Some Fundamentals Of Food And Feeding By Ian Fowler
What to Eat
What to eat? Food! Fresh food! Natural foods. But what are natural foods? Cow’s milk, honey, polar bear liver? No! Natural foods are not only foods unchanged by artifice but foods natural to man, that is, “natural” in the same sense as “grass is natural food for cows.” Ideally our food should be palatable, unprocessed, uncooked and uncontaminated with pollutants, synthetic flavors, condiments, dyes, pesticides, preservatives, heavy metals, nitrates, plasticizers, etc.
Our food should consist largely of raw fruit and vegetables, that is, food which is chemically and physically constituted in accord with our design or the “way we work best.” Evidence directly implicating refined carbohydrate food in the development of Western patterns of disease is now substantial and cogent. In particular a diet rich in refined carbohydrates is almost certainly a significant causative factor in appendicitis, varicose veins, diverticulosis, bowel cancer, coronary heart disease, acne, diabetes, obesity, gallstones and piles.
Food is essentially composed of fiber, nutrients, flavor substances, water and poisons. The sugar-coated drug of a physician may be composed of the same classes of substances as may tea, coffee, cocoa and medicinal herbs, but we can hardly glorify them as foods because the nature and quantity of poisons they contain detract greatly from their nutritional value.
Even synthetic foods and cooked food containing all known nutrients will not support life over successive generations. Animals that only consume such food become progressively deformed and infertile with each generation. Such food has understandably been called foodless food. Food is more than the sum of its constituents, for those are determined by destructive analytical techniques.
We should try to consume mostly living food that contains as little poison as possible. All food contains both artificial and natural poisons. So don’t be discouraged if you discover that Brazil nuts contain oxalic acid. They do. Most fresh vegetable material does. But little of the oxalic acid from it is absorbed. However, some vegetable material contains “potent” poisons, e.g. “medicinal” herbs; these should be avoided. We should aim to meet our nutritional needs, while consuming as little poison as possible.
Some foods—indeed almost all foods—are claimed, by somebody, as having “therapeutic qualities” or “healing forces.” If this were true, eating a mixed diet would constitute preventative treatment in the form of preemptive multiple cures! Indeed some “foods,” such as tea, coffee, cocoa, peppermint, foxglove, belladonna, are used as stimulants, diuretics, etc., for they contain potent poisons (drugs) and represent primitive medicines. Caffeine, theophylline, theobromine, atropine, digitalis, are drugs which can be isolated from the above herbal sources and their administration is followed by physiological changes similar to those which follow the consumption of their parent herb.
No sophistry about “mineral balance” or “radiations” can make poisonous herbs nonpoisonous or anything other than injurious. Many people have double standards concerning drug use, e.g. marijuana is bad, alcohol is okay. Many people in the alternative health care fields have similar double standards. Tea and coffee are bad but peppermint and chamomile have “healing properties!” Similarly, some of the medical profession are reluctant to relinquish the hope that alcohol, coffee or tea. etc. have “curative” values.
To speak of food and to use food as “medicine” is to transfer to food all the misconceptions about drugs; to replace the notion “drugs can fix you up” with “food can fix you up.” Food is material for use by the body, food does not do anything, it is done unto—digested, absorbed, metabolized. The consumption of a particular food or foods cannot substitute for the removal of poor foods from the diet or for the removal of non-dietary causes of disease such as cigarette smoking, lack of sleep, inactivity.
Advising the sick to change their diet is not necessarily advising diet therapy unless we think of “therapy” as everything a sick person does in the hope of getting well. This understanding of “therapy” obscures important distinctions. For example a few years ago the most common medical dietary recommendation to those with diverticulosis was “avoid coarse foods-they irritate the bowels.” Now that it is “proved” that lack of “coarse” foods “causes” diverticulosis, many physicians advise those with diverticulosis to “eat more coarse foods”—a complete about-face. The former dietary recommendation constituted “diet therapy,” for the aim was to reduce symptoms rather than to provide needs or to remove causes and so, like all therapies, made things worse. The older dietary recommendations were therapeutic, the Hygienic dietary recommendations provide the needs of the body and omit unfavorable factors. A diet change (even a Hygienic one) understood as “food medicine” or “diet therapy,” like drug therapy, blinds the sick and the well to the realization that the primary prerequisite for better health is the removal of the extra-bodily causes of disease. Applied to diet, this means that the avoidance of specific foods is usually more important to recovery than the eating of specific foods.
Overheard casual conversation:
“Doesn’t poor old Mrs. Jones look unwell.”
“Yes, the doctor says she’s malnourished.”
“Well, I suppose when you live alone you don’t feel like cooking for yourself.”
This illustrates a common misconception: that “good nutrition” and cooking go together. In general, cooking is undesirable. During cooking some nutrients are lost through oxidation, denaturation and leaching. In addition, some are converted to noxious substances, such as hydrocarbons and nitrosamines. Some nutrients are also converted to a variety of substances called secretagogues-substances so named because their presence in the stomach, even in minute amounts, evokes a vigorous secretion. Some secretagogues are partly broken-down food elements, for example, peptones (from protein). The upshot is that when cooked food is eaten, an untimely, excessive and inappropriately constituted (e.g. too acid) digestive juice is poured into the stomach and intestine.
The process of denaturation and splitting of food elements which occurs when food is cooked is often unwittingly called “predigestion.” Cooking tends to “soften” the food, which encourages poor mastication and a whole train of consequences (see previously). Softened, denatured food moves slowly along and so tends to putrefy and ferment readily, especially if it is also refined and concentrated and not accompanied by a substantial amount of raw food. Cooking also tends to dehydrate the food, hence its consumption is frequently accompanied by thirst.
This leads to drinking with meals and the drink is usually tea or sometimes fruit juice, which is frequently “incompatible” with the cooked food. Many popular methods of cooking, for example, boiling vegetables, result in the addition of aluminum from the pot and fluoride from the water.
It has yet to be demonstrated that either of these elements is constructively involved in cellular life processes. Their, poisonous nature has been demonstrated repeatedly. Cooking also “drives off,” leaches and destroys the flavor substances and organic salts, hence encouraging:
- the consumption of foods that would be distasteful if eaten raw;
- the addition of salt, condiments, monosodium glutamate, etc., to “add flavor.”
It is conceivable that a particular raw food diet that is nutritionally inadequate may be improved by addition of certain cooked foods. For instance, a protein-deficient raw food diet may be improved by adding cooked meat or egg yolk. But an adequate and suitable raw food diet may be preferable.
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These tend to denature and precipitate enzymes and proteins, rendering enzymes ineffective and protein less digestible. Condiments are irritants which occasion an abnormal protective secretion of fluid and mucus instead of normal digestive fluids. Constant use of condiments leads to secretory impairment and insensitivity to flavor substances. So those who use condiments regularly, or smoke, or drink alcohol, cannot perceive the flavor nuances of raw salads and many fruits. So, commonly, raw food is called, “tasteless herbage” or “rabbit food”—unless that “rabbit food” is mutilated as coleslaw and/or polluted with oil, salt and vinegar—the very things that have led in part to the sensory deterioration.
Common salt (sodium chloride) is perhaps the most frequently used condiment. In natural foods sodium and chloride ions are present in low concentrations and are avidly and easily absorbed.
Providing the kidneys are in reasonable condition, they rapidly excrete all salt added to food. However, chronic intake of added salt leads to impaired ability to excrete it, with consequent fluid retention. Table salt is also implicated in the development of some forms of “high blood pressure.” In short, our so-called “mineral metabolism” works best on low intakes of sodium and chloride; so low, in fact, that a deficiency of these elements cannot be produced simply by feeding natural foods, no matter how little sodium and chloride they contain. Indeed if you develop kidney failure, liver failure, heart failure, or high blood pressure, a low-salt diet is medically recommended. Too late. Don’t wait; omit salt from your diet now.