Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pioneers of Nutrition: Dr. Royal Lee

In previous posts you’ve met Dr. Price and Dr. Pottenger and now I’d like to introduce you to Wisconsin’s own Dr. Royal Lee. He was a graduate of Marquette University’s Dental School, but even more - a researcher, inventor, scientist, scholar, and businessman.

Like Price and Pottenger, Lee was interested in nutrition, believing there was an undeniable link between what we eat and how we feel. He was particularly focused on the value of whole foods versus the processed foods that were being pushed on the public. During his senior year he wrote a paper discussing the relationship between vitamin deficiency, tooth decay, and healthy endocrine gland function.

Dr. Lee devoted significant energy to his inventions and acquired about 100 patents. He was able to combine his passion for inventing, scientific research, and nutrition in his work. In the early 1920’s heart disease suddenly appeared on the American scene. It is a little known fact that there were not many heart attacks until this time. Dr. Lee was certain that the refining of flour and rice (the processing of food) was a major contributor to this growing problem. He believed that the removal of real vitamins and minerals from our food supply and their replacement with synthetic vitamins was the root cause of the increase in heart disease and other illness as well. His research and practical experience showed that real and synthetic vitamins did not function the same in the human body.

His major contribution to the world of nutrition was the development of nutritional products from raw food concentrate. He believed and proved that in concentrated form these foods had therapeutic applications. His products were distributed through medical doctors providing nutritional alternatives to drugs to treat illness and disease. As a result of his success in helping people get healthy through the use of these products he created the Vitamin Products Company in 1929. It is today known as Standard Process, one of the world’s leading provider of nutritional supplements. In 1941 he organized the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, a nonprofit organization to conduct and share nutritional research across the globe. It became a world wide clearinghouse for hundreds of thousands of research articles and thousands of books presenting the latest nutritional information.

Dr. Lee was way ahead of his time. Here’s a quote from October of 1933, "Candy, all white sugar or its products, and white flour including its products such as macaroni, spaghetti, crackers, etc., should be absolutely barred from the diet of the child. All these are energy-producing foods that contain no building materials for the body. The consequences of their toleration are susceptibility to infections, enlarged tonsils, carious teeth, unruly dispositions, stunted growth, rickets, maldevelopment and very often permanent damage to many organs of the body (especially the endocrine glands) that depend upon the vitamin supply for their normal function and development."

Every time I read this or similar quotations from these nutrition pioneers all I think of is – wow, they knew this in the 1930’s!

However, for statements such as this he became a target of the food industry and the FDA. They got particularly upset as he would run newspaper advertisements pointing this out. They went after him, labeling him a “racketeer” because he promoted whole, natural foods that had their vitamins and minerals intact. After several years of proceedings, in the late 1950’s the final court decision was handed down. While Dr. Lee was never found guilty of anything, he was prohibited from speaking publicly or writing on health, medicine and nutrition. (So much for the First Amendment!) His research and published papers were ordered destroyed (can you say censorship) and he was forced to close several of his companies. Fortunately, the FDA did not get all his papers, and many of them are still preserved today by several organizations determined to keep his memory alive and to continue to spread the word.

It is unfortunate that you can still find people today who still call label him a “quack” and write deceptive and misleading articles about him. Of course they never talk to the people who have greatly benefited by this man’s contributions.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Thiensville. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.