Three: Why Modern Refining Processes are More Deadly than War
§ 34 -- Corn Meal or Cornless Meal
THE folly of comparing the "digestibility" of white patent flour with the "indigestibility" of bran is self-revealed through the very nature of the arguments employed by the millers.
"Complete absorption" means constipation. Deficiency of mineral salts means constipation. Absence of cellulose or fibre means constipation. Bran takes up moisture and holds it in the intestines, thereby making the intestinal mass more elastic, stimulating peristalsis and increasing the rhythmic waves of contraction and relaxation so necessary to the process of elimination.
Bran surrenders to the body the solubles it contains. These solubles, physiologically active, are absorbed to perform the metabolic task assigned them. Had God not meant them to be present He would not have called them from the void.
Bran is but one of the discarded particles of wheat, corn and rice. Its importance must not be overemphasised at the expense of the other discarded particles. Bran in itself is not a food; it is merely a natural constituent of wheat, corn, rice, peas, beans, etc.
White patent flour contains approximately 11 percent protein; bran contains 15 percent. Flour contains 1 percent fat; bran contains 4 percent.
The lecithins or phosphorised fats are found in the bran and in the germ of the grain. In the milling of patent flour and refined corn meal the lecithins are discarded.
Patent flour, like refined corn meal, contains less than one-half of 1 percent mineral salts. The bran and germ of the grain contain nearly ten times as much. Of phosphorised compounds alone bran contains twelve times as much as patent flour.
This does not mean that bran is a substitute for whole meal. It is not. Bran. lacks many of the elements found in the cells of the thin outer skin of the wheat. It is the whole grain, with bran and germ included, nothing added and nothing removed, that is ground into honest, adequate, God-given meal.
Such meal is rich in all the food minerals and vitamines essential to animal life, containing just that quantity of bran necessary to make constipation impossible.
Where constipation is avoided the absorption of the irritating and poisonous end-products or toxines of intestinal putrefaction is rendered quite impossible.
Thus one of the suspected causes of cancer and of many other diseases, including hardening of the arteries, is also avoided. Involuntary suicide and auto-intoxication are synonymous.
The proposition that bran or any other food adjunct will cure cancer is not advanced here. Foolish would be the cancer victim who resorted to bran as a cancer cure, but there can no longer be any doubt that the absence of these essential food substances from the diet are responsible for the development of many diseases.
Our government in 1917, to extend the supply of wheat and to improve the nutrition of the masses, contemplated the wisdom of restricting the consumption of wheat to whole wheat. The millers of patent flour seeing in this project grave danger to their industry, succeeded in thwarting the movement.
Our government then urged us to eat wheat substitutes, emphasising corn in particular.
Certainly our boys "over there" wanted us to follow our government's suggestion. They wanted us to eat corn. We can say this positively, because we know they wanted us to do everything necessary to win the war.
We knew that without the sacrifice of life on the battlefield and without the sacrifice of pet ideas and cherished habits at home, speedy and decisive victory could not be achieved, yet we did not consume corn as we should. We did not make a soldier's honest effort to secure the kind of corn we should have had.
Our indifference to corn can be explained by the fact that the kind of corn now served to us is not only flavourless, due to the milling system that robs it of its flavour, but like white wheat flour, it lacks the indispensable substances of an adequate diet.
In asking us to eat corn our government certainly wanted us to eat the right kind of corn. We can get the right kind of corn by going after it. God grows no other kind.
We know that corn will produce the finest poultry ever grown, but we have doubted its value as a human food, not knowing that the kind of corn fed to poultry is not the kind fed to the human.
We know that corn will produce an abundance of eggs, but we are sceptical of its ability to nourish human tissues, not realising that the kind of corn fed to human beings will not produce eggs.
We know that corn will produce the heaviest and meatiest beef which only the great corn belt of the Middle-West is capable of producing, but we assume that it will not put on the backs of men the flesh it will put on the backs of cattle. Yes, it is true that the kind of corn fed to man will starve cattle.
The near-corn for which man tries with little success to develop an appetite will kill poultry, hogs and cows. Chickens fed on it will die in less than fifty days. Children fed on it to the exclusion of other offsetting foods will speedily develop pellagra.
Children fed on it with an insufficiency of milk and fruit so lose vitality and resistance to disease that they become easy victims of any infection that passes along.
What then is the difference between corn that will nourish animals and near corn that will kill animals? between corn that will nourish men and near corn that will not nourish them?
Why do farmers recognise this difference, providing only the right kind of corn as food for the animals in which their money is invested?
Why do fathers and mothers of children ignore facts that farmers apply to the development of their live stock?
Would our boys in the trenches, fighting for the betterment of the human race, ask us to answer these questions if they knew the answer, honestly applied to our own home needs, would increase our health, strength, stamina and endurance, and by releasing other necessary foods to our soldiers and our allies contribute heavily to the winning of the war?
Of course, they would.
What then are the facts?
The whole kernel of corn contains 10 percent protein. Refined corn meal contains less than 8 per cent. This protein difference is of little moment, but it represents a deficiency which becomes progressively worse as we go down the line of nutritive substances withdrawn from refined corn meal.
God puts these substances in the grain; man takes them out. The whole grain contains 4.3 percent fat derived chiefly from the germ. This fat is not like lard. It is a highly complex substance containing the "fat soluble A" without which no young animal or child can grow, and without which no adult can maintain health.
In refined corn meal only one-fourth of the original fat of the kernel is preserved. In whole corn meal we find the vitalising mineral salts, all of them, to the extent of fifteen parts to the thousand, whereas in the refined corn meal only four parts are left, many of the salts having been removed entirely.
Like whole wheat, the kernel of corn has a fibrous outer skin beneath which is a layer rich in protein and phosphorus compounds of complex character. This layer is called the gluten layer. Within it lies the germ.
All these layers and the germ itself with their rich mineral compounds and vitamines are discarded in feeding man, although carefully preserved in feeding animals. Yet the laws of nutrition apply to man and beast in the same manner.
Not only do these substances, discarded in our effort to "improve" on God's handiwork, contain the vitality of the corn, they also contain its flavour, both of which are lost in the refining process.
This loss makes man instinctively turn his back on corn.
Certainly in war and in the reconstruction that follows war we ought to be just as much concerned in putting beef on the backs of our soldiers and workers as upon our corn-fed animals.
Thousands of our doctors and nurses went to the other side in 1918. Surely when medical attention for preventable ills at home becomes scarce we need more resistance than ever.
Why do we tolerate any dietetic condition that menaces the health of prospective mothers, of nursing mothers, of growing children, of workers in shipyards, munition plants, factories or shops?
It is our duty to aim for efficiency and productivity, free from the handicap of preventable afflictions.
Even in peace when we succumb to deficiency diseases caused by a one-sided diet our doctors cannot help us unless they restore the missing nutritives of which we have been deprived.
The archives of the United States Public Health Service at Washington are filled with records that prove this assertion.
What, then, shall we do about it if we fail to insist that all our millers of corn meal shall give us the whole grain, freshly ground?
Of course, our mills should be nearby.
Corn will keep for years unground. Only when tempered with water and ground long before it is needed does corn spoil. Spoiled corn is unfit for food, but it need not spoil.
The trouble with the corn miller is that when he releases his demineralised, degerminated and impoverished meal he wants none of it to return a thousand miles to him "out of condition." He wants it to stand on the shelf of the grocery store a year, if necessary, and not become rancid during the interval.
He is not concerned with the food properties of his product. He is interested in the profit per package. Such ideals do not win wars, nor do they conserve the health of the nation, nor do they inspire men who understand them to lay down their lives in their perpetuation.
Fortunately, at an expenditure of five or six dollars we can obtain little grinding machines for use at home. With them we can make our own whole corn meal as well as our own whole wheat meal if our grocers refuse to provide the unrefined product. Once the millers witness an invasion of their field by a sufficient number of hand mills to make them pause in their present system, they will begin to vie with each other in the production of grain foods as they should be produced.
Constipation is the enemy of mother and child. It is wide-spread among adults of both sexes. It gives rise to many physical ills which originate in congestion, inflammation, irritation, and absorbed toxines.
There are many reasons why the prospective mother and her unborn babe should not be robbed of the salts of food.
The millers will never know how many babies they have handicapped from birth. See section 99.
Be it remembered that no chemist can tell us in terms of grams anything about the exact quantity of phosphorus, iron, potassium, lime, silicon, sodium, magnesium, manganese, sulphur, chlorine, fluorine, or iodine which we should take into our bodies every day.
Nature has fixed that mysterious and hidden formula for us, yet, confounded in our wisdom, we turn our backs upon the truth and seek destroying novelties in the paths of darkness.
The chemist admits he can never tell us the exact quantity of these bio-chemic salts necessary to the life and health of the human creature.
Three chemists at Columbia University devoted months to a study of but three of the twelve food minerals, determining nothing as to the quantity of them required, but determining everything as to their necessity.
Humanity seems unwilling to trust the Creator in this respect. Eminent scientists seem unable to believe that all natural unrefined foods, whether they be fruits, grains or grasses, contain all the elements necessary to see them safely on their journey through the body.
By assuming the right to manipulate, modify, or destroy the presence and proportion of these food minerals in commercial breadstuffs, they refuse to see the wreckage they have left in the wake of their mineral contempt.
They do not know how they have burrowed into the vitality of human life while it is still in the mother's womb.
They do not suspect to what extent they have been responsible for anemia, tuberculosis, heart disease, and the other ills, such as pneumonia, diphtheria, scrofula, measles, appendicitis, diabetes, Bright's disease, cancer, etc., that follow lowered resistance and the destruction of immunity.
We cannot go into a theatre, church, public building, trolley car, or walk along the dusty city streets without inhaling the living micro-organisms which cause tuberculosis, yet, if our resistance is normal, we need have no fear of the disease because the germs are destroyed as fast as they enter our bodies.
If this were not so, because everybody is exposed to tuberculosis, all the nations of the earth would perish from this disease.
In typhoid epidemics all do not develop the disease. Normal vitality provides in some the resistance necessary to combat the assault, however violent.
Through the facts to follow we may obtain some hint of the relationship our denatured foods now bear to the constant increase in those diseases of adult life, cancer, diabetes, Bright's disease, appendicitis, hardening of the arteries, and organic heart disease, which are destroying so much of the best among men and women.
To obtain an adequate conception of the gigantic scale on which the nation is now undermining its vitality we must examine a few extraordinary figures as large and significant as the tabulations of disease and death with which they are related.
In 1915 the United States produced the largest yield of wheat ever grown in any country of the world -- 1,002,029,000 bushels. This wheat was worth $932,888,999.
Of corn in 1915 the United States produced 3,090,509,000 bushels, worth $1,913,025,071, the most valuable corn crop ever grown.
The barley, rye, and rice crops of 1915 in point of production established records.
The barley was worth $118,577,682, the rye $37,861,403, the rice $22,313,350.
In addition there was a record buckwheat crop worth $12, 854,750. At the 1918 war values these grains were worth three times as much in cash but just as little in food value.
Here surely, according to the statistics announced Nov. 8, 1915, by the Department of Agriculture, was reason for the celebration of a joyous Thanksgiving throughout the United States.
Yet, from all this wheat, corn, barley, rye, rice, and buckwheat, from all of these hundreds of thousands of tons of the breadstuffs of the nation, the phosphorus was removed, the potassium was removed, the iron was removed, the manganese was removed, the magnesium was removed, three-quarters of all the mineral salts and colloids, all of the ferments, enzymes, and vitamines were removed.
Two percent of the total weight of wheat consists of mineral salts. Rice contains less, oats more, corn nearly the same.
What a tragedy has been enacted through the washing, screening, sifting, and bleaching of our wheat, through the brushing, scouring, and polishing of our rice, through the degerminating of our corn, through the pearling of our barley, through the thinning and extending of our buckwheat; through the refining of our rye!
Take wheat alone as an index of the extent of the losses sustained by humanity through the denaturing processes through which all these grains are prepared for human consumption.
Each bushel of wheat produced in 1915 weighed 57.9 pounds, a total of more than 580,000,000,000 pounds, of which 2 percent or more than 5,000,000 tons, consisted of food minerals. Of these five million tons three-fourths were completely lost in the refining process. Here, with wheat alone, we witness the wanton destruction of nearly four million tons of the food elements most indispensable to the health of man, woman, and child.
We see the deliberate rejection of the keystone of the arch, yet when we add to this the rejected food minerals of our corn, barley, rye, rice and buckwheat we build up a mountain of folly so colossal in its menace to the human race that well, indeed, may statesmen tremble when they behold its dimensions.
Other nations have taken alarm as proof after proof of the ravages for which foodless foods are responsible have been disclosed.
In May, 1912, I received from the honourable secretary of the Bread and Food Reform League of England a record of the experiments conducted by Dr. Frederick Gowland Hopkins, Fellow of the Royal Society, reader in chemical physiology of the University of Cambridge.
Hopkins experimented with an 80 percent whole wheat meal which, though not containing all of the wheat, yet retained a much larger proportion of the bran and germ than white flour.
Even with such semi-impoverished material the results of his investigations were so remarkable that they inspired a belated agitation in behalf of whole meal loaf or, as it was called by the London Daily Mail, "household bread."
At the same time Dr. E. S. Eddie and Dr. G. C. Simpson, members of the research staff of the School of Tropical Medicine, University of Liverpool, carried on investigations in which the effects of refined flour and white bread upon children and adults were carefully studied in contrast with the effects of whole meal or whole wheat bread.
An extended research was also conducted by Dr. Benjamin Moore of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, in which groups of pigeons were fed on bread made from fine white flour, while other groups of pigeons were fed on whole wheat bread.
The results afford further irrefutable evidence of the essential health-giving qualities of those parts of grain and cereal foods which are discarded in the milling of flour, polishing of rice, pearling of barley, refining of rye, and the degerminating of corn.
One thing we know: the mountain of rejected food minerals is balanced, alas, how inadequately, by a lake of patent medicines.
Dr. Frederick Gowland Hopkins, department of chemical physiology, University of Cambridge, will prove a stumbling block to all millers of "patent" flour. He says:
"The superior value of whole wheat meal lies in the fact that it retains certain food substances whose presence allows our systems to make full use of the tissue-building elements of the grain. These substances are removed from the fine white flour in the milling.
"All my work to date confirms my belief in the superior food value of standard whole wheat bread. After definitely proving that young animals grow with very much greater rapidity on brown flour than on white flour, I have been able to improve the tissue building rate of the white flour subjects by adding to their white flour an extract made from the brown flour.
"To make the best use of any food material, such as the proteins for instance, certain other food substances and possibly a variety of them must also be present in definite proportions.
"If one essential food constituent which ought to make up at least 1 percent of the total food is present in only half its normal amount, then when it is a case of building up the tissues the system will only be able to make use of half of the other food elements even if these other food elements make up the main bulk of the food.
"This principle has long been recognised as regards plant life and growth. A plant in order to attain perfect growth must find in the soil a certain minimum of each of many elements.
"Consider, for example, the element potassium. If only half the necessary amount of potassium be present, then, no matter how abundant may be all the other soil and air constituents, their normal utilisation is limited to one-half. The rate of growth and the ultimate development of the plant are consequently depressed.
"The absolute amount of potassium employed in growth is very small compared with the carbon or nitrogen; but any deficiency in it limits growth as surely as a deficiency in the more important elements.
"The substances of unknown nature may need to be present in very small amount, but if the necessary minimum is not available the utilisation of other constituents in tissue growth or repair is infallibly deficient.
"In the process of converting the wheat grain to fine white flour these elements are lost or destroyed. It follows that no matter how much nourishment they might otherwise contain our systems cannot make the best use of such nourishment, owing to the absence of those elements necessary to their assimilation."
The conclusions of Eddie and Simpson of the research staff of the School of Tropical Medicine, University of Liverpool, throw still another light upon the experiments of Hopkins. They say:
"It has been proved by Braddon and other workers in the East that exclusive use of polished rice as a diet leads to a form of acidosis or peripheral neuritis. This disease does not occur in those native races who use whole rice or unpolished rice as a diet.
"Our own experiments have been extended to similar work in relation to the stripping of the outer case from the wheat berry so as to produce a white bread instead of a brown bread and we find that parallel results are obtained when the outer layers are excluded from the diet with both wheat and rice.
"These experiments clearly demonstrate that the outer part of the grain contains the essential constituents for the nutrition of the nervous system both in growing animals and in adults."
Benjamin Moore, chief of the biochemical department of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, as the result of his laboratory research, was forced to the following conclusions:
"Groups of pigeons have been fed on fine white bread made from white flour known to be unbleached and unadulterated, while similar groups of pigeons have been given an ordinary quality of whole wheat bread.
"The white bread pigeons have all speedily developed marked symptoms of malnutrition and serious nerve derangements. Besides losing weight they sit listless and shivering, lose power in their legs, suggesting nerve paralysis, while many develop convulsions.
"The whole wheat bread pigeons, on the other hand, continue healthy and up to normal weight.
"In another series of experiments pigeons which had developed grave nervous symptoms on a white bread diet recovered completely when, after a week of special nursing, they were placed on an exclusive whole wheat bread diet during their convalescence."
"All the recent work done in the biochemical laboratories of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine proves beyond question that in all cereals, such as wheat, barley, oats and rice, there are series of important substances incorporated in the inner layer of the husk which are essential to the nutritive value of the grain." These are the words of Dr. Benjamin Moore, chief of the biochemical department of that institution.
"If these elements are eliminated in the milling or preparation of the grain, a diet largely composed of cereals or bread thus denatured will not only fail adequately to nourish the body, but will tend to set up active disease.
"Certain of the diseases of malnutrition among children, notably rickets, scurvy-rickets, tetany and convulsions, present symptoms very similar to those we note in our white bread pigeons. So striking is this similarity that physicians who have followed up our work are already treating certain of their malnutrition patients with a diet of whole wheat bread.
"Our nerves as a nation are much less stable than in the days prior to a white bread diet. All our work suggests that the growing tendency of the age to neurasthenia, 'nerves,' etc., is not unlikely due to removing from our diet those very elements of cereal food which nature has hid in the husk of the grain, and which man, in his ignorance, discards."
A special meeting of the British Association and the Health Congress of the Royal Institute of Public Health was called at Portsmouth to consider the results of the work done by Hopkins, Eddie, Simpson, and Moore. Little has come of this work for the reasons that such discussions usually take the form of ponderous scientific data and the people learn nothing of them.
Prior to the investigations of these British scientists an extensive research into the same subject had been conducted in France. Armand Gautier, internationally eminent, had explored the entire field of nutrition, inspiring numerous other French scientists to undertake work of similar nature.
All of them have arrived at the same conclusion. Man has lost the instinct of nourishing himself. The lower animals, when left to themselves, have an innate knowledge of proper food, but it is necessary that mankind be instructed in a certain amount of scientific knowledge in order that a health-sustaining and disease-resisting diet may be selected.
Just one week before the grim day in which France 'became involved in the conflagration that spread over the nations of Europe in 1914, a little group of French scientists, with no thought of the calamity so shortly to overtake the world, gave to humanity the results of their experimental research into the dangers of feeding with refined cereals.
Their conclusions were published in a French medical journal, July 25th, 1914. Born as they were in the agonies of a reign of destruction and death they possess peculiar significance to the people of the United States, who, a few weeks later, were advised by various commercial-scientific committees, seeking to solve the problem of war prices, to turn away from wheat and wheat flour and consume rice, rye, barley, corn, and oats instead.
E. Weill and G. Mouriquand were two of the investigators who carried on numerous experiments with a refined and demineralised diet for the purpose of determining its effect upon the artificial production of anemia, nervous prostration, interference with the growth of the young, and the breaking up of the natural forces which, in the healthy, well-fed animal, enable it to resist disease.
Their conclusions, literally translated from the French, are as follows:
"To determine whether the effect of feeding pigeons with pearled barley would bring about the same loss of health as that which follows feeding with white flour we fed groups of birds with such barley, which, like refined wheat, is deprived of its germ and outer layers containing the mineral salts and vitamines of the seed.
"The pigeons thus fed showed similar waste and paresis of the limbs and wings as has been frequently noted on a white bread diet. These symptoms were followed by ataxic cerebellar or labyrinthine phenomenon -- the animals falling backward or laterally with hyperextension of the limbs and head, ending in death. A cataleptoid condition sometimes preceded death where there had been no previous symptoms." Again see section 99.
Not content with the results of their experiments, which demonstrated the inadequacy of pearled barley as a life sustaining food, Weill and Mouriquand subjected pigeons to a mixed diet of pearled barley, polished rice, and bolted wheat flour from which the germ, the bran and underlying layers, containing the salts, had been removed.
Weill and Mouriquand expressed the results of their experiments in these words:
"All the pigeons fed on this mixed diet of polished rice, pearled barley and bolted wheat flour showed paralytic disturbances ending in death. We have thus proved that symptoms of the beri-beri type can result from a diet of refined cereals.
"Nutritive disturbances in infants are doubtlessly, at times, caused by a too exclusive feeding with exhausted flour derived from decorticated cereals.
"The physician should take care to vary the diet of the weaned child and include in it cereals from which the pericarp, bran and germ have not been removed."
Six months later another Frenchman, A. Balland, national associate of the Academy of Medicine, issued a warning to the French government in which he said:
"Several times I have pointed out the exaggerated development of the bolting of flour, which augments the price of bread and diminishes its nutritive value.
"Notwithstanding the known facts it is in vain that some of our most distinguished physicians, eye-witnesses of the miseries suffered in hospitals, who are anxious for the future of the race, have arisen against the invasion of white bread.
"The bolting of flour, flavoured by the world-wide cultivation of wheat, which is extending every year, reaches at the present time as much as 50 percent of the weight of the grain, while less than fifty years ago only 13 percent of the grain was unutilised in flour milling.
"Household bread has disappeared from the ration of the French army and this fact is specially dwelt upon by those who dread the effects of the use of white bread because never in the history of France is there greater need than just now of well-nourished, active, and long-enduring soldiers.
"Recently the bolting of flour used for the French army bread has discarded from twenty to thirty percent of the weight of the grain. The result has not let itself be long waited for. Everywhere the ration of bread appears insufficient; the hunger of the soldier is less satisfied.
"At the beginning of the French revolution, when the army bread was made entirely of unbolted flour, the subject was placed before the Academy of Sciences for a decision concerning the advisability of removing a portion of the grain, and Parmentier, the agriculturist, who introduced the cultivation of the potato into France, prepared the official report.
"Even then it was recognised that bolting the white flour was injurious and did not constitute a substantial aliment for the soldier."
Balland, quoting from this ancient report, says:
"'What is good for the soldier is good for every man who is engaged in active physical work and who needs thoroughly nourishing food. The bread so universally employed to-day is made of the central parts of the grain which are the least rich in the color of the bread.'"
Supplementing Balland's warning Michel Levy, and Begin, army official inspectors, declared:
"Bolting eliminates the useful elements of flour in more than one respect and has no other compensation than an improvement in the color of the bread.
"What the white bread lacks in nutrition has to be made up by an increased consumption of other foods containing the missing elements. This fact is brought out very clearly in the reports of the food supply furnished by the French army.
"The use of white bread enormously increases the consumption of meat, which, when pushed beyond the limits of normal toleration, is followed by many physical derangements as grave as those which result from the mineral deficiency of refined cereals."
Never before has any case been made in behalf of public health in which the evidence has been so overwhelming or so conclusive. Yet, if we may be permitted the phrase, "the worst is still to come."
Few Americans have ever eaten rice as nature intended them to eat it. The beautiful grain, midway between cream colour and light brown in hue, with a flavour that the polished rice eater has never tasted, has been banished from the United States for many years.
The robbed substitute is the brushed, scoured, polished, and sometimes talcum coated grain of commerce, so degraded and denatured by the milling processes through which it passes that when fed to the fowls of the barnyard it brings about their death in seven weeks.
Fed on the natural, unrefined grain containing all the elements with which nature has endowed it, the creatures of the barnyard thrive indefinitely.
The "innocent" bowl of rice, as we now scour and polish it, served to the growing child and the convalescent struggling desperately upward out of an abyss of distress, will not support human life. We have robbed it as we rob the wheat.
No, this is not the cry of an alarmist. Behold the facts.
In the Philippine Islands a disease called acidosis, or beri-beri, has wiped away countless thousands.
We have similar diseases in the United States, but we call them inanition, anemia, neurasthenia, nervous prostration, general breakdown.
Beri-beri, or acidosis, journeys from one stage to another, through all of these experiences. Its name neither adds to nor detracts from its ability to destroy. Those who encounter it die the death.
Dr. V. G. Heiser in the year 1910, then director of health of the Philippine Islands, Dr. Fraser of Singapore, Dr. Aaron of the Philippine Medical School, Dr. Highet of Siam, and Dr. DeHaan of Java, produced evidence that showed conclusively that acidosis, or beri-beri, is caused by a diet of polished rice, such as is consumed in the United States.
As early as 1905 Dr. Donald McCaskey had noted the ravages which follow a diet of polished rice.
Polished rice does not introduce some mysterious germ into the body. It simply starves the blood and tissues until they no longer offer a defence to any germ.
With resistance broken and immunity destroyed, as the result of inadequate nourishment, pathogenic organisms take up their residence in the weakened tissues of the body, and grow and multiply until disorder ensues.
During January and February, 1910, another of the many outbreaks of acidosis among the inmates of the Coulion Leper Colony aroused the interest of the little group of physicians named above.
The disease resisted all medical treatment. It was noted that the lepers were striving to maintain life upon a diet of polished rice. As an experiment the polished rice was discontinued and the natural grain substituted.
The sick in the hospital were fed with the rice polishings that had been removed from the refined grain. Rice polishings are the outer layers of the rice that give to the grain its light creamish brown colour. Underneath, the grain is snow white.
This snow whiteness consists principally of starch; the polishings contain the phosphorus compounds and other mineral salts, ferments, vitamines, and nitrogenous products brushed, scoured, and polished away to make the grain pleasing to the delicate eyes of pale women and children.
On a sixty days' diet of the natural grain, to which the rice polishings had been added, the spread of the disease was interrupted and complete cures established. Yet, not one of the 400,000 children under ten years of age who died in the United States that year could find a pound of that natural brown rice in all the land.
Still the medical profession needed more evidence than this to convince it that when man denatures his food by refining processes he destroys its ability to confer upon him immunity to disease.
So Dr. Fraser of the Straits Settlements and Dr. Aaron of the Philippine Medical School set about to prove that when man brushes, scours and polishes away the phosphorus compounds and other organic minerals present in the pericarp of natural brown rice he robs the human family of its requisite supply of these elements.
After this fact had been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the physicians in the Far East it was again experimentally confirmed in chickens and later in human beings.
Finally two groups of railway workers in the Straits Settlements were employed as a poison squad. The group of men that partook of polished white Siam rice of best quality developed beri-beri within a period of approximately sixty days, while the group that partook of the unpolished rice remained free of the disease.
In feeding the two groups of railway workers in the Straits Settlements, one group received polished white Siam rice, the other group natural whole rice of the same kind.
Every effort was made by interchange of clothing, by personal contact and by living in the same house to convey the disease to the group that ate of the natural rice. Not a single case developed. The process was then reversed.
The group that partook of the polished rice was put upon a diet of natural rice, and vice versa. Within sixty days the refined rice eaters developed beri-beri, although they had remained immune to the disease as long as they ate the natural, whole, unrefined rice.
The results of these experiments were then confirmed in Manila by the use of rice polishings in the treatment of acidosis, the victims of which showed immediate improvement in their condition.
A recommendation was then made to the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, urging him to forbid the use of polished rice in all public institutions.
In the quarterly report of the Bureau of Health of the Philippine Islands for the first quarter, 1910, appeared this statement: "It is hoped by this means not only to eradicate the disease from such places, but also that it may serve as an educational factor in disseminating knowledge as to the method by which such disease may be avoided."
The Governor-General, June 3, 1910, issued an executive order to all health officers and presidents throughout the Islands, forbidding the use of polished white rice in all United States Government workshops, prisons, hospitals and other institutions. Thus it was determined that polished rice was bad food in the Philippines, although elsewhere in the United States people could eat it as they wished.
October 22, 1910, I received a communication from Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, then chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Wiley, as you know, was forced to resign from the government service because of his courage in pursuing food frauds. His activities were becoming a menace to many commercial institutions. These institutions found able agents to thwart his efforts.
He said in his letter to me: "We should not even in a small way permit a condition of nutrition favouring the development of any disease due to the debasement of rice. Rice is becoming a more general diet in this country, and the dealer who first begins the campaign for pure unadulterated rice will promote the cause in a commercial way that will do much toward protecting the health of the people."
Upon the receipt of Dr. Wiley's letter Francis H. Leggett & Company, a wholesale grocery house with which I was then connected, decided to restore whole natural rice to the people.
It was evident to Theodore F. Whitmarsh, vice-president and general manager of the institution, also president of the National Wholesale Grocers' Association, that physiologists were beginning to recognise that the discarded substances of refined foods were essential to the health and well-being of man.
He saw that any commercial effort to keep pace with these scientific discoveries promised to prove a good business policy.
I called to his attention and the attention of his associates the comments of Dr. Alexander Bryce of Birmingham, England, and the experiments of Schauman.
Bryce had said: "It is probable that a daily supply of the different compounds of organic phosphorus is necessary in the food, as no proof exists to show that the nucleins, lecithins or phytins are capable of being substituted one for the other."
Schauman had proved that pearled barley and white wheat flour not only induce disease among men, but among fowls.
Whitmarsh determined to make whole natural rice a feature of his business, together with whole wheat meal and old-fashioned oat meal. Arrangements were made with Texas millers for a supply of high-grade whole rice.
This rice was packed in one-pound cartons, and I was instructed to find a name for it. I labelled it "Premier Natural Brown Rice."
Several thousand dollars were spent in those early days by Francis H. Leggett & Company in an effort to exploit the virtues of this rice. Notwithstanding the reform it represented and its marked superiority in flavour and nutritional value, the product was finally sold as chicken food at a loss.
The people were slow at that time to respond, and their indifference discouraged Whitmarsh as to the commercial possibilities involved in any effort to popularise honest food.
In 1917 he became Herbert Hoover's chief aid in the Food Administration, but although I consulted with him in person and deluged him with letters, he believed it expedient to avoid the subject as a war measure, advising me that "the Food Administration could not undertake to educate the people."
Whitmarsh thus lost the opportunity of an age to become the greatest living benefactor of mankind. Had the Food Administration emphasised the scientific truths at hand, the entire world, under the pressure which the Hoover organisation showed it could apply in other and less important directions, would now be profiting by them.
In 1905 Dr. Donald McCaskey was medical inspector in charge of a company of Igorot soldiers in Buena Vista, Cavite Province, Philippine Islands. The soldiers all went down with acidosis, or beri-beri; all complained of palpitation of the heart, shortness of breath, pains in the nerves, flabbiness of tissue, emaciation, and puffy swelling of the limbs. Remember these symptoms for you will see them again under wonderful circumstances. The disease ended ultimately in paralysis and death.
When McCaskey was put in charge of these troops he noted they had been eating the usual Philippine ration of rice, which, however, had been polished in imitation of the American custom.
McCaskey was familiar with outbreaks of beri-beri that had swept like wildfire among the Japanese troops during the Russo-Japanese war, and he knew that it had been observed at that time that such troops as were fed with unpolished rice were not subject to beri-beri.
Numerous drugs had been employed on the Igorot soldiers, but as they did not bring relief McCaskey put them on a diet of unpolished rice. These are his words:
"The results were so astounding that inside of six weeks the beri-beri sufferers had recovered sufficiently to take the trail and hike on their own legs fifteen miles to Manila."
Later the convictions borne of this Manila experience were further confirmed by his study of beri-beri in the Japanese hospitals at Hiroshime, Tokio, Kobe, and Sasebo.
Surgeon-General Takaki of the Japanese navy was made a baron in recognition of his discovery that beri-beri, prevalent among Japanese soldiers and sailors, was not of bacterial but of dietetic origin, "due to the loss of certain food constituents, notably phosphorus, contained in the inner coating or pericarp of the rice grain, which is always removed and discarded in the preparation of polished rice."
Chamberlain and Vedder of the United States Army Board for the Study of Tropical Diseases, after studying the very high mortality of breast-fed infants in the Philippine Islands, reported that "these infants recovered from nervous diseases of dietetic origin with remarkable rapidity under treatment with an extract of rice polishings." This extract contains phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, and many other bodies of unknown nature discarded in the modern process of milling rice to give it a white and fancy appearance.
Vedder, with Strong and Cowell of Manila, experimented with a rjce diet in Billibid prison, the hygienic conditions of which are reported as almost ideal.
The result of their experiments has been briefly summarised in the following words:
"It has been generally admitted that the higher the phosphorus content of rice the less is the possibility of that rice to produce beri-beri.
"Fraser and Stanton found as an average result in all their examinations that unpolished rice contains 0.540 percent of phosphorus pentoxide.
"Aaron found an almost identical quantity, his figures being 0.557 percent.
"We therefore emphasise the necessity of carefully considering the question of the amount of phosphorus pentoxide which rice should legally be required to contain in order for it to be regarded as an unpolished rice exempt from taxation in the Philippine Islands."
All these investigators have clearly established the fact that refined foods are inadequate to the needs of the living animal.
Some of them, however, have gone into confusing and dangerous fields.
"Give us enough 'phosphorus pentoxide' and we shall be safe," concludes one group.
"Give us enough 'potash' and everybody will be safe," says another group.
"Give us the 'vitamines' and our food, of whatever it may consist, will be sufficient to our needs," declares another group.
Another group tells us that "if we consume sufficient 'calories' we need have no other worries."
"A spoonful of gravy is all that is necessary to supply the off-setting elements missing in white bread and other refined foods," says Dr. Woods Hutchinson.
None of these commentators seems to realise that it is not any one of the elements of known or unknown nature to be found in natural food, however important in itself, but rather the combination of all of them which is essential to health and longevity.
Short time experiments with any one of them or with the absence of any one of them or with any arbitrary combination of some of them cannot yield results which will serve as a standard for an entire lifetime.
It is not the phosphorus lost in the milling of wheat, the polishing of rice, the pearling of barley, or the degerminating of corn which explains the inadequacy of such refined and denatured foods when consumed by man or animal.
Commenting on the phosphorus content of unpolished rice as an index of its fitness for food, Chamberlain states:
"The determination of any other element which is chiefly contained in the pericarp, such as potassium, iron, calcium, etc., would be an equally good index of the safety of the rice."
In other words, the food factory cannot remove any one element from the cereals prepared by it without also removing all of the other elements. They are so intimately bound up with each other that when one goes all go.
To over-emphasise the importance of ferments or vitamines or any one of the mineral salts is to cloud the whole issue of metabolism in mystery and darkness. One might as well over-emphasise iodine and ignore the vitamines as to over-emphasise the vitamines and ignore iodine.
We have already seen something of the thyroid gland and have learned that in health its iodine content is much higher than in disease.
The manner in which iodine, so completely removed from bread, biscuits, cakes, crackers, cookies, breakfast foods, cornmeal, pearled barley, rye flour, polished rice, pancakes, glucose, table syrup, sugar, candy, etc., influences the metabolism of other indispensable bodies is vaguely hinted at through the experiments of A. I. Ushenko.
Ushenko found that "following thyroidectomy (which means the removal of the thyroid gland) the percentage relation of phosphorus to pitrogen in the urine is first increased but then again is strangely diminished before death.
"The amido acids and purin bodies are increased while creatinin is diminished. The metabolism of the tissues containing phosphorus and nitrogen is acutely disturbed, the synthetic processes being mostly affected."
Here we behold the removal of an iodine-secreting gland affecting disastrously the interrelations of other parts of the body and modifying at once the nature and proportion of elements secreted and excreted by those other glands. Iodine in itself will not support life. Its combination with other elements is essential.
Chamberlain declares that Schaumann's assumption that it is a phosphorous compound which prevents polyneuritis is not correct.
"A large number of substances," he says, "have been shown to be of no value in the prevention of polyneuritis. Among these may be mentioned potassium, chloride, phosphoric acid, either singly or combined, potassium phosphate, either acetate or carbonate, magnesium phosphate, lipoids of the lecithin group, nitrogen compounds, such as histidin, asparagin, and various amino acids (elaborated in the digestion of meat, eggs, cheese, etc.), potassium iodide, thyroid extracts, Romann's salt mixture, cottonseed oil, egg albumen, or any combination of these substances."
The failure of vitamines, when consumed without the assistance of the other food elements necessary to normal nutrition, to perform the miracle of sustaining normal life and health requires little demonstration.
These vitamines, some of which, isolated by Casimir Funk, are complicated chemical compounds, occur as colourless needle-shaped crystals with a melting point of 451 degrees Fahrenheit. When added to a diet of sugary and starchy foods they will not maintain life, although sugar and starch are rated among the very highest of the "high calorie" foods, and therefore are looked upon by mistaken scientists as the most important of all foods.
In fact, however high the calories, or however abundant the vitamines, unless the other food elements, so wantonly destroyed by food refinement, are present the body cannot make proper use of them.
The experiments of Voegtlin and Towels with foods of "high calorie" value deprived of their mineral content demonstrate the inadequacy of the calorie theory.
These investigators found that "an aqueous extract of autolysed spinal cord from which the coagulable protein has been removed contains vitamines or anti-neuritic substances which cure symptoms of polyneuritis in birds fed on polished rice when administered in daily doses corresponding to four grams of dried cord.
"These vitamines or anti-neuritic substances, when added to a diet of polished rice, seem capable of removing some of the nervous symptoms of disease, but fail absolutely to establish normal metabolism and the affected birds do not recover."
This is known. The simplest of natural foods contain all the mysterious physiologically active principles required to maintain normal health. Still we find scientists blindly rummaging through fields of experimental darkness seeking complicated and high-sounding explanations for phenomena so humble on the surface and so majestic at the core that they have defied all the cross-examinations, all the probings, all the analyses, and all the theories of man.
The grain of wheat simply asks to be let alone. The other cereals cry out to humanity, "We are sufficient in ourselves; do not change our nature, do not undervalue our functions, do not manipulate our attributes, do not destroy those potent forces we have brought forth from the earth for the food of man."
In vain shall we seek for peace while we are at war with the laws of God. Scientific phrases are not substitutes for the laws of life, howsoever they may contribute to the vain glory of the eminent members of that august inner circle of established reputations whose mighty wisdom, ignoring the simplest laws of life, clashes with the all-sufficient but hidden purposes of the Creator.
The shadow cannot ignore the substance; the dream cannot ignore the reality; the reflection cannot ignore the flame. The lore of the libraries cannot ignore the miracle found in a drop of milk or a grain of wheat.
Real science, in all the humility of true greatness, suggests in what it is doing for the welfare of the world an image of the divine, but the semi-scientific confusion which has complicated the dietary of nations is but a modern Babel.
Next: 44. Bases and Acids in Food
Table of Contents
Back to the Small Farms Library
Community development | Rural development
City farms | Organic gardening | Composting | Small farms | Biofuel | Solar box cookers
Trees, soil and water | Seeds of the world | Appropriate technology | Project vehicles
Home | What people are saying about us | About Handmade Projects
Projects | Internet | Schools projects | Sitemap | Site Search | Donations | Contact us