The Significance of Nutrition for Preventive Medicine

By Karl Kottschau, MD

Summary: Translated by the Lee Foundation from the German original. In this powerful essay, Dr. Kottschau spells out the principles of whole-food nutrition and calls on German authorities to put the country’s public health before its commercial interests when it comes to the food supply. “From a standpoint of preventive medicine,” he writes, “it must be demanded without the shadow of doubt that the matter of nutrition is discussed in full view of the public and uninfluenced by commercial considerations.” Kottschau then proposes criteria and priorities necessary for the production of truly nutritious food capable of sustaining human health, as opposed to the deficient processed foods responsible for so much of modern illness. “Everybody knows that among civilized peoples nutrition is not what it should be [and] nutrition plays a decisive part in people becoming ill,” he says. Yet “although we know this, and thus it would be our duty to pay maximum attention to this fact, nothing of importance is being done in order to enlighten the masses about the dangers of present-day-civilization diets and to reduce such dangers.” Sadly, Dr. Kottschau’s lament still rings true today. From Research and Science, 1953. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 83.

[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]


The Significance of Nutrition for Preventive Medicine

Everybody knows that among civilized peoples nutrition is not what it should be, that it is responsible for tooth decay, and that most diseases among civilized peoples have some bearing on nutrition, vitamins, and mineral salts. The writings by Bircher-Benner and Kollath and the vitamin book by Stepp-Kuhnau-Schroder furnished information on this matter. Every hospital has a diet section which attests to the significance of nutrition. Moreover, there are institutions and research establishments which probe into nutrition.

All this proves that nutrition plays a decisive part in people becoming ill, so that it also is of great importance in their recovery. It is a known fact that in the long run health and vitamin deficiency cannot exist side by side. It is known that refined foods like white flour and sugar cannot maintain life and health. It is known further that a large part of cancerous diseases stem from nutrition.

—K.H. Bauer

Although we already know a good deal about the complicated interlacing between nutrition and getting sick, one thing is very surprising. Namely, nothing decisive has been done about the promotion of health by wholesome food. Anyway, it is a fact that many people are ill, due to faulty nutrition, but they are given no pointers at all on how to prevent this avoidable cause of sickness. It can furthermore be discovered that it is more and more difficult to provide civilized people with a wholesome diet. Just as it is typical for modern civilization to eliminate nature more and more from its surroundings, nutrition has been perverted more and more with technical processing to that often very little remains of its natural features.

Because nature produces nothing anti-natural by itself, a natural diet contains nothing detrimental. K.H. Bauer even points to the interesting fact that the basic substances of matters known to produce cancer do not contain cancer-producing substances in their original, natural form (mineral coal, shale oil). In its evolution of millions of years, nature has proved that the nutrition it holds at the disposal of all living creatures always served an upward development. Nowhere in nature can it be found that living creatures have been damaged by natural nutrition. However, such damages occur as soon as man comes into the picture with his technique. Cancer-producing substances only become present due to technical conversion or laboratory synthesis (K.H. Bauer).The same thing holds true quite generally for all technical conversion processes, if and when they change the nature of the food. Although they do not always become cancer-producers, they lose their original natural value, which always represents the most favorable one.

It is tragic for civilized man to think that he was able, with the aid of technique, to “enrich” and “beautify” his food, and he even believed he was able to improve the favorable quality of natural products. This produced the economic quality, and it was claimed better than the natural product. It was understandable that civilized man tried to make products durable, but it is less understandable that, to replace the egg content, a yellow color was used. A similar instance was in coloring butter yellow, in order to imitate vitamin content. Why did man invent a chemical chocolate brown, strawberry red, almond yellow or cherry red, since there would be ample opportunities to enlist natural substances for the production of lemonades, liquors, sweets, noodles, fish products, marmalades and canned goods of all kinds? How obvious becomes here the difference between economically unwholesome quality as compared to what genuine quality really ought to be, namely a health-preserving quality.

Did this not show basically that economic quality considerations did not stress health quality? Of course the viewpoint could be advanced that we did not know that butter-yellow was detrimental to health. There is no doubt that not in all instances dyes are used that are detrimental. However, basically the entire problem is of a different nature. We can afford less than ever to offer mankind food that is even slightly devaluated, and then on top claim that this food is better than nature’s food. Such errors must cause serious repercussions to the biological make-up of the civilized peoples. Actually, the harm has already occurred. Now it is important to uncover these serious errors by all means and without regard to anyone, for it cannot be tolerated that the ignorant masses be misled any longer in this question so important for our already endangered health.

It is the task of nutrition, not only to satisfy hunger pangs, but also to keep us sound. This does not mean to maintain a minimum, but rather a maximum of health. We must advance these demands: nutrition must also be so wholesome that:

1. It counteracts a decline of health.
2. It restores declined health.

In order to bring this about, food must be of the maximum quality. Unfortunately our civilized diet does not come up to this quality, for otherwise it would be unnecessary for us to change it in cases of illness. On the contrary we know only too well that our present-day civilized nutrition represents to an incredibly large extent factors that cause illness. Although we know this, and thus it would be our duty to pay maximum attention to this fact, nothing of importance is being done in order to enlighten the masses about the dangers of present-day civilization diets and to reduce such dangers. On the contrary, in promotional campaigns and advertising the impression is created that our present-day nutrition is more valuable with the more durable it is made, and the more it is “beautified” and “enriched.” Add to this an attractive and hygienically marvelous wrapping, and the public, without any hesitation, buys such merchandise advertised as top quality.

Actually, there is no control whether and to what extent such merchandise is to be regarded as valuable from a health point of view. For instance, how can chemically preserved food exert a favorable influence on the condition of oral, larynx or intestinal flora? What disinfects and preserves food chemically can hardly exert a different influence on the digestive tracts. And how about the potentialities of developing cancer? What security do we have that in artificially prepared food there are no potentials for development of cancer? What right do we have to claim that, as long as no cancer-developing possibilities have been proven, we have no reason to worry about this? Is it not a fact that so far more or less all cancer-producing substances have been discovered by some accident? (K.H. Bauer)

It is odd to discover that nowadays all objections from a health point of view are being shelved out of economic considerations. For instance, we are told bleaching flour or dyeing noodles, macaroni, etc. yellow is necessary, because otherwise foreign products treated the same way would be given preference by the buying public. It is not my task to intervene in economic matters, but it is my task to point out that no economic reasons can be accepted as satisfactory if they constitute danger to mankind’s life and body. However, this happens to be the case to a menacing extent among all civilized people. It is a matter of carelessness to try to skirt around these things. From a standpoint of preventive medicine it must be demanded without a shadow of doubt that the matter of nutrition is discussed in full view of the public, uninfluenced by commercial considerations. There must be no single person who is not fully aware of the dangerous potentials of today’s nutrition.

To clarify these matters a corresponding quality inspection is necessary, but it must be based, not on economical, but exclusively on health directives. The analytical, scientific thinking heretofore placed into the center of the whole thing, is not from a health point and a prophylactic point of view, because the decay of our teeth and of our health in general has been on a rapid increase in spite of food products which have become more and more “hygienic.” Theoretically it sounds wonderful when it is claimed that white flour, deprived of all values, can then be revaluated by the addition of vitamin B1. From a prophylactic point of view this looks just the opposite. Everything that is no longer alive, that is, everything prepared in such a manner that it can no longer preserve life, being incomplete, cannot build health. However, this does not by any means signify that everything inanimate must be of inferior quality. It will be the task of a specific content table to establish appropriate classifications along these lines. After all this will make sense: just as it is impossible to convert white flour into live cereal grain, it is not possible either to boost white flour to its original value by adding vitamins, no-matter-how-complicated. How absolutely dangerous such preparations may be is shown in Kollath’s discovery, whereby it is possible to reach longevity with B1 additives, but one would sacrifice one’s health by premature age, among other things—or as he puts it, by mesotrophic changes the health would suffer. The analytic way of consideration, whereby on the strength of some more or less accidental building blocks, the attempt is made to construct a unit, is out in view of the prophylactic viewpoint shown here. It will always be impossible to create something with maximum value, or to create a live unit. We owe to this manner of consideration complete chaos in matters of quality of food and nutritives.

Kollath maintains that information gained experimentally in food and nutrition research were treated during the present century in the same manner as results of pharmacological research. Food particles were treated like medications. Kollath, as a hygienist, studied these problems, whose task it is to maintain health, and not the therapeutic treatment of disease. In this connection he discovered the heretofore unknown territory of “inferiority existence,” of “mesotrophy.” In nutrition matters not only the scientific laws of pharmacology apply, but, to a large extent, the laws of biology. What has been discovered has always been a fraction of nature’s unity, and nutritional science based merely on parts known must necessarily be incomplete. Heretofore the primordial task will not be so much the determination of a certain content in an individual part, more or less easily determinable, but rather to find the way toward gaining and preserving food at its highest value. In matters of nutrition our respect for a natural product is an undeniable must.

Prophylactically the nutritional problem is very simple and obvious. Since the existence of live creatures, live food has constituted the nutrition that keeps the animal kingdom healthy, and contributes to its evolution. It is a question, to what extent and in what manner, if desirable or necessary, killing and cooking may be carried out, without damaging the high quality of live nutrition. Proof that this is basically possible can be seen in the fact that both humans and animals first kill their food by tearing and chewing same, before it gets into their stomachs. However, there is a difference whether the food is killed fresh or whether it has already been dead for a long time, whether it has been preserved as a unit or whether it merely consists of analytical fragments, and finally, whether it contains chemical additives. The corresponding quality ratings result therefrom.

Prophylactically, the greatest emphasis must be placed on the requirement that only top-notch quality can be eligible for preservation and boosting of health, and no quality reduced one way or another can in the long run remain inconsequential to health—not even if sicknesses in the ordinary meaning of the word do not occur. For instance, Kollath’s mesotrophy has never been admitted as a result of faulty nutrition, although it is highly probable that a large part of today’s diseases of premature aging and “wear and tear” would have to be attributed to this factor.* The scope of our chronic diseases, caused to a large extent by our civilized diet, is probably much larger than has been heretofore surmised. Otherwise it would be impossible to achieve such success by raw food diet.

*Supplementing let us remark this: These discoveries also apply even if Kollath’s research results were not fully confirmed. They have been quoted here merely as one of many examples.

Unfortunately things are not that easy, that all you have to do is to eat live animal and vegetable food, in order to stay healthy. One important condition is of course that the animals and plants consumed are completely wholesome. This creates a gigantic civilization problem, which also must be tackled from a prophylactic angle.

Animals and plants can be healthy only if the soil on which plants grow is healthy. Proof of the health of the soil are not the analysis and size of the plants, but rather the absence of susceptibility to diseases and pests. Because these basic requirements for maximum health of animals and plants raised under civilization are unavailable at the present time, it is impossible to claim maximum quality even of live animal or vegetable food. This results in the following directives:

1. The soil must be sound. However, this is not a matter of chemistry, but rather of correct biological processing.

2. Not the quantity of the yield of the soil is important, but the soundness and quality of animals and plants.

3. Commensurate with the availability of sound animal and vegetable food, it will be possible to offer nutrition as it is needed in prophylactic medicine, in order to provide for maximum health.

4. This live food shall only be killed, and be made durable, insofar as necessary, only in such a manner that there will be as low as possible a degree of devaluation of the health quality.

5. Economic considerations are justified only in order to bring about requirements 1 to 4, and health-threatening situations must be avoided. The priority of economic considerations must be eliminated whenever health points of view warrant this. Many economic considerations could immediately be eliminated with some good will, like artificial coloring, bleaching, “beautification,” “enrichment.” The public will cooperate if it is informed about the seriousness of the situation and the purpose of the situation and the purpose of the action. Many economic considerations reveal obviously the intention of profit making, particularly in coloring; but also peeling of rice and white flour production also fall into this category. It is unpardonable nowadays that the best parts of rice and grain are fed to animals as “power food.” The civilized peoples need “power food” much more than animals. It is unpardonable that the rice peeling machines, which account for the impaired health of millions of Asiatic people, are still in operation. This example alone proves that profit-taking is a matter of much greater concern than the preservation of health. Of course everybody should bear in mind that profits made at the expense of health bring no blessings and some day it may have dangerous repercussions.

The practical results of prophylaxis in the field of nutrition thus look like this:

1. Live food, that is, raw food of vegetable or animal origin is in the foreground of every diet.

2. Attempts shall be made to use as much as possible sound plants and animals for nutritional purposes. Plants raised artificially, particularly large and rich plants, and fattened animals, particularly fat animals, are not of the best quality.

3. Whenever it is impossible to eat live food, the food should be reduced, boiled, stewed or fried for a brief time shortly before mealtime.

4. Food killed or preserved long ago are no longer of the highest quality and should be subjected to the most rigid inspection. If we are not sure how such food can be preserved, one must be very careful in selecting the process, and/or in accepting it because it might contain all kinds of chemical additives. Unless preservatives are used, any live food decays after a certain period of time and thus becomes unfit for human consumption.

5. Any food separated from a unity, which is always dead and usually preserved, no longer represents the highest quality. It requires the most rigid inspection with regard to the production process.

This way the most essential things have been indicated. Of course valuable food is also found among preparations, such as energized grain or wheat germ, raw juices, unrefined oils and butter. However, in each case one should be able to find out about objectionable production processes. For that purpose we need institutions which inspect quality. All inspections based on “economic factors,” even though they may be labeled as “quality inspections,” must be rejected, unless such inspections are based on the prophylactic definition of quality.

Our economy is able to thrive just as well if our industries were manufacturing, instead of an economic quality more or less detrimental to our health, a genuinely prophylactic quality. Once the public has been informed accordingly, it will no longer dream of preferring “beautified,” or “enriched” products.

Thus far we still know pathetically little about the consequences of tearing food. Evidently there exists little interest to probe into these somewhat unpleasant things. Anyhow, it is possible to ascertain without a doubt, and without individual inspection, that:

1. Any tearing process of food—like white flour and sugar—and any isolation of individual components—like table salt from a natural mixture such as sea water—means a devaluation from a health point of view.

2. Any chemical additive, be it for preservation, bleaching, or coloring, reduces the biological quality of such food.

So that food will be assimilated most beneficially, vitamins are needed. Their absence causes disturbances due to incomplete catabolism products. Only the most favorable mixture of vitamins, mineral salts, ferments and nutritive agents, which only nature is able to produce under ideal conditions, is able to preserve and even augment health. However, we can see no reason whatsoever why precisely the people living under civilized conditions should be used as guinea pigs in research that tries to replace health-building natural food with a very dubious artificial diet.

Where do we get the right to add to our food very substantial quantities of chemicals without being sure that this might not lead to impairments of our health? Do the tests made on animals suffice to discover that visible damages have not been observed, in order to be able to claim that the prophylactic properties of the food have not been reduced. From a prophylactic viewpoint things look quite differently. To us it is immaterial whether there exists any possibility that damages might occur, for there are hidden effects which manifest themselves only under additional and different conditions. Unless we can arrive at a fool-proof finding, we must refuse such additions for prophylactic reasons. We have good reasons to believe that chemical additives frequently are responsible for detrimental effects. Homeopathy teaches us these things, and it demonstrates that man may become oversensitive against any matter and react to it. Let us bear in mind that every civilized individual takes in, according to conservative estimates by Casper Tropp, between 10 and 25 grams of chemical substances, in the form of preservatives, coloring, etc., and we shall readily see that this amount cannot be processed without serious consequences to our organism. After all, if preservatives had no influence on live substances, they would be superfluous. As to cancer-producing substances, it can even be said that not one gram contained therein is lost, and that their effect irreversibly continues to increase throughout a person’s life. Hence, we cannot claim that there is a borderline below which no effect takes place. This may be true in short-term animal tests, but not for humans who, permanently exposed to the influence of objectionable matters, cannot remain unaffected from them. Who would want to prove the contrary! On the other hand, he who wants to argue and perhaps wants to wait until he can come up with proof of a visible detriment—which, as everybody knows, may take decades (like in the case of colorings)—reduces man to a guinea pig for his ideas, completely in opposition to the unitary viewpoint, and dangerously wrong, and that person ought to be sentenced to bear the full responsibility for all the damages caused. How many thousands of people may have contracted cancer with yellow color in butter as one of the contributing factors, and why is nobody held accountable for this?

However, let us look at the nutrition problem from another viewpoint. Prophylactically speaking, food is not like such a passive substance as heating fuel that is offered the organism to preserve its substance, whereby we operate merely according to chemical viewpoints, but something the living organism actively demands and seizes, and which it converts as actively and uses to the best advantage.

We must get away from the passive-exogen territory and orient ourselves towards the things necessary for the organism from an endogen viewpoint, and to what the organism must do and does actively, in order to preserve health. Then it becomes immediately clear that a diet cannot be strong and effective nutrition for the organism, which always requires exercise, but that such requirements can only be fed into it by the so-called exercising food. What pampers the organism weakens it also, only matters that give it exercise will strengthen it. Only an organism requiring care needs care and diet. Prophylactically speaking there is no diet, but only food which provides exercise. The idea that energy gets into the organism externally via calories, thus strengthening it, is fallacious. Just like obesity does not provide strength, calories do not strengthen either. If the body is unable to do anything with the calories fed into it, the calorie intake is of no use. Obesity rather is tantamount to loss rather than to gain of strength. Sufferers from Basedow’s or Graves’ disease, diabetics, tubercular patients in the final stage, cancer patients could take in calories in large quantities, without gaining weight, and without registering even the slightest gain in strength. Thus the calorie intake is of no importance. However, it is important what the body can do with the food intake.

A weak organism, a weakened stomach or weakened intestines at first cannot derive great benefits from highly valuable nutrition. Therefore, if such organs were exposed to a pampering diet, they would be prevented from recovering by appropriate exercise—that is, their recovery would be prevented. There is no other possibility. Exercising food, administered gradually and in an increasing ratio, like any other training program, allows in each case—provided the organism is still capable of exercising, which means it is in need of exercise—to make it as efficient and healthy as possible, commensurate with its constitution. Exercising diets must never be “adjusted” to today’s habitual weakness of the average human being in our civilized surroundings.

With exercising diets we are trying to comply with a basic requirement of prophylaxis, namely to bring about the maximum capability to exercise, and thus create efficiency and health. This is contrary to the habitual present-day diet of the rank and file of our population, which already constitutes a concession made to the weakness of modern civilized man.

This provides a rough outline as to how prophylaxis has to look at today’s nutrition, and what changes in theory and practice must be made.

By Professor Karl Kottschau, MD, Felke Natural Spa, Diez/Lahn, Germany. Reprinted from Research and Science, Vol. 24, No. 12, June 30, 1953, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. (Translated from German.)

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