Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/90

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"I do not like to hear those things; they are too true." Her health instinct was keenly alive, but only as an onlooker. Instinct was the first health law-giver, and, modified and brought to date, will always remain the supreme judge in these questions. The present widespread interest in things pertaining to diet, exercise, emotional states and other allied subjects, is an awakening of this health conscience, but we are in danger of ignoring the existence of such a guide in the anxious endeavor to follow the many one-sided teachers of the hour.

The three primitive animal functions are dependent upon each other, and so the old, old habit of doing something, of keeping busy, must be a factor, a very important factor, in the health problem. An amoeba will travel faster against a current than in still water, and we have known supposed invalids gain strength and flesh under circumstances that directed their energies from thinking about their inner machinery to an outward expression of mental and physical effort of which they would have thought themselves incapable. In those with interests beyond themselves, the instinct for health has a chance to assert itself and to supervise without interference. "The chief good I do my patients," said one who is a physician to the wealthier class, "is to find some occupation for them, some hobby to keep them busy."

The application of the mind-body energies to some fixed object beyond self, arouses and sharpens one's consciousness of physical needs, and, as a result, we know what sort of eating, drinking and exercise make us feel that we are at our best each day.

The same instinctive consciousness will guide the health seeker through the maze of health teaching, and will allow him to appropriate from each doctrine its modicum of truth. If a low proteid diet clears his brain, he will reduce his proteids. If vegetables, rather than meats, bring about more power for work, he will become more or less of a vegetarian. If 3,000 calories seem better for his occupation than 1,500, he will use the former quantity. We wish that instinct could teach him not to recommend what he has found to best suit his own needs, as the best and only thing for all others.

The test, then, of low proteid and high proteid, of few calories and many calories, of an animal or vegetable diet, and of whether we need to walk ten miles a day or to lie on a couch, is the effect these things have in lifting us to our fullest capacity for physical and mental work. The one prime condition for this test is that we be physically and mentally busy as best we may in some useful and unselfish direction.

Where the instinct for health is not sufficient—and with those injured by accident or disease it can not be quite enough—the health seeker should throw the responsibility of choosing what is best for him upon one who has schooled himself for the purpose and who knows, or should know, the body-mind in order, as well as in disorder. He