This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
Improper diet is often quite as injurious as slow starvation, for a person who eats a large bulk of food of one class, to the exclusion of other classes, may delude himself by thinking that he is taking nourishment enough on account of the degree of satiety which he derives from his diet. "The outward appearance of such persons is to a'Certain extent characteristic, marked generally by a pale and puffy aspect, due partly to a general excess of water in the tissues and partly to an abnormal deposition of fat" (Bauer). The evil result of such diet is very apparent among infants and growing children who have been fed upon a large bulk of farinaceous food to the exclusion of milk, meat juice, etc., and in them the foundation may be laid for the development of scurvy, or scrofula, or tuberculosis, and sometimes also the stomach and bowels become permanently distended. (See Diet for Infants and Children).
The effects above described are commonly produced by excessive ingestion of starchy and saccharine foods to the exclusion of protein, and, on account of the cheaper cost, the children of the poor are more apt to be injured in this manner than the rich, among whom the opposite diet - an excess of nitrogenous aliments - is more common. The latter sometimes gives rise to circulatory disturbances, overworks the kidneys, and produces nervous irritability.
It has often been observed by dietists that proportionately more fat is consumed in the United States than in Europe, and some are inclined to attribute to this form of food some influence upon the greater activity which characterises Americans. It is extremely doubtful whether this has as much to do with it as climatic and other conditions of environment.
Taken by themselves, carbohydrates have little or no effect in deferring death from starvation, but with albuminates they act as tissue sparers. (See Force-producing Value of Foods, p. 21).
Mrs. Richards gives the following useful comparisons of food composition, showing particularly the inefficiency of fluid diets other than milk to support life:
Three quarts of milk
Soup of munich Hospital
Rations recommended in certain invalid receipt books
Rations recommended in another receipt book
Prausnitz's estimate of normal ration for man
Prausnitz's estimate of normal ration for woman
Estimated life ration
Maximum work ration
Minimum work ration
Common invalid ration too low in protein;
I pint beef juice, containing 7 per cent....
1 pint whole milk
I quart flour gruel, made with whole milk.
2 quarts of liquid. Total