Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Proverbs 3:7, 8
In the 19th century in Europe and the United States, God inspired a number of men and women to encourage the societies they lived in to eat and live a lot more healthily. Their ideas may have seemed very radical in their day, for new ideas and change are always looked upon with either suspicion, scorn or caution, but many have recently reaped the benefits of health reform and by eating a natural as possible a diet. With the many health warnings that engulfs modern society, it has been observed that these different individuals from different walks of life were not a bunch of holistic New Age extremists, but enlightened individuals who studied the human body and observed that the decline in health in Western socieities was due to poor diets and careless lifestyles. The medical industry is beginning to observe that what these individuals investigated and shared, was absolutely true and though a few of them were scorned in their day, their effortless reforms were not in vain. The following individuals are probably unknown to most people outside of health and medical circles, but the health advice they gave has been observed to be healthful to many who have even been at the point of death.
Though the US lead the way in health clinics, and vege companies, it is in Britain, the birth of Protestantism that health awareness really took shape where the baton was passed onto their not too distant relatives in North America.
'Many of the reformers derived their ideas from British sources, such as the eighteenth-century Englishman, Dr. George Cheyne. His book, entitled, The Natural Method of Curing the Diseases of the Body, stressed such remedies as water, fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and moderation in diet. The Scotch physician Andrew Combe wrote Principles of physiology Applied to the Preservation of Health, which appeared in an American edition in 1834. It made suggestions similar to Cheyne's book. In 1817 a group of vegetarian Christians, led by William Metcalfe, arrived in Philadelphia from Manchester, England. Metcalfe helped organize the American Vegetarian Society in New York City in 1850. (1)
Dr George Cheyne (1671-1743)
Rev. William Metcalfe (1788-1862)
‘Born at Orton in Westmoreland, after instruction in a classical school kept him by a philologist of some repute, he began life as an accountant at Keighley, in Yorkshire. His leisure hours were devoted to mental culture, both in reading and in poetic composition. Converted by Cowherd in 1809, in the twenty-first year of his age, he abandoned the flesh diet, and remained to the end a firm believer in the truths of "The Perfect Way." The United States of America, however, was the field to which he had long been looking as the most promising for the mission work to which he had devoted himself; and in this hope he had been sustained by his Master. In the spring of 1817 a company of forty-one persons, members of the Bible Christian community, embarked at Liverpool for Philadelphia. Settling in Philadelphia - for them at least a name of real significance - Metcalfe supported his family by teaching, while performing the duties of his position as head of the faithful few who formed his church. In the year 1847 the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain had been founded, of which Mr. James Simpson had been elected the first president. Metcalfe immediately proposed the formation of a like society in the United States. He corresponded with Drs. Graham, Alcott, and others; and finally an American Vegetarian Convention assembled in New York, May 15, 1850. Several promoters of the cause, previously unknown to each other (except through correspondence), here met. Metcalfe was elected president of the Convention; addresses were delivered, and the constitution of the society determined upon. The Society was organised by the election of Dr. William Alcott as president, Rev. W. Metcalfe as corresponding secretary, and Dr. Trall as recording secretary. An organ of the society was started in November, 1850, under the title of The American Vegetarian and Health Journal, and under the editorship of Metcalfe.’ (2)
Dr. Thomas Richard Allinson (1838-1918), British doctor, dietetic reformer, business man and journalist
Dr Thomas Allison was an English health reformer who lived in 19th century Victorian England. He encouraged people to eat less, stop smoking, get plenty of exercise, go for long walks, have a holiday, abstain from meat and become vegetarians. He was struck off by the General Medical Council in 1893 as being too controversial and having eccentric views, but with a new 21st interest in health awareness, his ideas have been proven to be absolutely spot on. He was one of 'the first to link chimney sweeping with cancer and to praise the benefits of wholemeal bread.' (3)
The following information is the health advice he gave to the British public from his essays in the 1890s.
'Nicotine is a foul poison. It is a filthy habit, wastes money, brains and time and gives foul breath, black teeth and a damaged constitution.' (4)
In my lectures on Health I always advise my hearers to eat brown bread. By brown bed I mean wheatmeal or wholemeal bread: that is, the entire wheaten grain finely ground and made into bread by any of the known ways, with nothing left out, nor must it be made with chemicals.
We may define a vegetarian as one who will not cause animals to be killed for food, but he may eat animal products, such as eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and honey.
Facts show that a man can live healthily and be strong on a diet into which flesh does not enter.
But beware of vegetarianism as a religion, or a fad. In these cases it is injurious and liable to lead one astray, but as a rational way of living there is none better.
• Fresh air:
Few people know the value of pure air. Pure air is our best friend.
For adults, the absolute amount of sleep required is about six hours, but as we do not always fall asleep when we first turn into bed, it is wise to allow ourselves about eight hours. (5)
'In 1830 Eward Hitchcock, professor of chemistry and natural history, delivered a course of lectures at Amherst on the importance of diet, cleanliness, sleep, exercise, and mental attitudes. Hitchcock, called for moderate, balanced meals, eaten slowly in a cheerful atmosphere. Professor Reuben D. Mussey promoted a similar health regimen at Dartmouth.
In May, 1830, another recruit joined the ranks of American health reformers when Dr. William Alcott adopted a strict regimen which included a vegetarian diet and excluded all liquids except water.
Sylvester Graham, a former Presbyterian preacher and onetime General Agent for the Pennsylvania Temperance Society, enthusiastically stepped into the role in the 1830's. At the start of the decade Graham spent several months in an intensive study of physiology and diet. It was probably then that he came into contact with and accepted the dietetic views of William Metcalf's congregation in Philadelphia.' (6)
Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864), American geologist and health reformer
Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), American dietary reformer
The Graham cracker, a sweet biscuit invented by Sylvester Graham
Ellen Gould White (1827-1915)
Ellen Gould White, a former Methodist, was one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a denomination that grew out of the Millerite movement in the middle of the 19th century in North America, where the majority of the founders were one of the only few outspoken and active advocates of the evil, profit-making slavery of Black Africans as one historian observed.
'The Quakers and the Mennonites seem to have been the only church bodies which squarely came out against the slave-trade, except for the fact that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, even in its embryonic period from 1845 to 1863 denounced it most definitely and unequivocally.' (7)
She was a twin and one of eight children and throughout the course of her life she promoted a life of uncompromising pure Christian living and health reform. She is probably the most translated non-fiction female writer in the history of literature, as well as the most translated American non-fiction author of either gender. She has been titled a 'prophet' by the denomination, but unbeknownst to most adherents of her teachings, its a title she shunned and she counseled anyone who reads her writings to test them according to the Holy Scriptures (Isa. 8:20) and not to use them to defend their faith or as a test to anyone who wants to become a member of the denomination.
"Others have called me a prophetess, but I have never assumed that title. I have not felt it was my duty thus to designate myself." (8)
"I am to appear before the people as holding any other position than that of a messenger with a messenger." (9)
"God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work for the past thirty years bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the Devil." (10)
"In public labour do not make prominent, and quote which Sister White has written, as authority to sustain your position. To do that will not increase faith in the testimonies. Bring your evidences, clear and plain, from the word of God. A "Thus saith the Lord" is the strongest testimony you can possibly present to the people. Let none be educated to look to Sister White, but to the Mighty God, who gives instruction to Sister White." (11)
Her critics have labeled her a plagiarist and a Christian mystic and even many inside the denomination question the authenticity of many of her writings, but what cannot be overlooked are her great contributions to health reform. She encouraged the medical doctor John Harvey Kellogg to study medicine and Jethro Kloss (1863-1946), one of the pioneers of natural remedies testified in his book Back to Eden that her works helped him to recover back to normal health. She instructed the Seventh-day Adventist denomination to establish the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, which was constructed in 1866 (later called the Battle Creek Sanitarium), where many famous people came to get treated or followed the health codes in that facility. It was the most famous institution in the country before World War II and it was instrumental in pioneering the health food industry especially promoting healthy living, temperance and a vegetarian lifestyle, which was instructed by Ellen G. White.
Her counsels on health are exactly the same as the English Victorian doctor,Thomas Richard Allinson, where she also discouraged the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and to live by a herbivore diet.
"In relation to tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcoholic drinks, the only safe course is to touch not, taste not, handle not. The tendency of tea, coffee, and similar drinks is in the same direction as that of alcoholic liquor and tobacco, and in some cases the habit is as difficult to break as it is for the drunkard to give up intoxicants. Those who attempt to leave off these stimulants will for a time feel a loss, and will suffer without them. But by persistence they will overcome the craving, and cease to feel the lack. Nature may require a little time to recover from the abuse she has suffered; but give her a chance, and she will again rally, and perform her work nobly and well." (12)
Though she had no medical training, many of the things she counseled on which is effective for the body is now being confirmed by health instructors.
“Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.”
- Ellen G. White (13)
Children who eat an apple a day may be keeping not just the doctor but also cancer at bay, it was claimed yesterday. Researchers traced nearly 4,000 people who took part in a study more than 60 years ago into eating habits. They discovered the higher the fruit consumption during childhood, the lower the risk of developing cancer in later life. Eating plenty of fruit was also associated with lower death rates from all causes, according to the report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. (14)
John Harvey Kellog (1852-1943)
John Harvey Kellogg was an American medical doctor, health reformer, nutritionist, an advocate of vegetarianism and one of the leading pioneers of the health industry. He was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church but split with them in 1906/7 due to theological differences. John Harvey Kellogg was one of the first Americans to recognise the value of the soybean, was a member of the Michigan and American Medical Associations and is famous for inventing corn flakes and revolutionising the properties of the peanut by inventing peanut butter. (Note: The scientist George Washington Carver did more with the peanut than Kellog)
The peanut butter which is a staple of the American diet was created by John Harvey Kellogg. It is also used around the world
The Kelloggs Company was set up by Will Keith Kellogg, the brother of John Harvey Kellogg
A photo of John Harvey Kellogg (centre in white), with prominent men in his day (clockwise from bottom left: Samuel Sidney McClure, created first literary syndicate, Sir Horace Plunkett, Gifford Pinchott, Chief of the United States Forest Service and Irving Fisher economist and Eugenicist)
Among some of his high profile friends and contacts was the Russian Psychologist Dr Ivan Pavlov, Dr Charles W. Dabney, noted agriculturalist, chemist, president of the University of Tennessee and President Cleveland's Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Stephen Smith who founded the American Public Health Association and Joseph H. Patterson, the founder of the National Cash Register Company. It was John Harvey Kellogg who persuaded the 1893 General Conference to establish the Seventh-day Adventist Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association. Throughout his life he was distinguished by his mode of dress of all white, from his hats to his suit down to his shoes. Although he had pantheistic views that were expressed in his book ‘The Living Temple’ and joined the racially segregated Eugenics Movement after he left the denomination, he made great contributions to health reform. He gave to us corn flakes, peanut butter and his great emphasis on exercise led to the spread of modern-day gymnasiums with his role in the development and naming of the Battle Creek Sanitarium which he became head of in 1876. He revolutionised our eating habits with the breakfast cereal.
The once famous Battle Creek Sanitarium at the turn of the 20th century
Kellogg popularized the mechanical gym and sold equipment to ocean liners such as the Titanic, Olympic, and the Queen Mary. Kellogg popularized the mechanical gym and sold equipment to ocean liners such as the Titanic, Olympic, and the Queen Mary. Dr. Kellogg was the first to market recorded music and instructions for aerobic exercise.
What we see today with all these celebrities making aerobics videos and famous British chefs campaigning their government to encourage children to eat a more healthier lifestyle is an outgrowth of the work of these health reformers in the United States and Europe. They planted a seed which is now beginning to grow.
John Harvey Kellog by Richard Swartz p.20;
(2)http://www.ivu.org/history/williams/metcalfe.html; (3) METRO, Thursday, January 3, 2008; (4) Ibid; (5) The Independent, Friday, 4 January 2008; (6) John Harvey Kellogg by Richard R. Swarchz pp.20, 21; (7) Slavery and Catholicism by Richard Roscoe Miller pp. 20, 21; (8) Selected Messages, Book 1 by Ellen G. White p.36; (9) Testimonies for the Church, volume 8 by Ellen G. White p.237; (10) Testimonies to the Church, volume 4 by Ellen G. White p.230; (11) Letter 11, 1894 in Selected Messages, Book III by Ellen G. White pp. 29, 30; (12) Counsels on Diets and Foods by Ellen G. White p.430; (13) Ministry of Healing by Ellen G. White p.296; (14) METRO, Thursday, February 20, 2003