Originally published in Peptic Ulcer by T. L. Cleave. Bristol: Wright (1962).

THOSE who consider that small alterations in the natural environment can be ignored should study carefully a disaster like that of acute bloat in cattle. In this condition a great accumulation of uneructated gas occurs in the fourth stomach or rumen of ruminants, especially cattle. It is a common and serious problem in animal husbandry, and carries a high mortality (15-100 per cent). [1] The cause of acute bloat lies in an insufficient amount of fibre in the diet, usually due to allowing animals to graze on grass having too high a proportion of clover, which contains relatively little fibre. This lack of fibre leads to insufficient stimulation of the stomach musculature, and so accumulating gas is not eructated. The rumen becomes, therefore, distended to a dangerous degree, and the animal frequently dies.

Grass and clover are both natural foods for cattle, but in a natural environment grass would never have such a high proportion of clover; this is achieved in farming today by ploughing up the land and sowing a suitable seed mixture. It must always be a source of amazement -- and of instruction -- that so large and powerful an animal as an ox can rapidly be killed by such a trifling alteration in its natural environment. When it is remembered that today mankind commonly alters its natural environment by many times this extent, in removing some 30 per cent of its substance from his grain and 90 per cent from his sugar-beet and sugar-cane, it must engender profound scepticism in any thinking person that he can be a party to these practices and get away with them. In particular, the greatest reserve should be exercised in dismissing any known effects of these practices on stomach function just because the effects appear to be small.


1. Menzies, D. W. (1952), Bloat and the Bloat Survey. British Veterinary Publication No. 23. London: British Veterinary Association.

The Natural Diet for Health

Guide for the Prevention and Arrest of All the Manifestations of the Saccharine Disease


THE word 'saccharine', which means 'related to sugar', is pronounced like the river Rhine, which sharply distinguishes it from the word for the chemical sweetener. The starch in flour is digested in the body into sugar, and the word 'saccharine', as used here, means related to white flour as well as to white or brown sugar; and the term 'saccharine disease' covers all the conditions held to be due to the consumption of these two artificially refined carbohydrate foods. The saccharine disease includes dental decay and pyorrhoea; gastric and duodenal ulcer and other forms of indigestion; obesity, diabetes, and coronary disease; constipation, with its complications of varicose veins and haemorrhoids; and primary Escherichia coli infections, like appendicitis, cholecystitis (with or without gall-stones), and primary infections of the urinary tract. The same applies to certain skin conditions. Not one of these diseases is for practical purposes ever seen in races who do not consume refined carbohydrates.

The simple instructions in this card thus prohibit white flour and sugar, but permit natural bread and natural sweet things (and also nearly every other type of foodstuff). By this means the diet is reduced to the evolutionary level to which man is adapted and reflects the principles of natural feeding seen in all living organisms. That is why this card is entitled 'The Natural Diet for Health', since the diet concerned is not really a medical diet at all. For the same reason it is not harsh, nor is it liable to change.

Needless to say, although the diet is aimed at the prevention and arrest of all the conditions listed above, other medical measures may be indicated for damage already inflicted by the consumption of these refined foods. For example, the prevention of dental decay will not reduce the necessity of dental treatment for decay already present.


The diet is based on two rules only, which may be summarized as follows:

1. Do not eat any food unless you definitely want it

Eating food that is not wanted is a most unnatural act, yet frequently takes place today. One reason lies in eating routinely, especially when one is overtired or worried and does not really fancy any food at the time; another reason lies in eating a meal because someone has taken the trouble to prepare it, or in eating food to avoid wasting it; whilst yet another reason lies in eating food on social or business occasions, when it is taken for motives of politeness or policy. On all these occasions 'if you don't want it, don't eat it'. This decision is always made most accurately before coming to the table.

2. Avoid eating white flour and white or brown sugar

This means avoiding on the one hand white bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits and other confectionery; and on the other hand white or brown sugar, jams, ices, chocolates, sweets, and sweet drinks. Substitute a true wholemeal bread and wholemeal flour for the first group, and raw or dried fruit for the second group. This restores the natural fibre to the diet, which will now be shown to be of the greatest importance. Notes on the application of this rule will be given later.

How These Two Rules Prevent Disease

Dental Decay and Pyorrhoea

The removal of coarse fibre in the manufacture of white flour and sugar prevents the natural cleansing of the teeth, and hardening of the gums, which take place when the unrefined original foods are consumed. The shocking loss of teeth from these causes today, even in the very young, is most certainly preventable.

Gastric and Duodenal Ulcer

In treating these and other forms of indigestion the aim should be to prevent an excess of acid forming in the stomach, which is the main cause of the trouble, and not to neutralize the excess of acid with alkaline drugs (except in the presence of actual pain, under medical supervision).

There are two unnatural factors in the production of this excess acid, and both must be removed. One factor is eating food that is not wanted. Under these circumstances the food stagnates in the stomach and excess acidity results, which can often be felt at the back of the throat. Rule 1 is therefore most important, especially in times of worry. Note also that this rule prohibits the taking of unwanted food merely to relieve gastric pain. It is true that food may temporarily relieve such pain, but this unnatural food intake is not the right answer. Pain calls for alkaline drugs, under medical supervision, and probably treatment in bed.

The other factor in the production of excess acidity is the eating of white flour, or sugar. In the refining processes employed in the manufacture of these substances the protein component in the wheat is considerably reduced, and in the sugar-cane and sugar-beet is removed altogether. Since protein is the only foodstuff that neutralizes the gastric acid, the eating of white flour or sugar exposes the stomach membranes to an unnaturally fierce attack by the gastric acid, which may result in an ulcer. In places like India and Japan the refining of the rice leads to even more ulceration than occurs in this country. Hence the importance of the second rule set out above.

Obesity (Overweight)

Obesity stems from the appetite being deceived by the unnatural concentration present in white flour and in sugar, so that a person eats too much. For example, the average consumption of sugar today is about 5 oz. per head per day (against less than 1 oz. about a century ago). This 5 oz. is contained in nearly 3 lb. of sugar-beet or in up to a score of ordinary apples. Who would consume this quantity of sugar in its natural, dilute form? The same argument applies to white bread, and other articles containing white flour, as compared with unrefined wholemeal bread.

By following Rule 2, above, the natural fibre (roughage) is restored to the diet, and the natural dilution is restored also. As a result the appetite can again be allowed to regulate the amount to be eaten, as it is designed to do, and we can ignore any question of calories, just as all creatures in the wild state ignore them (and they never suffer from overweight).

For the removal of overweight already present, a certain amount of starvation may be necessary, as in the omission of breakfast and afternoon tea -- to be done under medical supervision.

No forced exercise is advised in obesity.

Diabetes and Coronary Disease

The causation of these conditions is likewise connected with over-eating, through the appetite being deceived by concentration in the food, and the same unrefined diet is indicated. Any other treatment must be under medical supervision.

Simple Constipation, and its Complications of Varicose Veins and Haemorrhoids (Piles)

Simple constipation is caused solely by the removal of fibre (roughage) in the manufacture of white flour and sugar. Varicose veins and haemorrhoids arise from the fact that in constipation the unnatural accumulations in the bowel press on the great veins in the abdomen which are bringing up the blood from the legs (thus causing varicose veins), or on the veins bringing up blood from the back-passage (thus causing haemorrhoids). None of these conditions is seen, even in pregnancy, in native ram who do not consume these refined foods. The basic treatment of all these conditions lies in the restoration of the natural fibre to the diet, as in Rule 2, above.

Primary E. coli Infections

Appendicitis, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall-bladder, with or without gall-stones), diverticulitis (inflammation of the bowel), and cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) all arise from the hordes of microbes subsisting on unnatural food surpluses in the gut, which result from people eating too much, for the reason given. If this over-consumption is prevented in the basic manner just described, the microbes are starved out. Hardly any of these conditions are seen in those races who do not eat white flour or sugar. In the fully developed acute attack antibiotic treatment and surgical operation may be essential.

Certain Skin Conditions

The bacterial decomposition just described leads to much offensiveness in the motions and in any wind that is passed. These offensive products when absorbed into the bloodstream may be responsible for certain skin conditions, such as acne, chronic boils, and many cases of eczema.

It may be noted at this point that the most delicate test of the correct application of the two rules given above lies in the disappearance of this offensiveness from the motions, etc.

Applying the Rules

In spite of the simplicity of the diet, it is essential to know the following points about its practical application.

1. Flour

White flour in the kitchen has to be replaced by a true wholemeal flour. The latter flour can be bought or ordered from a good grocer, but it is far from easy to lay your hands on a true wholemeal bread. Many brown breads are by no means wholemeal. This matter will probably need consultation with your baker, or 'health shop'. There are also books on sale showing how you can bake a true wholemeal bread yourself, without any kneading (the Doris Grant method -- Your Daily Food, 1973, London: Faber & Faber).

Next, it is essential not to eat your bread too new. New bread forms pasty lumps in the mouth, which do not properly mix with the saliva and are exceedingly indigestible. Bread should therefore be exposed to the air for at least two days before it is eaten. This should be done by wrapping it up in a cloth, not enclosing it in a tin (which fosters mildew).

In the eating of rice or a refined breakfast cereal, a tablespoonful of unprocessed bran, as described below, could be added to each plateful, to restore what has been removed. This would not be necessary with an unrefined cereal like Shredded Wheat or All-Bran. The former may be rendered crisper by slight toasting in an oven. Sugar must only be used sparingly with all these (see below).

2. Sugar

The chief problem in the present diet, however, concerns how to avoid eating ordinary sugar, and all the sweet things containing it. The ideal solution to this problem, undoubtedly, lies in substituting natural sugar, by eating raw fruit or dried fruit (but not tinned fruit, as this contains added sugar). For example, instead of sweetening a rice pudding with sugar, eat a banana or two with it, or make the pudding with some raisins. The substitution of raw fruit involves little or no loss in pleasure, but it does involve some extra expense.

If sugar is taken at all, it should be taken all the way along a meal. This not only protects the gastric membranes, but also heavily reduces sugar consumption. Many people prefer this method of taking sugar anyway. Far the safest way of doing this is to eat a few raisins intermittently, but other, less safe examples are a little sweetened tea accompanying fish or egg meals; some limejuice in the water with meat meals; or a little red-currant jelly or similar substance taken with mutton or other meat; or a little sweetened apple sauce taken with pork. In all cases this sugary material must be taken sparingly, and sweet courses must be omitted altogether. A marmalade with much peel and little sweetness is permissible but most jams are far too sweet to be safe, unless used in exceedingly small quantities. Fresh fruit, being a natural material, can be taken at any time, but it must not be sweetened with much sugar, even after it has been stewed.

It should be added that although honey appears to be a natural food, it should be taken just as sparingly as ordinary sugar. Under natural conditions mankind would have great difficulty in getting honey away from the bees, and even Solomon advised using it in very small quantities. Similarly, the date, containing some ten times as much sugar as an English apple, is not a natural food for the white races, and should be taken sparingly, preferably with other things, such as a glass of milk, which is a very pleasant combination. Bananas and milk also form a very pleasant combination.

It must also be realized, especially in cases of obesity, that beer and similar drinks contain large quantities of malt sugar, and are immensely fattening.

Finally, the use of the chemical substance, saccharin, is not an obvious solution to the avoidance of sugar-consumption, since it is an unnatural material. For this reason, the suggestions set out above are considered unquestionably preferable.

3. Ready-mixed Foods

Avoid eating these, the reason being as follows: If, to take a simple example, you eat boiled eggs, bread, butter, and even a little sweetened tea, in accordance with your personal tastes, you will consume the quantities of each of these foods you are best able to digest; but if the eggs, flour, butter, and sugar are all mixed up by someone else, like the cook when making a cake, the proportions of each may not be nearly so accurately attuned to your particular digestion. This is also the reason why fried foods are often difficult to digest. For with these, if you are a Jack Sprat, you will be forced to eat fat you do not want, in order to eat eggs, fish, meat, or potato you do want.

4. Cooking

The closer food is to the natural state, and the less it is cooked up, the better. Overcooked brown meat, for example, is less easily chewed and digested than underdone red meat. Boiled and steamed foods are still more easily digested. Pickled foods are even further from the natural state than overcooked foods. The lean parts of ham and bacon have been considerably altered from the natural state and should be approached with caution.

As regards potatoes, it is recommended that these be boiled, and eaten with the skins still left in position. They are not then more fattening than any other natural food. Boiled potatoes are clearly more easily digested than baked, roasted, or fried potatoes.

5. Acid Stimulants

Certain foods strongly stimulate the flow of gastric acid, but neutralize none of it. Such foods include coffee, meat extracts, and especially alcohol. These foods are to be avoided, especially in those who suffer from indigestion and ulcer. They are at their most dangerous when taken by themselves.

6. Sandwiches

These are also likely to cause trouble with anyone who suffers from indigestion, unless carefully planned. First of all the bread must be as described above. Next, the amount of butter must be the amount desired by you. Then, if you do not like bread and butter when eating meat, but do like it when eating cheese, sardines, or eggs, make your sandwiches with one of the latter. Lastly, any unwanted bread in the sandwiches should be left uneaten.

7. Tinned Foods

These are not actually harmful, unless they contain added sugar, as in tinned fruit, but fresh foods are always much more appetizing, and are therefore much to be preferred.

8. The Teeth

It is most difficult to digest raw fruit and other desirable natural foods if they cannot be properly masticated. Therefore, it is quite essential that the bite, if inadequate, should be rectified by proper dental treatment, Until this is completed, natural foods should be mashed up carefully before being eaten.

9. The Use of Bran

The present diet will itself usually correct constipation. If it does not, do not resort to drugs but have resort instead to ordinary unprocessed bran, which can be obtained from corn and seed merchants, health stores, and even pet shops. The cost is quite negligible. The bran should be taken at first in teaspoonful doses before meals (otherwise the stomach may become overfilled), and the dose gradually increased, if necessary, to suit individual needs. For example, some people may need several tablespoonfuls a day. Bran cannot be swallowed in the dry state and is best taken in porridge or soup, or in unrefined breakfast cereals with milk, or just washed down in a glass of water. It is sure to cause some flatulence at first, but this slowly vanishes. (If the bread is made at home, a good thing to do is to incorporate extra bran into the flour -- up to 10 per cent by weight of the wholemeal flour -- thus making a 'bran-plus' loaf.)

10. Changes in Diet to be made gradually

Lastly, and perhaps most important of all, the transition to the present diet must be made slowly, so as at all times to keep in step with the appetite -- i.e., with the liking for the natural foods indicated.

Summary and Conclusion

An effort has been made to set out the basis of a natural diet, which may be expressed as 'follow the natural instinct of appetite, as long as it is allowed to play on natural foods'. Both halves of this statement are essential. Eating natural foods that you do not desire will achieve very little; and eating unnatural foods that you do desire will achieve infinitely less.

Since we have become adapted to cooking over thousands of years, foods showing simple cooking count as natural, but refining by machinery is so recent a practice that we are not adapted to it at all. That is why foods containing white flour and white or brown sugar are exceedingly dangerous. If these two groups of foodstuff are avoided, and with due regard to the few items mentioned above, you can and should eat whatever you like, such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, butter, and any fruit or vegetable.

It must be noted, however, that though the alterations recommended in the diet are so few, they must be very carefully followed. These notes must be frequently consulted and the correct habits built up and maintained. Success will depend on realizing it is health, above all, that governs happiness, so that first things are put first and kept that way. People are prepared to take endless trouble over the maintenance of a motor car, but over the maintenance of that infinitely more delicate mechanism, the human body, they are seldom prepared to take any trouble at all.


The 'Grant' loaf

This quick and easy no-kneading-needed wholemeal bread recipe was publicised widely by Doris Grant in England during World War II to encourage working women to eat well despite food rationing. The loaf is dark, moist and delicious.

    500g wholemeal flour
    1/8 tsp salt (adjust to preference)
    1 level tsp dried yeast
    400 ml warm water (about 40 deg C)

Mix the yeast with the warm water in a bowl and keep warm until frothy (about 10 minutes). Add all the flour and the salt. Mix well. Put the mixture into a greased bread tin and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes to rise. Don't leave it too long or it can sink again -- if this happens mix again and let it rise a second time. Bake in a very hot oven for 20-30 minutes. When done the bread should come away from the sides of the tin easily. Tip it out onto a wire grid to cool.

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