The question of protein has been the subject of controversy for a long time. While currently many doctors advocate the intake of large quantities of protein, this is contrary to the findings of some of our most outstanding nutrition authorities.
Sherman of Columbia, Hindhede of Denmark, Chittenden of Yale, Clive McCay of Johns Hopkins, to‚«name only a few world renowned authorities, have proved conclusively that the intake of an excessive amount of protein can do great harm to the body.
Denmark During World War 1 Some of our observations during World Wars I and II have demonstrated this fact. Denmark during World War I is a case in point. The Danish people at that time were not self-sufficient, and had to import part of their food supply from other countries. A blockade by the Allies made it impossible for them to import the food they needed, and a severe drought made the situation even more critical.
To cope with this problem, the Danish government under the enlightened guidance of Dr. Michael Hindhede, their Minister of Health, embarked upon a program that involved a considerable reduction in their livestock and the conversion of all arable lands to the raising of grains and vegetables. While this program reduced the available meat supply to a mere trifle, it not only saved the Danish people from the threatened famine, but also helped improve the health of the nation. Such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, as well as many of the other chronic and degenerative diseases were significantly reduced during that period, and the general level of health was raised considerably.
Harold Westergaard, Professor of the Copenhagen University, in his English summary of the report1 dealing with this period, pointed out that while the average death during the last five years before the war was, for the whole of the country, 12-9 per thousand the death rate during the first year of restriction from October 1, 1917, to October 1, 1918 had only been 10 4 per thousand, and then concluded by stating that never in any European country had there been such a low death rate.
In another part of the report, Professor Westergaard pointed out that whereas in Copenhagen during the five most favourable years before the war, 1910-14, the yearly number of deaths for persons over twenty-five was 4543 (2205 men and 2338 women), the number of deaths in the year of restrictions was lower by 1016 (665 and 351) than it would have been, in case the death rate had been the same as 1910-14, or in other words, a decrease of 30 per cent for men and 15 per cent for women.
In all fairness, we wish to point out that this phenomenal improvement resulted not merely from a restriction in the consumption of meat, but from a complete readjustment in the living habits of the population which, according to Professor Westergaard, embraced among other things:
Great Britain and World War II The more recent experiences of the British people during World War II, one of the most difficult periods in their history, also illustrates this point. We know that the meat rations of the English during World War II were drastically reduced. Yet despite the grueling difficulties experienced by them during that harrowing period the health of the English people not only was maintained, but actually improved.
To illustrate how meager the meat rations of the English were during the war, it should be sufficient to mention that Ernest O. Hauser in an article in the Saturday Evening Tost pointed out that even as recently as January, 1951 the weekly meat ration in England was eleven cents worth per person, and that a year later it was raised to the grand total of sixteen cents worth per week.
Two eggs and one ounce of cheese a week were the only other concentrated protein foods allowed. Yet in spite of rationing, Mr. Hauser reports, physicians claim that the English people are healthier than ever.2
Mr. Hausers observations are in line with the statement of Sir Wilson Jameson, Chief Medical Officer of the Health Ministry of Great Britain that the general health of this country (England) showed an improvement despite nearly four years of war and emphasised that one important factor in this improvement was the simple but excellent diet imposed by the exigencies of war.3
In view of this authoritative statement, we wonder whether it would not have been more exact for Mr. Hauser to state that the English people were healthier because of food rationing and not in spite of it.