An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15791 entries, 13704 authors and 1919 subjects. Updated: September 13, 2022

GRAHAM, Sylvester

1 entries
  • 9305

Lectures on the science of human life. 2 vols.

Boston, MA: Marsh, Capen, Lyon and Webb, 1839.

The Reverend Sylvester Graham was an American Presbyterian minister and dietary reformer known for his emphasis on vegetarianism, the temperance movement, and eating whole-grain bread.

"Around 1829, Graham invented the Graham diet, which consisted mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole wheat and high fiber foods, and excluded meat and spices altogether (see vegetarianism). Very fresh milk, cheese, and eggs were permitted in moderation, and butter was to be used "very sparingly".[8]

"Graham believed that adhering to the diet would prevent people from having impure thoughts and in turn would stop masturbation (thought by Graham to be a catalyst for blindness and early death[9]:16) among other things. He was a prolific writer and speaker for his cause, which was sternly opposed to "bad habits" of the body and mind. During the 1830s, the diet had a moderate response, mostly from the puritanical faction of the American public. At one point it was strictly imposed on students of Oberlin College by David Campbell (a disciple of Graham's). During the period in which it was enforced, some rebellious students ate off-campus, and at one point a professor was fired for refusing to stop bringing his own pepper for use with his meals. The diet was eventually dropped by the college in 1841 following a public outcry.

"Grahamites, as Graham's followers were called, accepted the teaching of their mentor with regard to all aspects of lifestyle.[7] As such, they practiced abstinence from alcohol, frequent bathing, daily brushing of teeth, vegetarianism, and a generally sparse lifestyle. Graham also was an advocate of sexual abstinence, especially from masturbation, which he regarded as an evil that inevitably led to insanity. He felt that all excitement was unhealthful, and spices were among the prohibited ingredients in his diet. As a result, his dietary recommendations were inevitably bland, which led to the Grahamites consuming large quantities of graham crackers, a concept inspired by Graham's teachings. White bread was strongly condemned by Graham and his followers, however, as being essentially devoid of nutrition, a claim echoed by dietitians ever since. Some Grahamites lost faith when their mentor died at the age of fifty-seven. Other than the crackers, the Grahamites' major contribution to American culture was probably their insistence on frequent bathing. However, Graham's doctrines found later followers in the persons of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his brother Will Keith Kellogg. Their invention of corn flakes was a logical extension of the Grahamite approach to nutrition.

"Grahamism was influential in the vegan movement. Sylvester Graham focused on meat and milk, which he believed to be the cause of sexual urges. In fact, he claimed animal byproducts produced lust; Grahamism thus rejected meat, animal byproducts, and alcohol in order to develop a purer mind and body" (Wikipedia article on Sylvester Graham, accessed 03-2017).

Digital facsimile from the U.S. National Library of Medicine at this link.

 



Subjects: Hygiene, NUTRITION / DIET, RELIGION & Medicine & the Life Sciences