FOOD AND HEALTH. The whole country was placed on a low-protein diet. Believers in high protein suggested that the resistance against disease would decrease. My expectations were to the contrary. Who won? Well, the result was a great victory for the low-protein diet. The state of health improved as never before.


IT is not necessary to add meat or eggs to a whole-wheat or whole-rye bread diet to get enough protein. My assistant, Fr. Madsen, could get balance on 47 g. of digestible bread protein. We were not able to get lower on bread alone because it contains so much protein. But is this a minimum? To try to get lower we must add protein-free foods. Besides more fat, we can add sugar and starch.

In this way others got down to 20 g. of protein, but after two weeks they did not feel well; they lost appetite, and felt nausea. They thought, then, that this was caused by too little protein. But that was a mistake. The trouble was the bad composition of the diet.

We found a better composition: To whole-rye breads we added prunes cooked together with sugar and starch prune porridge as we called it a dish that is much used in Denmark in the summer. In this way we succeeded in getting down to 22 g. of protein net. Two men lived on such a diet half a year and felt very well. Their working power was as shown by test unusual.

One of the men walked, after finishing, 262 miles in four days and without previously training. That proves that 22g. of rye protein is enough, or that rye protein has the same value as meat and milk protein. A very significant result. Only short experiments or experiments with bread without bran have given different results.


All in all I maintain, on a basis of thirty years of experimentation, that a diet poor in protein does not decrease but, on the contrary, increases endurance. That is quite the same result as found by Chittenden and by Irving Fisher at Yale. But it is difficult for people who have never tried it to believe. I know myself how difficult it is to free ones self from old ideas.


In this experiment two men lived for six months on barley- porridge, sugar, vegetable margarine and water. One of the two men was sick at the beginning. He had for a couple of years been suffering from indigestion, was thin and looked ill. After finishing, his indigestion was cured, he had increased 22 pounds in weight, and he looked well. The other man felt very well the whole time and had an excellent working power.

The wife of a Danish teacher told me the following: At the beginning of the War her husband had lost an extra income. Her funds were not sufficient for four children from ten to sixteen who were big eaters. So she told them to eat much of the first course, porridge, because they would not get much meat. But she could not make the children do it. Then she started to serve nothing but barley porridge four days each week. This taught the children to eat porridge. And the result was that, after some months, they looked much better. The wife continued: “Also I myself looked much better. My husband tells me that I never have been so nice-looking before”.

When guinea pigs are fed on barley only, they die from scurvy in four weeks. And I must add that when we took away the margarine and lived on barley and sugar alone, the result was quite different. The men lost weight, lost appetite, and did not feel well. Is there anything wrong with vegetable margarine? We read always that this food does not contain any vitamins at all. According to our very long experiments with different cereals plus vegetable margarine, that seems not to be correct. We must remember also, that the coco-oil is churned with milk and that a little egg-yolk is added as a rule.

From this must come a small amount of vitamins A and C. This seems to be sufficient for adults, who, in contrast to the small animal, need little of this vitamin. Children need more, but it seems that children may get ill from too much A vitamin. That is the experience of Professor Dr. Monrad, Director of the Childrens Hospital in Copenhagen. He has reported that 350 children got ill through having too much butter, whole milk, cream and eggs. They were slim, slack, tired and anaemic.

As soon as these foods were taken away and they were given instead skim milk and vegetable margarine the children got healthy, got red cheeks and increased in weight. When Monrad was told that I intended to go to the United States, he said “Tell them that they are vitamin crazy. I do not maintain that all children get sick through much butter, cream and milk, but some do”.


Two men lived eight months on oats, vegetables margarine and sugar, and felt in excellent health.

It is very surprising to some that my men, who lived for years on cereals and margarine, did not get scurvy. I would not, of course, recommend such a diet, as I suppose that some would get the disease, but that would be easy to prevent by adding potatoes.


How much fat do we need? That was a burning question during the War. In 1916 we tried to find a diet without fat possible to follow for a lengthy time. It was not easy. After many tests, we found that a diet composed of cabbage soup with potatoes, eaten together with bread mostly whole grain bread was a good composition. Now, how long do you believe it possible to exist on this composition?

M Hindhede