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A Handbook of Health by Woods Hutchinson

The refrigerator in the kitchen prevents colic or diarrhea


Beware

of Tainted Food. The most dangerous fault that any food can have is that it shall be tainted, or spoiled, or smell bad. Spoiling, or tainting, means that the food has become infected by some germs of putrefaction, generally _bacteria_ or _moulds_ (see chapter XXVI). It is the poisons--called _ptomaines_, or _toxins_--produced by these germs which cause the serious disturbances in the stomach, and not either the amount or the kind of food itself. Even a regular "gorge" upon early apples or watermelon or cake or ice cream will not give you half so bad, nor so dangerous, colic as one little piece of tainted meat or fish or egg, or one cupful of dirty milk, or a single helping of cabbage or tomatoes that have begun to spoil, or of jam made out of spoiled berries or other fruit. This spoiling can be prevented by strict cleanliness in handling foods, especially milk, meat, and fruit; by keeping foods screened from dust and flies; and by keeping them cool with ice in summer time, thus checking the growth of these "spoiling" germs. The refrigerator in the kitchen prevents colic or diarrhea, ice in hot weather is one of the necessaries of life. Smell every piece of food to be eaten, in the kitchen before it is cooked, if possible; but if not, at the table avoid everything that has an unpleasant odor, or tastes queer, and you will avoid two-thirds of the colic, diarrhea, and bilious attacks which are so often supposed to be due to eating too much.

[Illustration:

A CHEAP HOME-MADE ICE BOX

This should not cost over twenty-five cents. The sketch shows an ordinary soap box; inside is a tin pail surrounded by a sheet of tin, so that there is a circular air space between the pail and the sheet of tin. Sawdust is packed around the tin, and cracked ice (two cents a day) fills the tin pail around the milk bottle. The newspapers inside the cover help to keep out the warmth of the outside air. Recommended by the Boards of Health of New York City and Chicago.]

Variety in Food is Necessary. Man has always lived on, and apparently required, a great variety of foods, animal and vegetable--fish and flesh, nuts, fruit, grains, fat, sugar, and vegetables. Indeed, it was probably because man could live on anything and everything that he was able to survive in famines and to get so far ahead of all other sorts of animals.

We still need a great variety of different sorts of food in order to keep our health; so our tendency to become tired of a certain food, after we have had it over and over and over again, for breakfast, dinner, and supper, is a sound and healthy one. There is no "best food"; nor is there any one food on which we can live and work, as an engine will work all its "life" on one kind of coal, wood, or oil. No one kind of food contains all the stuffs that our body is made of and needs, in exactly the right proportions. It takes a dozen or more different kinds of food to supply these, and the body picks out what it wants, and throws away the remainder.

Even the best and most nutritious and digestible single food, like meat, or bread and butter, or sugar, is not sufficient by itself; nor will it do for every meal in the day, or every day in the week. We must eat other things with it; and we must from time to time change it for something which may even be not quite so nutritious, in order to give our body the opportunity to select from a great variety of foods the particular things which its wonderful instincts and skill can use to build it up and keep it healthy. This is why every grocery store, every butcher shop, every fish market, and every confectioner's shows such a great variety of different kinds of foods put up and prepared in all sorts of ways. Although nearly two-thirds of the actual fuel which we put into our body-boilers is in the form of a dozen or fifteen great staple foods, like bread, meat, butter, sugar, eggs, milk, potatoes, and fish, yet all the lighter foods, also, are needed for perfect health.


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