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Alcohol has no food value.

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Alcohol has no food value and is extremely limited in its usefulness as a remedy. Dr. Henry Monroe says, “Every substance used by man as food is composed of sugar, starch, oil and glutinous substances mixed together in various proportions. These are designed to support the frame of the animal. The glutinous substances cellulose, albumin and casein in food are used to build structure, while oil, starch and sugar are used primarily to produce heat in the body”.

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It is now clear that if alcohol were a food, it would be found to contain one or more of these substances. The alcohol would have to contain either nitrogenous elements found primarily in meat, eggs, milk, vegetables and seeds, of which animal tissues are composed and from which waste is repaired, or carbon-containing elements found in fats, starches and sugars, from which heat and strength are generated when consumed.

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“The uniqueness of these food groups, and their relationship to human tissue production and the ability to evolve thermogenically, is so clear and confirmed by animal experiments and by multiple tests of scientific, physiological and clinical experience that no one has attempted to abandon this classification,” says Dr. Hunter. It is indeed untenable to draw such a straightforward line of demarcation, to restrict the one entirely to the production of tissues or cells, and the other to the heat and power produced by ordinary combustion, and to deny any interchangeable capacity under special demand or under the defective supply of a species. This does not in any way affect the fact that we use these substances as definite signs”.

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How these substances are assimilated when they enter the body, and how they produce their power, are well known to chemists and physiologists, who are able to determine, according to accepted laws, whether alcohol is of food value or not. For many years the question has been most carefully studied by the most competent men in the medical profession, and all known tests and experiments have been made on alcohol, with the result that it is generally agreed to be excluded from the class of foods which build tissue.” Dr. Hunter said, “We have never seen but one suggestion that it could do so, and this is a mishmash of speculation. One writer (Hammond) thinks it’s possible that it could ‘somehow’ bind to decay products in tissues and ‘in some cases possibly use their nitrogen to build new tissues.’ Nothing similar can be found in organic chemistry, nor can any evidence be found in animal chemistry, to surround this speculation with the milky halo of possible hypotheses.”

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Dr. Richardson says: “Alcohol does not contain nitrogen; it does not possess any of the qualities of a food that builds structure; it cannot be converted into any of them; therefore, it is not a food in any sense, it is a constructive factor in building the body.” Dr. W.B. Carpenter said, “Alcohol cannot provide anything that is essential to the true nutrition of the tissues.” Dr. Liebig says, “Beer, wine, spirits, etc., provide nothing that can get into the blood, muscle fibers, or any part of the body that is the seat of the vital principle.” Dr. Hammond, in his Forum Lectures, advocates the use of alcohol in certain circumstances, saying, “It cannot be shown that alcohol converts to tissue.” Cameron in his Handbook of Hygiene says, “There is nothing in alcohol to nourish any part of the body.” Dr. E. Smith, F.R.S., says, “Alcohol is not a real food. It interferes with nutrition.” Dr. T.K. Chambers said, “It’s clear that we have to stop thinking of alcohol as food in any sense of the word.”

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“It is not surprising,” says Dr. Hunter, “that there is no tissue-making component found in this substance, no combination found in its breakdown, such as we can trace in cellular food, and no evidence found in the experience of physiologists or the experiments of nutritionists, so we find in it neither expectation nor realization of constructive power.”

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Not finding anything in alcohol to build up the body or supply its waste, the next step is to examine its quality of heat production.

The production of heat.

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“The first usual test of a power-producing food, and other reactions of that class,” says Dr. Hunter, “is the heat produced in combination with oxygen. This calorie implies vitality and is largely a measure of the relative value of the so-called respiratory foods. If we examine fats, starches and sugars, we can track and estimate the process by which they produce calories and transform them into vital energy, and can measure the ability of different foods to do so. We find that the consumption of carbon by combining with oxygen is the rule, calories are the product, the legitimate result is power, and the hydrogen in the food combined with oxygen results in water. If alcohol belongs to this class of foods, we would rightly expect to find some evidence of attachment to hydrocarbons.”

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What, then, are the results of experiments in this direction? Experiments which have long been conducted with great care by men of the highest attainments in chemistry and physiology, resulted in these few words given by Dr. H. R. Wood in his “Materia Medica.” No one has been able to discover in the blood any of the ordinary results of its oxidation. That is, no one has been able to discover that alcohol undergoes combustion, like fat, starch or sugar, and therefore gives heat to the body.

Alcohol and temperature reduction.

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rather than increasing the temperature; it is even used as a fever reducer in case of fever. So consistent was the testimony of European and American physicians as to the cooling effect of alcohol that Dr. Wood, in his Materia Medica, says, “It does not seem worth while to occupy space in discussing the subject.” Liebermeister, one of the most learned authors of Zeimssen’s Cyclopaedia of the Practice of Medicine, in 1875, says: “I have long since persuaded myself by direct experiment that alcohol, even in comparatively large doses, does not raise the body temperature of healthy or sick persons.” Arctic mariners knew this so well that even before physiologists proved that alcohol lowered, rather than raised, body temperature, they knew that it reduced their ability to withstand extreme cold.” In the northern regions, says Edward Smith, “the complete absence of hard liquor proved necessary to maintain heat in these adverse conditions.”

Alcohol does not make people strong.

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If alcohol does not contain tissue-building materials and does not provide heat to the body, it cannot increase physical strength.” Dr. G. Budd, F.R.S., says: “Every power that an animal can produce, “the mechanical power of the muscles, the chemical (or digestive) power of the stomach, the intellectual power of the brain is accumulated by the nourishment of the organs on which it depends.” Dr. F.R. Lees of Edinburgh, after discussing the subject and the educational evidence, says: “Looking at the nature of things, it is now evident how impossible it is for alcohol to be a fortifying food for both. As it cannot be a part of the body, it cannot contribute to the cohesive, organic, or fixed forces of the body; and, as it comes out of the body as it goes in, it cannot produce heat by decomposition.

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Sir Benjamin Brodie said, “Stimulants do not produce nervous power; they merely enable you, as it were, to use up what is left, and then they make you need rest more than before.”

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As early as 1843, Baron Liebig pointed out the fallacy of alcohol producing power in his Animal Chemistry. He said, “The circulation will appear to accelerate at the expense of the force available for voluntary movement, but no more mechanical force will be produced.” In his later “Epistles” he added: “Alcohol is quite superfluous to man, and it is constantly accompanied by a consumption of strength”, whereas, the real function of food is to give strength. He also says that “these drinks promote changes in the substances of the body, so that, along with the loss of inner strength, this strength ceases to be productive, because it is not used to overcome external difficulties, i.e. work. In other words, the great chemist asserted that alcohol takes the power of the system away from the useful work of the field or the workshop in order to cleanse the house from the filth of alcohol itself.

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The late Dr. W. Brinton, of St. Thomas, in his great work Dietetics, says: “On close observation, there can be no doubt that in most cases a moderate quantity of beer or wine will at once diminish the greatest weight which a healthy man can lift. Mental acuteness, accuracy of perception, and delicacy of senses are so incompatible with alcohol that the best efforts of every man are incompatible with the ingestion of any moderate quantity of fermented liquid. A single glass of wine is often sufficient to exhaust the mind and body, and to reduce their faculties to less than their perfect working.”

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Dr. F.R. Lees, F.S.A., writing on the subject of alcohol as food, quotes from an article on “stimulant drinks” by Dr. H.R. Madden, published as early as 1847, as follows.” Alcohol is not a natural stimulant to any of our organs, and therefore the functions arising from its use tend to weaken the organ on which it acts.

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Alcohol cannot be assimilated or transformed into any organic proximate principle and, therefore, cannot be considered nutritive.

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The power experienced after the use of alcohol is not a new power added to the system, but is expressed by calling upon the existing nervous energy.

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Because of the stimulating nature of alcohol, its ultimate consuming action produces in all organs an unnatural susceptibility to morbid action, and this, together with the large number of changes induced, becomes a fertile source of disease.

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A man who exercises himself so habitually that he needs daily stimulants to avoid exhaustion may be compared to a machine working under high pressure. He will become more averse to the causes of the disease and will certainly break down sooner than in more favorable circumstances.

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The more frequently he resorted to alcohol in order to overcome the feeling of weakness, the more he needed it, and by constant repetition finally reached the period when he could not give up, unless at the same time the reaction was achieved by a temporary and complete change of habits.

Driven to the wall.

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Since alcohol has not been found to have any direct food value, medical men who advocate its use are forced to assume that it is a secondary food because of its ability to delay the metamorphosis of tissues.” Dr. Hunter said, “Tissue metamorphosis refers to the ongoing changes that occur in the system, which include the constant disintegration of matter; breaking down and avoiding what is no longer food to make room for the new supply that sustains life.” Referring to this metamorphosis, another medical scientist said, “The importance of this process in sustaining life is readily demonstrated by the injurious effects that result when it is disturbed. If the discharge of excrement is in any way impeded or suspended, these substances accumulate in the blood or tissues, or in both. As a result of this retention and accumulation, they become toxic substances and rapidly produce disturbances in vital functions. Their effects are exerted chiefly on the nervous system, through which they produce the most frequent irritability, disturbance of the special senses, delirium, unconsciousness, coma, and finally death.”

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“This description,” says Dr. Hunter, “seems almost specific to alcohol.” He continues, “To claim that alcohol is a food because it delays the metamorphosis of tissues is to claim that it somehow suspends the normal conduct of the laws of assimilation and nutrition, waste and repair. A leading alcohol advocate (Hammond) illustrates the point this way. Alcohol delays the destruction of tissues. Through this destruction, strength is generated, muscles contract, thoughts develop, and organs secrete and excrete. In other words, alcohol interferes with all of this. It is no wonder that the author is ‘unclear’ how it does this, and we are not sure how this delayed metamorphosis is restored.

It’s not the life force that started it.

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We do not know if it has any of the usual powers of food, and to use it under the double assumption that it delays the metamorphosis of tissues and that this delay is detrimental to health goes beyond science into the land of distant possibilities and assigns the title of Adjuster to an agent whose effects are themselves suspect.

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Since it has not been possible to identify alcohol as a nitrogenous or non-nitrogenous food, nor has any evidence been found that it can be used as a measure of the food-power of food, we cannot speak of the benefits of degenerative metamorphosis by delay unless such a process is accompanied by some evidenced fact which scientifically describes the manner in which it is accomplished in the case at hand, and unless it is shown to be practically desirable for nutrition.

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It is undoubtedly true that alcohol causes a defect in the natural excretory processes of a healthy body, and is often a conservative factor in health even in disease.