The selection of foods for optimum health requires that many factors be considered, including nutrient content, ease of mastication, deglutition, digestion, absorption and assimilation, presence or absence of irritant, the amount of vegetable fiber (which could be too little in the case of refined foods, or too much in the case of mature kale), gustatory satisfaction to the unperverted taste, and the effect on blood alkalinity.
An ideal food would contain a broad array of nutrients, would be delicious, would contain a moderate amount of fiber, would be easy to eat and digest in the raw state, would possess no irritants or digestive antagonists and would leave an alkaline ash after metabolism.
Applying these criteria, we find that there are virtually no perfect foods. Most fruits and vegetables, for example, contain at least minute amounts of oxalic acid, which is a mild irritant and which has a binding effect on calcium. Tannic acid is contained in the skins of some nuts (particularly almonds) and this, too, is a mild irritant. Lettuce is said to contain lactucarium, a mildly toxic alkaloid with soporific effects. This is particularly true of head lettuce. Beans contain trypsin-inhibitors, aflatoxins and purine bodies which raise serum uric acid levels. Grains contain much phytic acid which binds minerals like zinc and iron, impairing their utilization by the body. It should be obvious that perfect foods (like perfect health) are a theoretical ideal, not a reality.
From a Hygienic standpoint, there are three major tenets that guide us in the selection of foods. These tenets enable us to construct a diet that is philosophically and physiologically ideal for the human species. We will admit beforehand that due to various anatomical and physiological weaknesses and defects, not everyone can adhere to the philosophical dietary ideal with complete success. However, before alterations and deletions are made, it is important that we determine what constitutes an ideal diet, a truly natural diet, and then be guided accordingly. Our three major tenets are that:
- Whole foods are superior to fragmented and refined foods.
- Raw foods are superior to cooked foods.
- Plant foods are superior to animal foods.
These three principles summarize Hygienic philosophy regarding food selection, and we will expound upon each in turn.
The Superiority Of Whole Foods
The fact that whole natural foods are superior to refined foods such as white sugar, white flour, polished rice, requires no substantiation to the readers of this magazine. However, we must emphasize that any fragmenting of whole food destroys nutrients and lessens the suitability of that food as an article of diet. Whole carrots contain more complete nourishment than carrot juice. Brown rice is better food than rice polishings. Whole wheat is superior to wheat germ. Consider the following experiment conducted by Weston A. Price, D.D.S., the renowned author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
“Three cages of rats were placed on wheat diets. The first cage received whole wheat, freshly ground, the second received a white flour product, and the third was given a mixture of bran and wheat germ. The amounts of each ash, of calcium as the oxide, and of phosphorus as the pentoxide and the amounts of iron and copper present in the diet were tabulated. Clinically, it was found that there was a marked difference in the physical developments of these rats. The rats in the first group, receiving the entire grain product, developed fully and reproduced normally at 3 months of age.
These rats had very mild dispositions and could be picked up by the ear or tail without danger of their biting. The rats fed upon white flour were markedly undersized. Their hair came out in large patches and they had very ugly dispositions, so ugly that they threatened to spring through the cagewall at us when we came to look at them. These rats had tooth decay and they were unable to reproduce. The rats fed upon bran and wheat germ did not show tooth decay, but they were considerably undersized and they lacked energy. The wheat germ was purchased from the miller and hence was not freshly ground.
The wheat given to the first group was obtained whole and ground while fresh in a hand mill. It is of interest that notwithstanding the great increase in calcium, phosphorus, iron and copper present in the foods of the last group, the rats did not mature normally, as did those in the first group. This may have been due in large part to the fact that the material was not freshly ground, and as a result they could not obtain a normal vitamin content from the embryo of the grain due to its oxidation.
This is further indicated by the fact the the rats in this group did not reproduce, probably due in considerable part to a lack of Vitamins B and E which were lost by oxidation of the embryo or germ fat.”
This account demonstrates how important it is to distinguish between the nutrient content of a food and its overall biological effect. It has been shown repeatedly that eating wheat bran impedes iron absorption, despite the fact that it contains abundant iron. This may be the result of mechanical factors, or, perhaps it is the result of the high phytate content of the bran. In any case, it proves that foods cannot be evaluated solely on the basis of mathematical tables of nutrient analysis.
At first glance fragmented foods may seem to be more nourishing than whole foods. Dried apricots, for example, score much higher in calcium and iron than do fresh apricots. Quite obviously, if we extract the water from the apricots, we can triple or quadruple the number of fruits we are comparing, and thereby shore up higher nutrient values. This seeming enhancement is, of course, a figment of the mind. Whole foods offer the most complete nutrition. Powdered whey is a nutritional shadow of whole milk.
Extracted chlorophyll is a lifeless fraction of green leaves. Lecithin granules are a denatured fragment of soybeans. These various extracts and concentrates are inferior to the whole natural foods they supposedly improve upon. Processing incurs drastic nutrient losses as a result of heat, oxidation, chemicals, and enzymatic destruction. It is correct to say that these foods have been devitalized. Only whole natural foods contain the amount and proportion of nutrients that the body requires. Only whole natural foods are acceptable in a Hygienic diet.
The Superiority Of Raw Foods
Although some foods seem to be rendered more digestible by cooking, it is a fact that most foods are rendered less digestible. Furthermore, any food that is difficult to eat and digest uncooked is not a normal constituent of man’s natural diet. Cooking partially or totally destroys the nutrient content of food. Water-soluble vitamins, like ascorbic acid and pantothenic acid, are particularly susceptible to thermal destruction, but it is to some extent true of all vitamins. What may be more important, however, is the fact that cooking alters the proportions of the various vitamins contained in foods.
For example, cooking alters the natural ratio between thiamine and niacin in foods. This occurs because thiamine is readily destroyed by moist heat, whereas niacin is more resistant. Therefore, cooking not only lowers the vitamin content of foods, it also modifies vitamin ratios, which are a very important feature of whole foods.
Minerals may be rendered nonuseable by the body as a result of cooking. A good example of this is the effect that pasteurization has upon milk. The complex organic salts of calcium and magnesium, in conjunction with carbon and phosphorus, are decomposed by heat, resulting in the precipitation of insoluble calcium phosphate salts. These inorganic salts are not assimilable by the body. This is one of the reasons why dental decay has reached epidemic proportions among milk-guzzling Americans.
Cooking tends to deaminize proteins and denature their secondary and tertiary configurations. With the exception of eggs white and certain dried legumes, they are rendered more difficult to digest by cooking. Subjecting fats to heat produces toxic cyclic hydrocarbons and free fatty acids, both of which are highly irritating. Heated fats and oils have been shown, by countless experiments, to be highly carcinogenic. No informed person will consume heated fats in any form.
Cooking causes a great loss of the soluble minerals in foods and drives off part of the food into the air as gases (this is particularly true of sulphur and iodine). Cooking softens vegetable fiber which may hamper intestinal motility, and promote fermentation and putrefaction. Although cooking adds to the palatability of some foods (e.g., yams, asparagus, zucchini, grains), most foods are rendered less palatable by cooking, which gives rise to the use of unwholesome flavorings, condiments, dressings, etc.
On the basis of these considerations and others, a diet, in order to be considered Hygienic, would have to consist of at least predominantly uncooked foods.
The Superiority Of Plant Foods
This category could also be designated the detrimental effects of animal foods. All animal products (with the exception of mother’s milk) have certain negative features which make their dietary use questionable. Consider, first of all, the effect that animal foods have upon protein consumption. Even modest use of meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods tends to create a protein overload and this is one of the most dangerous dietary excesses. Research has shown that high protein diets actually promote aging and early degeneration. Too much protein exerts a tremendous burden upon the liver and kidneys.
It also leaves acid residues in the blood and tissues which must be neutralized by sacrificing indispensable alkaline mineral reserves. The process of aging is characterized by the transfer of calcium from the bones to the tissues, that is, to the arteries (arteriosclerosis); to the optic lens (cataracts), to the ureters (kidney stones), to the skin (wrinkles), to the joints (osteoarthritis), to the valves of the heart (producing valvular stenosis and insufficiency), to the tendons and ligaments (producing frozen shoulder) and to other sites. This, of course, leaves the skeleton osteoporotic, leading to the development of stooped posture, a kyphotic spine, spontaneous fractures and other maladies that are so common to the elderly.
High protein diets (due to the accumulation of phosphoric, sulphuric, uric and other acids) accelerate this demineralization of bone and bring about calcific deposits in the soft tissues.
One could argue that nuts and seeds contain as much protein as meats, eggs, etc., and therefore they are as likely to create an excess. However, most people are easily satisfied eating a few ounces of nuts or seeds every day, whereas few people will eat just a few ounces of yogurt. Restaurants serve up to a pound of meat at a sitting, along with other foods. Cottage and ricotta cheese is eaten in huge quantities, even by vegetarians. The simple truth is that animal proteins tend to promote overeating more so than do plant proteins.
The relationship between high protein diets and cancer has been clearly established by studying both animal and human populations. Remember that cancerous cells are characterized by runaway protein synthesis and rapid cellular division. Protein synthesis is accelerated by increased protein intake, so it is not surprising to discover that cancer bears close tie to excess protein. There is a direct correlation between the amount of protein in the diet and the incidence of cancer on a world-wide basis.
Americans, Australians and West Europeans, who ingest the largest amounts of protein, also have the
greatest incidence of cancer, whereas the rural Chinese, the East Indians and native peoples of Latin America have the lowest cancer incidence. This is no casual relationship and it cannot be written off by blaming it on the “stress of modern life.”
Animal products are loaded with the worst kind of fat—saturated, cholesterol-laden animal fat. A mountain of evidence has been accumulated relating high animal fat intakes with the development of cardiovascular disease (which is characterized by the deposition of saturated fat and cholesterol in the intimal layer of arteries), and many different malignancies including breast cancer, colon and rectal cancers, and cancer of the liver. Even such diverse conditions as multiple sclerosis and diabetes have been related to the consumption of animal fats.
As we have already stated, heated animal fats have been shown to be even more carcinogenic, and considering that Americans take all of their flesh, milk and eggs well cooked, it’s no wonder that 1 in 4 eventually succumbs to cancer. Pandemically, those peoples who subsist on low fat, low protein, largely vegetarian, unrefined diets demonstrate the greatest resistance to cancer. The incidence of cancer and heart disease among American Seventh Day Adventists is approximately half the national average. This is quite remarkable considering that only about half of this group are thought to be vegetarian.
Flesh, fish, yogurt and cheese contain various putrefactive products resulting from their bacterial decomposition. Putting partially-spoiled food in the body can hardly be considered a Hygienic practice, despite the arguments of the fermented food enthusiasts.
Flesh also contains considerable quantities of the end products of metabolism (like uric acid,) which are held up in the tissues at the time of death. These wastes are poisonous, irritating and burdensome to the body. Considering also that animal products tend to be reservoirs for pesticides, herbicides, and various other drugs and inorganic contaminants, there are many good reasons to avoid using them.
There are just 5 classes of foods that meet all of the criteria established by our three major tenets. These are: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts. A diet comprised of these foods would abound in every nutrient known to be required, with the exception of Vitamin B-12, and most people apparently can derive enough of this from bacterial synthesis in the intestines.
However, we should note that soil bacteria also produces B-12 on the surface of roots, so that adding stringy roots grown in organic soil (with abundant microbial activity) to the diet would constitute a pre-made plant source of B-12 that would be a perfectly acceptable addition to a Hygienic diet. Supermarket vegetables would not be adequate for this purpose.
We should note, in closing, that adding some cooked food to the diet (like baked potatoes and brown rice) or limited amounts of animal foods (such as uncooked, unsalted cheese), although not strictly Hygienic, may be required in some pathological conditions.
Certain people would experience a drastic and undesirable weight loss were they to make an immediate transition to a 100 percent uncooked, all plant food diet. For these people, eating a baked potato now and then represents not a mere compromise but rather a necessary modification of their Hygienic regimen. Quoting Dr. Alec Burton, “We must adapt the system to the needs of the individual and not adapt the individual to the needs of the system.”
With this acknowledged, let us state in conclusion that a diet, in order to be considered Hygienic, would have to consist predominantly (if not exclusively) of uncooked foods of vegetable origin, eaten whole.