By Dr. Royal Lee
Summary: “Yes, there is a battle going on,” Dr. Royal Lee writes in this 1950 article from the magazine The Interpreter. But the war Dr. Lee was referring to did not involve guns or missiles. It was a contest hidden from public view, waged between the nation’s food manufacturers and its first nutritionists—a war regarding the truth about processed foods. While modern beliefs about diet and health stem largely from the disproven idea that fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, the picture looked quite different to America’s nutrition pioneers. These practitioners and researchers, living at a time when industrially processed foods morphed from novelty to staple of the country’s food supply, witnessed firsthand a phenomenon repeated across the globe throughout the twentieth century: wherever processed foods were introduced, the “modern” diseases—heart attacks, cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, liver disease, ulcers, tooth decay, and so on—soon followed, where they had been virtually nonexistent before. This phenomenon was so obvious and so predictable that only a massive conspiracy between industrial food manufacturers and the federal government, as Dr. Lee bravely outlines in this explosive essay, could hoodwink the American people into believing that processed and refined foods are capable of nourishing the human body. From The Interpreter, 1950. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 30-E.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
The Battlefront for Better Nutrition
Yes, there is a battle going on—between those who are trying to promote better nutrition and the food manufacturers, who insist on making products “worse so that they can be sold for less,” thereby eliminating the competition of more honest and self-respecting producers who would prefer to apply in business the Golden Rule.
These commercial interests have had the United States government on their side ever since they ousted Dr. Harvey W. Wiley from his job as head of the Food and Drug Administration in 1912.
The present head of the Food and Drug Division of Nutrition, Dr. Elmer M. Nelson, in a special constitutional court in Washington last October, testified: “It is wholly unscientific to state that a well-fed body is more able to resist disease than a less-well-fed body. My overall opinion is that there hasn’t been enough experimentation to prove dietary deficiencies make one more susceptible to disease” (Washington Post, October 26, 1949).
This is nothing new for Dr. Nelson. Ten years ago, he, with his group of experts, testified in a similar court that neither degenerative disease nor infectious disease nor functional disease could result from any nutritional deficiency.
For all these years, he has battled for the maker of devitalized foods and tried to stem the tide of public opinion against the use of white flour, refined sugar, pasteurized milk, and imitation butter by vigorous prosecution of any maker of any dietary supplement designed to abate the consequences of using such devitalized food, basing his arguments on the thesis that there are no such things as deficiency diseases.
Truly, as Dr. Wiley sadly remarked in his book The History of a Crime Against the Pure Food Law (1930), the makers of unfit foods have taken possession of Food and Drug [Administration] enforcement and have reversed the effect of the law, protecting the criminals that adulterate foods instead of protecting the public health.[Photo of Dr. Lee, with caption:] Dr. Royal Lee, known as “the ‘fightinest’ leader in the field of nutritional science,” is president of the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. Through investigation and informative reports, he makes available to the American public the latest developments in the fields of vitamins, foods, and nutrition.
Books that have told the story are being suppressed by the use of the copyright law. This includes Dr. Wiley’s book and the three wonderful books by Alfred McCann (The Science of Eating, The Science of Keeping Young, and Starving America). Since the death of their authors, there have been changes in the copyright ownership, and complete suppression has followed.
In 1949, for the first time in history, Dr. Nelson’s efforts failed to impress the federal judges sitting in the case. The defendant in this case obtained a permanent injunction against the Food and Drug Administration from any further interference into his business.
This may well be the turning point in the battle against food adulteration. In the past, defendants have been found guilty of violation of the “law” and fined the limit for daring to assume in their advertising that nutritional deficiency could cause any kind of diseases whatever. (For without “functional” changes, there is no evidence of any disease.)
Even the Federal Trade Commission has been called in to help protect adulterators. It has issued orders stopping health-food exponents and lecturers from intimating that aluminum compounds in foods may be harmful, apparently to protect the makers of aluminum-containing baking powders and makers of aluminum cooking utensils.
You may not know that it is impossible to legally get a court review of the arbitrary and despotic orders of the Federal Trade Commission. [The commission] has the same complete and absolute power that any totalitarian despot ever had. In the baking powder dispute, the testimony of the defendant who was opposed to alum in foods and of his expert pathologists was so damning to aluminum that it has been apparently suppressed; participants who had copies of the proceedings were warned not to publish them under penalty of jail sentences. This is Docket 540, the Averill Report on Aluminum as a Cause of Cancer.
The Federal Trade Commission has also issued orders to makers of natural foods prohibiting them from claiming that natural food factors are superior to synthetic imitations. The penalty for violation of such orders is a ten-thousand-dollar fine for each and every violation. So you will not be hearing much in the way of sales arguments from makers of better food products where they compete with synthetic substitutes.
Just what is really wrong with white flour, oleomargarine, and pasteurized milk?
Vitamin E and Phosphatase
We will only discuss two fractions that are lost by this processing and substitution. These are vitamin E and the enzyme phosphatase. The bleach chemicals used to keep bugs out of flour destroy both. Pasteurization destroys phosphatase in milk. Oleomargarine contains no vitamin E, as butter does. It also contains a poison, sodium benzoate, since oleo cannot be made to keep without a chemical preservative.
Why do we need phosphatase? Simply because without it we fail to split and assimilate the mineral salts in our foods that are in the form of phytates. No enzyme is naturally secreted in the human intestinal tract that splits phytates, although many other animals, including the rat, do have such an enzyme. That is discussed in Hutchinson’s Food and the Principles of Dietetics, tenth edition (Williams & Wilkins), where these authorities claim that no minerals can be assimilated from cereal foods as a consequence. That is quite right—if we eat such cereal foods with pasteurized milk and use cereals in which the enzyme content has been destroyed by bleaching chemicals. (For cereal germ and bran are the highest common sources of phosphatase other than raw milk).
The drastic effect of pasteurized milk in causing degenerative diseases in cats was emphatically demonstrated by Dr. Francis M. Pottenger Jr. a few years ago, [as] reported in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, August 1946. The cats became afflicted with every disease common to man, it seemed—gastric ulcers, constipation, arthritis, liver disease, heart disease, and even pyorrhea and mental aberrations.
Bleaching and Pasteurization
Every doctor has wondered why his patients fail to assimilate calcium. He has not been informed that the reason is milk pasteurization and flour bleaching.
He has neither been informed about the 400 percent increase in bleach chemical used to keep the bugs out of commercial “whole” wheat flour. As a result, in animal tests where 54 percent survived on white bread, on commercial “whole” wheat bread, there were no survivors. (Reported in the News Letter of the Academy of Applied Nutrition, March 1949).
Wheat flour is almost as perishable as milk; if bleach preservatives are not used, it would have to be distributed from cold-storage warehouses.
If milk were not pasteurized, it would have to be clean and produced under far more sanitary conditions, or its poor condition would be reflected in a curdling before it could be delivered to the consumer. Pasteurization hides this low quality, just as flour bleach hides the musty state of poor wheat. Homogenization is another trick; it permits the mixing of stale milk with fresh, which without homogenizing would exhibit the telltale curdling of staleness.
Enriching the white flour to improve its salability is not warranted by animal tests. In the News Letter report cited above, when the white bread was enriched with synthetic vitamins, the survival percentage dropped from 54 percent to 49 percent. So we see that “enrichment” is a colossal fraud.
Pasteurization does not lower the bacteria count of the milk as consumed, for germs grow faster in pasteurized milk than in raw, and the count, while cut down [initially] by the pasteurization, soon exceeds the figure it had before.
Pasteurization does not control undulant fever [brucellosis], for this disease has been increasing by leaps and bounds where all milk is being pasteurized. It is now known to be a deficiency disease, curable in both man and animal by trace minerals. So pasteurization too seems nothing more than a colossal fraud.
Now about vitamin E. Cattle fed grains as usual except [for] the vitamin E [being] removed in a few months—although gaining normally in weight—began to drop dead one by one after exhibiting slight changes in their electrocardiograms that were identical to those in human heart patients (Science, October 4, 1946).
Superiority of Butter
Children of adolescent age fed oleo [i.e., margarine] and butter side-by-side over a few years demonstrated that oleo feeding caused castration of both sexes in a considerable degree, as indicated by excessive height of both boys and girls, greater weight increase in girls than boys, and neutral physiques in both—girls having broader shoulders and narrower hips than normal, boys vice versa.
Sex development demands vitamin E, and butter is our main source in the American diet. And we do not mean synthetic substitutes for the natural E complex. Take vitamin E out of its environment by “purifying” it, and it loses up to 99 percent of its potency, say authorities. You cannot keep time by using the brass out of a watch. You cannot get the normal effect by taking a natural vitamin complex apart either. It is a balanced mechanism as it occurs in food.
Now do you begin to see why heart disease kills more people in this country than any other ailment and that it is practically unknown in China?
Do you see the vital importance of rigorously examining every article of food you use and of demanding the unprocessed, high quality you are entitled to? That is the only hope we have of escaping what Theodore Roosevelt called “race suicide.” It is far later than we suspect in our progress toward the untimely end of all unblissfully ignorant mortals.
By Dr. Royal Lee. Reprinted from The Interpreter, July 15, 1950, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.
Reprint No. 30-E
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