Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Purpose of Food #2

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Another purpose of food is to provide the organism with energy resources. The building of new molecules is in itself a process which calls for a certain amount of energy. Then there are the muscles and all the other organs of our body, most of which never stop functioning, not even for a single minute. Even when one is asleep the heart goes on working, as do the respiratory muscles, the liver, kidneys, alimentary tract, and endocrine glands. Even the brain goes on expending energy on quite a large scale, although this is the one we notice least.

Energy losses can be quite easily restored. Used as ‘fuel’ are fats, carbohydrates and, to a certain extent, proteins which ‘burn’ in the- organism to form carbon dioxide and water. The organism actually consumes only one kind of fuel — glucose. Fats and proteins are first converted to glucose, before they become an energy-supplying material.

It is easier to provide the organism with fuel than to supply it with all the necessary building materials. Human body consists mainly of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen, with small, sometimes negligible, amounts of other chemical elements.

Gabriel Bertrand, a French biochemist, calculated that the body of a man weighing about 100 kilograms contains:

oxygen 63 kg sodium 260 g
carbon 19 kg potassium 220 g
hydrogen 9 kg chlorine 180 g
nitrogen 5 kg magnesium 40 g
calcium 1 kg iron 3 g
phosphorus 700 g iodine 0.03 g
sulphur 640 g

Fluorine, bromine, manganese and copper are present in even lesser amounts. It is quite possible that all the other elements, even those which are not very active chemically, such as gold, can be found in the organism, but we still do not understand the part they play.

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Purpose of Food #1

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

In general, the reason why we need to consume this large amount of food during our lifetime is clear. It is primarily intended to provide building materials. No matter how strange it may seem on the face of it, we continue to build up and rebuild our organism till well into old age.

Throughout his life man’s hair and nails are growing; the erythrocytes, the red blood corpuscles, live for only two or three months; then they die and are replaced by new ones. The cells of the squamous epithelium live for an even shorter period, not more than seven days.

The molecules of each cell in the body are continuously being replenished. Some molecules are completely destroyed and new ones are synthesized in their place, whilst others are partially rebuilt. Some of the building materials become waste matter and can no longer be used. For this reason all organisms continually need a supply of new building materials.

Trouble immediately begins if a deficiency occurs. Lack of copper or iron will result in anaemia. Even bones, which seem so firm, are continuously being built up. If the food consumed over a long time contains no calcium, bones which have sufficient calcium will start to give it up to supply the organism’s other needs and themselves become soft and pliable.

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How Much Should We Eat?

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

In 74-64 B.C. the Roman legions headed by Lucius Licinius Lucullus completely defeated the troops of the King of Pontus, Mithridates VI (the Great), and then those of his relative, the Armenian King, Tigranes II. The great State of Mithridates disintegrated. Lucullus, how­ever, became widely known not only for his feats of arms and his genius as a military leader, but mainly for the luxury and gluttony in which he indulged.

The Romans enjoyed eating and liked to be extravagant. Their lively feasts lasted for hours and hours, even days. During this time they consumed large quantities of exquisite food. The feasters used to recline on cushions and listen to music and songs while savouring various viands, followed by a great deal of wine. Even the Romans’ well-trained stomachs were unable to digest such iarge amounts of food. This, however, was not imposed upon them. Having eaten their fill, the feasters would put two fingers in their mouths to cause vomiting, and would then return to their meal. People tike Lucullus still exist nowadays. If one adds up all one eats and drinks within a lifetime, one can think of oneself as Lucullus, since this will amount to huge quantities of different foodstuffs, the transportation of which would require several railway containers.

Requirements in food differ. Smaller animals need larger amounts of food, relatively speaking. For example, a mole needs as much food every day as he weighs, and very often three times as much.

One should not think that to eat much is good. Quite the opposite. An experiment was conducted by the scientific workers in Professor Nikitin’s biochemical laboratory in Kharkov. One group of rats was fed on extremely varied and good food, but was given so little that the young animals could neither grow nor did they gain a single gram in weight. Another group was given the same food but in unlimited quantities. Strange as it may seem, the rats on the starvation diet lived longer than those who ate their fill.

Many animals need to eat very frequently. A mole will die after 14 to 17 hours of starvation, whereas ticks can live without food for several years. Some animals eat only once during their lives. There are also animals that stop eating as soon as they become full-grown. May­flies belong to this group.

Man also derives some benefit from short spells of starvation. Medicine even cures some diseases by making the patient starve. Starvation certainly seems to be beneficial in certain cases. Modern physicians disagree on this point, but they are unanimous in acknowledging the fact that starvation, when not prescribed by experienced physicians, may cause considerable harm to a patient.

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