Keeping Fit (Unabridged)
Keeping Fit (Unabridged)
The Miracle of Food
Table of Contents
Here is bread, which strengthens man's heart, and therefore is called the staff of life.
- Matthew Henry.
O hour of all hours, the most blessed upon earth,
The blessed hour of our dinners!
- Owen Meredith.
Cheese and bread make the cheeks red.
Behold a crust of bread and a jug of water let down into Bunyan's cell, which a little later appear in the greatest allegory that was ever written by man!
Watch that crust of bread as it is cut, crushed, ground, driven by muscles, dissolved by acids and alkalies; absorbed and hurled into the mysterious red river of the man's life blood! Scores of little factories along this wonderful river, waiting for this crust, transmute it as it passes, as if by magic, here into a bone cell, there into gastric juice, here into bile, there into a nerve cell, yonder into a brain cell. We cannot trace the process by which it arrives at the muscle and acts, arrives at the brain and thinks. We cannot see the manipulating hand which throws back and forth the shuttle which weaves Bunyan's destinies, nor can we trace the subtle alchemy which transforms this prison crust into "Pilgrim's Progress." But we do know that, unless we supply food when the stomach begs and clamors, brain and muscle cannot continue to act; and we also know that, unless the food is properly chosen, unless we eat it properly, unless we maintain good digestion by exercise of mind and body, it will not produce the allegories of a Bunyan, the energy and achievements of a Roosevelt, the inventions of a Marconi, an Edison, or the successes of a great constructive man of business.
The age of miracles past! Why, there is a miracle performed at every meal which is more mysterious than the raising of the dead to life! You take a piece of bread, a piece of meat, a few vegetables into your mouth, and in a few hours they become man; they begin to think, they begin to act; that food takes on all the characteristics of your personality. Your ancestors relive and act in it. What was a few hours ago food is now making laws in Congress, is passing decisions upon the bench, is farming, is running machinery, is doing all sorts of things. Is the quality, the quantity, the manner of partaking of the nourishing material which is to perform the miracles of the world of any great consequence? Is it worth much concern?
Part of your efficiency, your health, your mental vigor, your future welfare, lives in that meal of which you are about to partake. Can you afford to take in material which is going to give you deteriorated blood? Can you afford to take in that which will give you a second-class brain and can only manufacture mental processes in keeping with its own inferior quality?
Your food can give off, when assimilated in the body, only the force which Nature has stored up in its cells.
You may say it does not matter much what you eat,-so long as it satisfies your hunger. Do you realize that the cells in that stale vegetable and soft, spongy fruit, which has already begun to decay, and the poor meat you are eating, are much deteriorated; that they have lost their recuperative, renewing, refreshing force? Do you realize that while you may satisfy hunger, you are manufacturing second-class blood, a second-class brain, a second-class nerve tissue, a second-class man? And you want to be a first-class man, do you not? As a man eateth , so is he. As he eats, so will he live, so will his strength be.
You have wondered, no doubt, many times, why you lack power to concentrate your mind, to hold your mental grip upon the thing you are doing. You perhaps have not realized that the quality of your intellectua