In addition to all this, there is an actual need of the maximum amounts of sugar in the diet, for this easily digested food supplies available energy when most needed. Indeed, the excessive consumption of sugar by our soldiers is instinctive and is of itself a proof of the exhaustion which is so common. The matter will be more fully explained in discussing the need of tropical products.
Almost as important as the food in the tropics is the question of alcohol. The exhaustions must be combatted in every way, and the increasing amount of evidence as to the necessity for a little alcohol with meals, only emphasizes the impossibility of acclimatization and colonization. Where alcohol is a necessity normal living is an impossibility.
In April, 1900,* the writer first called attention to the need of alcohol to combat the exhaustion due to our physical unfitness for tropical conditions. This rather took the breath away from the home folks who had never lived in the tropics, and who believed that as centuries of experience showed that excessive amounts of alcohol are more harmful than at home, therefore, small amounts are also harmful. They did not appreciate the fact that it had never been shown that small amounts were either harmful, harmless or useful. They did not see that their attitude was the same as advocating total abstinence from water because so many thousands were yearly drowned in it, or having no heating arrangements in our houses at home because so many were destroyed by fire, or advising perpetual rest in bed because so many were ruined by excessive exertion in the tropical sun. They did not understand the axiom that every necessity of life is fatal in excess, nor its corollary, things fatal in large amounts like quinine may be occasionally necessary in small amounts. They did not apparently know that though meat is good food, too much is fatal, and the same may be said of starch and sugar and fat. They forget that even water may kill if too much is administered.
* Philadelphia Medical Journal.
More evidence was published in the New York Medical Record, in 1905, and since then even more has been discovered.* The details do not concern us. We are only interested in the fact that tropical experts are drifting to a gradual acceptance of the increasing mass of proofs, that a very small daily dose of alcohol, with meals, after the heat of the day, is a necessity for the majority of Northern types in the tropics. The medical profession is almost unanimous in opinion that where alcohol is necessary, life is abnormal.
* American Medicine, November, 1908.