Whether it’s sugared cereal or pastry and black coffee for breakfast, whether it’s hamburgers and Coca-Cola for lunch or the full “gourmet” dinner in the evening, chemically the average American diet is a formula that guarantees bubble, bubble, stomach trouble.
Unless you’ve taken too much insulin and, in a state of insulin shock, need sugar as an antidote, hardly anyone ever has cause to take sugar alone. Humans need sugar as much as they need the nicotine in tobacco. Crave it is one thing — need it is another. From the days of the Persian Empire to our own, sugar has usually been used to hop up the flavour of other food and drink, as an ingredient in the kitchen or as a condiment at the table. Let us leave aside for the moment the known effect of sugar (long-term and short-term) on the entire system and concentrate on the effect of sugar taken in combination with other daily foods.
When Grandma warned that sugared cookies before meals “will spoil your supper”, she knew what she was talking about. Her explanation might not have satisfied a chemist but, as with many traditional axioms from the Mosaic law on kosher food and separation in the kitchen, such rules are based on years of trial and error and are apt to be right on the button. Most modern research in combining food is a laboured discovery of the things Grandma took for granted.
Any diet or regimen undertaken for the single purpose of losing weight is dangerous, by definition. Obesity is talked about and treated as a disease in 20th-century America. Obesity is not a disease. It is only a symptom, a sign, a warning that your body is out of order. Dieting to lose weight is as silly and dangerous as taking aspirin to relieve a headache before you know the reason for the headache. Getting rid of a symptom is like turning off an alarm. It leaves the basic cause untouched.
Any diet or regimen undertaken with any objective short of restoration of total health of your body is dangerous. Many overweight people are undernourished. (Dr H. Curtis Wood stresses this point in his 1971 book, Overfed But Undernourished.) Eating less can aggravate this condition, unless one is concerned with the quality of the food instead of just its quantity.
Many people — doctors included — assume that if weight is lost, fat is lost. This is not necessarily so. Any diet which lumps all carbohydrates together is dangerous. Any diet which does not consider the quality of carbohydrates and makes the crucial life-and-death distinction between natural, unrefined carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables and man-refined carbohydrates like sugar and white flour is dangerous. Any diet which includes refined sugar and white flour, no matter what “scientific” name is applied to them, is dangerous.
Kicking sugar and white flour and substituting whole grains, vegetables and natural fruits in season, is the core of any sensible natural regimen. Changing the quality of your carbohydrates can change the quality of your health and life. If you eat natural food of good quality, quantity tends to take care of itself. Nobody is going to eat a half-dozen sugar beets or a whole case of sugar cane. Even if they do, it will be less dangerous than a few ounces of sugar.
Sugar of all kinds — natural sugars, such as those in honey and fruit (fructose), as well as the refined white stuff (sucrose) — tends to arrest the secretion of gastric juices and have an inhibiting effect on the stomach’s natural ability to move. Sugars are not digested in the mouth, like cereals, or in the stomach, like animal flesh. When taken alone, they pass quickly through the stomach into the small intestine. When sugars are eaten with other foods-perhaps meat and bread in a sandwich — they are held up in the stomach for a while. The sugar in the bread and the Coke sit there with the hamburger and the bun waiting for them to be digested. While the stomach is working on the animal protein and the refined starch in the bread, the addition of the sugar practically guarantees rapid acid fermentation under the conditions of warmth and moisture existing in the stomach.
One lump of sugar in your coffee after a sandwich is enough to turn your stomach into a fermenter. One soda with a hamburger is enough to turn your stomach into a still. Sugar on cereal — whether you buy it already sugared in a box or add it yourself — almost guarantees acid fermentation.
Since the beginning of time, natural laws were observed, in both senses of that word, when it came to eating foods in combination. Birds have been observed eating insects at one period in the day and seeds at another. Other animals tend to eat one food at a time. Flesh-eating animals take their protein raw and straight.
In the Orient, it is traditional to eat yang before yin. Miso soup (fermented soybean protein, yang) for breakfast; raw fish (more yang protein) at the beginning of the meal; afterwards comes the rice (which is less yang than the miso and fish); and then the vegetables which are yin. If you ever eat with a traditional Japanese family and you violate this order, the Orientals (if your friends) will correct you courteously but firmly.
The law observed by Orthodox Jews prohibits many combinations at the same meal, especially flesh and dairy products. Special utensils for the dairy meal and different utensils for the flesh meal reinforce that taboo at the food’s source in the kitchen.
Man learned very early in the game what improper combinations of food could do to the human system. When he got a stomach ache from combining raw fruit with grain, or honey with porridge, he didn’t reach for an antacid tablet. He learned not to eat that way. When gluttony and excess became widespread, religious codes and commandments were invoked against it. Gluttony is a capital sin in most religions; but there are no specific religious warnings or commandments against refined sugar because sugar abuse — like drug abuse — did not appear on the world scene until centuries after holy books had gone to press.
“Why must we accept as normal what we find in a race of sick and weakened human beings?” Dr Herbert M. Shelton asks. “Must we always take it for granted that the present eating practices of civilized men are normal?… Foul stools, loose stools, impacted stools, pebbly stools, much foul gas, colitis, haemorrhoids, bleeding with stools, the need for toilet paper are swept into the orbit of the normal.”
When starches and complex sugars (like those in honey and fruits) are digested, they are broken down into simple sugars called “monosaccharides”, which are usable substances-nutriments. When starches and sugars are taken together and undergo fermentation, they are broken down into carbon dioxide, acetic acid, alcohol and water. With the exception of the water, all these are unusable substances-poisons.
When proteins are digested, they are broken down into amino acids, which are usable substances-nutriments. When proteins are taken with sugar, they putrefy; they are broken down into a variety of ptomaines and leucomaines, which are nonusable substances-poisons.
Enzymic digestion of foods prepares them for use by our body. Bacterial decomposition makes them unfit for use by our body. The first process gives us nutriments; the second gives us poisons.
Much that passes for modern nutrition is obsessed with a mania for quantitative counting. The body is treated like a cheque account. Deposit calories (like dollars) and withdraw energy. Deposit proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals-balanced quantitatively-and the result, theoretically, is a healthy body. People qualify as healthy today if they can crawl out of bed, get to the office and sign in. If they can’t make it, call the doctor to qualify for sick pay, hospitalization, rest cure-anything from a day’s pay without working to an artificial kidney, courtesy of the taxpayers.
But what doth it profit someone if the theoretically required calories and nutrients are consumed daily, yet this random eat-on-the-run, snack-time collection of foods ferments and putrefies in the digestive tract? What good is it if the body is fed protein, only to have it putrefy in the gastrointestinal canal? Carbohydrates that ferment in the digestive tract are converted into alcohol and acetic acid, not digestible monosaccharides.
“To derive sustenance from foods eaten, they must be digested,” Shelton warned years ago. “They must not rot.”
Sure, the body can get rid of poisons through the urine and the pores; the amount of poisons in the urine is taken as an index to what’s going on in the intestine. The body does establish a tolerance for these poisons, just as it adjusts gradually to an intake of heroin. But, says Shelton, “the discomfort from accumulation of gas, the bad breath, and foul and unpleasant odors are as undesirable as are the poisons”.
Martin, William Coda, “When is a Food a Food-and When a Poison?”, Michigan Organic News, March 1957, p. 3.
McCollum, Elmer Verner, A History of Nutrition: The Sequence of Ideas in Nutritional Investigation, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1957, p. 87.
op. cit., p. 88.
op. cit., p. 86.
Price, Weston A., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects, The American Academy of Applied Nutrition, California, 1939, 1948.
Hooton, Ernest A., Apes, Men, and Morons, Putnam, New York, 1937.
Shelton, H. M., Food Combining Made Easy, Shelton Health School, Texas, 1951, p. 32.
op. cit., p. 34.
Foucault, Michel, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, translated by R. Howard, Pantheon, New York, 1965.
Pauling, Linus, “Orthomolecular Psychiatry”, Science, vol. 160, April 19, 1968, pp. 265-271.
Hoffer, Abram, “Megavitamin B3 Therapy for Schizophrenia”, Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, vol. 16, 1971, p. 500.
Cott, Allan, “Orthomolecular Approach to the Treatment of Learning Disabilities”, synopsis of reprint article issued by the Huxley Institute for Biosocial Research, New York.
Szasz, Thomas S., The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement, Harper & Row, New York, 1970.
Tintera, John W., Hypoadrenocorticism, Adrenal Metabolic Research Society of the Hypoglycemia Foundation, Inc., Mt Vernon, New York, 1969.