Dr. Sargent began his lecture yesterday by stating that the principal elements that sustain life are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, and that various kinds of food possessed these qualities in different degrees. The world's greatest scientists have devoted themselves to classifying foods according to their chemical compounds and effects on the human body. But no table of nutritives can be accurate in its application, as the nervous and muscular tissues are not the same in all men.
The quantity of food was then considered. 63 1/2 ounces to 70 ounces is the average amount eaten daily by men in training. Over-eating produces an unnatural appetite. In regard to quality, the refining of flour, etc., often renders it more indigestible. One should not take anything distasteful to him. There should be a variety in diet, in order to obtain all the principal elements of subsistence which are not found in any one form of nutriment. Benefit results from what is digested, not from what is eaten merely. A man's natural appetite and sense of hunger should determine his times of eating, and meals should be from four to five hours apart. In everything relating to food and diet, personal tastes must be duly regarded.
In the matter of drinks, water is the best, because the physical system consists largely of water. It should be taken in proportion to physical action undergone. Coffee and tea are not detrimental, and do not produce the unpleasant reactive results of alcohol. Tea produces perspiration, while coffee produces a dryness of the skin and excites the action of the heart. In case of any resultant nervous affection, they should be left off.
The lecture was illustrated by comparative tables of the nutritive properties of different substances, and the quantity of food eaten in moderate and severe training.