This section is from the book "Fletcherism. What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty", by Horace Fletcher. Also available from Amazon: Fletcherism, What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty.
For nearly a year I also had been experimenting on myself and others with various diets, and was ready to believe that in the manner of taking food and not altogether in its varying matter lay perhaps its protean effects on our system. I at once adopted the same method of eating. At the end of six weeks, I noticed that not only did the fauces refuse to allow of the passage of imperfectly prepared food, but that such food was returned from the back to the front of the mouth by an involuntary, though eventually controllable, muscular effort taking place in the reverse direction to that occurring at the inception of deglutition.
What actually happens is this: Food, as it is masticated, slowly passes to the back of the mouth, and collects in the glosso-epi-glottidean folds, where it remains in contact with the mucous membrane containing the sensory end-organs of taste. If it be properly reduced by the saliva it is allowed to pass the fauces, - a truly involuntary act of deglutition occurring. Let the food, however, be too rapidly passed back to these folds, i. e., before complete reduction takes place, and the reflex muscular movement above referred to occurs. The process of this reflex is as follows: The tip of the tongue is involuntarily fixed at the backs and bases of the lower central incisor teeth by the anterior fibres of the geniohyoglossi muscles. With this fixed point as fulcrum, the lower and middle fibres of these muscles, aided by those of the stylohyoid and styloglossi muscles raise the hyoid bone, straighten out the glosso-epiglottidean folds, passing their contents forward, by the fauces, the opening of which is closed by approximation of its pillars and contraction of the superior constrictor. The tongue, arched postero-an-teriorly by the geniohyoglossi, palato, and styloglossi muscles, laterally, by its own intrinsic muscles, is approximated to the fauces, soft and hard palates in turn, and thus, the late contents of the glosso-epiglottidean folds are returned to the front of the mouth for further reduction by the saliva preparatory to deglutition.
The word reduction is used for the reason that all foods tested, without exception, give an acid reaction to litmus, when served at table. The reflex muscular movement occurs in the writer's case from five to ten times during the mastication of each mouthful of food, according to its quantity and its degree of sapidity. As often as it recurs, the returned food continues to give an acid reaction, while food allowed to pass the fauces is alkaline.
Saliva, flowing in response to the stimulation of taste, seems more alkaline than that secreted in answer to mechanical tasteless stimulation. It is found that the removal of original taste from any given bolus of food coincides with cessation of salivary flow and complete alkaline reduction. The fibre of meat, gristle, connective tissue, the husk of coarse bread and cellulose of vegetables are carefully separated by the tongue and buccal muscles and rejected by the fauces. To swallow any of these necessitates a forced muscular effort, which is abnormal.
Adult man was not originally intended to take his nourishment in a liquid form, consequently all liquids having taste, such as soup, milk, tea, coffee, cocoa, and the various forms of alcohol, must be treated as sapid solids and insalivated by holding them in the mouth, moving the tongue gently, with straight up and down masticatory movements, until their taste be removed. Water, not having taste, needs no insalivation and is readily accepted by the fauces.
In explanation of the phenomenon described, the following theory is advanced: The fauces back of the tongue, epiglottis, in short, those mucous surfaces in which are placed the sensory end-organs of taste and "taste buds" (the distribution of which, by the way, has yet to be explained), that these surfaces, readily becoming accustomed to an alkaline contact by excessive insalivation and consequent complete alkaline reduction of the food, afterwards resent an acid contact and express their resentment by throwing off the cause of offence by the muscles underlying them.
This phenomenon must not be confused with the cases of rumination and regurgitation, which from time to time are recorded. The food in this case is not swallowed, nor does it pass any point from which it can be regurgitated. Eighty-one individuals of different nationalities and from several classes of society whom we have studied are now in conscious possession of their reflexes. These seem readily educated back to normal functions by all who seriously and patiently adopt the habit of what seems only at first to be excessive insalivation.
The dictum "bite your food well" that we so often use, has no meaning to those suffering from the results of mal-assimila-tion and mal-nutrition, especially should they have few or no teeth of their own. I make so bold as to state that dyspepsia et morbi hujus generis omnis will cease to exist if patients be persuaded to bite their food until its original taste disappears, and it is carried away by involuntary deglutition.
The important point of the whole question seems to be this alkaline reduction of of acid food before it passes on to meet subsequent digestive processes elsewhere, which then become alternately acid and alkaline.
In the first few months of infant life, when saliva is not secreted, Nature ordains that mammary secretion be alkaline. With the eruption of teeth come an abundant flow of saliva and a synchronous infantile capacity for managing other foods. This flow of saliva depends on a thorough demand and use to maintain its generous supply. It is just at this time that children learn to bolt their food, - the demand fails, with a consequent detriment to the salivary glands, digestive processes, and the system generally.
A, B, C, and D were placed on an absolute milk diet. A drank his milk in the ordinary way, and at the end of three days begged to discontinue the experiment owing to disgust at the monotony of the diet. B, C, and D continued the experiment for seventeen days, insalivating the milk, but to a varying extent, B the least and D the most. Though D took most milk, he excreted least solid egesta, C excreting less than B. Can one infer that increased insalivation of a non-starchy food insured its better digestion and assimilation? Each subject took as much milk only as his appetite demanded, D taking the most, which never exceeded two litres daily. The weights of the subjects after the usual sudden drop of the first three days remained remarkably even until the end of the experiment. B, C, and D all relished the diet, and it satisfied the requirements of their appetites, but they experienced an increasing monotony.