THE RELATIONS OF FOOD TO HEALTH.
We begin, then, with a typical baby, born of civilized parents, and living in the midst of the best civilization to be had. Savage or even partially civilized life could never furnish the type we desire. It is true, as we have seen, that natural laws, so deeply planted that they have become instincts, have given to many wild nations a dietary meeting their absolute needs; but only civilization can find the key to these modes, and make past experience pay tribute to present knowledge. We do not want an Indian baby, bound and swathed like a little mummy, hanging from the pole of a wigwam, placidly sucking a fish’s tail, or a bone of boiled dog; nor an Esquimaux baby, with its strip of blubber; nor the Hottentot, with its rope of jerked beef; nor the South-sea Islander, with its half-cocoanut. Nor will we admit the average Irish baby, among the laboring classes in both city and country, brought to the table at three months old to swallow its portion of coffee or tea; nor the small German, whom at six months I have seen swallowing its little mug of lager as philosophically as its serious-faced father. That these babies have fevers and rashes, and a host of diseases peculiar to that age, is a matter of course; and equally a matter of course that the round-eyed mother wonders where it got its dreadful disposition, but scorns the thought that lager or coffee can be irritants, or that the baby stomach requires but one food, and that one the universal food of all young animal life,—milk.
Take, then, our typical baby, lying fresh and sweet in the well aired and lighted room we suppose to be his birthright. The bones are still soft, the tender flesh and skin with little or no power of resistance. Muscles, nerves, all the wonderful tissues, are in process of formation; and in the strange growth and development of this most helpless yet most precious of all God’s creations, there are certain elements which must be had,—phosphates to harden the delicate bones; nitrogen for flesh, which is only developed muscle; carbon,—or sugar and fat, which represent carbon,—for the whole wonderful course of respiration and circulation. Water, too, must be in abundance to fill the tiny stomach, which in the beginning can hold but a spoonful; and to float the blood-corpuscles through the winding channels whose mysteries, even now, no man has fully penetrated. Caseine, which is the solid, nourishing, cheesy part of milk, and abounds in nitrogen, is also needed; and all the salts and alkalies that we have found to be necessary in forming perfect blood. Let us see if milk will meet these wants.
(Supposed to contain 1,000 parts.)
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