It is difficult to imagine a more pleasurable Epicurean felicity than that described by Professor Russell H. Chittenden, of the Sheffield Scientific School, of Yale University, in America, as the result of careful masticating and thorough tasting of the commonest of foods.

Professor Henry Pickering Bowditch, of Harvard University Medical School, like Sir Michael Foster and all the most eminent physiologists, were quick to appreciate the revelations of the Cambridge investigation of Fletcherizing as indicating the discovery of the missing link in the chain of processes necessary for securing good digestion and healthy nutrition, but they looked on it as a question of profitable economy rather than material for poetic enthusiasm.

It was given to Professor Chittenden to discover the rarest merit of decent eating; the politeness of it, as well as the poetry; that element of respectability which will eventually recommend it to the socially-refined as one of the civilised fine arts; that expression of appreciation which is due to Mother Nature for her many beneficences.

The Poetry Of Eating

By Russell H. Chittenden - "With the mind in a state of pleasurable anticipation, with freedom from care and worry, which are liable to act as deterrents to free secretion, and with the food in a form which appeals to the eye as well as to the olfactories, its thorough mastication calls forth and prolongs vigorous salivary secretion, with which the food becomes intimately intermingled. Salivary digestion is thus at once incited, and the starch very quickly commences to undergo the characteristic change in soluble products. As mouthful follows mouthful, deglutition alternates with mastication, and the mixture passes into the stomach, where salivary digestion can continue for a limited time only, until the secretion of gastric juice eventually establishes in the stomach-contents a distinct acid reaction, when salivary digestion ceases through destruction of the starch-converting enzyme. Need we comment, in view of the natural brevity of this process, upon the desirability for purely physiological reasons of prolonging within reasonable limits the interval of time the food and saliva are commingled in the mouth cavity? It seems obvious, in view of the relatively large bulk of starch-containing foods consumed daily, that habits of thorough mastication should be fostered, with the purpose of increasing greatly the digestion of starch in the very gateway of the alimentary tract. It is true that in the small intestines there comes later another opportunity for the digestion of starch; but it is unphysiological, as it is undesirable, for various reasons, not to take full advantage of the first opportunity which Nature gives for the preparation of this important foodstuff for further utilisation. Further, thorough mastication, by a fine comminution of the food particles, is a material aid in the digestion which is to take place in the stomach and intestines. Under normal conditions, therefore, and with proper observance of physiological good sense, a large portion of the ingested starchy foods can be made ready for speedy absorption and consequent utilisation through the agency of salivary digestion.

"Nowhere in the body do we find a more forcible illustration of economical method in physiological processes than in the mechanics of gastric secretion. Years ago it was thought that the flow of gastric juice was due mainly to mechanical stimulation of the gastric glands by contact of the food material with the lining membrane of the stomach. This, however, is not the case, as Pavlov has clearly shown, and it is now understood that the flow of gastric juice is started by impulses which have their origin in the mouth and nostrils; the sensations of eating, the smell, sight and taste of food serving as physical stimuli, which call forth a secretion from the stomach glands, just as the same stimuli may induce an outpouring of saliva. These sensations, as Pavlov has ascertained, affect secretory centres in the brain, and impulses are thus started which travel downward to the stomach through the vagus nerves, and as a result gastric juice begins to flow. This process, however, is supplemented by other forms of secretion, likewise reflex, which are incited by substances, ready formed in the food, and by substances - products of digestion - which are manufactured from the food in the stomach.

Soups, meat juice, and the extractives of meat, likewise dextrin and kindred products, when present in the stomach, are especially active in provoking secretion. When the latter foods have been in the stomach for a time, however, and the proteid material has undergone partial digestion, then absorption of the products so formed calls forth energetic secretion of gastric juice. It is thus seen that there are three ways - all reflex - by which gastric juice is caused to flow into the stomach as a prelude to gastric digestion. Further, it has been shown by Pavlov that there is a relationship between the volume and character of the gastric juice secreted and the amount and composition of the food ingested, thus suggesting a certain adjustment in the direction of physiological economy well worthy of note. A diet of bread, for example, leads to the secretion of a smaller volume of gastric juice than a corresponding weight of meat produces, but the juice secreted under the influence of bread is richer in pepsin and acid, i.e., it has a greater digestive action than the juice produced by meat. The suggestion is that gastric juice assumes different degrees of concentration, with different proportions of acid and pepsin, to meet the varying requirements of a changing dietary."