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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/542

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536
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE INFLUENCE OF DIET ON ENDURANCE AND GENERAL EFFICIENCY
By Professor RUSSELL H. CHITTENDEN

SHEFFIELD SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL OF YALE UNIVERSITY

EXPERIMENTAL study of the physiological needs of the body for food[1] has indicated that the real requirements of the system, especially for proteid foods, are far below the amounts called for by existing dietary standards, and still farther below the customary habits of the majority of mankind. The ability of the body to maintain a condition of physiological equilibrium, with a true nitrogen balance, etc., on a relatively small amount of nitrogenous food, would seemingly imply that the large surplus so generally consumed constitutes an entirely uncalled-for drain upon the system, as well as upon the pocket of the individual, and without any compensatory gain.

In our experimental study of this question, observations on many individuals have extended over such long periods of time that there is apparently perfect safety in the conclusion that the new dietary standards which aim to conform to the true needs of the body are perfectly adapted to maintain health, strength and vigor indefinitely. Further, the many data obtained in our experimental studies, reinforced by a multitude of personal experiences from all over the world, communicated to the writer, all lead to the view that there is great personal gain in the acquisition of dietary habits that tend toward moderation and simplicity. Renewed health, increased vigor, greater freedom from minor ailments, etc., are so frequently reported as the outcome of temperance in diet, that we are forced to the conclusion that the surplus of proteid food so commonly consumed—amounts far beyond what the physiological necessities of the body demand—is wholly unphysiological and in the long run detrimental to the best interests of the individual. There is seemingly sound philosophy in so changing the customs and habits of our daily life that they will conform more or less closely to our present understanding of the physiological requirements of the body.

It is certainly not presumptuous to assume that physiological experimentation can tell us definitely and concisely how much and what kinds of food are needed to supply the daily waste of tissue and to make good the loss of energy incidental to varying degrees of bodily


  1. See Chittenden: "Physiological Economy in Nutrition" and "The Nutrition of Man," Frederick A. Stokes Co., New York.