Browsing in a second-hand bookstore…
I came across a booklet from 1944 by naturopath Bertram T Fraser MA, BSc. It’s title piqued my interest: “What to eat for health” (published by Thorsons Publishers Ltd).
I was amazed how much relevance this little publication has 70 years later and dismayed to see how little has changed since then. Here are some pearls of wisdom from different sections of this book. Much the same still applies today!
“The Nature Cure physician has found that medicines and drugs not only cannot cure, but by temporarily relieving the symptoms drive the disease itself back into the system. For the symptoms are not the disease, but the result of the disease.”
“Without doubt the ability to feed rationally has been lost and, unfortunately, the medical profession has not been very helpful along dietetic lines, tending only too often to allow the patient to decide what he will eat. As the late Sir Arbuthnot Lane has said, “The average doctor has never been taught how to keep a body in health by proper feeding. Such things are not included in the education he receives at a medical school.”
“Bread, even of the wholemeal variety, is not the staff of life it has long been believed to be, and because of the enormous quantities eaten it is probably more responsible for acidosis and its accompaniments than any other cereal food.”
“Sugar consumption is steadily increasing, and has long been excessive. It (pre-war) reached somewhere about a hundred pounds per head per annum. Sugar, it should be noted, is a stomach irritant producing inflammation of the mucous membrane if taken immoderately. It also has the effect of delaying digestion. even brown sugar is bad in this respect chiefly because, being a prepared sugar, it is in a very highly concentrated form, much more so than it is produced by nature.”
“It has been found that excessive consumption of cane-sugar promotes intestinal putrefaction, which is followed by a variety of gastro-intestinal disorders. Speaking of the addition of sugar to children’s feeding bottles, Dr Paul Carton says in Some Popular Foodstuffs Exposed: “It is this deadly sugar much more than the germs contained in the milk which is the real cause of the digestive troubles, the enteritis, acute diarrhoea, restlessness and nervous troubles from which infants suffer so much…In saturating children with sugar, sweets, chocolate, we are, with a most lamentable unconsciousness, destroying their health.””
“The importance of roughage in our diet cannot be overestimated, as without it the bowel gradually loses its power. From this there follows an extremely important point, viz., that a completely digestive diet is not a healthy one…To endeavour to restore by laxatives normal bowel action which has been destroyed by the ordinary white bread, meat and potato diet which is lacking in salts, vitamins and roughage is merely stupidity.”
“The chief source of our salts is to be found in fruits and vegetables. In this connection the main point to be observed is that in the boiling of vegetables many of the salts are dissolved in the water, so that to pour this water away is to throw away something of the utmost dietetic importance….Vegetables should be steamed or cooked in the minimum quantity of water.”
“In recent years the discovery of vitamins has let to a great deal of commercial exploitation. Food manufacturers are adding these substances to various articles of diet, and selling them through large sale advertising at enhanced prices. As we see it, the position simply amounts to this; that one set of manufacturers is depriving us of our vitamins by polishing, bleaching and otherwise “purifying” foodstuffs, whilst another is engaged in attempting to restore them artificially. The sooner the food business is taken out of the hands of private enterprise the better for the health of the community.”
“It is strange that even to-day there are doctors who tell their patients that what they eat has little or nothing to do with their bodily ailments, but consideration of some of the gastronomic feats which some folks perform easily explains why our hospitals and infirmaries are overcrowded. And unfortunately, the diet in most of these institutions is one which merely serves to keep the patients ill.”
“As a food milk is obviously intended only for the young, and despite medical recommendation it cannot be described as a healthy food for grown-ups except under special conditions….The indiscriminate use of milk in childhood is responsible for extra strain being thrown upon the glandular system and is causative of tubercular neck glands, tonsillitis, adenoids, mumps etc, so that the latest scheme for supplying it daily to children who may already be being overfed must be described as very foolish.”
“Butter is our best source of animal fat as it contains some of the vitamins and salts from the milk from which it is prepared.”
These are some of the numerous ‘gems’ the book provides before the author goes on to detail his ideas on wholesome and unwholesome foods, and to suggest a “rational, healthy diet” (see below).
Isn’t it interesting how relevant Fraser’s views still are? The past century has seen such advances in technology and lifestyle that we tend to think we’re progressing in all areas. If the junk and convenience food lobby continues to control the ‘healthy eating’ message, however, we are going backwards rather than forwards as far as our physical and mental health are concerned.
Extracts: the Rational Healthy Diet