This section is from the book "Diet And Food Considered In Relation To Strength And Power Of Endurance, Training And Athletics", by Alexander Haig. Also available from Amazon: Diet and Food, Considered in Relation to Strength and Power of Endurance, Training and Athletics.
Thus saliva will penetrate more easily into dry biscuit or toast, less easily into bread, still less easily into new moist bread, and only with great difficulty slowly, and after considerable dilution, into bread or biscuit soaked or sodden with water or milk.
I quite agree also with Dr. Kellogg and those of his school, who teach the great importance of the complete and thorough cooking of cereal foods,1 and the use of such foods is often an additional help in severe dyspepsia: but I find that many people can take ordinary biscuits and cereal foods if they are careful to take them dry (a point also insisted on by Dr. Kellogg), and that the complete penetration of the saliva into such foods thus insured, will in many people, make all the difference between flatulent dyspepsia, and satisfactory and painless digestion of cereals: but I shall have to mention this subject again in connection with the common causes of dyspepsia (see chap. iv.).
Rice, the staple food of many Eastern countries, is another important cereal and we in this country have probably neither treated it properly, nor appreciated it at its true value.
Those nations that live on it are careful to get good rice, to cook it thoroughly, and to have it as dry as possible at the end of the cooking: with this object they steam it rather than boil it, or if water is added to the rice it is all boiled away, as any water poured away after cooking would carry nourishment with it.
1 Super-cooked cereal foods as advised by Dr. Kellogg can be obtained from the International Health Association, Ltd., 70, Legge Street, Birmingham; and a malted bread, called the "Veda" loaf, which is both pleasant and easy to digest, can be obtained from A. Fenwich and Son, 27, St. John Street, Perth Scotland.
I have been told also, that much of the rice sent to this country is not that which is considered the best by the natives of the countries where it is grown, and one can quite understand that it is useless to send the best rice to countries where it is not appreciated.
Gluten is the albumen of bread or flour, and this can be added to bread, biscuits, puddings, or other cereals to increase, if need be, their albumen values; it may also be used by itself in various forms, where the starch of cereals is not wanted.
Nuts and nut foods are valuable, because fairly rich in albumens; but they have the disadvantage of requiring good sound teeth, well used, or they are apt to be indigestible. They often contain a considerable quantity of oil, and many biscuits and foods prepared from them do not keep well owing to changes in this oil.1
Nevertheless nuts are by no means to be neglected; they form a large item in the diet of many nations, and with some they more or less completely take the place of bread.
1 Protene, Limited, supply some nut foods and gluten in convenient forms, also aleuronat obtained from wheat, which may be useful. Gluten bread, biscuits and other preparations of gluten can also be obtained from Blatchley, 167, Oxford Street, W.; Callard, 65, Regent Street, W., or Van Abbott, 104, Wigmore Street, W.
This is specially the case with chestnuts, which when well cooked are easily digested by almost everyone, and other nuts can be passed through a nut-mill to aid the teeth if defective.
Those, who for one reason or another do not like milk or cheese, should remember that from 1 pound of bread, or bread stuffs of equal value, and a few ounces of nuts, they can get nearly three-quarters of the albumens they require for a day, so that in this way they may get on with very little milk or cheese, or even entirely without them.
A pound of bread and a pound of the more nourishing dried fruits would also supply the albumens for a day's food.
Garden vegetables, as potatoes - here again I am obliged to mention only one or two kinds and some special points. Speaking generally, garden vegetables contain only very little albumen, and are of use to supply bulk, and to dilute and break up the more albuminous foods, such as milk and cheese, rather than for their albumens.
Potatoes, in addition to somewhat less than 2 per cent. of albumens, contribute a considerable quantity of alkali, which is often useful to keep down the acidity of the urine and prevent retention of uric acid by other foods, some of which, as the cereals, have been mentioned above as contributing some excess of acids.
For this reason eating a moderate quantity of potatoes twice a day may suffice to make a urine which tends to throw out a little red sand from time to time, owing to relatively high acidity, cease to do so; and those who suffer in this way from eating acid fruits should counteract their effects by taking a corresponding quantity of potatoes.
Garden fruits - here again I must pass over whole classes with a word. Most of our fruits contain only a fraction of 1 per cent. of albumens, and are for the most part equivalent to water with some sugar and salts, and these salts, as a rule, may be considered as alkalies, for, though they are often present in the form of acid tartrate of potash, which reddens litmus and acts as an acid when first swallowed, their effect on the blood and urine of a whole day is that of an alkali, diminishing the acidity of the urine and probably increasing the alkalinity of the blood (see "Uric acid," p. 636).
Many acid fruits, however, act as acids at least for the first few hours after they are swallowed, and thus stimulate - in the way previously explained in reference to fig. 5 - nutrition, digestion and the production of force and urea; and almost everyone, I suppose, who has gone in for athletics knows the reviving effect of a mouthful of lemon, which is no doubt due to its action as an acid, but even lemon has little or no effect on the acidity of twenty-four hours' urine.
Still, acid fruits taken in any considerable quantity with breakfast, and unbalanced by potatoes, do influence very decidedly the large morning excretion of uric acid, and so diminish the excretion of that substance for the whole day (see "Uric Acid," fig. 53, p. 477).
Garden fruits generally may be regarded as increasing the bulk of the day's food without adding much to its albumen values; but they contribute a valuable supply of water, some sugar and some useful salts.
Still, taking the fruit of an ordinary day and after deducting stones, skins and stalks, in fact weighing only the parts eaten, one would probably not be far wrong if one reckoned them as containing about 2 per cent. of albumens.
Dried and foreign fruits are in their original condition very similar to those above considered, but when a large part of their water has been removed by drying, their relative albumen value is of course greatly increased, and such things as figs, dates and various kinds of plums, when eaten in considerable quantity, make a quite appreciable addition to the day's albumens, and those of them that contain acids or acids salts, also act more powerfully as acids when condensed by drying.
Looking at all these groups of foods, I will conclude this part of the subject by saying that it is possible to live on a diet which includes some of each of these groups in its daily routine; that it is possible to live on group (1), milk and its products alone; that it is also possible to live on all the rest, excluding milk and animal products entirely, and relying chiefly on (2), (3) and (6), cereals, dried fruits and nuts, for the necessary albumens; that it is not possible to live on (4) and (5), garden vegetables and fruits alone, and generally in this country not on (6), dried fruits alone.
As the result of my own personal experiences, I incline to believe that a diet which includes all or nearly all of these groups in its day's cycle, is the best, the contribution from each group being varied from day to day to an almost endless extent, just as flesh-eaters vary the quantity, quality and mode of preparation of their animal food from day to day.