George H Townsend.

The relation of food to health and premature death online

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Relation of Food to Health
and Premature Death


With the collaboration of

H. G. NICKS, M.D.,

Lecturer on Hygiene^ Marion Sims Co/lcije of Medicine; Atteiidii
Ph'jaician Woman'' s Ilospilal ; Director Physical Depart-
ment Y. M. C.A., St. Lotiis.



Professor of General Medicine, 3Iariou Sinix
College ^f .Medicine ,^ St. Loyis^ „ .


Witt Publishing Company,





This is an age of wonderful strides in production, but
we fear that man, in improving everything else, has, in
a great measure lost sight of himself. To the scientist
who understands something of the wonderful development
of nature, when free from hindrance, there is nothing so
utterly astonishing as the weakness and folly of the hu-
man race. Believing that ignorance of self is the mother
of our devouring evils — disease, vice and crime — the
author, with the assistance of his collaborators, has un-
dertaken to blaze out a road to a better and higher life,
and however painstaking the effort, it would be too much
to expect that our labors would produce results that ap-
proached the ideal. It is hoped, however, that this book
will be of service in pointing out the devious windings
into which appetite and surrounding influences often al-
lure the thoughtless — resulting in their discomfiture and
premature death.

Physical, mental and moral perfection can only ex-
ist when our lives come into harmony with natural laws,
and when we cease to antagonize nature, the work will
be done.

If we have made plain the most common transgres
sions of nature and how to minimize their effects, our pui-
pose will have been accomplished.

Geo. h. Townsend.
St, Louis, Mo., July, 1897.



Chapter. I'ages.

1. Introduction - . . . 1-13

II. Digestive Organs and Processes of

Digestion : . - . 14-40

III. Classification of Foods - - - 41-43

IV. Watrr .... 44-51
V. Bread, Wheat Foods - - - 53-74

VI. Rye, Corn Breads, Corn Foods,

Buckwheat - - - - 75-80

VII. Oats, Barley .... 81-89

VIII. Potato, Sweet Potato, Rice - 91-97

IX. Peas, Beans, Lentils, Asparagus,
Tapioca, Sago, Cabbage, Cauli-
flower, Beets, etc. - - - 99-110
X. Tomato, Lettuce, Celery, Greens
Onions, Pumpkins, Radish, Rhu-

barb, Cucumbers, Melons -






Vegetable vs. Animal Foods -



Animal Foods, Milk, Cream, Butter

Butter-milk, Cheese, Milk Food



Meat, Beef, Viscera, Mutton, Veal



Pork, Fowl, Fish, Shell Fish, Egg,




Fruit, Apple, Peach, Pear, Quince,




Plum, Cherry, Berries, Banana,
Lemon, Orange, Date, Figs,

Cocoanut, Nut Foods



Condiments, Drinks -



Infant Feeding ....



Diet in Puberty



XXII. Dietetic Errors and Dietaries - - 257-275

XXIII. Composition of Foods - - - 277-286

XXIV. diosyncrasies and Idiosyncrasia - 281-298
XXV. Causes and Significance of Pain - 299-305

XXVI. Feeding the Sick and Diet in Acute

Diseases ..... 30''-314
XXVil. Causes of Indigestion - - . 315-334
XXVIII. Diseases of the Stomach - - - 335-355
XXiX. Diseases of the Intestines, Pancreas

and Liver .... 357-373
XXX. Chronic Diseases, Kidney, Diabetes
Tuberculosis, Heart, Blood Ves-
sels, Rickets, Anaemia, Asth-
ma, Leanness, Obesity, Head-
ache 375-375

XXXI. Acute Diseases, Cold, Malaria, Scar-
let Fever, Diphtheria, Hemorrh-
age, Measles, Pneumonia, Skin
diseases. Yellow Fever, Blood
Poisoning, Whooping Cough,
Scrofula, Pleurisy, Erysipelas,
Apoplexy, Mumps, Lockjaw, Ty-
phoid Fever, Influenza - - 397-414
XXXll. Accidents and Emergencies - - 415-422



Each age has its philanthropists, those who toil not
merely for their own aggrandizement, but for the better-
ing, the uplifting of the human race. These make the
world better for having lived in it. Such ought to be the
desire of every person, and while it is sad to say that it is
not the fact, this is truly an age in which proportionately
more people are interested in the welfare of the race than
at any period in the history of the world. It ought there-
fore to naturally follow, that the world should now be
making greater strides towards ideal conditions than ever
before. Perhaps we are doing this; but it is a matter
which many well informed people would gravely question.
No doubt but that all will agree, that no movement has
ever been inaugurated for the elevation of man, which
shows results commensurate with the effort expended.
Why is this.? There can be but one answer; it is because
all efforts of every kind and character have been directed
toward relieving, curing or reforming the individual;
whereas, had all the efforts of even ten generations been
directed toward preventing evil and disease we would now
have an ideal race; but this would require a volume of it-
self, whereas the object sought, is to call attention to, and
emphasize the fact that, it is ignorance of the laws
governing our physical existence, creation, birth,
and living, that makes reform movements necessary —
movements which seek merely to overcome results of
forces without dealing with their causes. This would be
denied by nearly every man or woman engaged in trying
to reform the world.


To illustrate; there are three ways of dealing with

(1) Drugs or dipsomania cures.

(2) Moral influences, signing the pledge, etc.

(3) Prohibition — restraint by law.

Now the advocates of each of these methods claim
that they deal with the causes of drunkenness, and yet
men will not stay cured, nor keep the pledge, neither will
they regard the law, and it is a lamentable fact that the
army of drunkards is being constantly recruited from the
families of the most zealous temperance advocates of the
country. Something is wrong; for neither drugs, moral
suasion nor law, have succeeded in arresting drunkeness,
because the diet and habits of the people cause them to
transmit nervous tendencies to each generation, and these,
are continually crying out for stimulation of some kind.

The truth of the matter is that most reformers have
ignored the fact, tltat the body, to a great extent, controls the
mind, and therefore, the conduct. We are animals, without
the governing instincts of brutes, and so limited in reason and
knowledffe, as to be unable to properly regulate our conduct.
A man born under pro'per conditions, and given correct
knowledge of living, will need neither moral suasion nor
prohibition to keep him from the liquor habit, and so far
as this world is concerned, will not need any reform
movement, or dread of future punishment to make him a
good citizen.

Some years ago, the writer became profoundly
interested in social and economic questions and
the elevation of the race through popular edcuation,
especially on the principles of living and the proper rela-
tion of the individual to society. After studying every
phase of human conditions and character, he became im-
bued with the belief that more good could be accomplish-


ed by teaching the pet)ple the prhiciples governing their
physical existence than could be done in any other way.
In order to bring this knowledge to them, all sources o4in-
formation have been sought, and especially from those phy-
sicians whose training and experience warrant them in
speaking with some degree of assurance. The facts ob-
tained from all sources are given as one interview.

Venturing forth in quest of knowledge, the book-
maker sought the most learned specialists who have made
a life study of food in its relation to health and disease.
The first interview with a distinguished specialist in dis-
eases of the stomach began with the explanation that the
bookmaker was desirous of dispelling some of the dark-
ness in which our physical existence is enveloped.
"That," replied the doctor "is a great task, and worthy
of the best effort that can be given it."


"Some people declare that the masses cannot be
moved to a more rational mode of living."

"That is worse than the facts warrant, for there are
people who are really anxious to learn more about the
principles which govern their existence."

"But isn't it also true that many people don't care to
know anything.?"

"Yes, and it is a strange thing that people are will-
ing to suffer pain, lose the time of being sick, and then
have to pay their money to doctors, when it could all be

"If that be true, what will become of the doctors.?"

"Oh well, the people could better afford to pay the
doctors to keep them well like the Chinese than have to
pay them and be sick; but when the people learn that
their ills do not come from God, or from Adam, or even


from nature, and learn that they are mostly self inflicted,
or at farthest, come from their parents, they will learn
how to dispense with both physic and physician."

•'That's a good deal to say."

"Yes," said the doctor, "but 1 do not hesitate to
say that it is not more than the truth."

"How could the people be brought to such a condi-

"They must first realize their individual responsibil-

"How can they be brought to that?"

"By presenting facts to them in a clear and forcible
manner, which we will do. Now suppose 1 say, that
practically every person commits suicide, and that a great
many also commit manslaughter."

"If you did I should say that you were either jesting
or crazy."

"But it is a fact, which I will prove. Let me ask
you what would happen if you were to drive recklessly
through the streets and in doing so run over several peo-
ple and maim or kill them?"

"I would be arrested for manslaughter."

"Yes, and it would make no difference, except in the
degree of punishment, whether you did it wilfully or
negligently, you would be liable both civilly and crimi-
nally for injuring or killing another in such a manner.
Now suppose your family had typhoid fever, and you
should throw out some excrement and poison the well or
stream from which your neighbor is supplied and sickness
or death results, (which has occurred thousands of times)
would it not be just as bad as to negligently kill him by
an infectious disease, as to kill him by negligently running
over him?"


*'Yes, I suppose it would, only the proof more diffi-

"But that does not alter the fact, iior atone for the
criminality of negligently spreading infectious diseases
and death, which is continually being done, but this is
not worse than other life destroying negligence which is
even more appalling in effect."

"I can not deny your facts nor your conclusions, for
they are overwhelming."

"Let me give you another illustration. A friend of
mine was called to see a child four years old who had a
serious intestinal disorder. The child was soon convales-
cent, and the doctor said his visits need not continue, but
at the same time cautioned the parents to be exceedingly
careful about the child's diet for 'two or three weeks.' "

"What happened?"

"Well, the day after the doctor's last visit the family
had saurkrout for dinner and allowed the child to eat
all it wanted under the belief that it would not hurt it."

"And that probably killed it,"

"Yes, it was taken ill at once and the doctor called,
but when he found what it had eaten, and the condition
the child was in. he bluntly told its parents that they
had killed their child."

"That was certainly a most distressing thing for the

"So it was, but not worse than occurs in nearly
every family, although it may not be quite so immediate-
ly apparent."

"I suppose they excuse themselves on the ground
that they did not know any better.?"

"Very \\ke\y, but that is a poor excuse, for the know-
ledge could hive been obtained. This suggests the ques-
tion* Is a person who is so careless and indifferent to


things pertaining to life and health, that he .kills some one
less culpable than one who negligently takes life in some
other way?"

"Doctor you put things so strongly, 1 think you
could almost arouse the dead, and yet every word you
have said is true."

"But what I have said only relates to the injury in-
flicted on others, and bad as it may seem, self-destruction
is far more common and its effects almost endless.'^

"You don't say! What are you trying to make me
believe we are?"

"Oh, don't get excited, for I want to bring out an-
other point by asking you a question."
"What is it?"

"How would you define suicide?"
"Well if one wilfully destroys his life, by making it
shorter than nature intended, that would be suicide."
*"lt would make no difference whether the method
was quick or slow, would it?"

"No, if it did it would be making a distinction with-
out a difference."

"Now I suppose that everyone will admit that the
moral law is higher than the law of the state, and if it
recognizes negligence that injures another, the same as if
wilfully done, the moral responsibility must be equally
great. Here is another thing; it must be true, that each
individual exists for a purpose, and if so who can measure
the wrong of thwarting nature, by cuttim? off the natur-
al term of life?"

"Doctor, you have proven that self-destruction is
universal, and now you have gone farther and proven
that it is practically suicide."

"Yes; wrongs are great or small in proportion to
their effect, and it is difficult to see wherein an untimely


death from one cause, that could have been avoided, is
not as bad as from any other.

If the laws of our being were not so grossly violated
one hundred years would be an average duration of life,
and a hundred and fifty years not uncommon. The or-
dinary diseases of life should be wholly unknown, and
though it may shock our slumbering senses, the facts make
it necessary to say, that we take our own lives and are
none the less culpable, because we do it ignorantly — the
ignorance of negligence and careless indifference."

"That is good reasoning, and it is very strange that
no one has ever written of it before."

"Yes it is, and the quotation from Shakespeare's Mid-
Summer Night's Dream: 'what fools these mortals be'
might be aptly applied. Just think, a young man will
spend six or eight years in a unive^'sity studying every-
thing in the heavens and on earth except how to live,
and if he doesn't kill himself before he finishes a course
at college, he frequently does so in a few years after-
wards. Here is another curious fact, a mother will sac-
rifice her life for the welfare of her child, but before it
was born, she did not think it worth while to endow such
vigor and character on her babe as to make it fit to live,
and though she may love her infant babe far beyond any
feeling that could be suggested by words, the chances are
one to five that she will kill it before it is a year old by im-
proper feeding . ' '

"Then you are a believer in the scriptural text that
the iniquity of parents shall be visited unto the third
and fourth generations."

"Yes, in a measure that is true, but not absolutely;
that is, not all iniquities are transmitted. Nature con-
stantly strives to correct the mistakes which injure.
Were it otherwise, the weaknesses and vices continually


taken up by each generation would soon extinguish the
race, if none were cut off."

"What is the chief factor in producing the physical
and moral imperfections of the race, doctor?"

"Well, part of our present social evils are no doubt
due to false economic conditions, but if every individual
was born right and properly educated even these would

"But as things now exist there must be other great
factors besides economic ones that affect the individual."

"Yes, many things affect his existence, such as ex-
ercise, ventilation, sanitation, clothing, and each are so
important, that thousands of lives are annually sacrificed
because the natural laws of which they are a part, are
J violated; but while these affect many, the most important
/thing of all is food; it affects the whole world."

"Since you speak of it, 1 realize the force of what you
say, for I asked a teacher about the quantity and proper
proportions of the ordinary foods that would be required
for health and vigor and he couldn't tell. He said the
physiologies and books of hygiene only gave a little gen-
eral knowledge, with very little practical information."

"I am not surprised that a teacher couldn't," said
the doctor, "a great many physicians could not do it, for
they are not employed to keep people well, but to drug
them when they are sick, and so long as people prefer to
pay for taking medicine, the doctors are powerless and
unable to do anything better, however much they might
desire it; but the doctor of the future will be employed
mainly to prevent disease."

"Doctor, since you have said what you have, the
question occurs to me, how do people live at all?"

"By mere accident or chance. They eat what they
want, that is, what their appetite craves, or what may be


offered them, no matter whether it suits their require-
ments or not. If it makes them suddenly sick, there is
not much danger, but if their food is wrong for a number
of years, and if its evil effects are not quick in mani-
festing themselves, the doctor will finally have a much
more serious case to cure, if indeed a cure is not beyond
his power."

"Then, if 1 understand you, the people live almost
universally in a haphazard way and if they get sick,
rely on nostrums and doctors to cure them."

"Exactly so."

"How do you account for it?"

"It is partly due to the fact that people believe
that proper living is galling; that all the pleasures of life
would be cut off if they had to live by rule; but prob-
ably a far greater number are under the impression
that their work the weather, or natural causes, produce
their ills, when in fact they are self-inflicted."

"Well, 1 have heard these reasons so continuously
that I almost come to pity those people who are always
saying that something or other in their lives, either their
work, the weather, or some accidental circumstance made
them ill and wretched."

"Is there nothing in this.?"

"Not much. Most persons can eat almost any food in
proper quantity at a proper time if properly prepared, and
as to weather and work killing people, who live in accord
with natural law, such would be as hard to find as a
dishonest alderman" said the doctor, with a somewhat
significant twinkle in his eye, then continuing, "it is no
harder to live properly than it is to speak or write gram-
matically; one doesn't have to think of all the inflections
of every part of speech in writing, for correct use of lan-
guage comes by knowledge and practice, and good usage


is only difficult to the illiterate. Just so as to living. If
you really understand foods and their relation to life, it is
easy to be well."

"But people often say that they don't live up to
what they already know, and what is the use of learning

"People who say that it is no use to learn because
they do not live up to their l<nowledge are unconscious of
their own ignorance. It is true that no one applies all he
knows to each act of his life, and this fact is illustrated in
our daily conversation, for however well educated, few
persons speak correctly at all times; but would any one
say, that because of this being a fact that it is useless for
one to get an education?

"Nobody but an idiot would say so."

"Here is another fact, few live up to their moral en-
lightenment, but according to the reason urged for not
learning more about our bodily existence, all the efforts
put forth to christianize and enlighten the world are useless.
We might go still farther and say, that but few people do
business as systematically as they know how; is a busi-
ness education, therefore, of no use?"

"Doctor that is well put, and emphasizes the impor-
tance of training."

"Yes, knowledge is the main spring of action and the
people who will not be controlled are those who are suffer-
ing from some defect the result of their own or others'
violation of physical laws."

"Then you think people who have right knowledge
of living will not go far wrong, if they are not already
badly warped by somebody's transgression?"

"They will not, for it is absolutely certain that un-
der no circumstance will the people go as far in their vio-
lation of what they know will injure them, even though


their iiiclinations lead them r.gainst their knowledge, as
they would certainly do, if they were entirely ignorant of
the effects of such imprudence."

"Then knowledge is useful to recover from errors in

"Yes, when we are ignorant we not only injure our-
selves, but not knowing the cause of the injury, we are
likely to continue until we are beyond any remedy.
No language can safficietitlij empltasize the fact, that there
is nothing of so much value to us, as knowing how to live, and
to know how and what to eat conies first.

"Are we to' understand that all the ailments of life
come from improper food?"

"No, not all of them, but most of them do. Some
come from hereditary tendencies, some are thrust upon
us, such as infectious diseases, but if people were to eat
the right kind of food in proper quantity, and properly
prepared, sickness v^ould scarcely be known at all."

"Has physical weakness much to do with our career
as individuals?"

"Yes, everything; it retards moral and intellectual
development, causes a craving for stimulants, drives
people to crime, makes labor a burden when it should be
a pleasure, causes life to be partially or wholly a failure,
and frequently makes the individual a burden to society
instead of a blessing. All of which are forcibly illustra-
ted by our penal institutions, alms houses and asylums."

"There is no doubt, doctor, but what the people need
enlightenment upon the subject. of proper living more than
any other?"

"Yes, unless it be the question of heredity and pre-
natal influences, but as you want to deal with questions
for immediate results there is no field which could possi-
bly offer you a greater opportunity for labor."


"What would you suggest as a proper scope for a
book that would, in your opinion, be of most benefit to
the people?"

"The qualities and properties of everything used as
food should be given, and the best methods of preparing
each food product. It would also be well to point out the
-deficiency, if any, of each food and what would be suit-
able uiivl^r different conditions to make a complete diet.
It would be advisable to mention those foods that have
particular value as remedial agents, and suitable diet in
all diseases."

"Whom should we urge to study a book of this

"1 suppose most people would say that those who are
ill need it most, and while it is urgent for them, the great-
est good can be done by interesting those who are as yet
too young to have suffered irreparable ill from bad exam-
ple. As this is beyond question the most important of all edu-
cation it shoidd be taken up and taught in our public schools
as the most essential branch of the school course."

"Then you don't regard school physiologies as of
much practical benefit?"

"As to that, it certainly isn't objectionable to study
physiology and hygiene, but the only trouble is that
much of it has no direct bearing on living, and too many
suppose they are well informed when they have not learn-
ed any more about living than they would have done about
house building, by simpjy examining a house and finding
thatitwasmadeof brick, mortar, stone, wood and metal,"

"That will shock some of the teachers."

"I hope not, for 1 was a teacher myself and studied
and taught from the school physiologies, but what 1 did

Online LibraryGeorge H TownsendThe relation of food to health and premature death → online text (page 1 of 28)