Medical Testament—Nutrition and Soil Fertility

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD, and Sir Albert Howard

Summary: In 1911 Britain passed its National Insurance Act, a law intended to “provide for the prevention and cure of sickness” of its citizens. Yet despite the bill’s aim, rates of chronic disease proceeded to explode in the country over the ensuing decades. While medical officialdom was at a loss to explain or prevent the events, in 1939 the 600 family doctors of Cheshire county gathered to issue a public “testament” naming both the cause of the new epidemics and the means of their reversal. The physicians, reflecting on nearly three decades of clinical experience, named malnutrition at the hands of industrially processed foods as the common cause of chronic disease while marveling at the “amazing benefits” of switching patients to a diet of nutrient-dense, organic foods. Two researchers instrumental in guiding the doctors to their findings were Sir Robert McCarrison and Sir Albert Howard, both of whom were invited to speak at the famous Cheshire meeting, as recorded here. In their speeches McCarrison and Howard articulate the basic principles of what might be called “ecological nutrition,” that the health of humans depends on the health of the foods they eat, which in turn depends on the health of the soil those foods are grown in and on. With the medical industry still baffled by the cause and prevention of chronic disease, the words of these farsighted researchers offer a blueprint for building true health and wellness in humankind, literally from the ground up. Originally published in New English Weekly, 1939.

Our Daily Bread

By Julian Pleasants

Summary: If you want bread done right, make it yourself, commands author Julian Pleasants in this stirring 1949 declaration of nutritional self-reliance. Pleasants wrote this article not long after the federal government had launched  its “enrichment” program, mandating the addition of synthetic B vitamins to all white flour in the country despite “little direct experimental evidence to demonstrate the value of such a proposal,” as the editors of the science journal Nutrition Reviews put it. The author recounts the evolution of commercial bread making, detailing how each “advancement” in flour milling meant a further decline in the nutritive value of the end product, culminating finally in the Frankenstein’s monster that is enriched white bread. “The completely ridiculous idea of taking out the best parts of the wheat berry and then adding a few of them back, in synthetic form,” he writes, “was only a stall of the milling industry to keep from being forced into the production of a decent whole wheat flour.” Such a depressing result is inevitable, he adds, when the standards of food production are “set by the end of trade rather than by the end of use.” Only concern for your own health and that of your loved ones combined with personal know-how and effort can produce a true staff of life, Pleasants opines—a sentiment applicable not just to the making of bread but to the task of nourishment in general. From Integrity magazine, 1949. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 44.

The Nutritional Approach to the Prevention of Disease

By J.F. Wischhusen and N.O. Gunderson, MD

Summary: “Scientists have been almost entirely preoccupied by the concept that bacteria cause disease, rather than by a much more important concept—that adequate nutrition causes good health and relative freedom from disease.” This basic principle, stated so eloquently by the authors of this essay from the journal Science Counselor, aptly defines the divide between the fields of nutrition and medicine. Were we to stop consuming substandard foods such as pasteurized milk and foods grown on soils deficient in trace minerals, the authors explain, then we would not need medical treatments for degenerative diseases such as rheumatism, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, nervous and mental diseases, and cancer, because they would be largely nonexistent (as they are in preindustrial societies that stick to their traditional diets). “Remove the true underlying cause of disease—malnutrition,” the authors add, “and it will usually be found that the disease germs cannot exist or propagate in an animal body that is healthy.” From Science Counselor, 1950. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 48.

Nutrition in Health and Disease

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD

Summary: In this 1936 article from the British Medical Journal, nutrition pioneer Sir Dr. Robert McCarrison lays out some of the basic principles of nutrition—principles that have long been lost by a modern world that has convinced itself that processed foods are sufficient substitutes for whole natural foods. In addition to the fundamental truth that only whole foods can properly nourish the body, McCarrison discusses specific dysfunctions that occur in the two body systems affected most immediately by a poor diet—the gastrointestinal tract and the endocrine system. From the British Medical Journal, 1936.

Margarine: A Counterfeit Food

By Kenneth de Courcy

Summary: This reprint of a 1957 article on margarine production epitomizes two fundamentally opposed philosophies of food production that emerged from the Industrial Revolution. On the one hand, large scale manufacturers strove to deliver food to consumers at the lowest cost possible, using novel chemical and thermal methods to preserve and manipulate foodstuffs regardless of the effect on the foods’ nutritional quality. (Indeed, industrial food processing was the reason the vitamins were discovered in the first place, the inadvertent removal of the then-unknown nutrients leading to mysterious epidemics across the globe.) Nutritionists, on the other hand, decried industrial adulteration of the food supply, citing copious evidence that eating foods in as natural a state as possible is critical for the growth, upkeep, and immunity of the human body. In this article the author, an advocate of commercial food manufacturing, sells margarine as a sort of modern super food, with a nutritional value “as high as that of butter” simply because the two contain the same amount of fat and calories per ounce. Such sophistry is what allowed food manufacturers to run roughshod over America’s food supply, as noted by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, which reprinted the article so its audience could see margarine precisely for what it is—a “counterfeit food” made from “refined, rancid, and otherwise unfit food sources.” From World Science Review, 1957. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 106.

Studies in Deficiency Disease

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD

Summary: The complete classic of 1921, as republished by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research in 1945. Dr. Robert McCarrison was knighted in England for his groundbreaking research while serving as a British army surgeon in India during the first two decades of the twentieth century. His landmark investigations into the connection between the diets of various populations in India and their patterns of disease and health gave new insight into the cause and effect of nutrition on health and introduced the world to the amazingly healthy and long-lived Hunza people of the Himalayas. McCarrison set up laboratories in which he studied the effect of various local diets on animals, reproducing nearly the same health and disease patterns in the animals as displayed in the particular populations. Diet, he concluded, was the determining factor in the specific health patterns of each population. McCarrison was also the first researcher to inform the medical world that the endocrine system is the first system in the body to succumb to the effects of malnutrition, carefully demonstrating the lesions in the endocrine glands caused by specific adulterated foods. His work inspired the likes of Royal Lee, Weston A. Price, Francis Pottenger, Jr., and J. I. Rodale. Still remarkably relevant today, this book should be part of the corpus of all colleges of the healing arts. Originally published by Oxford Medical Publications, 1921.

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The Menace of Synthetic Foods

“There is only one test for safety and wholesomeness in food,” Dr. Royal Lee proclaims in this succinct overview of his nutritional philosophy. “That is the test of time. The test of a long history of use, over many generations of life.” Dr. Lee expounds on the ill effects of processed foods, which were pushed hastily onto the market by industrial food processors seeking immediate profit. He cites evidence that bleached flour produces headaches, diarrhea and depression; corn syrup causes diabetes; and hydrogenated fats help cause heart disease. Dr. Lee also documents the negative effects of synthetic isolated vitamins, the “jackpot in synthetic foods.” Includes also a report on chicanery regarding food additives at the Food and Drug Administration from one of the most outspoken watchdog publications of its day, Morris Bealle’s American Capsule News. 1957.

It Can Happen Here

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: In this reprint from the magazine Nature’s Path, Dr. Royal Lee rips food processors for adding poisonous additives and preservatives to their products and selling them as harmless to an unsuspecting public. Nitrates in meat, bleach in flour, and aluminum exposure are highlighted. “Are we…witnessing the crumbling of our civilization by reason of the compromise with principle that is being made by the guilty parties who have so thoroughly sold the public health down the river?” Lee asks. “‘Just a little poison in the flour’….’Nitrates in meat never hurt anybody’….’Aluminum toxic? Are you crazy?'” Just a few examples, Lee says, of how large-scale poisoning of the population has been glossed over in America. From Nature’s Path magazine. Reprint 30F, 1951.

The Wheel of Health

By G.T. Wrench, MD

Summary: The complete book, originally published in England in 1938 and republished by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research in 1945. The Wheel of Health is a master treatise on proper diet—as well as a cogent plea for the full recognition of vitamin values—based on study of the famously healthy Hunza people of what was at the time northern India (now Pakistan). Dr. Wrench credits his interest in the Hunza to the great nutrition pioneer Sir Robert McCarrison (author of Studies in Deficiency Disease, available in these Archives), who studied them extensively. The Hunza “are unsurpassed by any Indian race in perfection of physique,” McCarrison said. “They are long lived, vigorous in youth and age, capable of great endurance and enjoy a remarkable freedom from disease in general.'” In addition to the work of Dr. McCarrison, Wrench highlights as well the studies of the great agriculturalist Sir Albert Howard (author of An Agricultural Testament; see also “Natural vs. Artificial Nitrates” in these Archives.) “This small book,” one British reviewer wrote, “should rest at the very foundations of one’s personal explorations of health and its roots.” 1945.

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Three Opinions of the “Death Food” Propaganda

By Dr. Royal Lee, Herbert C. White, and Arnold P. Yerkes

Summary: The Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprinted these three articles by leading natural-health authorities of the time to counter the “America is the best fed nation on earth” propaganda coming from government agencies and the commercial food industries. From soil destruction and depletion to food processing and synthetic vitamins, the three authors cogently expose the frauds, lies, and myths perpetrated by the “death-food industry,” so described by Royal Lee. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research special bulletin 1-52, 1952. Multiple original sources.

Some Interrelations Between Vitamins and Hormones

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Dr. Lee, citing the great British doctor and nutrition pioneer Sir Robert McCarrison, explains the critical connection between nutrition and the endocrine system. “McCarrison back in 1921 told us how the endocrine glands were the first structures to atrophy or degenerate following vitamin and mineral deficiencies. [For instance,] the adrenal glands…stopped functioning and soon became atrophied.” McCarrison noted that while the adrenals were usually the first endocrine gland to falter as a result of nutrient deficiency, in time others followed, including the thyroid and the pituitary. As Lee often pointed out, none of this would have been discovered had diets high in nutrient-deficient processed foods not initiated such problems in the human race. 1950.

Sidelights on Glucose

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Before there was high-fructose corn syrup, there was just plain corn syrup—the original synthetic sweetener, created by chemically decomposing cornstarch into glucose molecules. Dr. Harvey Wiley, the first head of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), rightfully claimed that use of the word “corn” in describing this imitation food was fraudulent, since it implies naturalness in what is clearly a product of human engineering. In this 1958 article from Let’s Live magazine, Dr. Royal Lee cites a seminal experiment by Drs. Lukens and Dohan at the University of Pennsylvania in which corn syrup (i.e., glucose) was shown to cause diabetes in test animals, whereas refined cane sugar was not. Dr. Lee adds that animal-feeding studies and clinical trials had shown that corn syrup “contributes to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, lassitude, brain fatigue, overweight, irritability, and mental depression; it impairs the assimilation of calcium; and it destroys vital amino acids if they are cooked in its presence.” Finally, Dr. Lee excoriates the FDA for failing to force manufacturers to distinguish between synthetic corn syrup and natural sweeteners on food labels, a deceit that bespeaks the agency’s transformation from consumer watchdog, under Dr. Wiley’s leadership, to the guardian of food manufacturing interests that it is today. From Let’s Live magazine, 1958.

Rancid Oil and Disease

By Don C. Matchan and Dr. Royal Lee 

Summary: This report on a 1962 lecture by Dr. Royal Lee—essentially about the connection between illness and refined cooking oils—is a rally call for the American people to eschew the processed foods that were destroying their health and return to a diet of nutritious, whole foods. Dr. Lee excoriates the leaders of conventional nutrition at the time for actively promoting the consumption of processed foods, specifically calling out the head of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, Dr. Frederick Stare, for accepting a million-dollar grant from food-processing giant General Foods. Dr. Stare, who also received funding from Coca-Cola and the National Soft Drinks Association, was largely responsible for the deception that refined sugar is harmless, saying it was “not even remotely true that modern sugar consumption contributes to poor health.” Later, Stare and his department would also lead the charge in discrediting Dr. Robert Atkins and other proponents of low-carbohydrate diets. From Herald of Health, 1962.

How Our Government Subsidizes Malnutrition and Disease

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: In this revealing booklet, Dr. Royal Lee describes how institutional policies in the USA were designed to protect the processing and refining—and thus the devitalization—of our food supply. He shows how the producers of processed dairy, grain, fruit, and meat induced the Food and Drug Administration as well as the American Medical Association (AMA) to overlook and even endorse their deadly products. In one astonishing case, Dr. Lee presents an ad paid for by the American Institute of Baking and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (under the direction of the journal’s editor, Morris Fishbein) in which the AMA’s Council on Foods assures readers that “White Bread Is Wholesome”—this at a time when many of those readers, doctor members of the AMA, were privately reporting harmful effects of white bread in their patients. “Few people in the United States are aware,” Dr. Lee writes, “of the ‘iron curtain’ maintained in this country to prevent the food consumer from knowing that he is being sold fraudulent foods, foods that have had the better part of their nutritional value removed or destroyed to facilitate the commercial handling of the foods and to enable big food enterprises to unfairly overpower, by price competition, the smaller ones.” For anyone wondering why modern human beings suffer so much chronic disease and ill health in general, this work leaves little doubt where the blame lies. Published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, 1949. Multiple original sources.