It’s time for a throwback but it isn’t Thursday so welcome to Memory Monday. There’s been a lot of talk this year about 1918 and the subsequent roaring 20s. Many have drawn parallels between what happened then and what’s happening now. Today’s throwback shows that even diet advice in the 1920s had elements that sound familiar in 2020. Why? Because science.
One jewel of 1920s diet advice was authored by Professor Arnold Ehret and entitled, Mucusless Diet Healing System. The tag line tells us this volume contains: “A Scientific Method of Eating Your Way to Health.” Scientific sounds promising and I agree with something Fred S. Hirsch, D.N.S. said in the introduction, “Bias, prejudice, and erratic conclusions have always stood in the way of progress….”
He also said, “The main trouble with the average individuals of present-day civilization is that they refuse to think. They prefer ‘mob thinking.’ Because everybody else does it, it must be right.” I’m pretty sure I’ve read similar statements recently on Twitter.
Arnold Ehret suffered from several ailments that left him feeling chronically ill. Bright’s disease which would now be described as chronic nephritis characterized by swelling and the presence of albumin in the urine, bronchial catarrh or a buildup of mucus, and consumptive tendencies that may have been caused by tuberculosis all plagued him. After many trips to sanitariums to recover, he was pronounced incurable. The grandson of a doctor and son of a veterinarian, he set out to find a way to heal himself.
Through trial and error, he discovered that he felt best when he alternated fasting and a diet based on grape sugar or dextrose. Monosaccharides like dextrose are single sugar molecules which require no further digestion in order to be transported across the intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream. I’m sensing a similarity between Ehret’s diet and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet devised by Elaine Gottschall.
The theory at play in both is that monosaccharides or “predigested” carbohydrates found in ripe fruit, honey, some vegetables, nuts, and tiny amounts of meat can reduce inflammation. While Ehret’s work is primarily based on observation, Gottschall’s is based on sound science of the 1950s backed by degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology.
We now know that inflammation is involved in the process of many diseases and we are learning the role of the microbiome in health. There is also a move away from meat toward plant based diets. While Ehret may not have had a complete understanding of the science behind any of these, he was not totally off track.
In Lesson XXV (p191), he even mentions decayed and fermented mass of matter in the colon. That sounds like a mention of the microbiome to me. This early insight still holds enough relevance that Prof. Arnold Ehret’s Mucusless Diet Healing System is available for purchase.
It’s funny. We usually think we’ve advanced so far in the past century that nothing from the past can possibly be useful. Then along comes a pandemic and photos of 1918 outdoor barbershops take on a whole new meaning.
That’s the thing we always seem to forget – science is not an absolute, it is a living body of knowledge. It is always rooted in what was known before, proven, built on, revised, and relearned in an expanded understanding that is greater than before. One of its basic principles is that any law, theory, or otherwise can be disproven if new facts or evidence are presented.
There is much in Ehret’s diet system that can be questioned, but he asks a pertinent question: “What shall man eat to be healthy or heal his disease?”(p86)
Asking the right questions can advance science and those questions can come from anyone, any time, anywhere. Translational research recognizes this. Professor Ehret lived it. Jill Viles does too.
Science is always looking back and moving forward at the same time. That makes every day in the scientific community a Memory Monday.