History, IV Musings, Vintage Life

Diet, Kellogg’s corn flakes & gut flora

SW Battle Creek MI Sanitarium Groungs at Main Entrance opened 1866 by John Harvey Kellogg Western Health Reform Institute Photographer Unk BC News Card

A century of diets & dieting – Part 1

So have we always been on a diet?

As the concept of ‘diet’ seems to loom large in my mind at the stroke of midnight every new year I would say… yes, it certainly would seem so! But seriously it is interesting to think that the notion of ‘dieting’ is not a modern one.  People have been thinking about food and how best to eat, restrict and work off food to maintain a perceived societal ideal for… well for quite a while.

While there have been much earlier examples of ‘diets’ or self-proclaimed diets experts (‘dietitians’ such as Dr. George Cheyne  from the 1720’s) I have become fascinated by 3 gentlemen who might be considered to be the first modern dietitians or nutritionists.  Firstly we have the more well known John Harvey Kellogg, M.D. who has been described as not only a nutritionist but a ‘health activist’ (not to mention the inventor of corn flakes!).  Then we have William Banting who developed the first ‘popular’ diet, the (you guessed it) Banting diet, in 1863 and lastly the Hay diet, affectionately termed the ‘flapper’ diet, developed by Dr. William Howard Hay in 1904.

My absolute fascination has come from a combination of me needing to get my own health in check and watching (admiring) the success friends and family members around me have had using a range of strategies which has all lead me to wonder… well, what did we used to do?  The reading and research are astonishing, especially when you stop and think about WHEN each fellow was developing their system.  So over the next 3 weeks please indulge me as we delve into the world of vintage diets… I hope you find it as interesting as I have.  

Before we kick of let me say that I am not a health professional, nor am I endorsing any diet/s, I am purely presenting information as I have interpreted it.  All of this information is accessible in the links and should you decide to begin any new diet or health practice that you seek advice from a health professional such as your doctor.

SW Battle Creek MI SANITARIUM KELLOGG SANITARIUM & HOSPITAL RPPC Exercise Healty Food & Enemas RULED opened 1866 by John Harvey Kellogg Western Health Reform Institute 6

Let’s start with the name we know (or are more likely to know) Dr. Kellogg!  This man seemed well before his time! When the medical profession was still in its toddlerhood he was already moving forward with his theories around the importance of healthy intestinal flora & links between the balance of naturally occurring intestinal bacteria and health a century before we started hearing the 2017 health catchcry… “the GUT MICROBIOME! “

A strong advocate for the Clean living movement, a vegetarian & a firm believer that smoking was the cause of lung cancer he not only invented ‘corn flakes’ (though apparently as a masturbation preventative… yeah I didn’t say he was sane!) he also developed peanut butter and as well as inventing a raft of strange and interesting inventions all .  However, there also seems to be a very dark and nightmarish side to ‘Dr. Kellogg’.  Some of my research seems to have uncovered some disturbing aspects of his behavior and practices.  If as the second article below suggests that he ran his own little ‘house of horrors’ I think I will be walking past the cereal aisle from now on!  Here’s hoping the next fellow in our series on “A Century of Diets & Dieting”, Dr. Hay, is far less frightening.

If you would like to keep reading about this fellow and his take on ‘health and wellness’ here are a few links for you:

Great American Quacks

The Guy Who Invented Corn Flakes Was A Strange, Strange Man

John Harvey Kellogg. (2018, January 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:07, January 31, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Harvey_Kellogg&oldid=821224368

Cover image – https://flic.kr/p/4jZ1ad

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