The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 62 of 76

Q. For what reason doth the stomach join the liver? A. Because the liver is very hot, and with its heat helps digestion, and provokes appetite.

Q. Why are we commonly cold after dinner? A. Because then the heat goes to the stomach to further digestion, and so the other parts grow cold.

Q. Why is it hurtful to study soon after dinner? A. Because when the heat labours to help the imagination in study, it ceases from digesting the food, which remains undigested; therefore people should walk sometimes after meals.

Q. How cometh the stomach slowly to digest meat? A. Because it swims in the stomach. Now, the best digestion is in the bottom of the stomach, because the fat descends not there; such as eat fat meat are very sleepy by reason that digestion is hindered.

Q. Why is all the body wrong when the stomach is uneasy? A. Because the stomach is knit with the brain, heart and liver, which are the principal parts in man; and when it is not well, the others are indisposed. Again, if the first digestion be hindered, the others are also hindered; for in the first digestion is the beginning of the infirmity in the stomach.

Q. Why are young men sooner hungry than old men? A. Young men do digest for three causes; 1. For growing; 2. For restoring life; and 3. For conservation of life. Also, young men are hot and dry, and therefore the heat doth digest more, and by consequence they desire more.

Q. Why do physicians prescribe that men should eat when they have an appetite? A. Because much hunger and emptiness will fill the stomach with naughty rotten humours, which are drawn in instead of meat; for, if we fast over night we have an appetite to meat, but none in the morning; as then the stomach is filled with naughty humours, and especially its mouth, which is no true filling, but a deceitful one. And, therefore, after we have eaten a little, our stomach comes to us again; for the first morsel, having made clean the mouth of the stomach, doth provoke the appetite.

Q. Why do physicians prescribe that we should not eat too much at a time, but little by little? A. Because when the stomach is full, the meat doth swim in it, which is a dangerous thing. Another reason is, that as very green wood doth put out the fire, so much meat chokes the natural heat and puts it out; and therefore the best physic is to use temperance in eating and drinking.

Q. Why do we desire change of meals according to the change of times; as in winter, beef, mutton; in summer light meats, as veal, lamb, etc.? A. Because the complexion of the body is altered and changed according to the time of year. Another reason is, that this proceeds from the quality of the season: because the cold in winter doth cause a better digestion.

Q. Why should not the meat we eat be as hot as pepper and ginger? A. Because as hot meat doth inflame the blood, and dispose it to a leprosy, so, on the contrary, meat too cold doth mortify and chill the blood. Our meat should not be over sharp, because it wastes the constitution; too much sauce doth burn the entrails, and inclineth to too often drinking; raw meat doth the same; and over sweet meats to constipate and cling the veins together.

Q. Why is it a good custom to eat cheese after dinner, and pears after all meat? A. Because, by reason of its earthliness and thickness it tendeth down towards the bottom of the stomach, and so put down the meat; and the like of pears. Note, that new cheese is better than old, and that old soft cheese is very bad, and causeth the headache and stopping of the liver; and the older the worse. Whereof it is said that cheese digesteth all things but itself.

Q. Why are nuts good after cheese, as the proverb is, "After fish nuts, and after flesh cheese?" A. Because fish is of hard digestion, and doth easily putrefy and corrupt; and nuts are a remedy against poison.

Q. Why is it unwholesome to wait long for one dish after another, and to eat of divers kinds of meat? A. Because the first begins to digest when the last is eaten, and so digestion is not equally made. But yet this rule is to be noted; dishes light of digestion, as chickens, kids, veal, soft eggs and such like, should be first eaten; because, if they should be first served and eaten and were digested, they would hinder the digestion of the others; and the light meats not digested would be corrupted in the stomach and kept in the stomach violently, whereof would follow belching, loathing, headache, bellyache and great thirst. It is very hurtful too, at the same meal to drink wine and milk, because they are productive of leprosy.

Q. Whether is meat or drink best for the stomach? A. Drink is sooner digested than meat, because meat is of greater substance, and more material than drink, and therefore meat is harder to digest.

Q. Why is it good to drink after dinner? A. Because the drink will make the meat readier to digest. The stomach is like unto a pot which doth boil meat, and therefore physicians do counsel to drink at meals.

Q. Why is it good to forbear a late supper? A. Because there is little moving or stirring after supper, and so the meat is not sent down to the bottom of the stomach, but remaineth undigested, and so breeds hurts; therefore a light supper is best.

Of the Blood.

Q. Why is it necessary that every living creature that hath blood have also a liver? A. Because the blood is first made in the liver, its seat, being drawn from the stomach by certain principal veins, and so engendered.

Q. Why is the blood red? A. 1. It is like the part in which it is made, viz., the liver, which is red. 2. It is likewise sweet, because it is well digested and concocted; but if it hath a little earthly matter mixed with it, that makes it somewhat salt.

Q. How is women's blood thicker than men's? Their coldness thickens, binds, congeals, and joins together.

Q. How comes the blood to all parts of the body through the liver, and by what means? A. Through the principal veins, as the veins of the head, liver, etc., to nourish the body.

Of the Urine.

Q. How doth the urine come into the bladder, seeing the bladder is shut? A. Some say sweatings; others, by a small skin in the bladder, which opens and lets in the urine. Urine is a certain and not deceitful messenger of the health or infirmity of man. Men make white urine in the morning, and before dinner red, but after dinner pale, and also after supper.

Q. Why is it hurtful to drink much cold water? A. Because one contrary doth hinder and expel another; water is very cold, and lying so in the stomach, doth hinder digestion.

Q. Why is it unwholesome to drink new wine? A. 1. It cannot be digested; therefore it causeth the belly to swell, and a kind of bloody flux. 2. It hinders making water.

Q. Why do physicians forbid us to labour presently after dinner? A. 1. Because the motion hinders the virtue and power of digestion. 2. Because stirring immediately after dinner causes the different parts of the body to draw the meat to them, which often breeds sickness. 3. Because motion makes the food descend before it is digested. And after supper it is good to walk a little, that the food may go to the bottom of the stomach.

Q. Why is it good to walk after dinner? A. Because it makes a man well disposed, and fortifies and strengthens the natural heat, causing the superfluity of the stomach to descend.

Q. Why is it wholesome to vomit? A. It purges the stomach of all naughty humours, expelling them, which would breed again if they should remain in it; and purges the eyes and head, clearing the brain.

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