The second depends upon the first. The two make up a whole which is Health.
"Food values" is so emphatically a technical term that I would not employ it here if it did not express just what I mean, when used untechnically.
What we eat has many and differing values. It is possible, without degenerating into dietetic cranks, to appraise them properly and to apply the knowledge thus gained to the building up of these bodies of ours and the consequent up-building of the immortal better part they encase.
Digestions are so many and so diverse, the one from the other, that it is rank folly to prescribe bills-of-fare warranted to agree with everybody.
Take, for example, milk. It has won from the ablest writers on dietetics the title of the One Perfect Food for the human race. Specialists on dyspepsia prescribe an almost exclusive milk diet for obstinate cases. In typhoid fevers it is the specific regimen. One man consumes inordinate quantities, by advice, to increase adipose tissue. A woman lives upon skim milk, swallowed very slowly, to reduce her flesh. And so on through multifarious cases - all acting upon the recommendation of experts.
All the time, as each of us knows, certain stomachs can not digest milk, or even retain it long enough to test its nutritive properties, while in others it causes intense heartburn and engenders bile.
Toast and tea are the stock invalid diet, the civilized world over. Yet Medical Daniels (M. D.'s) are rising up by the score to protest against ruining stomachs with tannic acid and burdening digestive organs by forcing what is no better than dry sawdust upon them.
Chocolate is freely prescribed as digestible, and so nutritious that one could live and not lose flesh, eating nothing else, for weeks together.
I am acquainted personally with ten people at least, to whom any form of chocolate is poisonous and abhorrent to every sense.
Natives of the land where the cocoa palm grows virtually subsist upon the nuts, and many in other lands devour the imported cocoanut with impunity. The fatty flesh acts upon some stomachs with the virulence of glass filings, producing terrible cramps and even convulsions.
A noted teacher of culinary lore strenuously recommends our native nuts, walnuts, filberts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, and so forth, raw, and cooked in various ways as a substitute for meat. The innovation is daring, and opposed to the conclusion based upon the observation and experience of scores of other writers, to the effect that nuts are hurtful to six people out of ten, the oils, and the cells which contain the oils, difficult of digestion by any save the strongest stomach.
It is much the fashion with writers upon domestic economy to extol fish as more economical and more easily digested than flesh, besides being rich in the phosphates needed to repair the waste of brain force.
Some people who would scout the imputation of invalidism can not eat even fresh fish without experiencing symptoms not unlike ptomaine poisoning. I recall the case of one woman who was extremely fond of oysters, yet dared not touch them for fear of fatal consequences. I once saw her faint away an hour after she had eaten half a dozen.
Who shall decide when dietists and individual digestions disagree so radically as is indicated by these and hundreds of other examples? And by what standard of gastronomic morality shall we gage personal conduct in the government of appetite? Since man must eat to live, and an unimpaired digestion is wealth inestimable - what shall we eat?
Certain combinations of materials are manifestly iniquitous. Cooked fats, fried fats in particular; soggy bread, especially when fresh from the oven; hot cakes, ("sinkers"), viscid with griddle grease and swimming in butter; tough doughnuts, reeking with lard; leathery pie-crust; underdone fish and rare pork and veal; cabbage that has been cooked in but one water; turnips that have been left in the ground until they are stringy pith; tough meats of all kinds that resist mastication; unripe fruits - none of these should ever enter human mouths, or be imposed upon the long-suffering digestive apparatus.
The housemother who studies wisely the properties of the fare she puts before her family will adjust food-values to the several needs of those to whom she ministers. The child of weak intestines must have neither oatmeal, hominy, nor mush for his breakfast cereal. Rice, rightly cooked, thickened milk, well boiled, and arrowroot porridge, will heal irritation, and, as it were, tighten the tension of the machine. He may not indulge in the apple-sauce and cracked wheat which are better than laxative drugs to his hale brother.
A bilious girl should not drink milk unqualified by a dash of lime water, and never take coffee. Her languid, appetiteless mother will be refreshed in nerve, stimulated in brain, by a demi-tasse of strong coffee taken without cream after her dinner. It is doubtful whether or not creamed coffee is a wholesome beverage for any one. It is an established fact that the addition of cream works a chemical change, and for the worse, in that which, taken clear, is a valuable digestive agent.
An important branch of the mother's profession is to acquaint herself with the stomachic idiosyncrasies of each member of her household. Certain compounds and some simples do not agree with one person, while others thrive upon them. To be cognizant of the peculiarities of each constitution is to be forewarned of the danger of gastronomic experiments. Lay down as a positive law that it is wrong - a sin against the body given by God - to eat what one is sure will disagree with one. Tabulate for your own convenience a code of "kitchen physic."
To wit, that Indian meal is laxative; oatmeal, heating; wheat-flour, binding; that tea is slightly astringent, and coffee, creamed, a gentle aperient; that sweets and rare beef engender gouty acid in those disposed to rheumatism and constitutional headache; that candies and other confectionery ferment into sharp acid in an empty stomach, and should, therefore, never be eaten unless as a dessert. The same is true of pickles. Except when eaten in combination with meats and other oily foods, they are actively unwholesome. The schoolgirl habit of champing' pickled cucumbers and pickled limes, as a starving pauper might gnaw a crust, is pernicious and disgusting. The skins of raisins and grapes are indigestible. Figs are a well-known cathartic, a fact the housemother should avail herself of where a doctor, if summoned, would prescribe a drug. It is always better to control digestive irregularities by diet than by medicines, each of which is a poison which cures one ill by creating another.
Pears dispose one to constipation. Ripe peaches and ripe apples regulate the bowels in a vast majority of cases; an orange, eaten at bed time, is a gentler agent than Rochelle salts, and does as good work.
The veteran practitioner who insisted fifty years ago that "cupboard cures" were safer and surer than those wrought by materia medica was in advance of his age. The twentieth century is just growing up to his standard.