It is curious fact, that although there are thousands of different substances which go to make up food in as many different shapes, sizes and colors, yet they may all be grouped into six simple kinds of materials. Under these six headings, sometimes knowns as the Food Sextet, all foods can be classified. They are (I) Proteins (II) Carbohydrates (III) Fats (IV) Cellulose (V) Salts or food minerals and (VI) Vitamins.
Food, in general may be grouped into two classes, those which are nutritive, that is, supply heat and energy to the body, and those which are non-nutritive, providing per-se no energy but necessary in infinitesimal amounts for the proper maintenance of bodily functions. The former consists of the essential food elements viz. proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The latter include water, mineral salts and vitamins.
Composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen and often termed as Nitrogen foods, protein is that element of the food which is used for the construction and repair of the highly-vitalized living tissues of the body; that is, the essential vital machinery – the muscles, glands, verves and other parts concerned in the various functions of the body, consist of proteins.
Some of the principal foods containing a large amount of protein are: meat, eggs, fish, cheese, beans, pulses, milk, nuts and soyabeans.
Between the periods of infancy and maturity, protein is required both for growth and repair. After maturity, the sole use of protein is for repair. Unless one is doing outdoor work or taking active exercises, the protein ration should be small, because protein, when taken in excess of the actual needs of the body for its tissue building, is not only useless – not being necessary to satisfy any bodily need, but causes positive damage to the body, because it imposes upon the eliminative organs, especially the liver and the kidneys, a heavy burden of unnecessary work, the inevitable effect of which must be the wearing out of these organs prematurely and the interference with their normal functions of destroying and eliminating the natural body wastes and then keeping the blood and tissue fluids free from obstructing poison, leading to what is known as auto-intoxication with its attendant evils.
Composed of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen in varying proportions supply energy for work, play and other forms of vital activity, and furnish fuel to maintain heat. This element of food consists mainly of starches and sugars. Starches are derived principally from cereals or grains in all forms, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, peanuts, carrots, turnips, cassava or yam.
Roughly about two-third of the body’s energy is normally derived from the Carbohydrates class.
An overconsumption of starch, has a tendency to cause constipation, flatulence, digestive disorders, enlarged tonsils, colds, etc.
The food sweets of all kinds are: maple sugar, syrups, candies cane sugar, fruits like grapes, sweet apples, and ripe bananas.
Candy and cane sugar taken in excess tend to produce gastric catarrh, hyperacidity, diabetes and torpid liver.
Like the starches and sugar fats supply fuel for the body heat, and serve as a source for the expenditure of energy. As fuel, fats differ from starches and sugar in that while the latter substances may be termed quick burning fuels, fats instead of being burned at once, are for future use in the form of depose tissue, sometimes known as residual or reserve tissue. As heat producer fats have double the value of starches and sugar but fats are more difficult of absorption.
The principal foods rich in fats are butter, cream, animal fat, olive oil, cod-liver oil, and oil of nuts.
An excessive amount of fats tends to cause digestive disturbances, derangement of the biliary function and acidosis. Whereas great excess of fat is highly detrimental to health and prejudicial to longevity. In a normal diet about 3 to 4 ozs. of fats are required daily.
Cellulose is supplied principally by vegetables and fresh fruits. It gives to the intestinal contents the bulk necessary to stimulate peristaltic action. For this reason a certain amount of it is necessary each day in the diet. When the roughage is lacking, constipation, digestive troubles and auto-intoxication are usually the result. Bran is excellent roughage. It can be used raw baked or in the form of bread, or muffins or chapatties.
The curse of the age is the over-refinement of foods by which they are deprived of the most essential of their constituents; processes have been devised and machinery invented to remove husks, skin, shells, integuments and external parts so that only the soft, internal and least valuable parts were offered to the public.
We have for years concentrated in analyzing food into Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats and Cellulose. No attention was paid to anything else. Many decades we have been throwing away and wasting the most essential constituents of foods, namely VITAMINS AND MINERALS.
Nothing in the field of dietetics has created such widespread and genuine interest as the “discovery of the vitamins.” It is true that vitamins are of primary importance in the processes of nutrition. “The Vitamins” mean “life substances” or “life elements” and every naturopath is acquainted with the life elements in foods as preached by an eminent naturopath, Dr Lindlahr and a world renowned physical culturist Bernar Macfadden in their books on dietetics and drugless healing.
Vitamins are undoubtedly essential to life and are builders of our bodies. However it does not matter how many vitamins there are, provided we remember that all the vitamins we need are present in the foods which Nature supplies for our use and provided we eat them as Nature supplies and do not spoil them by removing or destroying the vitamins by wrong cooking and processing.
Vitamins are generally categorized into the following types:
- Water Soluble
- Fat Soluble
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Water soluble Vitamin B1 helps in proper functioning of the digestive system, heart, nerves and muscles.
Sources: Pork, oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables, potatoes, liver, eggs.Deficiency Diseases: Beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin keeps the skin healthy.
Sources: Dairy products, bananas, popcorn, green beans, asparagusDeficiency Diseases: Skin disorders, Ariboflavinosis, glossitis, angular stomatitis.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Niacin seems to occur in mushrooms, asparagus, peanuts, brown rice, corn, green leafy vegetables, sweet potato, potato, lentil, barley, carrots, almonds, celery, turnips, peaches, chicken meat, tuna, salmon
Lack of Niacin results in dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and stomatitis.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): Pantothenic acid seems to occur in broccoli, lentils, split peas, avocado, whole wheat, mushrooms, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, eggs, squash, strawberries, liver.
Nausea, heartburn and diarrhea may be noticed with high dose supplements.Deficiency: Very unlikely. Only in severe malnutrition may one notice tingling of feet. Paresthesia
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine seems to occur in Whole wheat, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, potato, garbanzo beans, banana, trout, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, walnuts, peanut butter, tuna, salmon, lima beans, bell peppers, chicken meat.
High doses of supplemental vitamin B6 may result in painful neurological symptoms.Lack of Pyrodoxine results in chelosis, glossitis, stomatitis, dermatitis (all similar to vitamin B2 deficiency), nervous system disorders, sleeplessness, confusion, nervousness, depression, irritability, interference with nerves that supply muscles and difficulties in movement of these muscles, and anemia. Prenatal deprivation results in mental retardation and blood disorders for the newborn.
- Vitamin B9 (Folic acid): Folate is the naturally occurring form found in foods and Folic acid is the synthetic form used in commercially available supplements and fortified foods. Inadequate folate status is associated with neural tube defects and some cancers.
Sources: Leafy vegetables, pasta, bread, cereal, liver.Lack of Folic acid results in anemia (macrocytic/megaloblastic), sprue, Leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, weakness, weight loss, cracking and redness of tongue and mouth, and diarrhea. In pregnancy there is a risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery.
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Found in Fortified cereals, liver, trout, salmon, tuna, haddock, egg.
Lack of Vitamin B12 results in pernicious anemia, neurological problems and sprue.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid): Water soluble Vitamin C is supposed to increase the resistance of our body to infections and helps fight diseases.
Sources: Citrus fruits (especially oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes). Vegetables and sprouting grains.Lack of Vitamin C results in bleeding and ulcerated gums, scurvy, tooth decay, loss of weight.
- Vitamin H (Biotin): Water soluble Biotin seems to occur in green leafy vegetables, most nuts, whole grain breads, avocado, raspberries, cauliflower, carrots, papaya, banana, salmon, eggs.
- Vitamin A (Retinoids): Fat soluble Vitamin A maintains healthy eyesight, proper growth and healthy skin.
Sources: Cod-liver oil, milk, dairy products, fruits and leafy vegetables.Lack of Vitamin A results in lowered resistance to eye infections, lack of full growth, Night blindness, hyperkeratosis, and keratomalacia.
- Vitamin D: Fat soluble Vitamin D controls the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in bone-building and teeth formation.
Sources: It can be had from cod-liver oil, milk, egg-yolk, and sunshine (prepared in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight).Lack of Vitamin D results in rickets, bending and softening of the bones, deformities, failure of calcium metabolism.
- Vitamin E (tocopherol): Fat soluble Vitamin E is essential for normal functioning of muscles and protection of liver.
Sources: lettuce, watercress, beans. The richest source yet found of Vitamin E is the germ of the wheat kernel.Deficiency is very rare; sterility in males and miscarriage in females, mild hemolytic anemia in newborn infants.
- Vitamin K: Fat soluble Vitamin K is necessary for normal clotting of blood.
Sources: Green leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage, soya bean oil, liver, tomato.Deficiency diseases: Bleeding diathesis
It follows, therefore, that the chief foodstuffs necessary to ensure good health should be selected mainly from fruits and vegetables (preferably uncooked), milk, and grains.
Dr. Casimin Funk, who first investigated the nature of the vitamins, is of opinion that the public would do well to curb its tendency towards making a fad of artificially supplying in various preparations. This is what he says: “What would be the use in preparing all our foods artificially, so long as nature is producing her own foods in sufficient abundance to supply an increasing population. It would be folly even to think of turning ourselves into domestic manufacturers and consumers of self-made food so long as nature gives enough.”
We are not wrong in saying that there is only one way to secure our daily supply of vitamins. Eat simple natural foods, whole grain products, and you will be well nourished without the addition of vitamin tablets to your dietary.
From this we see that poor nutrition, or wrong feeding of our bodies, is an almost universal cause of disease. There are other factors of course, but the failure of proper nutrition is the basic and most prevalent cause.