February 1, 1901
In a few cases of disease such as flatulent dyspepsia, chronic gastritis, diabetes, obesity and chronic dysentery, an almost exclusive meat diet, with only a little dry bread, has been found beneficial. Fat and lean meat of animals taken together contains all the fourteen elements of which the human body is composed. A man could, therefore, live on an exclusive meat diet.
The Agricultural Student -- The Food Value of Meats
THE FOOD VALUE OF MEATS.
It is not the purpose of this article to discuss the pros and cons of vegetarianism. Man's adaptability to conditions is great, and while men may live and apparently thrive for a time upon a one-sided diet, a generous mixture of animal and vegetable food is best calculated to enable a man to meet the exigencies of our civilization and the nervous strain of our large cities.
In this country our prosperity, the excellence of our meat supply, and the habit which most Americans have formed of eating a good deal of meat, makes it more important to dwell upon
the ill effects of eating too much meat, rather than upon the necessity of eating some.
Fat and lean meat of animals taken together contains all the fourteen elements of which the human body is composed, but not in the same proportion. A man could, therefore, live on an exclusive meat diet, though owing to the great concentration of such food, it would not be advisable for him to do so. The human body requires four times as much heat-producing as muscle-making food and as the main function of meat is to repair old tissue and form new, he would need to eat great quantities — about six and a half pounds daily — to furnish heat which could be much more advantageously derived from some form of starchy or saccharine food. These, too, would furnish the bulk needed to keep the bowels in proper condition, and would lessen the waste products to be elIminated by the kidneys.
In a few cases of disease such as flatulent dyspepsia, chronic gastritis, diabetes, obesity and chronic dysentery, an almost exclusive meat diet, with only a little dry bread, has been found beneficial.
While for well persons, the stimulating qualities of meat eaten in moderation are desirable, the deleterious matter of which the system must rid itself when too large an amount is indulged in, thwarts the very purpose for which it is taken and renders the brain dull and the whole person lumpish.
To lay down a general rule for the amount of meat to be consumed by a person in a day would, however, be impossible since the state of health, the age, occupation and climate all modify very materially the proper daily ration.
It is thought, and not without foundation, that meat makes the blood rich by increasing the number of red corpuscles in it. It is, therefore, often prescribed by physicians for anemic persons and consumptives. Raw meat, which is sometimes given in such cases, has no advantage over lightly cooked meat, in fact the latter is much more wholesome. Meat should be entirely prohibited in acute or chronic Bright's Disease, gout and rheumatism. It is well known that meat is conducive to tissue building and for this reason children over eighteen months old should have meat at least once a day and better twice a day. Growing boys need much meat and should be allowed a larger amount at a meal than their elders ; but no person in health should take meat more than twice a day. A small boy may, with propriety, eat from five to six ounces at a meal. Boys of ten years from seven to eight ounces, and large boys from seven to twelve ounces. Men and women over fifty years of age ought to eat sparingly, especially of meat, as the waste products of meat are the urates, phosphates, sulfates and urea which must be excreted by the kidneys and hence tax these organs, besides making all the fluids of the body acid, causing rheumatism and gout.
Persons eating much meat should have abundant out-door exercise, as nearly every particle of meat must be burned up in the body and large quantities of oxygen are needed for this. Sedentary men should, therefore, not eat heavy meat meals especially during business hours.
Fat furnishes heat, but in so concentrated a form that a certain amount of fat produces two and a half times as much heat as an equal amount of starch or sugar. On this account pork with other food forms a suitable diet for cold weather, since the fat and the lean of an ordinary portion contain five parts of heat-producing material to one part of muscle-making substance. Veal is a good meat to serve in warm weather, as even the lean portions of it contain but little fat; but veal is only suited to persons with absolutely normal digestion, since, being an immature meat it is less easily digested and assimilated than beef or mutton.
Meat has been supposed by some to tax the digestive organs proper, more than other food; but, while it remains in the stomach from an hour to two hours longer than vegetables, the digestion of the lean part is practically accomplished in the stomach and little work thus devolves upon the intestinal ferments, so that it does not require more energy, on the whole, to dispose of meats than to dispose of foods such as starches and sugars which are hurried through the stomach, but must undergo a long process of intestinal digestion.
The products of the digestion of meats, moreover, enter more quickly into the blood, and its sustaining effect is more quickly felt than when another kind of food is taken. Any sudden exertion is known to be more easily withstood by a man accustomed to a meat diet than by another.
The thing which does tax the digestive organs is to oblige them to supply all the needs of the body from food of one kind, be that either meat taken entirely, or vegetables and starches eaten exclusively. Meat, vegetables and bread may be eaten together ; or milk or cheese may be substituted for meat, and eaten with vegetables and bread. Either of these combinations forms a good diet for well persons.
Helen G. Sheldon