Health and Food

May 2, 2010

This note is from November 1942 or thereabouts, though whether it was written before or after the onset of pellagra and tinea cruris is not clear.  Either way,the diseases were very much on his mind as he refers to them several times on adjacent pages.

I’m intrigued by the use of the past tense.  It is consistent with the detached way in which he often wrote about things; from an early age he had been well trained in the language of the scientific report.  On the other hand, I can’t help wondering whether it also reflected a different kind of detachment; one that perhaps helped to protect him from the deprivations and horrors of daily life.

Health & Food

That these two factors are closely related was abundantly shown in the POW camp where both men & dogs were living on impoverished rations,  The dogs ate mainly rice.  Their meat diet consisted only of bones which had been boiled to such an extent as to devoid them of all nutrients. The dogs, although remaining apparently healthy, developed mange.  This was demonstrated even more so by a bitch which developed mange very soon after littering.However, they did not appear to suffer from any of the deficiency diseases.

Men were also existing on a rice diet augmented with vegetables, meat, fish & fruit.  But the scarcity of the B group of vitamins was largely responsible for many deficiency diseases such as the various manifestations of beri beri & pellagra.  Skin diseases also increased & wounds took much longer than usual to heal.

Book B, 99

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