By Dr. Royal Lee
Summary: In this stunning assessment of the widespread yet unacknowledged malnourishment of America, Dr. Royal Lee describes in detail the health effects of eating processed foods as well as the difference between natural and synthetic vitamins. “We have drifted into this deplorable position of national malnutrition quite inadvertently,” he adds. “It is the result of scientific research with the objective of finding the best ways to create foods that are non-perishable that can be made by mass production methods…and distributed so cheaply that they can sweep all local competition from the market. Then, after there develops a suspicion that these ‘foods’ are inadequate to support life, modern advertising science steps in to propagandize the people into believing that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are products of scientific research intended to afford a food that is the last word in nutritive value.” Also included is the infamous advertisement in the Journal of the American Medical Association promoting white bread, the result of a financial arrangement between the American Medical Association and the American Institute of Baking. From Challenge Magazine, 1943. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 30.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Recent Conclusions in Malnutrition
Presented by Dr. Royal Lee at the American Naprapathic Association Convention, Hotel LaSalle, Chicago, Illinois, June 1943.
Dr. Thomas Parran, Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, at the Hot Springs United Nations Food Conference, has just commented that improved nutritional standards would “add ten years to the virile life span of the average human being.” That is probably an understatement; I have always made it twenty years. But men in Dr. Parran’s position must lean to conservatism.
Whether it is ten years or twenty, it is a terrible indictment of American intelligence and initiative for our state of nutrition to be discovered in this position. The economic loss of this productive man power alone means half as much annually as the present annual cost of our participation in the World War. It is a staggering sum, calculated in dollars, even to those conditioned to the astronomical figures of modern finance. It would, in one year, have built a comfortable modern home for each and every man who was unemployed in this country in 1933.
Just who is responsible for this twenty-five per cent reduction in our life span by reason of malnutrition? Just what forms do these effects of malnutrition assume, so that we may recognize them and avoid them? My attempt here to answer these two questions represents studies and experiences that I have accumulated in making and selling nearly ten million dollars worth of special food products designed to relieve human deficiency diseases.
We have drifted into this deplorable position of national malnutrition quite inadvertently. It is the result of scientific research with the objective of finding the best ways to create foods that are non-perishable that can be made by mass production methods in central factories, and distributed so cheaply that they can sweep all local competition from the market. Then, after there develops a suspicion that these “foods” are inadequate to support life, modern advertising science steps in to propagandize the people into believing that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are products of scientific research intended to afford a food that is the last word in nutritive value, and the confused public is totally unable to arrive at any conclusion of fact, and continues to blindly buy the rubbish that is killing them off years ahead of their time.
Until sixty years ago, bread was made from locally ground wheat. The milling industry became centralized, mass production methods were instituted, bleaching was invented to improve keeping qualities of flour, and the downhill trend of public health began that would have been far more obvious had not medical discoveries and improvements in sanitary science offset in considerable degree the otherwise astonishing increase in death rates from diseases now attributed to mineral and vitamin deficiency. Were white flour and refined sugar labeled with the same meticulous regard for the truth that vitamins and drugs must observe, the advice on each package would of necessity read:
“The habitual use of this product in any substantial amount as a part of the diet will, in all probability, cause the development of heart disease or other fatal degenerative conditions, or so lower the resistance of the user that any one of the various infective microorganisms will be enabled to invade the tissues, with the possible development of or aggravation of one or more of any of the diseases known to result from such infection.”
Most of the ills of the human race are either in the class of the degenerative or infectious diseases. So, we can easily see why Dr. Parran arrives at his conclusion.
If the American people were confronted with a war with a foreign enemy, so powerful in a military sense that it could slaughter two million people a year, it would be a major and primary national problem to lick such an enemy with all possible haste. But malnutrition can kill this number yearly, and modern advertising science, with the volunteered assistance of modern organized medicine, work hand in band to keep the people in the dark and keep the dollars flowing into the coffers of the makers of devitalized, “foodless,” foods.
When I say that organized medicine has volunteered its assistance, I am only quoting the proposition made in 1925 by Dr. Cramp of the Advertising Department of the American Medical Association to the organized bakers of America. I quote Dr. Cramp:
“I have wondered recently whether you have ever thought of suggesting to the organized bakers of the country that there is very real need of an educational campaign on the part of the modern baker directed first toward the medical profession, and, second, toward the general public on the subject of white bread.
“As you probably know, the medical profession has a very poor opinion of ordinary white bread and loses no opportunity of depreciating it when dietetic questions are raised. The food fad-dists and fakers have, of course, been most virulent against white bread. But, it is an unfortunate fact that the medical profession itself has rather taken the attitude that there was a certain degree of soundness in the denunciation against this staple article of diet and, instead of attempting to correct the impression, has let it stand.
“I believe the baking industry would do itself a service if it undertook to carry a campaign directed first, to the medical profession and later, if necessary, to the public, direct, on the facts regarding white bread as made today by the more progressive and farsighted members of the baking industry.”
That offer was accepted and since that time, the advertising pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association have been vociferous in the campaign of promoting manufactured facts “regarding white bread as made today by the more progressive and far-sighted members of the baking Industry.”
Let me say here that the medical men of this country are just as helpless and as innocent in the main of the crimes of their racketeering overlords as the working men of this country are helpless to avoid the criminal racketeers who prey on them under the federal laws that license labor unions. Neither can ever start a new and clean organization without being chopped down immediately by political power wielded by a constituted authority who is, on investigation, found to be an agent of the racket. The American Medical Association was found guilty of a violation of the Federal anti-monopoly act, but it has not stopped in any part of the country its watch-dog function of determining just who can make use of the nation’s hospital facilities; and it is well known that even a membership in the American Medical Association is no guarantee of privilege, for there s a clique in every community that regulates the matter of who is to have access to these publicly-owned institutions. It is this control of hospitals that stops any new organization from getting any power in the medical field.
Organized medicine has found, too, another field for exploitation in the synthetic vitamin picture. In Canada, an honest and conscientious administration has obtained the passage of a law prohibiting the adulteration of wheat flout or bread with any synthetic substance in recognition of investigations that have shown such mixtures were definitely more harmful than the flour was before enrichment. (Dr. Agnes Fay Morgan, University of California, Science, March 13, 1941). In this country, however, the advertising propaganda power of the chemical industries is so influential that the American people have been humbugged again and are eating this new rubbish with the same gusto that they have been exhibiting for forty years for digging their graves with their teeth.
The Canadian law says that if a high-vitamin bread is to be sold, it must contain the original vitamins of the wheat and not an imitation. In this country, the people are fooled by the advertising propaganda; but the bugs that can only live in high-vitamin flour still leave the enriched flour alone, for they have not had the opportunity to read the advertising.
Enriched flour is so called because a few synthetic factors are added to replace several times as many natural factors. The effect is to aggravate the effects of deficiency of those factors not added. The most important result of this aggravation is the development of liver disease that arises from the lack of the lipocaic group of the B complex. The patient develops allergies, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, or gall bladder disease; and in the dog-feeding tests on enriched flour, the animals had the tendency of becoming senile in deportment and dropping dead suddenly in their tracks, just as the middle-aged business man often dies, as reported daily in the papers.
The “Seal of Acceptance” of the American Medical Association is being put on these dangerous concoctions intended to protect, without regard for the public health, the business interests that are involved, and for which Dr. Cramp originally sold the propaganda facilities of the organization.*
The drugless doctors of this country are to be congratulated for theft pioneering in the field of nutrition and for their basic philosophy that violations of natural laws of living are the basic cause of disease. They have today a grave responsibility, a duty to see that their clients and patients are properly advised as to how to avoid the traps that big business has set to ensnare their health and turn it into cash.
I may appear to be overly radical in my remarks in this connection, but I should certainly be a Casper Milquetoast if I failed to make my point here, when the conservative statement made by Dr. Parran must be interpreted to mean that two and a half million people a year die ten years too soon from malnutrition, itself. I may borrow an expression from Westbrook Pegler in that I have no feud with the American Medical Association, except as far as a broom has a feud with dirt. If the truth itself is radical and hard to believe, it is not a circumstance of my making. And there can be no doubt of the truth. It is becoming more apparent every day. The really serious part of the picture is that those who are charged officially with the job of enforcing the regulations regarding the truthfulness of advertising and labeling are under such political and commercial control that they are actually stopping the advertising of vitamins and mineral foods, and factual statements as to their effects are not permitted to be made in advertising and labeling unless they conform to the “consensus of medical opinion” while simultaneously the labeling and advertising of foods that fail to supply nutrition are blatantly setting forth such misstatements as, “White bread is wholesome,” and that “Synthetic vitamins are the same as the natural.”
You may find it hard to believe, but medical opinion has established officially as a part of the law of this land the following basic principles, which are, according to the expressed opinions of other government experts, diametrically opposed to the truth:
1. Synthetic vitamins are identical to natural in their effect on the human system.
2. No vitamin is of any value in the treatment of any infectious disease.
3. It is improbable that a vitamin has any relation to the cause of any infectious disease.
4. Vitamin deficiency does not cause degenerative changes in the human system.
5. Functional diseases are not a result of vitamin deficiency
6. Diseases of metabolism are not a result of vitamin deficiency.
7. Scurvy is not a degenerative disease.
8. The effect of a food element upon man is identical with its effect upon an animal.
The last seven statements were made in a U.S. Federal Court by medical doctors who were called on to express medical opinion.
The low state of morals among expert witnesses is obvious here. These same witnesses have published in textbooks and scientific writings opinions exactly opposite to these. But Organized Medicine is committed to a policy of protecting the commercial interests of devitalized food manufacturers and cannot allow any interference where there is challenge of their control. The main witness involved in the above statements is a man who is also on the Council of Pharmacy and Chemistry of the American Medical Association and, of course, by his connection as such qualifies as an expert.
As to the status of synthetic vitamins, it is exactly the same as that of any synthetic food; they are dangerous. Any thinking person would certainly look askance at any synthetic imitation of a natural food. Dr. Casimir Funk, who originally discovered the method for concentrating vitamin B and invented the word, “vitamine” to describe it, says that the “synthetic product is less effective and more toxic.” The same opinion is held by any physician who has tried both synthetic and natural products. But the sale of enriched flour and synthetic vitamins and drugs both depend upon the suppression of this vital fact. So we find the American Medical Association using all their power and influence to promote the idea that there is no difference, and the Food & Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission take the same stand and propose to prosecute advertisers who tell their customers that there is a difference.
If you have any doubt as to the possibility of synthetic vitamins being dangerous, read the report on the tests of the effects of vitamin D as compared with the natural in five hundred human pregnancy cases. All the cases given the synthetic product with calcium had definitely calcified and diseased kidneys, shown by X-ray examination, while those given the natural product had no observable change in the kidneys whatever. This is reported in Dr. Weston A. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
What are the effects in general of these devitalized foods?
First are the degenerative changes that end in the sudden or gradual death of the victim, usually put in the category of heart disease, high blood pressure, and probably cancer.
Second is the lowered resistance that shortens the life span and permits the continual attacks of disease germs of the various kinds that may be anything from pyorrhea to pneumonia.
Third is the fatigability that is characteristic of the deficient person which steals his living hours and makes his life miserable and non-productive, instead of happy and prosperous.
Fourth, and last, is the degeneration of sex function of both sexes, that is actually and definitely bringing on what Theodore Roosevelt termed, “Race Suicide.” We, as a nation, are being unquestionably castrated, little by little, through our use of foods that have been tampered with—let us say, denatured and devitalized. Therefore, we, ourselves, become devitalized. The deficiency of every vitamin has some part to play; there is no special sex vitamin.
The female of the species pays the biggest penalty for our Ignorance. To illustrate what I mean, let me introduce into the record this unsolicited letter to a vitamin detail man from the mother of a young woman who used natural vitamins to avoid deficiencies during pregnancy. (See attached letter.)
Now, the last question is: How can we avoid deficiencies?
We must first select our foods with meticulous care. Eat no refined sugar or white flour, or products containing them. Use honey, brown sugar, and maple syrup only, as sweets. Use fresh ground wheat or other cereals exclusively, as the vitamins in wheat or other grains become oxidized in a few days and freshness is the only guard to wholesomeness. The flavor of whole wheat changes day by day after grinding like coffee. The finer it is ground, the faster the loss of vitamins. Many people find the answer in a home grinder that can often be obtained at a low cost from department stores.
Use only real butter—avoid oleo. For cooking, use peanut or corn oil, if possible. Pasteurized milk is relatively useless as a source of the calcium because pasteurization destroys the enzymes that are necessary for the assimilation of the calcium; so insist on raw certified milk exclusively. Here in Chicago, we are fortunate in having available the finest certified milk in the world, in my opinion, the Brookhill milk distributed by Borden. The milk dealer will try to talk you out of your decision to buy it, however, for his profit is greater on the pasteurized article.
Citrus fruits are not dependable sources of vitamin C unless fresh. Oranges may be devoid of this vitamin if more than three months old. They are now stored in air-conditioned warehouses for three times that time, in many cases, without obvious alteration in texture. Leafy vegetables can lose all their vitamin C in one week of storage, so your only dependable source of such foods is the roadside farmer or your own garden.
Meat, today, is carried in cold storage until its vitamin content is only a vestige of its original value, so fresh fowl and fish are the best from a vitamin standpoint.
If you have children to feed, whole wheat as pancakes, with honey, or whole wheat cereal made by cracking wheat in a home hand grinder should be a basic food for the morning meal. Peanut products, fresh roasted or as peanut butter, are basic high-protein foods that can substitute for meat in these days, in diets for children.
The British Army, when Wellington licked Napoleon, was fed a ration of one pound of wheat daily per man. It had never had a healthier record. No other food was issued; the man who got tired of wheat could find a civilian to trade with for something else. He had his choice of making it into bread, eating it raw, or as a cereal.
Potatoes, like wheat, can support human life indefinitely, if eaten boiled, but not mashed. Mashing exposes the vitamin C to air, causing its destruction in ten minutes. Potatoes have about one-third of the vitamin C content of oranges and are a valuable source of that vitamin. Tests in Irish prisons have shown that men fed potatoes alone for ninety days gained weight and were apparently in better condition than when they began. Bananas, too, can be used as a single food, containing everything needed by the human economy.
So, we can list as basic dependable foods: milk, wheat, potatoes, peanuts, bananas. Each will support human life alone, if not devitalized by tampering in the hands of middlemen. Fresh meat will also stand in this category, too, as proved by Steffansson.
Children will overeat of carbohydrate foods if given the opportunity to have access to devitalized products. Candy made with refined sugar is not self-limiting to the human appetite like the natural honey. That is why sugar can cause such destruction to health, for it fills the stomach without affording complete nutrition. It is far cheaper in the end to buy the higher priced wholesome foods than to pay the doctor and dentist for services after the damage is done.
And, if wholesome foods are well chosen, the price may even be less, for home-prepared wheat is one of the lowest cost foods to be found.
*See attached copies of JAMA ads for white bread featuring the AMA “Seal of Acceptance.”
Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research is a non-profit, public-service institution, chartered in the state of Wisconsin in 1941 to investigate and disseminate nutritional information. The attached publication is not literature or labeling for any product, nor shall it be employed as such by anyone. In accordance with the right of freedom of the press guaranteed to the Foundation by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the attached publication is issued and distributed for informational purposes. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee 3, Wisconsin
By Dr. Royal Lee. Reprinted from The Challenge Magazine, 1943, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee 3, Wisconsin.[Addendum—text only; see original for ad image:][spacer height=”20px”]
Advertising page from the Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 110, Number 5, p. 33, Advertising Department:
“White Bread is Wholesome…”[spacer height=”20px”]
Here is an authoritative statement about white bread, a statement that is accepted by the Council on Foods of the American Medical Association:
“White bread is a wholesome, nutritious food. As such it has its rightful place in the normal diet of the normal individual. Its avoidance for fear of any harmful consequence or the fear that it is the cause of any diseased condition when properly used in the normal diet, is entirely without scientific foundation.”
An informative and interesting booklet for physicians describing the proper place of white bread in human nutrition will be sent you in request. All statements in this booklet have been accepted by the American Medical Association Council on Foods.
Department of Nutrition
American Institute of Baking
9 Rockefeller Plaza
Advertising page from the Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 110, Number 5, p. 43, Advertising Department:
“Publicizing Sound Nutrition…”[spacer height=”20px”]
These days, one hears so much of the elaborate machines for propaganda, political and otherwise, that it may be at least refreshing to hear of a publicity program founded on scientific truth and actually devoted to the public interest.
Just such a program is now being carried forward by the Department of Nutrition of the American Institute of Baking.
Dedicated to the dissemination of truthful nutritional information about bread and baked wheat foods, this work is one with which we believe you’ll be in complete sympathy. For it aims at counteracting destructive influences against our national consumption of bread and kindred wholesome foods…waging a war of truth against unscientific publicity and food-faddist malignments that have seriously affected popular notions about bread.
Naturally, with this objective, the Department’s publicity has a certain amount of legitimate bias. It is propaganda with a purpose. But without poison. Its bias is in balance: its nutritional data are sound from every dietary respect, and consistent with scientific fact.
The campaign is now nearing close of its second year, with some notable accomplishments to its credit. For example, newly developed literature, accepted by the A.M.A. Council on Foods, has been widely distributed; news items and articles on foods and nutrition, constantly emphasizing the wise advice, “Consult your physician,” have been released for use in thousands of newspapers and magazines; material has been supplied for countless educational radio programs; reliable information, based on scientific research and consistent with medial opinion, has been furnished to the baking industry.
Championed in this nutritional propaganda are these simple facts…elementary to you, but revelation to a huge fraction of the American public:
—that no food is a complete of perfect food
—that bread, light or dark, is a good wholesome food, outstanding as a source of readily assimilated food-energy, and contributing various other important nutrients to the diet
—that bread, in itself, is not “fattening”; that there no such thing as a fattening food; that the quantity, rather than the type, of calories ingested is the sole cause of overweight in normal individuals
—that bread in all its forms is a wholesome, economical food that deserves a prominent place in the diet of every normal person
—that bread can be and often is included in reducing diets, under the direction of a physician
Yes, we have an axe to grind. But we do submit, doctor, that in the baker’s boots you’d choose the same course. This is propaganda in the name of truth. Educational publicity that teaches sound, beneficial nutrition. In a word, propaganda without poison. Don’t you agree?
By joining the baking industry in active support of the Department of Nutrition of the A.I.B., and by its own researchers in the field of nutrition, General Mills indicates its complete accord and cooperation with this valuable work.
General Mills, Inc.