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As far as fibre goes, more is better

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Professor John Cowles was not a Grahamite. Back in the 1830s when Oberlin College in Ohio decided to implement and enforce Sylvester Graham’s dietary regimen, Cowles expressed his displeasure by smuggling a pepper shaker into the dining room and openly applying its contents to his meal. Soon after this incident, the professor was fired, sparking rumours that his fate had been sealed by flouting the rules. And those rules were stringent. No meat, no sugar, no fat, no alcohol, no spices of any kind. Meals were based on fruits, vegetables and the hallmark of the Graham system, copious servings of bread made from whole grains.

Graham, a Presbyterian minister, can be labelled as America’s first nutritional guru, and like the plethora of nutritional advisors who prowl the internet today, developed a loyal following as well as hordes of critics. Graham had no scientific knowledge, not that there was much of this commodity to be had in the early 19th century. His notions were based on the diet that sustained Adam and Eve in Eden, essentially seeds, nuts, berries and fruits. Basically, this was a vegetarian, high fibre diet, although Graham would have been mystified by the current definition of fibre as the components of plant foods that cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes that encompass waxes, lignin and various polysaccharides.........

© Montreal Gazette