During the nineteenth century there was much experimentation in the U.S. at combining religious observance with new dietary practices. Seventh-day Adventism had a significant effect in this area through its Battle Creek Sanitarium. The church follows the food codes prescribed in Leviticus, and recommends vegetarianism to adherents, while banning alcohol and tobacco. Seventh-day Adventists put these principles into practice at their Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, funded by the donations of congregants.
Under the direction of physician John Kellogg, the Adventist church created what amounted to an early health spa, where a low-fat diet rich in whole grains, fiber, and nuts was served, along with something new: flaked cereals. Both Kellogg’s younger brother, W. K., and sanitarium visitor C. W. Post picked up on this innovation and created companies offering the convenience and nutrition of flaked cereals to the general public—ventures which created a large industry.
In addition to controlled diet and lots of exercise, John Kellogg offered many exotic health treatments like cold-air exercise, hydrotherapy, water-and-yogurt enemas, and odd sexual regimens. The sanitarium became a popular spot, generating national interest in health and wellness and attracting famous patients like Mary Lincoln, William Taft, Henry Ford, and Amelia Earhart. It went into decline during the Depression.
- Battle Creek Sanitarium history, heritagebattlecreek.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=95&Itemid=73
- Brian Wilson, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living (Indiana University Press, 2014)