Food—How to Take it
Nutrition, Darwinism, Theory, Physiology, Public Health, Natural Law, Organicism, Physiological Psychology, Discovery, Narcotics
Advises that in the 'digestive "struggle for existence"', it is best to avoid the 'yoke of pedantry' by which 'science [...] has attempted to lay down dietetic laws' and has succeeded only in 'expos[ing] its own incompetence'. Rather, it is 'experience, and not theory' which must provide us with 'all the rules of any practical value that we possess', and it teaches that we should obey only the 'natural desires' of our appetite. In the case of nutrition, 'science itself has grown wiser, gaining modesty with maturity, and has accepted an humbler part than that of dictating laws to nature'. (281) Nutrition is 'an exact interlinking of powers without with corresponding powers within', and the instinctual desires of the appetite 'reveals to us deep and wide relations, links and affinities of things, to which we should otherwise be blind' (282). Nutrition also reveals in a 'striking light the mutual subservience of mind and matter' (282), and extensive 'mental labour' requires appropriate nourishment (291). For example, the 'head worker [...] should be largely a vegetable feeder; farinaceous articles, with milk, might constitute a valuable portion of his food' (290). Nevertheless, there are well known exceptions to these dietary principles for the 'sedentary man' (290), and 'Newton, during the birth-throes of his great discovery, took only a few biscuits and a little wine' (291). In a discussion of the latest 'tendency of physiological research' (292) with regard to the effects of alcohol on the body, it is noted that 'the emaciation produced by spirit-drinking, and the obesity consequent on the free consumption of beer' is clearly demonstrated 'by Hogarth in "Gin Alley", and "Beer Lane"' (293).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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