Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/478

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hope) of resin, paraffine, and triturated caoutchouc! Still, Ehrenberg's analysis makes stranger things credible. I do not doubt that a man might contract a habit of swallowing a couple of slate-pencils or a dime's worth of shoe-strings every morning.

But an innate repugnance to a special dish, or even to a special class of aliments, may be indulged very cheaply, and certainly very safely, as long as there are other available substances of the same nutritive value. Abnormal antipathies may indicate constitutional abnormities, and among the curious cases on record there are some which clearly preclude the idea of imaginative influences. I knew a Belgian soldier on whom common salt, in any combination, and in any dose exceeding ten pennyweights, acted as a drastic poison, and thousands of Hindoos can not taste animal food without vomiting. Similar effects have obliged individuals to abstain from onions, sage, parsnips, and even from Irish potatoes. Dr. Pereira mentions the case of an English boy who had an incurable aversion to mutton: "He could not eat mutton in any form. The peculiarity was supposed to be owing to caprice, but the mutton was repeatedly disguised and given to him unknown; but uniformly with the same result of producing violent vomiting and diarrhœa. And from the severity of the effects, which were in fact those of a virulent poison, there can be little doubt that, if the use of mutton had been persisted in, it would soon have destroyed the life of the individual."[1]

It may be considered as a suggestive circumstance that the great plurality of such instinctive aversions relate either to stimulants or to some kind of animal food. To one person whose stomach can not bear bread or apples, we shall find a thousand with an invincible repugnance to pork, coffee, and pungent condiments. It is also certain that, by voluntary abstinence from all such things, the vigor of the alimentary organs can be considerably increased. The Danish sailors whom the Dey of Algiers had fed on barley and dates for a couple of months, found that after that they "could digest almost anything."[2]

By adopting an absolutely non-stimulating, chiefly vegetable diet, combined with active exercise in open air, the most dyspeptic glutton can cure himself in the course of a single season, and by the same means every boarding-school might become a dietetic sanitarium. The following list of hygenic menus is arranged in the order of their digestibility and wholesomeness:

Milk, bread, and fruit.—Eggs (raw or whipped), bread and honey.—Boiled eggs, bread, and apples (ancient Rome).—Bread and butter, rice-pudding, with sugar and fresh milk.—Corn-bread or roasted chestnuts, butter, honey, and grapes (the usual diet of the long-lived Corsican mountaineers).—Fish, butter, oatmeal-porridge, and fresh milk (Danish Islands).—Pancakes, honey or new molasses, poached eggs,

  1. Pereira, "Treatise on Food and Diet," p. 242.
  2. Wodderstadt, "On Yellow Fever," p. 72.