Brevities

The most successful modern fairy tale is entitled “Beauty and the Yeast.” There is hardly one lovely lady who does not believe that if she religiously consumes her several yeast cakes a day, either plain or chocolate-covered, her complexion will become faultless, eyes brilliant, her hair lustrous and her temper angelic. Skeptical as we unfortunately are, we wondered how much, if any, truth was hidden in this attractive fable of the wonderful possibilities of yeast and we begged one of our brilliant young physicians to tell us all about yeast and its properties. And this is what he had to say:

“Yeast is an enzyme, very rich in Vitamin D. Therefore it will doubtless be of value in all deficiency diseases such as pellagra, beri-beri, certain forms of dermatitis, rickets and so on and so forth. No other value has been proved. Speaking from the standpoint of physiology and bio-chemistry, that is the best I can say for your yeast cure. But of course there is another aspect of the matter to be considered, and that is the psychological one.

“If you really and truly believe that yeast will make you feel better and look better, it very likely will do so. Thoughts may be immaterial, but they have the power to bring about material changes in the organism, and the more intense the thought the more powerful and lasting are these changes. If you feel fear, you immediately look pale and haggard; if you experience joy you look radiant; if shame, you blush. A sudden terror may leave permanent physical damages. So if you somehow convince yourself that yeast will work a miracle for you, the miracle may well come to pass. Your belief is probably far more potent than the yeast you consume. It all comes to the old story of the princess and the magician. “Perform a wonder,” said the lady, “and I will believe in you.” “Believe in me,” he begged, “and I will do wonders.”

That, then, is all modern medical science, as represented by one member of the profession, has to say about yeast. Are you encouraged or disappointed? Will you eat and believe, or doubt and abstain? Probably you’ll order half a dozen cakes from your grocery, for fairy tales are ever so much more attractive than science, and the most modern fairy tale, the one that has brought its authors great financial profit, is undoubtedly “Beauty and the Yeast.”

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