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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/483

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PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

throwing physic to the dogs—the demands of your stomach will often become exorbitant, but only apparently so; your system wants to repair the waste of the disease. Never fear that "the digestive organs are too feeble yet," etc.; those organs will keep their promise, unless you break yours by resuming medication. Have you eaten more than the wants of your system require? Your appetite will not respond to your invitation at the next meal. Take the hint—wait. Do not increase the troubles of your stomach by mordant spices and alcohol. In the sultry dog-days your system craves a surcease of greasy ragoûts and yearns for something refreshing—sherbet or cool fruit. Get a watermelon. "But isn't the yellow fever in town? Quack, Quinine, and other leading physicians, agree that one must take a course of antiseptics, and avoid vegetables at such seasons." Don't believe them; Nature knows better. Fruit is a better antiseptic than fusel poison and wormwood. The frugivorous Mexican survives where the beef eating stranger dies in spite of his bitters. If sailors have been surfeited with salt meat, their craving after lemon-juice or fresh fruit becomes more urgent from day to day; the surcharge of their organism with saline matter requires a neutralizing acid. A single meal of salt herring excites merely thirst; common water is yet sufficient to dilute the ingesta and eliminate the salt. Vegetable substances that consist chiefly of starch and water supply the wants of our organism less completely than those that contain an admixture of gluten, albumen, and fat; and, if we restrict our diet to the first-named class of aliments, our system announces the deficit by means of our senses; without such complements as milk, sugar, or fat, rice-bread is more insipid than bread from unbolted wheat-flour.

All dietetic needs of our body thus announce themselves in a versatile language of their own, and he who has learned to interpret that language, nor willfully disregards its just appeals, may avoid all digestive disorders—not by fasting if he is hungry or forcing food upon his protesting stomach, not by convulsing his bowels with nauseous drugs, but by quietly following the guidance of his instincts.

Nature's health laws are simple. The road to health and happiness is not the labyrinthine maze described by our medical mystagogues. In perusing their dietetic codes one is fairly bewildered by a mass of incongruous precepts and prescriptions, laborious compromises between old and new theories, arbitrary rules, and illogical exceptions, anti natural restrictions and anti-natural remedies. Their views of the constitution of man suggest the King of Aragon's remark about the cycles and epicycles of the Ptolemaic system: "It strikes me the Creator might have arranged this business in a simpler way."

All normal things are good, all evil is abnormal, is an axiom which has been almost reversed in the principle of our orthodox health theories, for many of our physical educators still hold to the cardinal error of their spiritual colleagues, who consider depravity and wretchedness