say, food is material that can be converted into cell substance. As an example, bone must be replenished with the materials that enter into the composition of bone, muscles with those of muscle, nerves with those of nerve, and so on with all the tissues. In the growth and development of a new being, the same rule holds good: each organ in its unfoldment from the bud must be supplied with the organic materials which enter into and constitute its structure.
To serve in any proper sense as food a substance must be capable of assimilation by the tissues; this is to say, the cells must be able to take it up from the blood stream and incorporate it into themselves and make it a normal constituent of cell substance and use it in the processes of life. Any substance that cannot be so appropriated by the cells and organized into living structure, this is to say, any substance that cannot be metabolized, is a poison. A substance, such as alcohol, which is circulated through the body as alcohol, deposited in the body and cells as alcohol and expelled through the lungs, the skin, the kidneys and other organs as alcohol and is not changed in any way is not used and cannot be classed as a food.
Although we frequently speak of "Mother Earth," it is doubtful if we fully realize how completely and continually everything we are and everything we do comes from and depends upon the earth. "Dust of the Earth" we are and upon the earth must we depend for replenishment and growth. But we cannot go directly to the soil for the elements of our nutrition. Like all the animals below us, we must depend upon the plant for our food supplies. Animals lack the power of appropriating mineral elements and forming them into food. This can be done only by the plant. All animal foods come either directly or indirectly from the vegetable kingdom, which alone possesses the ability to take the elements of air, water and soil and synthesize these into organic materials that the animal can use.
In her organic processes nature makes use of invariable forms of materials. One animal can be food for another only as it serves as a vehicle to carry the materials previously supplied by the plant. Organizing work reaches its culmination in the plant; what takes place in the animal is largely in the nature of a re-arrangement of the work previously done by the plant.
Rock breaks down into silt; primary vegetation builds this into soil; finally, the soil is rich enough for higher forms of vegetation. The first vegetation is a rather sickly affair. Animal life cannot exist on silt. Drug store minerals are not foods. Drug store iron, for example, is of no value in anemia. If there is any deficiency of any nutrient in our body, this must be supplied in the proper form or it will not be assimilated in tissue building. We cannot build bone by eating rock lime.
It is possible to analyze an apple and ascertain its chemical constituents; but all the chemists in the world cannot make an apple, nor anything that can substitute for it. There must be a vegetable arrangement of these elements, else they are wholly innutritious. Only the plant can take the raw materials of soil, water and air, and with the use of the sun, synthesize suitable substances for animal nutrition.
The incapacity of the animal organism to assimilate inorganic phosphorus compounds and turn them into cell substance stamps them as unfit for nutritive purposes. When the practice first arose of trying to supply the body with phosphorus by giving phosphates, tests were made by Sampson of England and Dujardin-Beaumitz and others of France, and it was found that the only successful way of supplying the body with phosphorus is to employ those which have already been assimilated by the plant (or by the animal from the plant), and that when efforts were made to augment the supply of phosphates by adding soluble or insoluble phosphates to the food, these were only passed through the the body without being retained therein. Similar facts are true of other inorganic elements, such as sodium chloride, the fluorides, etc.
Animal life can be supported and continued only through the appropriation and use of organic materials. Iron, sulphur, calcium, phosphorus, although indispensable to the living organism, cannot be metabolized in their free or inorganic state, but prove to be poisons if taken in these forms. They are usable only in inorganic combinations such as those prepared by the plant.
The real argument lies deeper; it lies in the relation of these minerals (inorganic matters) to the living system. If they are usable, they are useful; if not, they are injurious. Physiology reveals to us that, except for water and oxygen, no inorganic matter of any kind can be used by the animal organism. It must derive its nutritive materials from the vegetable kingdom.
Not all organic materials are usable as food. Such vegetable alkaloids as morphine (from opium), caffeine (from coffee), theine (from tea), nicotine (from tobacco), although they will get into the blood stream, cannot be metabolized by the organism. Organic materials are foods only if they can be reduced, by the process of digestion, to certain simple and assimilable products. Even protein, as essential to life as this is, is a virulent poison if introduced directly into the blood stream without first undergoing digestion. The intravenous introduction of amino acids into the body in an effort to feed the sick organism that cannot take food is followed by symptoms of anaphylaxis, damages to the kidneys and a progressive loss of weight. They do not seem to be metabolizable.
Because of different capacities to utilize organic materials possessed by different animals, organic substances that are poisonous to one animal may prove to be wholesome food to another. An example is belladonna, which contains two toxic substances, neither of which can be broken down by man. The rabbit possesses enzymes that digest the toxins of belladonna; hence, while belladonna is a rank poison to man, it is a wholesome food to the rabbit. Rabbits do not secrete the enzyme that breaks down the toxins of belladonna before they are six weeks old; hence, belladonna is poisonous to rabbits before this age.
Man's mental and physical efficiency depends very largely upon his ability to select and assimilate food. Without this ability, all those changes within the body involved in the synthesis of structure and the performance of function could not take place. All phases of vital activity depend on material conditions; and so long as man remains man, this will remain true. An example of this is provided us by the failure of the effort to introduce oxygen directly into the blood. In the early part of this century a method was devised of introducing oxygen directly into the blood as a means of curing disease. It proved to be as abortive as have all other efforts designed to flout the normal order. Oxygen by injection was no more useful than salts or sugars or amino acids by injection. The process of extracting oxygen from the air, by the lungs, is unquestionably one that is subject to as well defined laws as the assimilation of solid matter and all efforts to flout these laws must end in failure.
Nature is replete with an abundant variety of wholesome, delicious foods, the constituent elements of which are exactly adapted to the structures and functions of our organism. With this self-evident fact before their eyes, the proof of which is spread out as broad as the pages of nature, men continue to try to improve the human dietary by fragmentizing and refining nature's products. Even our health food stores sell wheat bran, rice polishings, vegetable margarines, vegetable oils, powdered skim milk, gluten bread, vitamin extracts and other food fragments. Our food processors are continually worrying their brains and working their laboratories in an endeavor to get something into the human stomach that nature does not produce. They are trying to improve the healthfulness of our foods by separating them into fragments or by changing them so that they are unrecognizable.
The kind of food eaten by each animal species in its natural state is determined by its structure and it is led by instinct to eat those foods for which its structure fits it. Carnivorous animals have a short and very simple digestive tract, while those of the herbivorous and graminivorous animals are very complex, some of them even having three or four stomachs. Carnivorous animals are also commonly supplied with talons and claws and with teeth designed to catch and rend their prey. These indications must be observed with discrimination, as faulty observations have led to error. For example, a marked development of the canine teeth, standing alone (as among the anthropoid apes), does not indicate a carnivorous nature. Different species employ their canine teeth for different purposes.
Discussing this very subject Trall says: "A reference to the anatomical structure of the digestive system shows a very complex structural arrangement and this implies a correspondingly elaborate process in the manufacture of food into blood, and thence into the various structures of the body.
"Many animals, as the carnivores, have a simpler digestive structure, and are adapted to subsist on food requiring less change and elaboration; but it seems to be a law of the whole animal kingdom, that the finest, most important, most highly-vitalized and most enduring tissues are formed of food which requires a slow and, hence, admits of a more perfect elaboration.
"For this reason alone, vegetable food affords a better, a lighter, a more perfect nutriment than animal food, which is nothing more or less than degenerated vegetable material."
While every animal organism possesses the capacity to make use of several different kinds of organic materials from different sources, each form of life thrives and develops best on those foods to which the peculiarities of its digestive system is specially adapted. The more perfect and complete the adaptation of food to digestive apparatus and enzymes, the more striking and perfect will be the structures and functions of life. The food to which one animal is peculiarly adapted can never be made to subserve the purposes of another and differently organized animal in the same satisfactory manner. Each type of animal life is possessed of organization that is adapted to its appropriate food and such food is best fitted to subserve its physiological needs. Scientists do not dispute about the natural or proper food for any of the lower animals; but when they come to a consideration of man's normal diet, there is the greatest diversity of opinion.
The food-gathering instincts of animals are correlated with the structures and functions of these animals. Can we doubt that, in his prime, before he had acquired a conditioning culture and before necessity had caused him to deviate from his biological and physiological norms, the same correlation of food habits and structural adaptations guided man in his food gathering? Is man not subject to the "law of specific adaptation?" Is he the only animal in all nature devoid of guiding instincts?
It is pure sophistry to argue that because a practice of eating or of drinking or the eating of any article of food is in general use among men, it is, therefore, right and best for man. This is a common fallacy that most works on dietetics seek to maintain. The same fallacy is frequently employed to support such drug habits as the tobacco, alcohol, coffee, opium, arsenic, betel, etc., habits. Because the use of these poisons is so nearly universal, it is argued that they must meet some real want in the human system.
Man is not constituted for a carnivorous diet and if it were true that flesh foods provided greater nutriment than other foods, flesh-eaters should be relatively small eaters; but such is not the case. On the contrary, flesh-eating nations, instead of being noted for their frugality, are often among the most gluttonous. Were animal foods really superior, we should find the flesh of carnivorous animals and flesh-eating peoples the most highly organized and more perfectly nourished than others. But, on the contrary, they do not, generally, rank the highest in physical perfection or intelligence; among the largely flesh-eating tribes, they tend to be lank and cadaverous. Carnivorous man seems to have no spare materials to utilize in higher or intellectual activities.
The preying of animals upon each other is not the rule in nature and preying by man would certainly seem to be contrary to his highest interests. Even if by almost universal practice man is to some extent carnivorous, his natural dietetic character is unmistakably frugivorous, as is amply demonstrated by comparative anatomy. Is it necessary to the sustenance of the human body that carnage and violence shall fill the earth? Is it essential that our eyes shall be offended by the sight and our noses shall be outraged by the stench of slaughter houses, that our ears shall be pierced by the cries and struggle of dying animals--that, instead of sweet melody, our ears shall be filled with the cries and groans of bleeding victims? Is it essential that our bodies shall continue to be poisoned by putrefying offal and that our stomachs shall serve as sepulchres for the interment of the disorganizing dead?
A race of flesh-eaters must necessarily always have a sparse population and, consequent upon a want of social opportunities as well as from similarity in habits to the carnivores, must remain at a low stage of existence. Oh! much insulted spirit of beauty! Too long have we turned a deaf ear to thy sweet voice! How much of sorrow and suffering has been ours as a consequence? We must now purify our lives by bringing only the beautiful peace-offerings to thy altars. In the wisdom of nature's adaptations, we have been fitted for a diet of beauty and delight, not of gore and carnage.
In practice, as least, the range of man's diet is greater than that of most other animals; but there are, after all, certain classes and forms of foods that are best adapted to his wants as a species; and if there are individuals who cannot eat these, this indicates a fault in the individual and not in the food. Instead of proving the food to be poisonous, it proves the individual to be abnormal. The most such a man should ask is that his whims and idiosyncrasies be tolerated while he is getting himself into a more normal condition. He lacks all right to so confound terms, as to designate as a poison, an article which reason and science have proved is a wholesome food, merely because his digestive operations are imperfect and impaired and he fails to assimilate it.
For ages mankind has been guided in the choice of food by the accidents of locality, of season and by the caprices of a frequently false and deceitful experience. Rarely questioning the infallibility of such guides, men have been led on through events of utmost disaster to their physical welfare, and have foolishly referred the defects to other causes. Truly, as Trall so well said, "unwholesome food and erroneous habits of eating stand at the very head of the list of the causes of disease. Wrong eating expresses more of the origin of disease in the human family than any other two words that can be found in the English language." It should be understood, of course, that by the phrase "wrong eating" is meant far more than the mere eating of food substances to which man is not well adapted.
Man's early traditions point unmistakably to a time when he lived upon the fruit of the trees. It may be significant that in the Sumerian myth the marriage gift received by the goddess Attu was "cucumbers, apples and grapes." In Homer's time the apple was regarded as one of the precious fruits. Many fruits were in daily use by our ancient ancestors. "Fruits, aromatic and luscious, hold their delights the longest of all, and give them away at the first solicitation. Their nectars claim instant kindred with the tongue and the oral saliva. Nature has cooked them, and they need no mixture, nor artificial fire; the grape and pineapple are a sauce unto themselves, and are baked, and roasted, and boiled in sunlight."
Late spring, summer and early fall witness a carnival of luscious fruits--peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, tomatoes, grapes, various berries, persimmons, pears, apples, oranges, grapefruit, mangoes and many others fill our orchards, gardens and markets during these seasons. "Apples begin to be solid and rich, while the melons laughingly roll in their handsome rigs of delicious and refreshing drinks to cool the summer heat. What more suggestive of a genuine hospitality than to see the host standing up after the removal of the cloth to dispense slices from a huge, crackling watermelon? The effect, perchance, heightened by the flanking of round-ribbed musk-melons and dishes of rosy-cheeked peaches, purpling grapes and pears swelling with luscious ripeness--these wines of choicest vintage; these drinks of nature's own brewing!"
There are figs and dates and cherimoyas and custard apples and many other fruits of tropical and sub-tropical origin that lend their tastiness to the diet. To these may be added the many tasty and nutritious nuts that abound throughout the world. What wonder, then, that Mrs. Mary A. Torber of Alabama, in an address before the New York Vegetarian Society in 1853, said: "Let us purify the beautiful earth from every stain. The grape, the apple, the pear, the orange, the fig, the peach, the nectarine, the apricot, the cherry, the banana, the mango--all of mother nature's choice gifts--shall take the place of the field of slaughter, and health, beauty and happiness shall supplant sickness, deformity and sorrow--freedom and life shall be ours instead of slavery and death. Earth shall become an Eden glorious in the beauty, wisdom and love that radiate from a life that conforms to the immutable laws of being."
The tomato is an American fruit unknown to the rest of the world before the discovery of the Americas by Colombus. Although the Indians were found eating the tomato, the white man thought of it as poisonous. When it was first introduced into England in 1596, it was classed with tobacco and the deadly nightshade was given the name lycopersicum-- "wolf-peach." Graham and other writers in the Graham journal did much to dispel the prejudices against the tomato. Writing editorially in September 1860, Trall said of the tomato, which was still tabu in many quarters and was regarded as a medicine (of all things! a substitute for calomel!) in others: "The simple truth is, the tomato, as a dietetic article, ranks with apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, strawberries, rasberries, blackberries, whortleberries, cherries, plums, cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins, water-melons, grapes, etc., etc. As with all other edible fruits, it has no medicinal properties of any kind. If it had it would not be fit to eat. It is in no sense a substitute for calomel. It is not a substitute for any poison, but is a very excellent substitute for any one of the fruits above named. Any good fruit is good food for dyspeptic persons, as well as for those who are not dyspeptic; but the statement that the tomato is a specific or a sovereign remedy for any disease, is arrant humbuggery or transparent nonsense."
Today we read and hear much about the "medicinal properties of fruits," as if there are some elements in oranges, apples, pears, grapes, etc., that make them part of the druggist's stock-in-trade. It should be fully realized that fruits are foods and not drugs, that they are nutritive and not medicinal substances. They should be eaten as foods and not taken as so-called medicines.
Fruits were often referred to in the past as condiments, which they are not in any sense. They are food and the best of food. Strange, is it not, that there was a time, and that not far distant, when they were placed on the dining table as decorations, not to eat?
Much of the prejudice against fruits was due to medical opposition to their use. Medical men denounced fruits and vegetables so indiscriminately that more illness resulted from abandoning them than from abuses of them. Vegetarians of the period were said to eat "green trash," just as today they are described as eating "rabbit food." The acids of fruits were supposed to be especially bad. Even today, people as a whole do not eat fruit as they should, do not make fresh fruit a part of their daily diet in a rational fashion and, consequently, suffer from many functional and, ultimately, organic impairments.
As a nation we run to animal foods and these are, economically, the most expensive foods we produce. Humbolt asserted that an acre of bananas will produce as much food for man as twenty-five acres of wheat. We grow the wheat, feed it to the animals, and then eat the animals, receiving back in the form of animal foods a small percentage of the food value of the wheat. Seeds and grain are more nutritious than roots, although leaves are often superior to the seeds. The potato is not a root, but a tuber--a sort of fleshy underground seed that may be properly classed as a fruit.
Many people complain that they cannot digest fruit; yet, these are the easiest of all foods to digest. The trouble arises not from the fruit, but from combining them with other foods. There are those who complain that they cannot digest apples. But they eat them at the end of a meal or after meals. Let them eat their apples as parts of a fruit meal and the trouble vanishes. There is an old Spanish proverb which says: "Fruit is gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night." This proverb must have grown out of the observations of experiences in eating fruit with meals. A fruit breakfast is gold; fruit as part of a light lunch was blamed for the digestive discomforts that resulted; fruit as part of the heavy evening meal was blamed for the troubles that followed such eating. But why blame the troubles upon fruits? Why not blame the flesh or the bread or some other part of the meal? Why are we ever anxious and eager to blame the best parts of a meal for the results of our imprudencies in eating?
Corn in Anglo-Saxon usage is a general term, not a specific name for a particular kind of grain. In England, corn simply means grain--any grain--though most commonly applied to wheat. In Scotland, oats are called corn; in Germany, korn means rye; in this country, corn means maize. The word is synonymous with the term cereal and refers to the fruit of grass. Corn, in this broad sense, is one of the most commonly eaten foods of man and is used in the making of bread. The early Hygienists laid special emphasis upon the importance of whole-wheat bread.
Although Graham advocated no special recipe for bread making and did not name a bread or a cracker or a flour or a meal after himself, advocating only the use of coarsely ground and unbolted wheat meal with no animal fat for seasoning, his followers soon began to regard all bread made from any whole grain, if the meal was coarsely ground and unbolted, as Graham bread. Writing in The Science of Health, April 1873, Julia Coleman says: "The term 'Graham' should apply to all unbolted flour, or rather, meal of all kinds and to the bread made from it, for that, as I take it, was the peculiarity advanced by Mr. Graham."
Hygienists went all the way in their abstinence from animal foods. At the beginning of his work, Graham thought that cow's milk was an excellent food for human beings, but only a few years of experience and observation were required to convince him that this was a mistake. Referring to the practice of milk drinking by adults, Trall said: "It seems to us that if adult human beings will persist in drinking their victuals, like a great calf, they will be more or less calfish all their days." This condemnation of milk drinking applied also to the use of butter and cheese. Writing in The Science of Health, June 1864, Julia Coleman said: "There are not a few diseases, like nasal catarrh, which it is difficult, if not impossible, to cure while continuing the use of milk."
Honey, also, was regarded as poor food for man. Replying in November 1855 to a question about honey, Trall said: "Our opinion is that honey is an excellent article of diet for bees, but not good for humans. As to its medicinal qualities or properties, we believe it does not possess any in the curative sense." While discussing honey, it may not be amiss to add that molasses was not regarded as good food.
Animal fats were particularly objectionable to the early Hygienists, these objections beginning with Graham and Alcott. Vegetable fats were considered superior to animal fats, but were not regarded as essential elements of the diet, except as they form natural parts of foods, such as the oil of nuts, the avocado, etc. Trall said: "Olive oil.is not recommended as necessary or useful, but as preferable to lard or butter. We do not teach nor believe in the principle of greasing food in any manner, nor of shortening it in any degree."
It is noteworthy that modern researches have fully confirmed the position of the early Hygienists on the eating of fats. These have shown that the fatty acids of fruits, nuts and other vegetable sources, by virtue of their formulae, belong to a group that are described as polyunsaturated, while the fats of butter, milk, lard and other animal fats are heavily saturated. The saturated fats are used with difficulty by the human organism and today are accused of being partly responsible for high blood cholesterol, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and, ultimately, heart disease. Two striking exceptions to this rule with reference to vegetable fats are found in the oils of chocolate and the coconut. The oils of nuts, the avocado, sunflower seed, peanuts, the soybean, and of grains are much better adapted to human use than the fats of beef, sheep, pigs, dairy products, etc.
Hygienists also early emphasized the fact that prolonged heating, as in baking or frying, destroys some of the essential fatty acids in fatty foods and in oils or butter and produces rancidity of the fats. This is but one of the reasons they objected strongly to the frying of foods.
Hygienists also eschewed the eating of condiments. Their position was a simple one: namely, wholesome foods are agreeable to the normal (undepraved or unperverted) taste. But so habituated are our people to the practice of concealing the taste of proper and pure food with some "more tasty garb," such as spices, salt, sugar and other seasonings, that they do not know the taste of foods. The ethereal and delicate flavors of foods pall upon the tongue and palate that is capable of sensing only the pungent and austere, so that one may have an aversion to those foods best designed to provide him with superior nutriment. The irritating qualities of ginger, nutmeg, pepper and various spices, anise seed, caraway seed and similar substances that are often added to food are a perfect outrage to the taste of the unitiated, although demanded by condiment addicts. In condiments as well as in drinkables, chewables and snuffables, what diabolism has not been committed in this country, no less than in other parts of the world, all in the name of the god of titillated sense.
Unfortunately, we find few people with a normal sense of taste. Watch them put salt on tomatoes, water-melons, cantaloups, sugar on oranges and grapefruit, sugar and cream on berries and other substances (vinegar, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, horseradish, catsup, sauces, etc.) on other foods. They eat few foods without the addition of seasonings, sweetenings, condiments, etc. They do not like the taste of food, but of condiments, of vinegar or other foodless substance. Perhaps they like sugar and cream with a berry flavor, but few of them like berries. They eat cream on bananas, sugar and cream on peaches, sugar and spice on their apple (baked); but they do not relish the apple. I doubt if we realize the extent to which we have depraved our sense of taste.
Almost everyone spoils a nice dish of vegetable salad by salting it down or by the addition of a salad dressing that has an abominable taste. Few relish the natural savors of their salad. The vinegar in the dressing appeals more to their depraved taste. Few of these people realize that the addition of such substances to their foods retards the process of digestion and is a common cause of indigestion and all the ultimate consequences that flow from chronic indigestion.
Man is provided by nature with instinctive protections against the intake of injurious substances, but under the misguidance of shaman, priest, physician and trader, he deliberately beats down his instinctive protests against the ingestion of hurtful substances and acquires a fictional liking for them. Only some strong psychological influence, such as that provided by the shaman, priest and physician, could have induced man originally to disregard the persistent protest of his instinct and acquire false habits.
In the very nature of things, it is highly essential that man's gustatory sense shall be a strong one, for on it rests the selection of those substances necessary to the preservation of the individual. On it, also, rests the rejection of inimical substances. A strong gustatory sense excludes the possibility of carelessness and forgetfulness in the matter of duly maintaining all the organic wants, so far as the materials of nutrition are concerned. It exercises a becoming foresight and insures provision for future needs. The sense of taste is one of a sisterhood of senses, each of which is a string of the human harp, the vibrations of which are sweet music to the mind. Taste is thus much more than that of a purveyor or a sentinel.
Enjoyment is a consciousness of the normal performance of functional activity. Substances that cause suffering are instinctively rejected and repelled. Non-nutritious sensorial excitants, in the enticing forms of beverages and ganglionic excitants and irritants, in the form of condimentary spices, share largely in the work of overturning gustatory judgment. Sharp, biting, pungent spices and seasonings irritate and goad the whole digestive tract as they do the mouth and tongue; they may even occasion smarting and burning of the rectum in passing. Such buses of the digestive system lowers its tone and energy and cripples its functions.
There are many substances in common use as articles of diet, such as spices, cayenne pepper, salt, old cheese, etc., which are indigestible, irritating and injurious. They serve no physiological purposes and are best omitted from the diet.
Our position is a simple one. It is this: whatever is foreign to a natural healthy organism and cannot be digested and assimilated to its essential structure, whatever undergoes no physiological or vital synthesis and is not capable of being processed by the normal metabolic activities of the body is inimical to it and will or does occasion disease. Conforming to this principle, it is observed that within each of us is the natural or normal disrelish of all substances that are non-usable, when these are brought in contact with the senses of taste and smell and with the natural, undepraved appetite; even such articles that are stronger and sharper than the gastric juice, though they may not be absolutely poisonous, are indigestible and unassimilable. Nothing more reveals the fitness of man for life in the earth than the higher offices of taste and smell, without whose safeguards against the introduction of indigestible and poisonous substances into the stomach, confusion and mischief would reign.
If anything could reveal, in a light clear as noonday, the wide departure of civilized man from the pure and simple tastes and unperverted instincts of nature and the corrupted, unnatural, unhealthy condition of civilized man, it is the fact that the most nauseous, disgusting and horrible substances are daily swallowed in large quantities, substances so disagreeable that no art of preparation can fully prevent the loathing with which poor, abused instinct regards them. What is even more strange and monstrous, they are taken with the idea that they possess the power to restore health.
Such objectionable substances are administered by a privileged class who make much pretense to science, wisdom and skill above their fellow men, but whose practices reveal that they do not understand the very first and fundamental principle of a true mode of care of the sick, which would teach them that they should guide their patients into obedience, instead of insisting upon violation of nature's laws. To our minds, there is no more convincing evidence for the absolutely injurious and poisonous character of drugs, under any and all circumstances, than the utter abhorrence with which even the most perverted taste rejects them. Even those who have so corrupted their appetite and sense of taste as to be able to eat half putrid flesh with hot, pungent sauces and spices, drink alcoholic beverages and chew or smoke tobacco are not so blunted in taste that they find the natural taste of drugs agreeable to them.
To accept drugs, man must be continuously falsely educated, his intelligence must be stultified, his confidence in the normal resources of his constitution must be undermined, there must be a ruinous perversion of his sense of taste and there must be substituted a love of the artificial, the mysterious, the exotic and adventitious, before he can be induced to forsake the normal things of existence and impose his trust in poisons. With all the means now at man's disposal with which to camouflage the many toxic substances that are employed as drugs, it becomes necessary to station around the citadel of life more watchful sentinels than ever before. Man must be intellectually fortified when it has become possible to so easily fool his senses.
From what we have said, it should be evident that of all the classes of substances which cause disease in the human body, the drugs of the physician are by far the largest and most deleterious. That they are absolutely indigestible and must enter the blood and tissues with the same poisonous qualities with which they are swallowed is undeniable. Were they digestible and assimilable, they would be foods, not drugs. They would be beneficial and not poisonous.
Certainly, when the powers of life are low and these are all concentrated in the work of resisting and expelling the cause of disease, to administer poisons in the form of drugs is to endanger life. This may easily prove to be the immediate cause of death.