This section of the book is from the "Handbook of Nature Cure Volume One: Nature Cure vs. Medical Science" book, by John L. Fielder.
An abundance of the power called Life is the indispensable condition of Health, because, as we have seen, it is through the instrumentality of life that all vital processes, whether of health, or of disease, are possible, and this power resides, not in the gross body built up of food, but in the subtle body, of which scientists know nothing. We have also taken note of the fact that the amount of life-power that is present at any time in a body is limited by the encumbrances present. Since the reduction of encumbrances needs time and effort, this receptivity cannot be increased all at once. Hence, to maintain a sufficiency of vital power always, the only way is Vital Economy.
Just here we will consider the pseudoscientific medical theory that food is the source of vital power. Medicos suppose that this is scientifically proved by the equality of the chemical energy of the food and the end products eliminated, namely carbonic acid gas, etc. This equality will always prevail, whatever the food-rations consumed. If a man eats only a third or fourth of the amount prescribed by this pseudoscience, there will be the same equality. It is as if a parent, having a son at a University, tried to find out the allowance needed by the youth by remitting to him all he was able to spend; but the youth’s ability to spend bears no definite ratio to what he really needs.
Our view on this point is that food serves only to make good the waste of bodily tissue that occurs by work done, and has nothing to do with the vital energy. The amount of food one needs to eat is determined by other laws than those imagined by the "scientists". It is a historical fact that these men invented their theory, known as the "calorie" theory, by the absurd and grossly misleading analogy of the steam-engine—the living body being considered by them as a kind of steam-engine which needs fuel for generating power, the food consumed being assumed to be the fuel needed by the human steam-engine. Actually there is not the least resemblance between the two. The body has more resemblance to an electrically-driven motor. The current of power that flows along the nerve, which causes the muscles to contract, is electricity, which itself is not life, but is generated and used by Life.
The utter stupidity of this medical theory was demonstrated by Dr Dewey. He pointed out the scientific fact that, "Food is a tax on vitality." He also showed that the assumption was absurd, because if it were, there was no reason for fatigue. A tired man must go to his bedroom, and not to the dining room, to recover lost strength. We put it more strongly still by posing the question: Why death, if the theory be true?
There is also the testimony of Dr Barbara Moore, who carried out long-distance walks in Britain and America, which testimony is given in the Appendix.
Food needs to be digested, and the power that digests it is Life. The two are thus eternally distinct; that which is digested and that which digests are not all the same. Food does not digest itself. If it could, a tired man can recover his lost strength by eating a good meal. But the fact is, that meal might go far towards killing him. He must rest and recuperate and develop hunger and digestive power, before he would be fit to eat. On the other hand, by merely resting or sleeping, he recovers all his strength.
The "scientists" ignore that fact that all through history there have been people who systematically ate about one-third or less of the medically prescribed rations, and have enjoyed superior health and fitness for work and lived happily, far beyond the biblical three-score and ten years. And even now there are followers of Hygiene, who eat very low rations on principle and are all the more healthy, efficient in work, and long-lived, because of their abstemiousness; these men are not infirm in their "old Age"; in fact, they are not old at all; for their youth is prolonged into what is called old age.
Luigi Cornaro of Italy, who had lost his health in middle age, got a new lease of life and health, and lived to be more than a century old by simply cutting down his eating to twelve ounces a day. He wrote down his wonderful experiences of this life of sobriety in a book.
Also, there is the testimony of Marco Polo, an Italian traveller, who wrote, in his book of travels in the "east", of the great longevity of the Brahmans of our country, due only to their abstemiousness in eating.
There is also the crucial test of the cure of dyspeptics. These are easily and radically cured by fasting or an approach to fasting and other hygienic measures. They cannot digest the heavy rations of high-calorie foods prescribed by the medicos. If treated on orthodox lines they die in three to six years, suffering terribly all the time. The author himself was a sufferer from dyspepsia and neurasthenia, and was reduced to a state of utter hopelessness because of medical ignorance of the basic truth of the natural relation of food to Life; but he got restored to very good health in two years, by hygienic measures, as will be described later.
Professor Chittenden of the US demolished the medical theory by experiments on himself and some volunteers. He proved that one third of the number of calories medically prescribed gave better health and strength than was possible by taking the full amount. Horace Fletcher, the advocate of thorough mastication, also proved the same truth by his own example and books. Dr Lindlahr said: "One third of what we eat nourishes us; the remaining two-thirds go to nourish the doctors."
The facts of long fasts by patients for the recovery of health, as observed and recorded by the great pioneers, totally disprove the theory. The medical view, that a faster lives on his own flesh until emaciation sets in, and then dies, is negated by these facts. Medicos do not know the distinction between fasting and starvation. The distinction is real, though rather too subtle for the obtuse brains of these self-styled "scientists".
During a fast of a month or more, the body temperature as a rule remains constant; but the amount of body substance lost during the fast is not the same all the time. It is more than half a kilogram a day at first, but in the end it is a few milligrams, too little to account for the heat. It is the electric currents flowing in the nerves that maintain the body heat, not the tissue substance that is consumed.
Also there is the curious fact that a man with an abnormally high temperature, who fasts, gets down to the normal, 98.4°F. Also it happens that if a man with a subnormal temperature fasts long enough, say 40 days* (*Such long fasts are not advocated in our School of Health; this will be seen in the chapter on Fasting), the temperature rises to the normal. How do they propose to explain this?
Professor Arnold Ehret states that a faster can be stronger after 20 days of fasting than he was before he began fasting. How is this explicable on the basis of the calorie theory?
If this theory were true at all, then not one of those long fasts would have been possible. Dr Dubos, in his book on Basal Metabolism, had to admit that long fasts are not fatal because, as he put it, "some mysterious power intervenes to establish the basal metabolism (rate of processes of vital changes of food-substance) at a lower level so as to avoid disaster". This is an admission that life can survive without damage even when no food is taken for many weeks. Actually the abstinence from food has positively beneficial effects, as will be shown later.
The principles and the rules of Vital Economy are proved true by the personal experience of all followers. And this alone will suffice to refute the calorie theory.
That the minimum food, the food that is needed for the replacement of wasted body-substance, gives the best results in health and efficiency, is the conclusion arrived at by all the pioneers and their successors. On the other hand every excess over the minimum lowers the health-level and tends to provoke disease. The average eater, who consumes about four times as much, is subnormal in health and vigour, and is also deprived of access to the Natural Happiness that is derived from the Indwelling Supreme Spirit. He is miserable in proportion to his overeating. This much must suffice for demolishing this unproved, materialistic theory of the medicos.
Here is a gem of commonsense uttered by an Irish soldier, quoted approvingly by Sir James Fayrer, showing that the climate of our country is not the real cause of the wreckage of health of British soldiers here: "They eat and they drink and they drink and they eat and they write home to say it was the climate that killed them." (Quoted by H Carrington in his book, Vitality, Nutrition and Fasting.)
by K. Lakshmana Sarma†
† Extracted from: Sarma, K Lakshmana. 1984. Practical Nature Cure. Pudukottai, India: The Nature Cure Publishing House.