ARTICLE 12) Natural Hygiene
Author: Donald S. Rehm

Is achieving good health really as complicated as we are led to believe? Do we need vitamin supplements, mineral supplements, herbs, drugs, homeopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, hormones, doctors, hospitals, special dietary plans and all the rest of the products and services we are constantly being sold? Scientists are looking for a "unified theory" to explain the workings of the universe. We should also be seeking a simple, unified theory to guide us on the right path to achieving and maintaining good health. This is not such a difficult task. In fact, in my opinion, the principles are already well expressed in the lifestyle called Natural Hygiene.

Natural Hygiene came on the American scene as an educational movement in 1830 through the lectures of Sylvester Graham in New York, Rochester, Providence, Buffalo and other eastern cities. Modern dietary science is said to have had its beginning with Graham, who stressed the value of fresh fruits and vegetables as the best foods for humans. He wrote books and articles on healthful living for 21 years and his greatest work is the Science of Human Life, published in 1839.

Graham pioneered in this country in advocating the teaching of physiology in the public schools and in expounding the value of regular physical exercise, fresh air and well ventilated homes, rest and sleep, sunbathing, emotional control and clothing reform for women to free them from the tight waists, corsets and high heeled pointed shoes of the day.

Graham was joined in his work by other prominent medical people of the time. Many of these pioneers of the Natural Hygiene system had suffered serious illness during their early years and this became a strong motivating force in seeking the solution to the disease problem. They came to see in wrong living the true cause of disease and sought to induce mankind to return to a normal way of life by adopting good living habits. Some even founded colleges to train students in caring for people through hygienic means, rather than with drugs and medicines.

One of the more recent leaders of this movement was Herbert M. Shelton of San Antonio, Texas. In "Health For The Millions", one of several books he authored, he defines Hygiene as "...that branch of biology which investigates the conditions upon which health and life depend, and the means by which they are sustained in their virtue and purity. It is a complete way of life comprising a system of mind-body care in health and in sickness."

The followers of Natural Hygiene have in the past perhaps overly emphasized the necessity of fasting to reverse the buildup of toxins in the body. It seems logical that a body which is treated properly will eliminate these toxins through its normal functioning without fasting. But it is difficult to find fault with any of their other recommendations. The essential components of this way of life are:

  • DIET: Eat a whole, natural, plant-based diet consisting of large portions of uncooked vegetables and fruits, with the addition of enough steamed vegetables, potatoes, grains, legumes, and raw, unsalted nuts, to maintain healthy weight and energy levels.
  • LIFESTYLE: Secure plenty of rest, sleep, vigorous physical exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and pure distilled water. Develop your self-esteem and social skills. Form meaningful relationships. Learn how to manage stress. Live a productive life.
  • A FEW BASIC CONCEPTS: Health is the normal state. Healing is a biological process and is not something you can buy. Health and disease are a continuum - the same physiological laws govern the body in sickness and in health. Nothing that makes a well person sick can make a sick person well. Physical, mental, and emotional health are inseparably linked. Personal health, environmental health, and community health are parts of a whole.

People who have tried diet after diet to lose weight would probably find that they quickly lose weight and approach their normal body weight by changing to this lifestyle. And they could do it without going hungry.

The simplest and most effective diet in the world can be stated in one sentence: "Eat as much as you want as often as you want but only eat foods as they are provided by nature." This means no refining, cooking or adulteration of food. If you want to eat meat, you would be required to eat it raw, like all the other animals on this earth do. Given that condition, you would probably soon become a vegetarian.

If you want to know more about Natural Hygiene, contact the Natural Hygiene Society.

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