The first process in digestion is the liquefying of food. The food is ground by the teeth, and then mixed with the digestive secretions. When the individual is normal, and eats normally of a properly balanced dietary, and when everything else is normal--i.e., the mind is at rest, and the care of the body (such as bathing, rubbing, clothing, etc.) is normal, and properly adjusted to external influences--it can be said that ideal health is enjoyed. But, inasmuch as an ideal adjustment of man to his environment is obviously impossible, ideal health is a utopian dream. Like all such ideals, however, it is useful, in that it feeds ambition and rewards approximate attainments.

In every branch of life's activities the ideal is unattainable. The best is secured by endeavoring--the reward is in pursuing, not in attaining; for attaining is reaching an equilibrium where life ceases. Life is activity, growth, attaining. Health is activity, building, doing, striving, fighting against deterioration, and endeavoring to give life, or activity, to every potential of body and mind. It should be known that the possibilities potential in man are drawn upon very lightly.

When food is unfit, when it is taken in too great quantities, or when the quality is bad, or made bad by improper preparation, very complex derangements are set in motion.

When the food supplied is appropriate, but partaken of too abundantly, or when it is bad in quality or wrongly combined, and is not suitable to the demands of the individual, digestive disturbances result, Fermentation takes place; for the microbe of fermentation is everywhere. It is retrograde nature's enzyme, is omnipresent, and is for the purpose of fermenting and disintegrating the excess, defective, and worn-out material in the body. It is the function of fermentation to remove everything that is unfit, or not appropriate, for physiological digestion--life--building--growth and repair.

Life and death-growth and decay-are presided over by two elements of destruction. Life, at its beginning, has enzymes that ferment and dissolve and prepare food for integration--organization into living bodies; while death, at its beginning, has enzymes (microbes) that ferment, dissolve, and prepare surplus, waste, and worn-out material for exit from the body--to give back the elements to nature.

These two processes are at work side by side, and a study and understanding of them give knowledge of how to aid each in its particular sphere. It is a physician's prerogative to understand life and death--growth and decay; for he must lend a hand in freeing each from its particular entanglements.

When more food is taken than can be appropriated by the body, it must be got rid of; otherwise it obstructs and prevents normal operations. The germ of fermentation dissolves and fits this surplus for immediate exit from the body. When too much is eaten continually, this microbic fermentation creates irritation, inflammation, or catarrh of the digestive tube and the associate, contiguous, and communicating organs.

On account of the gas generated by microbic fermentation, and the consequent distention of the stomach and bowels, dilation of the various parts of the digestive tube takes place. As a result of this distention, constipation is built, and the heart is disturbed, in that its action is interfered with by pressure on the diaphragm. All contiguous organs are pressed upon and put out of commission.

It is after intestinal fermentation is established as a habit that the reproductive organs of both sexes become functionally deranged.

The first functional disturbances set up by an oversupply of food are indigestion, dyspepsia, and sometimes diarrhea--usually constipation.

Nervousness and reflex symptoms accompany functional disturbances; namely: headaches, frequent urination--in children polyuria, causing bed-wetting; rapid pulse and palpitation of the heart; cough from throat irritation. Between insensible eructations of gas escaping from the stomach, causing throat irritation and cough, and a purely nervous cough from stomach and bowel irritation, it is hard to draw the line; but, as the treatment must be the same, an erroneous diagnosis will not prevent a cure.

Gastrectasia, or dilation of the stomach, is caused by years of overindulgence at the table. A common symptom of this derangement is the development of nodules around the second joints of the fingers, named "nodosities" or "bonehard." In subjects of low resistance, or in subjects who have become profoundly enervated, the nodules may be the early symptoms of a developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The kinds of food taken in excess govern the type of disease. An excess of starch, sugar, and fat--especially the starch in the form of whole grain--causes deforming rheumatism and builds stone in the gall bladder (gallstones), kidneys, and urinary bladder in the lithemic or gouty diathesis; lime is deposited in the heart and arteries, around joints, and in other parts of the body.

An excessive intake of sugar and sugar compounds--such as puddings, cakes, and pies--develops obesity. Where the intake of carbohydrates is in excess of the needs of the system, glycogen is stored, and when there is more than can be utilized, it is passed in the urine, producing glycosuria. It is the function of the liver to arrest and store sugar by dehydrating it to glycogen. When the liver is altered, the sugar passes into the blood and goes out of the body by the kidneys. Both these varieties of glycosuria are alimentary diabetes--the first cellular, the second hepatic from liver insufficiency.