November 1, 1937
A dietitian describes how meat is healthy in an omnivorous diet to prevent anemia and protein malnutrition and also explains how an exclusive meat diet is possible by citing Stefansson's study. "The chief importance of this experiment was not to encourage people to live on an exclusive meat diet, since this would be economically expensive and socially inconvenient. It did serve, however, to show that meat is probably not the cause of all the evil effects that have been ascribed to it."
Omnivorous Mankind by Mary Pascoe Huddleson
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Omnivorous Mankind By MARY PASCOE HUDDLESON
Editor, Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Ideal diet neither one-sided nor weird, despite proponents of various “fads”, expert contends. ... Menu for adequate amounts of all “protective” Meat is held essential for providing . . How explorers lived five years in the Arctic on exclusive diet of foods. readily convertible proteins. meat and returned in good health. . finds that “man is an omnivorous animal and subsists on the most extraordinary food combination”’.
Let us consider meat from the point of view of its place in the diet of so-called normal or healthy persons. Meat is a tasty, agreeable food to many, and constitutes an important source of protein, an essential substance in the building and repairing of body tissue. Further than this, the proteins of meat, fish and other animal foods such as eggs, milk and cheese, are of high quality and can be readily converted into body tissue.
An overwhelming array of evidence has been offered to show the ill effects of a diet too low in protein. We all know the type (usually female) who boasts of taking nothing but coffee, a slice of toast and fruit juice for breakfast, and selects a luncheon or dinner similar to this: fruit cup; vegetable plate consisting of three or four vegetables; a large green salad with French dressing; a fruit ice; and then more coffee. These foods are eaten with a virtuous feeling that such edibles are good for you. And so they are, in sensible amounts and when combined with sufficient of the animal sources of protein —meat, eggs, cheese.
Man, while a mammal, is neither a rabbit nor a cow. It is difficult for him, yet comparatively easy for the cow, to get sufficient protein from vegetable food. The rabbit-like eater may go on for months without showing serious evidences of any lack. But probably many a languid, listless lady might perk up and change her mental outlook if she would only let herself go with a goodly cut of rare roast beef or a juicy steak. Not only is the non-meat eater apt to be short of protein (particularly if no milk, cheese or eggs enter into the diet), but listlessness and susceptibility to fatigue, suggestive of secondary anemia, can result when a diet is deficient in iron. Meat, as well as being a valuable source of protein, is a good source of iron.
Of all the dietetically inspired battles that have raged above the rattle of the tea cups, probably the one with the vegetarians on the one side and the meat-eaters on the other, has been the most heated. At times the disturbance raised reminds us of what the diet-faddist claims will happen if these two types of foods (carbohydrate rich and protein rich) get mixed up in the human stomach—an explosion! Writing m the Journal of the American Medical Association some time ago, Dr. Martin E. Rehfuss said: ‘Man is an omnivorous animal. He subsists equally well on the high-protein dietary (meat— fish) of the arctics, the high-carbohydrates regimen of the tropics, and the most extraordinary food combinations of the temperate zones.” On the surface this is true. Man seems to be more ‘adaptable than any other animal to a variety of situations.
Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of an exclusive diet was presented in the observations of Dr. Eugene F. Du Bois of Bellevue Hospital on the explorers Stefansson and Anderson. Mr. Stefansson gave in Harpers Magazine a popular account of his adventures in diet. After living in the Arctic for a total of more than five years, exclusively on meat (fish and water), Mr. Stefansson returned to so-called civilization to tell of his good physical condition on such a diet. His views were looked upon with some skepticism.
Finally a series of experiments were conducted upon Stefansson and Anderson at Bellevue Hospital, New York City. The men lived upon an exclusive meat diet for a little over a year. The meat consisted of beef, lamb, veal, pork and chicken and the portions of the animal used included the muscle, liver, kidney, brain, bone marrow, bacon and fat. The meat was taken for the most part only lightly cooked, except for the bone marrow which was eaten raw. At the end of the year the physical condition of both men was as good as at the beginning. There was no rise in their blood pressure; there was no evidence of kidney irritation or damage; no constipation developed nor any other obvious ill effects from the prolonged use of an exclusive meat diet. It is significant, however, that an exclusive meat diet, in order to be complete or adequate consists not only of flesh meat with a goodly portion of fat, but includes portions of the glandular structures such as kidney and liver as well. Furthermore, some of the meat eaten should be very lightly cooked, or practically raw. In the case of Stefansson and Anderson, the bone marrow was eaten raw, and they followed the Eskimo habit of eating fish bones and chewing rib ends, thus doubtless securing a fair amount of calcium.
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The chief importance of this experiment was not to encourage people to live on an exclusive meat diet, since this would be economically expensive and socially inconvenient. It did serve, however, to show that meat is probably not the cause of all the evil effects that have been ascribed to it. In his series of articles, Stefansson himself concludes that “you could live on meat if you wanted to but there is no driving reason that you should”.
But in the amounts usually taken in the American diet, meat serves its purpose as a valuable food; and in the light of reputable evidence there is little to be said against its place in the diet of normal people. Further than this, much that has been said against meat, to the effect that it causes or aggravates certain diseased conditions, seems to be open to question. Chief among the sins chalked up against meat have been the accusation that it is a disturbing or promoting factor in rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, Bright’s disease and high blood pressure. This sentiment is gradually being dispelled.
Recent and authoritative medical writers now place little reliance on a low protein (or low meat) diet in arthritis. In contrast to the supposition that a high protein diet is productive of kidney damage, it is believed by many that a diet low in protein may damage practically all the body tissue, since protein food is essential for building and repairing body tissue. The dietary treatment, today, of chronic Bright’s disease of the kidney, includes sufficient protein food of good quality. If the diet in this disease is too low in protein foods, for example meat, it is said that the anemia so commonly associated with it comes on more rapidly.
Dr. Clifford J. Barborka in “Treatment by Diet,” lists foods useful for their blood-building qualities as follows: meats (liver, kidney, beef, chicken gizzard, lamb); eggs, fruits (apricot, peach, prune, raisin) ; and vegeta- bles (spinach, beet greens, letuce). Cereals, dairy products and breadstuffs, according to Drs. Whipple and Robsheit-Robbins, have the minimum value, while liver is the most potent factor in hemoglobin production. .. .
While the average American diet is believed not to be deficient in iron or protein, yet the many vague symptoms commonly attributed to the Spring, if it happens to be that time of the year, may be due to insufficient protein of good quality, or to insufficient iron.
The ideal diet is one that contains adequate amounts of all the protective foods — milk and its products, eggs, leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, and meat. It is neither one-sided nor weird, and best of all it can be one which may be eaten with enjoyment as well as benefit to health.
—Permission, This Week—N. Y. Herald-Tribune