The employment of milk in the preparation of our food, means a great dietetic error. For milk, being in its very nature an antidote, tends to neutralize every foodstuff with which it is combined. Furthermore, as the digestion of milk is not so much the business of the stomach, but has its main field in the duodenum, where it depends upon the secretions of the liver for its emulsification, - the inference is that milk, to be salely and profitably enjoyed, demands an empty stomach and a powerful liver. In accordance with this fact the infant, whose food consists solely of milk, is equipped with a liver which, compared with that of an adult, holds the relation of 3 to 1 - in size as in power - an equation which naturally means that a promiscuous use of milk in the diet of an adult is decidedly harmful to a weak or even ordinary liver.
It is because of this failure of the stomach to accomplish the digestion of milk, that the latter becomes an antidote in relation to any other substance, simultaneously entering the stomach. For being unequal to the task of its digestion, the stomach in the presence of milk closes its labors and seals up its secretory glands. This accounts for the fact that an otherwise deadly potion of arsenic, or any other poison may be introduced into the stomach, suspended in one-half gallon of milk, and never assert its identity. Having closed its channels of secretion and absorption, the stomach is rendered immune to any graver physiological shock - a circumstance which provides ample time and opportunity for a safe removal of the poison from the system.
So far so good. But the same quality in milk which isolates the arsenic from acting on the stomach, also prevents the latter from digesting wholesome, nutritious foods. It places an impenetrable barrier between the protein substances and the secretory cells of the gastric digestion. This makes it doubly difficult for the digestion of foods like meat, eggs, butter, cheese, fish, beans, etc., in which the main constituents are proteids, and consequently depend on the stomach for their digestion. Hence to make milk a safe part of diet, even to the healthy stomach and liver, it must be taken distinct and separate from any other foodstuffs, and at a time when the stomach is empty.
The fact of milk being an antidote brings out its real value,or non-value, in relation to cooking. Any form of milk-dressing, milk-gravy or milk-soup, lessens the digestibility and nourishment of the preparation to the extent it isolates itself from the action of the gastric juices. To a hyper-sensitive stomach - catarrhal or ulcerated - this very quality of milk mixture may, here over, serve a good purpose, by subduing the digestive irritation of such strongly polarized vegetables as spinach, horse radish, parsnips, turnips and tomatoes. The advantage, however, can only be considered in the light of a palliative or expediency, as its ultimate influence over the system must lead to a progressive weakening of the digestive and assimilative functions. Every effort should be made to restore the stomach to its power of normal digestion.