You ask me to give you a resume of my present views on diet.I am still as firm a believer as ever in Dr. Haig's conclusions as to the part played by uric acid in causing disease, and in that authority's contention that it must, from any point of view, be desirable to avoid as far as possible all food which in itself contains uric acid, or one of the other acids producing analogous effects.On some points, however, I am in a critical frame of mind towards Dr. Haig's opinions, or rather what I believe to be his opinions, which conceivably may not be quite the same thing, seeing that I am only a humbh amateur follower of the expert to whom I owe so much.And, firstly, as to cheese and milk.Whether by reason of the casein or of the lactic acid, which both contain, it seems to me to be clear that a large number of people cannot digest these substances, at any rate not in the large quantities originally recommendedby Dr. Haig; and many of the cases treated by Dr. Cantani, the Neapolitan specialist, seem to prove that milk and cheese are the direct cause of gout insome constitutions.It may well be that these substances must, for such people, be placed in the same category as eggs, which, on Dr. Haig's ownshowing,containno uric acid,andyet, according to him, produce the same effects as if they did. I am told that Dr. Haig has ceased ordering milk and cheese so freely as at one time he did; if that be the fact, I am glad to hear it, for I incline strongly to the opinion that their habitual useby many peoplehasbeenresponsible for many mishaps.Then, as to the amount of food which each person should eat in the twenty-four hours.I doubt the reliability of Dr. Haig's method of computation - Imean,themethodofmultiplying the weight in pounds by nine, and treating the product as the number of grains of proteid which should be eaten per diem.Prima facie, I should have expected that people would differ from each other in digestive idiosyncrasies quite as much as in other respects, and my experience up to the present time seems to me to show that the assumption is well founded. If this be true, a rule whereby the amount of food is ascertained for each person in an identical manner cannot be sound, because it takes no account of his or her individual peculiarities. Again, the circumstances and conditions of life frequently vary very much in the course of a few years; at one time a man may work more physically than mentally, at another the reverse may be the case; at one time he may be living in a hot climate or in a stuffy town, at another he may be living in a cold climate or in the country; at one time he may be leading a life of constant worry and strain, at another he may be enjoying a tranquil existence. I do not believe that these changes are represented by sufficient, if by any, changes in the weight, so as to make it the proper, or even a possible, criterion; while I do believe that these changes materially affect the digestive capacity. At any rate, in my own case and in that of my wife, we were not in a satisfactory state, when eating at the rate prescribed by Dr. Haig's method, during the first two years, whereas we began to improve from the moment that we began to eat considerably less. My proper amount, according to Dr. Haig, is about 1,500 grains of proteid, whereas I am eating at this moment, and for the last two months have been eating, under 1,200 grains. It may be that two months do not afford a sufficiently long test; but against that objection I set the fact that the experience of everyone whom I know (including yourself) tallies with mine of the last two months. The matter is all important if the true rule is that every particle of proteid taken during the twenty-four hours, which is in excess of what is actually required just to makeup the loss occasioned by the energy, mental or physical, expended during the twenty-four hours, or which, for any reason, the individual is unable to metabolise, acts as a direct poison. This is the rule laid down by Dr. Cantani, as I understand the matter, and I am convinced that it is the true rule, and that the disregard of it explains many of the failures of the diet, and still more the quasi-failures. A friend of yours and mine suggested to me on Sunday last a way of maintaining the reliability of the method of calculation laid down by Dr. Haig, and yet of admitting that it often gives unsatisfactory results in individual cases. This was to regard Dr. Haig's amounts as the proper ones for the normal person, but to hold that very few people who take to the diet are in a normal condition at the start, and take a longer or shorter time, and generally longer time, to become so, and that beginners should regard Dr. Haig's amounts as the goal towards which they should work, but should not expect to be able at first to eat in accordance with them. My reply is that the assumption that people are not in a normal condition at the beginning is almost certainly true, and that the suggestion may be as sound as it is ingenious, but that it does not represent Dr. Haig's view, as I understand it, and that, further, a method of calculating the proper amount of proteid which is not a reliable guide at the precise time when people most want such a guide - namely, at the beginning, when they have no data of their own to go on - can hardly be considered satisfactory.
I would further point out that the weight, to which Dr. Haig's method has to be applied, is the normal or proper weight, not the weight at any given moment, as indeed must be the case, for otherwise the fatter a person got the more he would be bound to eat, irrespective of all other consideration, and vice versa. Now everyone does not know his normal or proper weight, seeing that we have not all been in the habit, from early youth, of being weighed at frequent intervals, and of taking a careful note of the result: we are therefore not in a position to strike an average, and so ascertain the normal weight. In such circumstances the only thing to be done is to take the weight according to the height, but Dr. Haig himself regards that method as by no means satisfactory. Again, all methods of computation necessarily depend for their success on the accuracy of the tables of analyses, which purport to show the proportions of proteid and other things contained in the different foods. Now it is obvious to anyone who has looked into the question at all that hardly any of these tables agree, and sometimes they differ materially; and even when they do agree, there remains the question whether the person consulting them can extract the whole of the proteid shown by the tables to exist in a particular food; in other words, whether he can fully digest it.