Article #3: Health
Extracted from The New American Encyclopedia published by Books, Inc. Copyright 1938, 1939. We include this extract for the purpose of showing our students that the requirements of the good life are both simple and well known. All that is lacking is the doing!
Health is the state in which the body functions normally. This condition finds the body free from disease, with all organs and component parts of its structure performing their functions properly and in correct balance.
Health is a normal and relatively constant state in wild animals, this condition prevailing from their heeding of instinctive guidance, and from the free operation of nature’s laws of survival of the fittest which inexorably eliminates the weak.
Man’s instinctive apparatus has become dulled by the exercise of his reasoning powers and by habits of civilization which lead him to rely upon others for guidance. Health to him represents a relative condition, in which he seldom enjoys a state of perfection.
With the development of medicine and surgery the weak are preserved, resulting in inherited defects or weaknesses. Hence a constantly increasing need for (1) Development of scientific treatment of disorders; (2) Understanding by man himself of the warnings and subsequent treatment of his ills.
It is an impressive fact that most ailments in persons can be, in part, prevented by properly regulating diet, by avoiding overindulgence in food and alcoholic beverages, by controlling the weight within normal limits, by taking mild physical exercise and leading a normal mental existence, free from excessive nervous strain or emotional disturbances.
Our modern mode of living has much to do with involving us in what is known in medicine as a vicious cycle. At the age of thirty or so, a young person becomes deeply engrossed in his career. Exercise is soon curtailed, but since the nervous system craves some form of amusement and diversion, the pleasures of the table and the soothing action of tobacco or the stimulating influence of alcoholic beverages are substituted. In consequence, the weight increases, the appetite enlarges, and there is further disinclination to physical exercise, a deeper absorption in the business of and readier yielding to the temptations of food, tobacco, and wine; and so, endlessly, he whirls tighter with each revolution. As a result, at the age of fifty or sixty, he is likely to find himself the possessor of a fortune, a large abdomen, a bad heart, and a pair of damaged kidneys.
From the standpoint of health the chief enemy of young people is tuberculosis; of the middle-aged, personal neglect. The middle age diseases such as chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, are painless, and their onset usually gradual and insidious. If one relies upon some signal from within to be warned of the impending danger, however, there is a risk of these conditions developing to the extent of causing irreparable damage before their presence is known. Good heredity and robust, constitutions are no guarantee of long life. The desire not to know if anything is wrong is cowardly and stupid.
The secret of good health is moderation in all things—in eating, work, mental effort, ambition, play, and exercise. The life of moderation is the simple life and, therefore, the healthy, long, and a happy one. Those who prefer speed and profess a contempt for the consequences, always change their views when, too late, nature demands payment.
After the age of 50, the thinner an individual is, the better is his chance of reaching old age, provided he does not have a tendency to develop tuberculosis or has not suffered from tuberculosis in earlier years, and provided, too, his light weight is not due to some organic disease.
You have no doubt been repeatedly told that persons who weigh too much past the age of 35, have poor prospects of attaining old age. Their particular enemy is heart disease. Statistics have abundantly demonstrated the truth of this statement. This does not mean that a very fat person cannot live to age 90 or even 100, but his chances of doing so are small.
Overweight is usually due to overeating, although stout persons nearly always insist that they are very sparce eaters; but, they measure the amount of food that they eat by their appetities, and the appetite is a very flexible measuring rod, capable of being enormously stretched by hungry persons. With very few exceptions, any person who is too heavy can reduce if he will make an effort to do so. The effort is worthwhile. At the age of 50, for instance, every pound of weight in excess increases a man’s likelihood of dying during the ensuing year by about one percent. In other words, if a man 50 years old weighs 50 pounds in excess of the standard figures, the likelihood of his dying is constantly 50 times greater than that of a man 50 years old who is of normal weight. (Hygienists generally hold that the standard figures are too high, possibly to the extent of 15 or more pounds.—The Authors).
In order to effect weight reduction intelligently, an elementary knowledge of food and food values is necessary. With regard to protein, this Encylcopedia comments, “The average person uses too much protein. If protein is taken to excess, the body is unable to split up this food completely into harmless end products; instead, certain irritating substances are produced which have a harmful action on vital organs of the body, particularly the kidneys.” With regard to fats, “Fat is the most difficult food for the body to digest and consume. The energy of fat is released slowly and those who eat fats excessively become sluggish mentally and physically.”
“If your work demands much physical effort, such as that of a laborer or farmer, this is not necessary except when you are not working. But the man doing office work must do some physical work daily to insure good health. Past the age of 40 the best exercise is walking. Five miles a day is not too much, provided you start out by walking a mile the first week and increasing it a mile a week until you are doing the five miles. Golf playing is good, not once a week, but daily. In the summertime, an hour or two in the garden, hoeing, etc., may be substituted for walking. Do not attempt the more strenuous exercises after the age of 40, and remember that outdoor exercise is better than indoor.”
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Older People Need Support
- 3. The Path We Travel
- 4. A Contrasting View
- 5. The American Express
- 6. The Hygienic Approach—Case Studies
- Article #1: Inward Time By Alexis Carrel, M.D.
- Article #2: Overnutrition—All About Protein By The Doctors McCarter
- Article #3: Health
- Article #4: Why Exercise?