Tuesday, August 2, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 6 - DIGESTION AND ASSIMILATION - Also Diet Suggestions for Maintaining Health - By Mark H. Berry

When the subject of physical training is mentioned to the average person, they immediately think of a special diet or the college training table. On the other hand, mention the term physical culture, and the average person thinks of vegetarianism. However, as we know, there is a group of physical culturists who are constantly in physical training, and to whom there is no such thing as a training table; nor does the subject of a meatless diet appeal to them. These are the men whom I prefer to call Practical Physical Culturists, comprised of advanced bar bell men. My reason for referring to bar bell men as "practical physical culturists" in a practical sense: in other words, they depend on real exercise for the promotion of health, whereas too many persons who prefer to be known as physical culturists rely on diet, fasting, water, bathing, and in fact, practically everything but physical exercise or real physical culture.

It seems to me that it would be possible to write volumes on this angle of the physical training question, without causing myself any worry or undue trouble. Don't misunderstand me, please, as I recognize the value of dietetics in the promotion of health, but at the same time I distinguish between sensible eating and faddism.

Over twelve years ago, I changed to a mixed diet after having lived on a meatless diet for eight years. During a good part of that time, my vegetarianism was so strict that peanut butter was used instead of the cow variety. I made a thorough study of the subject, and can say with every degree of confidence that my diet was as sound as that of the most scientific vegetarian. Reading voraciously every book and article on the subject obtainable I followed the masters who convinced physical culturists they were leading them to emancipation from weakness, disease, and every other human sin and evil through the religion of diet; even war and murder could be overcome, we were told, by easing the annual slaughter of innocent animals. I have since learned that some of the foremost protagonist of a bloodless dietary, preceded me in reversal of ideas on the consumption of foodstuffs. The outstanding evil in the vegetarian doctrine is that some of those who preach loudest on the merits of a meatless diets are hypocrites. They simply don't practice what they preach. They lead thousands of people into buying proprietary foods and meat substitutes, and though they cannot be classed as prevaricators, due to not openly claiming to follow a meatless diet, nevertheless the inference is drawn by the eager enthusiasts who follow such teachings and become emaciated.

For female typists who perform no kind of physical exercise, or for males who prefer to lead and effortless, effeminate sort of an existence, some of the meatless, raw food, milk and nut diets will serve to keep skin and bone together. If my reader happens to be that kind of male ( I won't say man) then you may suit yourself, but you are simply wasting your time reading a book on vigorous, manly exercise.

Those who suffer with a venereal taint in the blood may realize satisfactory results on some of those diets, but not the man who wishes to be 100 % masculine, vigorous, muscular, and energetic. I simply do not know of any vegetarian strong men, or of any physical culturist who has advanced to physical perfection on a vegetarian diet. I do know of some good men of muscle who like to eat vegetarian meals occasionally, and for the sake of novelty I enjoy eating in certain vegetarian restaurants in New York City. I am even convinced that it would be beneficial to the health of many people to eat fairly regularly in some of those restaurants. I would go so far as to advise anyone who wished to gain weight to eat one meal every day in of the first class vegetarian restaurants in New York City, providing they would eat a full meal and not be afraid of overeating. Some of the foods you may get there are extremely filling, and when plenty of liquid is included, added bodyweight should be forthcoming. Still, everyone may not take to the strange dietary so readily, as the following incident will prove.

In the company of Mr. Siegmund Klein and other New York strength fans, I have often enjoyed a vegetarian meal. On one occasion we took a group of visiting strong men to one of the restaurants referred to above, thinking it would be a novel treat. Instead, two of our friends actually became sickened and disgusted attempting to eat the imitation meats. That is a general attitude we have found among strong men: they abhor the idea of trying to eat such mystery foods and prefer substantial, every-day grub, as we might say.

There can be no practically sensible reason for carrying on a discussion on the merits and demerits of different foods. It would take a volume or more to do so, and then the chances are you would be more confused than ever. Generally when one of my pupils requests information on the proper diet for increasing bodyweight, the following advice is give: Eat three good-sized meals daily, including plenty of meat, thick soups, potatoes, spaghetti, macaroni, eggs, cheese, beans, peas, cereals and cream, bread (preferably whole grain) and lots of butter, fresh vegetables of every kind, also green and leafy vegetables in abundance, and fruits, fresh, canned, and stewed. In other words, we might as well say, eat everything that is wholesome and nourishing. For the purposes of gaining bodyweight or maintaining a high degree of physical efficiency we believe in three good solid meals each and every day. Soup, preferably of the thick variety, with both the noon and evening meals, and a good amount of liquids with the meals. In the army, we observed the extraordinary gains of bodyweight made by the new recruits: by questioning and observation we learned the men were eating more than the customary amount, also more regularly, and including a great deal more liquid with their meals. Of course, a more active life and regular hours had considerable to do with it.

The individual who is accustomed to hard work, especially out-of-doors, is able to eat much larger quantities; in fact he needs it. For breakfast he could include eggs and bacon, oatmeal, cornmeal, and in fact, a much heavier sort of dietary, while at lunch and dinner, or dinner and supper, the active man would best eat about the same sort of meal as above outlined. The athlete in training should try hard to include digestible foods and eat about the same as the hard-working man, being sure to make his dietary wholesome and of wide variety. So long as foods are relished and cause no bad effects, they can be eaten by one who is active.

Some people advocate skipping a meal now and then, but to do so is really liable to lead to bad habits of elimination. There is nothing so beneficial to the promotion of perfect health as getting into the habit of regular hours of elimination. The internal eliminative organs will perform their duties like clock work, providing you give them some encouragement, and besides establishing regular hours for the purpose, eating three times daily is most important. Not so long ago, a noted authority on gastro-enterology delivered an address over the radio. He stated among other important things that some solid food should be included with every meal, and meals should not be skipped.

For the proper regulation of the body, we advocate eating stewed fruits such as prunes, apricots, or peaches, with your breakfast every morning; also eating generous portions of spinach, cabbage, or other similar foods at your other tow meals; the system requires a great amount of roughage to properly carry on the function of elimination. Persons suffering from a ptsoed and inflamed condition of the intestinal tract may find it necessary to eliminate all rough and coarse foods from the diet until the trouble is overcome. That is a condition requiring the attention of a physician. A suitable diet in such case a case would be one wherein soft, blend foods predominated.

Many thin underweight persons have a ptosed condition of the stomach and intestines which means a sagging or dropped condition of the organs, preventing them form emptying food in a normal manner, thereby causing the retained food to ferment and putrify. This condition is due to a lack of internal fat, which would hold the organs in their normal position. They must endeavor to correct this condition by overcoming the congestion of the dropped organs and encourage the accumulation of internal fat. The physician, when consulted concerning ptosed organs, will generally prescribe a proper fitting abdominal belt, which should be put on while in a recumbent position, and taken off in the same way, and worn at all times when on the feet. The following should prove of benefit in raising sagging organs: while lying down, try to push the congested organ upwards with gentle but firm manipulations of the hands; then try to widen the diaphragm arch by placing the fingers under the lower ribs, and while taking short, quick breaths force the ribs outward.

Diet suggestions for those with sagging organs and much underweight: eat quite large meals of well cooked cereals like cream of wheat, or wheatena, corn starch, mashed potatoes, toasted white bread, macaroni, spaghetti, fresh greens and vegetables, cornmeal, thick soups, and eat plenty of fruits, but have them stewed and strained so they are free of all skins, seeds and coarse particles. Drink buttermilk and milk in fair quantities. It is best to have all vegetables mashed, and the meat broiled, with milk scalded before drinking. Sugar and cream, jellies, gelatin and puddings may be eaten.

As to coffee and tea, we believe them harmless so far as the average, healthy male is concerned. If you find them harmful in your case, or prefer not to drink them, substitute cereal coffee or cocoa. Warm drinks with the meals are most beneficial to the digestive processes. There is something we might mention in connection with beverages and drinking water which is not generally understood. Many persons believe it essential to drink hot water for the correction of constipation, while in fact, hot water has the opposite internal action. You may recall that many people suffer from dysentery or diarrhea during the summertime, induced by the eating or drinking of too much cold stuff, which chills the internal organs and bring on the trouble. The drinking of scalded milk is known as a reliable remedy, but other hot drinks will achieve the same result. However, if you are troubled with constipation it is not a good idea to drink too much of cold beverages in an attempt to overcome the trouble.

The vigorous man should not know he possesses a stomach, and it is a fact that strong men seldom pay attention to their stomachs. On the other hand, those who worry about the food they eat and try to pamper the stomach, somehow or other are certain to have cause for worry. As long as you exercise strenuously at fairly regularly intervals, and an attempt is made to eat sensible combinations of wholesome food, the stomach is best left alone. Truly, we do not advocate gorging or over-eating and just because a man is unusually strong is no reason for him expecting to abuse himself and get away with it. Louis Cyr was one example of the strong man who abused himself in this respect. He was accustomed to engaging in eating marathons with Horace Barre and other men. It is said of Cyr that he would eat a dozen eggs at one meal and then sit and control his abdominal muscles, thinking he was aiding to the digestion of the excess food. This sort of thing undoubtedly led to his demise at an earlier age than he should have died. Still it may be like the man who lived to be 96 and failed to live to a hundred because he drank too much whiskey all his life.

Children need more food in proportion to their weight than adults, because they are more active internally and externally, and must provide for the growth of the new tissue; also due to a relatively greater loss of heat, owing to a comparatively larger body surface. Advancing age usually means a less active life as well as less active metabolism. For a healthy person leading a normal life, appetite and experience seem safe guides by which to control the diet. They will at least prevent under nutrition and the consequent lessening of the body's natural powers of resistance to disease. We will refer to this question a little later.

Dieticians have worked out a system of figuring the bodily heat and energy requirements by setting a standard unit with which to make their computations; this is termed a calorie, which represents the amount of heat necessary to raise the temperature of a kilogram of water on centigrade degree or two degrees Fahrenheit. Different foodstuffs produce different quantities of heat. For instance, each gram of fat produces about 9.3 calories, each gram of carbohydrates about 4.1 calories, and each gram of proteins about the same.

When you get down to the practical side, there seems to be something wrong about trying to proportion your food to suit the calorie tables, as it is found that persons living under like conditions, seem to require very much smaller quantities of proteins and of energy than others. One person could live on what might starve others, while some would be continually overfed. It has been the experience of some persons by means of experimenting, that a dietary of just the correct amount of calories will not give sufficient food quantity to satisfy the appetite day after day. A strict regime of that sort will always tend to grown tiresome, and in time the subject of the experiment will have a continual longing for more food. Some additional quantity is disposed of in the system which cannot be accounted for by means of instruments or experiments. Presumably this extra quantity is used to keep the body at par, or to store up a reserve. Reserve energy in the body is something quite indefinable with our present degree of knowledge, but the glands store up a reserve in a mysterious manner.

It is our contention that persons who limit the food intake and lead an active life weaken themselves in some way. We have observed this among our acquaintances, and although we have said nothing and they are probably unaware of the fact, we believe in our own mind that some weakened condition can be observed. Sometimes we have felt this was reflected in premature baldness among athletes, but others cases would seems to disprove the baldness theory. Of one thing we seem to be certain, and that is those who limit their food intake beyond reasonable requirements are not very active sexually; whether or not that is an important question to most of you; but in the final analysis, we believe it to be a salient point in determining the effects of your manner of living upon your vitality and virility. Should I offend anyone in this respect, I wish to be pardoned, but fundamentally if my theory could be properly substantiated in fact, it would prove of utmost importance in the scheme of real physical fitness. From a personal knowledge of many men, and due to my position giving me entrance to the intimate personal facts in the lives of many men, I am somewhat convinced on this one point. My old grandfather, who in many is respects is quite a sage for wisdom, has held such and opinion for many years; he has long been energetic and youthful far out of the ordinary for one of his years.

We might give the following figures for those interested in the calorie system, though these can only be given as approximate when applied to general cases, but will give an idea of the bodily requirements in this respect. A person leading a quiet inactive life would require about fifteen calories for pound of bodyweight daily; one who is moderately active would need eighteen to twenty calories per pound of bodyweight; while a hard-working man or strenuously engaged athlete would need twenty to twenty-five. In attempting to compute your diet on this basis, do not forget what we have just said about allowing some extra quantity to satisfy the appetite and assure the body of complete nutrition.

Experiments have prove that a diet of only proteins, carbohydrates and fats will not be sufficient to properly sustain life. A certain other element is necessary, known as vitamins; these do not serve a s source of energy, but are in some way essential to metabolism, though their exact nature has not been determined. Pellagra, scurvy, and beriberi, as well as various forms of acidosis are caused by a deficiency in vitamins. They are found in fresh fruits, the skins and peelings of vegetables, milk, eggs, and in the bran of rice, wheat and other cereals. Foods are robbed of this element when the bran is removed as in white flour and polished rice, or when potatoes are peeled, or in the boiling of vegetables and throwing away the water in which they were boiled. Paper bag, waterless, and steam cookery all originated in an attempt to preserve these vital elements and mineral salts; as even in the steam or vapor passing off when cooking, the vegetables are robbed of such essentials.

Digestion is not, as some persons are inclined to believe, confined to the stomach, but essentially digestion includes all the processes which assist in preparing the food for use in the body. The first step is in the mouth where the food is ground up by the teeth so that it shall present a greater surface to the action of the digestive juices, and where it is mixed with the salivary juices making it suitable for passage into the stomach, there to be mixed and churned with other juices; the stomach also acts as a reservoir to properly distribute the mixed food into the small intestine for further digestion and where the greater amount of assimilation takes place.

A special adaptation to food is seen in all the digestive secretions, and it well shown in the salivary glands. A copious watery secretion is evoked by the presence of dry food in the mouth, but a thick mucoid secretion is passed out on moist particles of tasty food; and example of the purposive nature of the secretion. The watery saliva moistens dry food, the mucoid secretion welds the food into a bolus, preparatory to its being swallowed. The character and nature of the gastric secretion also depend on the nature of the food. A rapid secretion of effective juice is poured out on flesh foods, a scanty secretion in the case of milk is due to the fat contained therein; fat inhibits gastric secretion; the secretion evoked by the ingestion of milk is found to be the weakest gastric juice of all, and , in addition, the pancreatic juice secreted is the least in amount. That is, when an equivalent quantity of nitrogenous food is given as flesh, bread or milk, the least secreting activity is evoked in the case of milk. The secretion poured out on milk is effective, but at the same time economic. The importance of milk as a food is apparent from this, and particularly when economy of digestive gland activity is important.

What we have mentioned in connection with the action of gastric juices on fat, prompts us to mention a few words concerning the eating of fried foodstuffs. When fried in the ordinary manner, that is, in shallow grease, the fat or grease permeates the entire article of food. The gastric secretions cannot then properly act on the food. If the frying is done in deep grease, so that the food sinks entirely beneath the surface, the hot grease forms a coating around the food, making it more desirable for health purposes.

To properly understand your body, the means of bringing about a general improvement, and the constant maintenance of a high degree of efficiency, it is necessary to posses a thorough knowledge of digestion and related functions, which also includes circulation and respiration. He who attempts to control his health by diet alone can succeed but partially, as a thorough reading of the chapters on respiration and circulation will prove.

Iron Nation
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Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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