Everyone knows he needs food, but few know what foods are needed. Man has lived on a great variety of foods and survived. But because he survived does not mean that he enjoyed good health while he lived. Our goal is not merely to survive!
John wrote to Gaius that he wished the he would prosper and be in health (III John 2). Without health it is doubtful that prosperity would bring much joy.
Abundance has been the key word in the history of our nation, yet national health is not ours. The scourges of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases are a constant threat. Certainly it is not because we do not have enough medicines or doctors. Indeed, people have to be sick before these are necessary. But doctors and medicines have not solved the problem and disease goes unconquered.
We need to look at the cause, the ounce of prevention that will keep us from becoming sick. And whatever the evidence demands, we should be willing to do it or suffer the consequences.
Our forefathers died, but not from the diseases that are rampant today. They suffered from the infectious diseases. Rules of sanitation where often ignored or unknown, and their winter diet often did not include enough fresh vegetables. We practice these rules of sanitation today and east more fresh vegetables. We are not plagued by pneumonia, diphtheria, smallpox and the like.
But the people of our nation are dying of what are called “degenerative disease” – disease which results from unhealthy changes within the body itself. Do we have any clues to what may be causing all this?
The Industrial Revolution of the past century opened to man the potentials of mass production. Things from pots to plows could be made more cheaply and made available to more people than ever before.
The food industry today followed this same pattern. Now each little town no longer has its flour mill, nor are the vegetables and fruits provided by the gardens of the local area only. Food stuffs produced in various areas are shipped to large central processing plants. From there they are sent to all parts of the nation.
But foods are not like machinery, furniture or clothing. They spoil, get weevil, become rancid or rot. If these were allowed to take their toll, it would mean much loss to the buyer and distributor. Methods of preservation have therefore been devised. Refrigeration, chemical and antibiotic treatment and refinement all help to prevent such loss.
But what is the effect of these treatments and this refinement on you and me, the consumers? Is the food as good for health as it was before all this tampering? What do we find? Let’s take, for instance, bread, the “staff of life.”
Bread made from wheat, rye or barley has been called “the staff of life” since time immemorial. And indeed is was. Any whole unrefined grain is a storehouse of many elements that have been found necessary to good health. The chief natural supply of the B-complex vitamins is the seeds of plants.
But the “staff of life” is no longer what it used to be. Let’s see why.
With the introduction in the late 1800’s of the roller mill system for refining wheat it became possible to produce white flour cheaply on a large scale. People liked the appearance and the baking qualities of this flour. Millers and grocery men liked the way it kept. Claims were deliberately made that the parts of the wheat which had been discarded had “no nutritive value” (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. X, 11th edition) and were very likely even injurious to health.
Today we can charitably assign such claims to ignorance. The knowledge of nutrition that has developed since about 1900 has proved these claims to be false. Now we know that the outer coverings of grains and the germ, the very parts that were once said to be valueless and unnecessary – contain elements that are absolutely necessary for good health. These are the vitamins of the B-complex, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, copper, iron and calcium. Not only is it true that these parts of grain contain these elements, but it is also true that the starchy white parts does not. Our bodies must have these vitamins and minerals in order to use the starch and protein of the grain for energy and for building cells and tissues.
Despite the evidence that the body needs everything in the grain, for years nothing was done to remedy this lack. In fact, another destructive process, bleaching was devised to artificially age the flour and make it whiter than ever. Certainly no weevil could live in it.
Now it would have been harder than ever to re-introduce the bread of our great grandfathers. People were used to eating the white flour products and, besides, there was the investment in multitudinous machinery to think about. However, evidence that the average American diet lacked some things kept piling up.
Finally, in 1941 the government became concerned about the nation’s health in connection with the war effort. A Committee of Food and Nutrition was established to determine what could be done to improve the nation’s diet. They had to take into account what people would accept. It the parts of the wheat that contained these vitamins and minerals were left in the flour, people would not like it and they certainly could nor risk and dissatisfaction, particularly during a war. Besides that, the flour would breed weevils and become rancid under the present set-up of large mills located in a few centralized areas. There would have to have been radical change.
Having considered these angles, the Committee decided that people did not have to get all of these substances from flour. If they ate enough fruits, vegetables, milk and so forth, they should get enough of most of the vitamins and minerals.
Still the people failed to get enough vitamin B-1, B-2 (riboflavin), niacin and iron. If the millers would add just these four things, reasoned the Government Committee, everybody’s needs should be taken care of.
Chemists had already learned how to manufacture these vitamins artificially, so it would be simple to add a certain amount of these artificial vitamins to the flour. These would not change its color nor cause spoilage. This seemed the solution to the problem.
The question is, does the average person eat enough vegetables, milk, fruit, and so forth to make up for what has been taken out of the flour and other grain products? Can one food make up for the deficiencies of another? Were the artificial vitamins of any lasting value?
Today, the lament that most Americans lack calcium is admitted in nearly every work about nutrition. Yet calcium was not put back into this flour.
Anemia is a frequent complaint among our population, especially pregnant women. Is the iron that is put into the flour doing any good? Iron will not help unless there is also copper present. Where is the replacement for the copper that was milled out?
Constipation is a national ailment. Ads advocating this or that preparations to add “bulk” to the diet are seen in every magazine. These preparations would not be necessary if flour with the bran in it were being used. The mineral magnesium, a natural antacid and nerve tonic, is also missing from the white flour. Perhaps that is one reason why so many complain of “acid stomach. These facts become important when we realize how much denatured flour and cereal products are eaten every day.
An American nutrition authority, Prof. Geo. R. Cowgill, said in l953, (over 56 years ago), and twelve years after the inception of the flour and cereal enrichment program, “If the American people continue to use (refined) wheat and sugar in amounts currently consumed, one would have to consume tremendous and impossible quantities of the protective foods, milk, green vegetables, fruits in order to secure the amount vitamin B-1 which has been lost in the past century as a result of refinement in the milling of wheat.”
In the book Foods for Life published by the University of Chicago Press, Ralph W. Gerald gives examples of symptoms of vitamin deficiencies as “weakness, easy fatigability, constipation, loss of appetite, headache, disturbances of sleep, excessive irritability, depression, inability to concentrate, queer feelings in the fingers and toes, burning tongue, ‘gas,’ and many other odd bodily sensations. These symptoms are generally classified as nervousness, neurasthenia, or just plain imaginations.” How many of these symptoms have trouble you? Have you excused yourself by saying, “Well, I’m just the nervous type”? The truth is that your diet hasn’t been providing everything that you need!
This is not to say that these symptoms are always due to a deficiency, but the likelihood is great when the nature of our food supply is considered. We may as well admit it. There is no substitute for the original. The alternative is plain.
Instead of the improverished white flour, begin using flours made of the whole grain for your baked goods. This we know is not always easy to do. Some towns do not have a store that sells it or if it does, it is flour that was milled at some far distant point and was loaded with bromated and possibly other chemical to keep it from breeding weevils before it got to you. If grain is grown at all in your locality, contact a farmer or a grain company who will sell you the whole uncontaminated grain. Then buy a small mill, either hand or electric, and grind your own as you need it. Make sure that he grain has not been treated for weevils or as seed for planting as these treatments are poisonous and dangerous.
Mills can be bought which adjust to make cereal as well as flour. Some of the mills which use a stone instead of a burr to-do the grinding make finer flour than he commercial mills. This is what is probably referred to in the Bible as “fine flour” in Leviticus. The coarseness of the whole wheat flour which is sometimes found in stores is disappearing, especially to a beginner. The resulting baked products are so heavy that the housewife becomes discouraged with trying to cook with whole-grain products at all. She is apt to assume that all whole-grain flours are course. This is not the case. Attempts should be made to buy flours from various sources until satisfactory ones are found.
Certain magazines interested in health and gardening carry advertisements of farms and companies which sell good flour and other products by mail order. This is practical if the distance is not too great. Good flours and cereals can also be bought at so-called “health food” stores. These stores are found in many larger towns. While they may sell genuine health foods, they also usually have shelves of vitamins and minerals supplements which are not health foods. Most of these preparations are only parts of foods which have been mixed together according to the ideas of food faddists. These avoid. Spend your money for the foods which God made for man and not for what man has made for himself!
Questions that people want to know about the use of flours:
Flour for making bread is made of hard wheat. This wheat has more proteins and therefore makes a more elastic dough, which is what is needed when making bread with yeast.
For making cakes and pie crusts there is a special whole wheat flour called “whole wheat pastry flour.” It is pale in color and softer textured because it has protein and more starch. There is also an unbleached white flour which may be used for special purposes, such as for thickening sauces and for mixing in small amounts with the whole wheat flour when especially light bread or rolls are desired. No more than 1/6 of the total flour needs to be of the unbleached white flour. For example, if your recipe calls for 6b cups of flour, use 5 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the unbleached white flour. All white flour used to be unbleached and in some European countries it still is.
Sometimes recipes direct that the whole wheat flour be measured without sifting. However, this method will give variable results because if the flour has become tightly more can be got into a cup than at times when it may not have packed so much. So always sift the flour, and then measure it.
If you have whole wheat pastry flour, no changes in cakes recipes need be made. But if you bused the regular whole wheat flour, remove a tablespoonful of flour for each cupful that is called for, or you will have to add a little more milk or water. If the whole wheat flour that you are buying is said to be especially high in protein it will need more liquid in order to make a proper dough, or else the amount of flour will need to be reduced somewhat.
Flour is also made from a number of other seeds. Soy flour made of the soybean is recom-mended, especially in dietetic diets. It contains much more calcium and protein and somewhat more of the B-vitamins complex than any other flour. But its protein is not in the form of gluten, the substance that makes bread dough elastic and strong enough to rise. Soy flour is therefore mixed with other flour to make bread. It is useful in increasing the food value of wheat bread. For this purpose, any amount of flour to be used may be of soy flour. Special breads made of soy flour have had wheat gluten flour added so that the dough will rise.
Buckwheat and rye flour are never refined though they may have preservative added to them. This is not so of cornmeal. It is difficult to find cornmeal in the grocery stores that is made of the whole corn kernel. It has been degerminated so that no matter how long it stands on the shelf, it will not become rancid. The germ of corn and of any cereal grain, for that matter, is high in oil, vitamin E, the B-vitamin complex and protein. So it will be worth your while, health-wise and taste-wise, too to find and buy cornmeal made of the whole kernel.
Breakfast cereals are fooling people; the grains have been soaked, cooked, puffed and toasted to within an inch of their lives. Then synthetic vitamins, malt flavor and refined sugar have been added to the pitiful product so that it will have taste appeal and a semblance of nutritive value. And you don’t get all this processing for nothing. As you can see, you really pay for it.
The high cost of foods gives us a clue to the present high cost of living. Anything that you buy already prepared is going to cost you more money that if you bought the ingredients and made it yourself. Which do you have the most of - money or time?
And what of your health?
While cracked wheat and wheat meal cereals will cost more in the store than if you8 ground them at home, their cost will not be nearly that of the ready-to-eat cereals.
Other cereals you may like to try are steel-cut oats, rolled wheat, rolled oats and hulled millet. Have your tried cooked brown rice for breakfast? With raisins or chopped dates it is very appetizing. Avoid cream-of-wheat or anything similar. Hominy and hominy grits are both degerminated and consist of little more than starch. They should be used very seldom, if at all.
One word of caution about serving breakfast cereals. Don’t smother the cereal that you serve your children under a layer of sugar! And for that matter, don’t do it yourself. The children will learn to follow your example, whatever it is.