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Kellogg and Health Food

John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943)
Methods of precision in the investigation of disorders of digestion  (Battle Creek, Mich. : Modern Medicine Pub. Co., 1893).
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John Harvey Kellogg portrait
Image credit: Library of Congress

John Harvey Kellogg was a surgeon, businessman, and vegetarian whose ideas about healthy eating were widely adopted in the early twentieth century.  He took over administration of the Battle Creek Sanitarium at the age of twenty-four, turning the Seventh-day Adventist health facility into a spa for the rich and famous.

Kellogg studied food chemistry and was interested in the causes of indigestion.  He believed that starches were a primary cause, and noticed that baking these starches for long periods converted them into sugars that could be more easily digested.  This discovery led to the invention of Kellogg’s breakfast cereals. 

Kellogg is sometimes credited as the first health-food guru who attempted to found his ideas on scientific evidence.  He experimented widely, and he was eventually excommunicated from the Seventh-day Adventist church for his insistence on scientific research at the cost of the church’s principles.

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