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 I see 1 that the ash of barley contains 34.9 per cent. of potash, soda, lime and magnesia, and 61.6 per cent. of phosphoric, sulphuric, and soluble silicic acids, and if wheat and oats have any similar excess this will easily account for the relatively high acidity of the urine on the diets of which they form a part.
These cereals often tend decidedly to raise the acidity of the urine, and when taken in quantity over a length of time, especially in cold weather, they may not only raise the acidity of the urine, but also diminish the alkalinity of the blood; hence they may tend to cause some retention of uric acid in the body, and acting with other causes may even lead towards gout and rheumatism.
1 In "A Text Book of the Science of Brewing," Moritz and Morris. 1891. P. 75.
Thus horses suffer considerably from rheumatism, probably when given too much dry cereal and too little fresh vegetable, and they are very often greatly exposed to cold and wet; and all these things tend to diminish the alkalinity of the blood.
And arthritis, both in men and horses, can be treated by increasing the alkalinity of the blood and keeping it up, and this may be done by eating vegetables that contain alkali, such as potatoes, and by diminishing the albumens taken till they are well within the physiological limits, for diminution of albumens diminishes the formation of acids in the body; and it is the overfed, both among children and horses, that suffer most from rheumatism. It is not as fond and foolish mothers so often imagine that they must be fed up: a little wholesome starvation with plenty of vegetables is much more likely to prevent the dreaded disease, but most children that suffer are poisoned with uric acid-containing foods in addition to being overfed.
With reference to pulses, it will have been noticed that now they are not mentioned either here or in the tables of foods, and this is due to the fact (of which I have given full details in "Uric Acid," p. 764, and fig. 75) that I found out that they actually contain even more xanthin than many kinds of animal flesh, and are therefore, like flesh and alkaloid-containing vegetable substances, to be regarded as poisonous.
I should now, therefore, be inclined to consider that the rheumatism met with among the vegetarian natives of India is not so much due, as I previously suggested, both to excess of cereals with deficiency of fresh fruits and vegetables, and exposure to cold at night, etc., as in the case of horses, though no doubt all these things have some contributory effects, but rather to direct and considerable introduction of uric acid or xanthin in the pulse foods, which so many natives use to a large extent.
And I believe it will turn out on investigation that, in those parts of India where rice and fresh vegetable substances form the staple foods, not only rheumatism but uric-acid diseases generally are but little known, whereas in those parts where pulses are very largely consumed they are common - almost universal.
A similar investigation in Australia and New Zealand would, I believe, trace to the excessive use of flesh and tea an equally long array of serious or deadly diseases, and an almost equal number of mental and moral defects, which only a complete reversal of their present diet habits will render visible by contrast.
In this country, also, I should attribute to the poisons of flesh and tea the all-pervading anaemia which, as seen in London, cannot be due to want of oxygen, as I have pointed out that it is equally to be seen in country towns of only half a mile radius; in the same way many mental and moral obliquities are no doubt due to the obstructed circulation of poor blood loaded with these poisons (see "Uric Acid," pp. 500 and 782).
But these diseases have crept over us so gradually that we quite fail to recognise the full extent of our loss; and even in my own case I should formerly have said that, apart from headaches, I had good mental and bodily health on meat and tea, because I knew no better; but I should now say that I have in both directions 50 per cent. better health without them.
For the benefit of some who may see mountains of difficulty in minute points, I will now give an outline of a day's food on the above diet.
For those in good health three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, are ample; some even do better with a light breakfast or none - this latter course being specially indicated where there is little or no appetite for a morning meal (see Dr. Dewey's works referred to in chapter i.).
I may say also that simple food of not more than two or three kinds at one meal is another great secret of health; and if this seems harsh to those whose day is at present divided between contemplating, preparing their food, and eating it, I am afraid I must be still more unkind, and ask them to consider seriously whether such a life is not the acme of selfish meanness.
And in case they should ever be at a loss what to do with the time and money thus saved from feasting and preparing to feast, I would point on the one hand to the mass of unrelieved destitution, ignorance, sorrow and suffering, and on the other to the doors of literature, science and art, which stand ever open to those fortunate enough to have time to investigate them; and from none of these, as they are still in their infancy, need any turn aside from want of new kingdoms to conquer.
In any case the best of health, strength, and nutrition are not to be obtained by waste of time and money on elaborate food, when the simplest things are all that are really required and accepted by nature.
If we take then, Table I., breakfast (before which an hour or an hour and a half's work, if possible in the fresh air, is no drawback) may well consist of oatmeal (2 ozs.) cooked in the form of porridge, with 1/2-3/4 or 1 pint of milk, and this may be followed by some toast or bread (2-3 ozs.) and butter, with marmalade or jam. These are the staple foods of the breakfast and should be taken first, and if when they have been consumed, some appetite still remains, any fresh fruit, or dried fruit in winter, may be taken to any desired extent.