CEREAL FOODS IN THEIR RELATION TO HEALTH AND DISEASEby@scientificamerican

CEREAL FOODS IN THEIR RELATION TO HEALTH AND DISEASE

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The cereals are subject to many diseases which retard their development, rendering them unfit for food, and even poisonous. The relation of unwholesome foods to the diseases of the animal body are now being thoroughly studied, recent advances in chemistry and microscopy contributing valuable aid to the prosecution of such investigations. Some enthusiastic advocates of the germ theory of disease believe that many, if not all, the so-called disease germs may be transplanted into the human system with the food ingested. But whatever may be the real truth in regard to this subject, it has been positively demonstrated that many diseases of the human body may be produced by unwholesome food. The specific symptoms produced in man by the various grain diseases are not accurately known, consequently our remarks upon this subject must be of a very general character. Pappenheim divides the diseases of the cereals into two classes, internal and external. The internal diseases are those depending upon conditions of soil, climate, cultivation, etc., and may be neglected in our discussion, as they produce no special disease of the body, only impairing the nutritive value of the grain. The external diseases are of much greater importance, as they probably produce some of the most fatal maladies to which the human race is subject. These external diseases of the cereals are due to parasites, which may be either of an animal or vegetable nature. Among the animal parasites may be mentioned the weevil, vibrio tritici, which feeds upon the starch cells of the grain. Grain attacked by this parasite was at one time supposed to be injurious to health. In 1844 the French Commission appointed to examine grain condemned a large quantity imported with this parasite, but afterward reconsidered their decision and permitted its sale, concluding that it was deficient in nutritive properties, but not otherwise unwholesome. Rust is the most common disease of the cereals, produced by vegetable parasites. Like the other diseases of this class, it is most prevalent in warm, damp seasons.
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