Diet for Individuals with “Smoker’s Heart”

Picture source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1918)

The February, 1918 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine had this Q&A:

Question: Please tell me what a man about sixty years and who has a smoker’s heart and lately is troubled with indigestion should eat. Is sherry wine or porter good or bad for him?

Mrs. M.W.C., California

Answer: First of all, the man with a smoker’s heart should stop smoking; otherwise any attempt to remedy the indigestion by a course of diet would prove futile. I do not advise him to drink wine or beer of any description. His nerves are already sufficiently worn and are not in a condition to resist a new and violent stimulus. He should avoid tea, coffee, cocoa, and alcohol as well as tobacco.

A diet consisting of bread and mush made from whole ground cereals unbolted, good pure, fresh milk from healthy cows, fruits and succulent vegetables ought to prove helpful. If possible he should conduct his work and exercise so as to be properly fatigued when bedtime comes. He should sleep on a porch or in a thoroughly ventilated room, and take a morning bath as cold as can be tolerated, to secure a prompt and vigorous reaction when rubbed.

16 thoughts on “Diet for Individuals with “Smoker’s Heart”

  1. My nerves sometimes seem to be sufficiently worn, too, but no way am I giving up my coffee — and no cold baths in the morning, thank you. Actually, the advice isn’t bad: reducing caffeine and alcohol, adding veggies, and getting plenty of sleep sounds pretty modern.

        1. Up here we have a similar saying though delete the word “last” and pluralize “nerve”. The saying ism “that (whatever) has gotten on my nerves.” The Texas form somehow suggest a bit more patience to me – since the person is only upset when it affects their “last nerve.”

  2. I’m remembering my granddad in the mid-50s. He had already had a heart attack, but thankfully he had more than mush to eat. At that time we ate Sunday dinner with our grands, and we children were told not to take the dry toast that was on the serving plate with hot biscuits. (Yes, this was in the South.) That toast was for Granddaddy because of his heart. As far as I can remember, he ate all the meat and vegetables he wanted.

    1. It’s fascinating that toast was seen as good – and biscuits as bad. They seem like almost the same thing. I assume that gravy was put on the biscuits. Maybe they thought that there was too much fat in the gravy or something.

      1. I agree with you that toast and biscuits must have similar ingredients. My theory — if it tastes good, it’s bad for you. If medical people used my reasoning, they would have known that my old Southern granddad might not eat the toast, since it wouldn’t taste nearly as good as the biscuit to him.

    1. I’d worry that the shock of the cold water hitting the skin could cause someone with a heart condition to have a heart attack, but the author doesn’t seem to see that as a concern.

  3. Cold water bath… I’ve only had those when the hot water ran out, and you do get your vigorous reaction!πŸ˜‚ I say it would be better just not to smoke.

    1. I agree. πŸ™‚ And, the idea of sleeping on the porch or in a thoroughly ventilated room in cool weather also doesn’t sound very appealing – though I know that a hundred years ago it was considered healthier (even on cold days) to sleep in well-ventilated rooms with open windows or on a sleeping porch.

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