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.
As long ago as the seventeenth century, before the transformation of matter into energy by the animal organism, known as Metabolism, was understood, the fact was recognised that by the lungs, kidneys, skin, and intestines, substances no longer useful to the organism were eliminated, the retention of which proved harmful. The nature of these substances was unknown, but it was noted that however much the food was increased the weight of the body remained the same. In other words, a state of complete nutritive equilibrium was maintained.
The following table contains the resume of two experiments in which a state of complete nutritive equilibrium was maintained by individuals of about the same weight, on widely different quantities of food similar in quality. The subjects of the experiments were a laboratory assistant of Dr. Snyder, of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and the writer. The experiment of the former was made primarily to show the relative digestibility of the several articles of diet, potatoes, eggs, milk, and cream:
Age of subject
Duration of experiment
4 1-3 days
Number of meals .
Weight at beginning .
Weight at end .
Potatoes (daily average)
Eggs (daily average) .
Milk (daily average) .
Cream (daily average)
Daily urine ....
Daily faeces ....
The daily diet of Dr. Snyder's subject consisted of three and one-half pounds of potatoes, eight eggs, a pint and a half of milk, and half a pint of cream. The writer's diet of twelve ounces of solid food (like Luigi Cornaro) consisted of three eggs, the remainder of the twelve ounces in potatoes, and an equal quantity of similar liquid food to that taken by Dr. Snyder's subject. The exercise of the laboratory assistant comprised his daily routine of laboratory work, while that of the writer consisted of six sets of tennis, or an hour and a half on horseback, with an hour to an hour and a half's walk or climb daily, in addition to much reading and writing.
In each case complete nutritive equilibrium was maintained, although the author subsisted on three-seventeenths of the solid food taken by the other subject.
Again, cannot one infer that better assimilation and less waste resulted from the better preparation of the smaller quantity of food by insalivation? Surely, too, there must be less daily strain on the intestinal canal, and body generally, in getting rid of 18.9 grammes of inoffensive dry waste, than in getting rid of 204 grammes of humid, decomposing, and offensive matter.
"Considerable importance has been attached to the normal action of the bacteria in the intestines; and it has even been supposed that the presence of bacteria is essential to life. Such a view has recently been shown to be erroneous by an elaborate and painstaking research carried out by Nuttall and Thierfelder, who obtained ripe foetal guinea-pigs by means of Caesarean section carried out under strict antiseptic precautions. They introduced the animals immediately into an asceptic chamber through which a current of filtered air was aspirated, and fed them hourly on sterilised milk day and night for over eight days.
"The animals lived, and throve, and increased as much in weight as healthy normal animals subjected to a similar diet for the purpose of controlling the results. Microscopic examination at the end of the experiment showed that the alimentary canal contained no bacteria of any kind, nor could cultures of any kind be obtained from it.
"The same authors, in a subsequent paper, described the extension of their research to vegetable food. This was also digested in the absence of bacteria. Under such conditions cellulose was not attacked. Hence they consider that the chief function of this material is to give bulk and proper consistency to the food so as to suit the conditions of herbiverous digestion."
(Schafer's "Text-Book of Physiology," vol. i., p. 465.)
Now, inasmuch as bacterial digestion has no place in the animal economy, surely it can only occur at the expense of the organism?
Can micro-organic action take place in the intestines without the production of toxins and the consequent absorption of these toxins into the blood?
We know that the metabolism of a cell is determined by the general physical environment of the whole organism, by supplies of oxygen and water, on nervous impulses, and, what chiefly concerns this argument, on the nature and amount of the pabulum supplied to it. This pabulum is derived from the alimentary canal.
Are not even those of us who may be enjoying seemingly the best of health supplying to our tissues pabulum containing mild toxins, thus causing an increased kata-bolic action to occur in each individual cell of our bodies?
Are not the blood elements, floating in a plasma containing such toxins, rendered re-sistent, weaker, less capable of fulfilling their functions as carriers and combatants of disease?
Are not their and our lives, in consequence, more painful and shorter than they need be?
Would not the elimination of these toxins render us less liable to disease? And is not their presence an important element in predisposition to disease?
When this reflex is restored micro-organisms get no further than the stomach. They are destroyed there by the acid gastric juices, then only stimulated to their full and normal secretion by the presence of a sufficiency of alkaline substance. Undigested matter having been eliminated, micro-organisms, still existing in the intestines, deprived of their means of subsistence, decrease, and, in time, may cease to exist. The body no longer absorbs the toxins these produced. To this fact may be ascribed the increase of mental energy, the general physical betterment, the cessation of morbid cravings for food and drink and of those of a sexual nature, which are noticed and experienced.
What has just been stated is based not entirely on experimental evidence but somewhat upon inference. The inference seems justified because the excreta, more especially of the intestines, but also of the kidneys and skin, become almost odourless and entirely inoffensive. The solid egesta are voided thickly covered with mucus, leaving the end of the bowel dry and clean. The sense of cleanliness can only then be appreciated to the full, for it is internal as well as external. Flatus is no longer produced.