This section is from the book "Encyclopedia Of Diet. A Treatise on the Food Question", by Eugene Christian. Also available from Amazon: Encyclopedia of Diet.
Underweight, or lack of adipose tissue, is a condition with which the practitioner will often have to deal, as under nearly all abnormal conditions of the body, called disease, the first result or evidence is loss of weight.
The tendency of a perfectly normal body, after it passes the forty-fifth year, is to become muscular, or what is termed "thin." In all countries those who have lived to a very great age have been termed emaciated. However, there is a normal body-weight that can be maintained, and which indicates normal health.
Emaciation is usually followed by general anemia and a weakening of nearly all the functions of the body. The memory, sight, hearing, all become impaired, while the taste or appetite usually becomes keener or more sensitive. This is caused by irritation of the mucous membrane of the stomach and the consequent presence of too much blood therein, the same as when intoxicating liquors are taken just before meals.
Overwork, loss of sleep, unbalanced diet, worry, grief, or a period of extreme emotional tension, all have a tendency to disturb and derange the processes of metabolism. Under these conditions the body is very likely to lose weight, but there is always a fundamental cause which should be discovered and removed.
There are a number of things which usually conspire to cause emaciation. Named in the order of their generality, they are as follows:
3 Stomach and intestinal fermentation
6 Under-drinking of pure water
All of these things tend to cause mal-assimilation, which is the secondary cause of emaciation. In a majority of cases the loss of weight begins while the body is surfeited with food. In fact, it is nothing uncommon for those suffering most from this condition to consume from three to four times the necessary quantity of food; overeating becomes a habit, and consequent fermentation and toxic substances, usually known as autointoxication, are the results.
Mental causes of emaciation.
The causes of emaciation, according to most authorities, are impoverished blood and malnutrition. With these opinions the writer fully agrees, but the intelligent reader will naturally inquire - What are the causes of impoverished blood and malnutrition? The answer goes directly back to the food question.
All mental influences, business, social, or financial worry, contribute their share toward physical emaciation, but when the body is perfectly nourished it is more capable of withstanding these drains because it is made fearless by perfect health. Behind all forms of business and financial trouble is the demon "fear," and fear rests on the uncertainty of our ability to provide creature comforts and necessities; therefore when we have mastered the science of feeding our bodies, and have learned how simply and cheaply this may be done, the mere possession of such knowledge does more than all else to make of us philosophers and students, eliminating fear and worry of every kind, as in health the mind is usually in a state of optimism and tranquillity.
The symptoms of emaciation, of course, are so apparent that it is only necessary to say that when the above-named errors are corrected, and the following symptoms are observed, the normal weight can nearly always be maintained.
So-called cold-sores, fevered lips and canker-sores on the tongue, intestinal congestion, torpidity of the liver, slight headaches, fullness after eating, alternate constipation and diarrhea, are all symptoms that point to the causes of emaciation.
Emaciation is sometimes caused by-organic or hereditary diseases, but the usual causes are to be found within the field of dietetics. The remedy, therefore, is first to naturalize or normalize the diet as to quantity, selection, proportion, and combinations of food.
In the majority of cases, those who come to the food scientist for treatment will be those who have tried every conceivable remedy except the natural one, therefore they come in a chronic state of emaciation, poisoned by overeating. Never having been instructed in regard to diet, exercise, breathing, bathing, or any other hygienic law, they will, in most cases, require a counteractive or remedial diet. There may be a number of supplementary causes to be considered, but the most important things for the practitioner to ascertain are:
1 Time the patient rises
2 Hour the first meal is eaten
3 Of what that meal consists
4 Time the second meal is eaten
5 Of what the second meal consists
6 Time the third meal is eaten
7 Of what this meal consists
8 All mental influences under which the patient is laboring, especially fear or worry
9 The condition of the bowels as to congestion
10 The amount of liquid taken during the day and at meals
Foods that are necessary in the treatment of emaciation.
In nearly all emaciated cases it will be found that the patient is suffering from premature fermentation, intestinal and stomach gas, and a congested condition of the bowels commonly known as constipation.
The first remedy lies in the selection and the combination of foods which are readily soluble and assimilable, and which contain the best flesh and cell-building properties. The chemical properties or elements most necessary are albumin, phosphorus, casein, proteids and carbohydrates. These elements are supplied best by milk, eggs, nuts, sweet fruits and coarse cereals, followed by a limited quantity of fresh green vegetables.
The nutriment contained in the egg is all that is required for the young chick, while the nutrient contents of milk is all that is necessary for the young animal. Therefore these two articles contain the most reliable and speedy counteractive elements known to chemistry, but in dealing with the adult they should be supplemented by fresh vegetables, coarse grain, wheat bran, raisins, and the seeds and skins of grapes.
Constipation must be overcome in cases of emaciation.
It must be remembered that milk has a constipating tendency when taken in ordinary quantities - from one to two glasses at a meal. Therefore in laying out the diet for the emaciated, it is vitally important to avoid constipation, which may be done by giving milk during the first two or three days in quantities ranging from two and one-half to three and one-half quarts a day, together with a liberal quantity of coarse cereal. (See "Constipation - The Remedy," p. 436.) These remedial methods may be repeated day by day until a substantial gain in weight is noticed, when the diet may be normalized - such articles selected as will give to the body all the required elements of nourishment in the right proportions.