By William Brady, MD
Summary: Dr. William Brady was a medical doctor with a popular syndicated newspaper column in the 1940s and ’50s. Here he discusses the link between physical degeneration and nutritional deficiencies resulting from the consumption of refined and processed foods. While we tend to think of the poor as most prone to malnutrition, Brady points out, in his characteristically biting manner, that it is actually the wealthy in America who are most susceptible. “Most Americans, particularly the well-to-do class, suffer from poor nutritional condition and are too dumb to realize what ails them,” he writes. For “anyone who purports to be informed,” Brady recommends as required reading the books Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Dr. Weston Price, Studies in Deficiency Disease, by Sir Robert McCarrison, MD, and The National Malnutrition, by Dr. D.T. Quigley. Sound advice still. From the Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star, 1950. Reprinted by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Dr. Brady’s Health Talk
A health problem of concern to everyone who lives long enough to attain full growth and development has been more or less on my mind: How to teach poor, ignorant, misinformed or deluded fourth-grade morons, high school or college graduates, artists, merchants, doctors, lawyers, and [lay] folk the meaning of physical degeneration without scaring the gizzard out of them or even suggesting any morbid ideas.
I thought I had hit upon a happy solution when I sounded off about the way of all flesh—indeed, all life, human, animal and vegetable—in a series of talks here in the past year. In these talks I tried to show how, like a rose, a pumpkin, a sparrow, a poodle, a racehorse, a sequoia, or a stalk of wheat, the human organism grows and develops to the peak of perfection and begins to decline—to die—the year, the day, indeed the instant it passes the peak, though we all like to believe we can and do remain for ten or twenty years on the summit before we begin the long slide down the other side.
Physical degeneration, I called the process, and I took pains to explain that every one of us, indeed every living thing, undergoes physical degeneration; it is the way of all death, barring accident—the natural antithesis of eternal life.
Furthermore, I pointed out, the term degeneration—in the biological or medical sense in which I used it here—means just this, according to Webster:
Deterioration of a tissue or an organ in which its vitality is diminished; a substitution of a lower for a higher form of structure, either by chemical change of the tissue (true degeneration) or by the deposit of abnormal matter in the tissues (infiltration).
Webster’s definition is pretty good, but Stedman’s Medical Dictionary is better, I think. Stedman says degeneration is “a retrogressive pathological change in cells and tissues in consequence of which the functioning power is lost and the living substance becomes converted into an inert mass.”
By now you should begin to understand that we are talking about physical deterioration or decline and not about moral depravity.
Poorer-than-average nutritional condition—most Americans, particularly the well-to-do class, suffer from poor nutritional condition and are too dumb to realize what ails them—manifests itself as physical degeneration. At least that’s what it spells to my mind. To your mind it very likely spells premature aging, general debility, chronic rheumatism, hardening of the arteries. I tell you it is physical degeneration, and you have many years on your modern, refined, Yankee diet to thank for it.
Lest wiseacres—medical or nonmedical—reading this harangue infer that my notions of physical degeneration and nutritional deficiency are pipe dreams, let me recommend as required reading for any one who purports to be informed: Nutritional and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price, DDS, Studies in Deficiency Disease, by Sir Robert McCarrison, MD, and The National Malnutrition, by D.T. Quigley, MD, FACS.*
Whether PD [physical degeneration] in your case manifests itself in the form of defective teeth, shrinking gums, chronic rheumatism, hardening of the arteries, slow heart, muscle failure, or the common complaints due to calcium shortage, it is well for you and your doctor to know that these and other manifestations of physical degeneration may be retarded and even prevented not by medicine or “shots” or “baths” or magic lanterns or incantations but by improved nutrition.
It takes years of malnutrition—the nutritional deficiencies from which most Americans suffer—to produce these manifestations of physical degeneration. Hence it is only reasonable to expect that it will take months or years of improved nutrition—correction of the long-standing dietary deficiencies—to bring about any apparent amelioration of the ailment.
If or when the everyday diet includes as much refined white flour and refined white sugar as the diet of most Americans does (most of the daily calories are derived from these cheat-foods), it is virtually impossible to ensure a daily intake of vitamins and minerals adequate to maintain good nutrition, unless the deficient diet is supplemented by suitable daily rations of the essential vitamins and minerals.
Trouble with many victims of PD is that they have neither the intelligence nor the gumption to use plain wheat (as grain, cereal, or ground into meal or flour from which nothing is removed) in place of at least one-half of the white flour in their everyday diet.
*[Note from Selene River Press: Dr. Quigley’s book was published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. Dr. McCarrison’s book was first published in England in 1921 by Oxford Medical and then republished in the 1940s in the U.S. by the Lee Foundation. Dr. Royal Lee was on the committee to keep Dr. Price’s book published in perpetuity].
By Dr. William Brady. Reprinted from the Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, September 17, 1959, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, with permission by the John F. Dille Syndicate. Copyright 1950 by John F. Dille Co.
Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201
Printed in U.S.A.