“To live medically is to live miserably,” wrote Thomas Cleave in 1956. And he knew firsthand. Cleave was not only a medical doctor, he was a surgeon captain in the British Royal Navy, and his position gave him a unique, worldly view of medicine in the mid-twentieth century, one that was blunt in its assessment of the field’s shortcomings.
In his comprehensive article “The Neglect of Natural Principles in Current Medical Practice,” Dr. Cleave chastises his profession for its impotence and often harm in treating modern disorders such as intestinal toxemia, ulcers, constipation, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and so on. The whole situation could be avoided, he said, if medical doctors would simply look at the unnatural nature of the modern diet.
Simply put, Cleave wrote, industrially processed foods came into existence too quickly for us to adapt to them (and whether we’ll ever adjust to them evolutionarily is highly debatable.) As one would expect, these denatured foods cause all kinds of physical problems in people who attempt to survive on them. Cleave observed one class of processed foods to be most dangerous: carbohydrates “concentrated by machinery,” or, as they’re known today, refined carbohydrates.
The answer to the problems caused by these most unnatural of modern foods is simple enough, Cleave said. Rather than “anti-doting the cause” with drugs—and effecting the miserable life caused by the side effects of that approach—medicine should focus on replacing “the unnatural environment [with] the natural one…which very often means the institution of a natural diet.”
Half a century later, Cleave’s profession continues to discount this simple, life-saving advice.
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