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Grahamism & 19th Century Health Reform

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Grahamism & 19th Century Health Reform

Grahamism was a 19th Century alternative medical therapy/health reform movement. “Living right” was the key to this alternative medical therapy, as it was said that the body would take care of itself naturally without interference. This health reform system was created by Sylvester Graham (1794-1851). Concerned for his own health, Graham began studying human physiology and nutrition, giving lectures along the eastern states. He published the leading text on health reform, “Lectures on the Science of Human Life,” and was very popular until his popularity waned in 1840 and he passed away in 1851.

Grahamism was characterized by leaving the body alone and living a good moral life. This theory was a big advocate of “whole wheat for bread, hard mattresses, open windows, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure drinking water, and cheerfulness at meals (Granger)”. Poor health was said to come from eating the wrong foods and living the wrong lives. “Good health could only be restored through a strict regiment of healthy living and healthy eating (Cline)”. Physical health also depended on good moral and spiritual health. This concept reflects a type of Puritan physiology.

Health facilities and schools were not needed for advocates and followers of Grahamism. If a person acted moral and spiritual and ate the right things and practiced life in an acceptable manner, their body would take care of itself. However, Graham boarding houses were being built all over for people to go to and live life the right, natural way. Also, other health reforms such as hydropathy and hygieotherapy were created and drew heavily on the ideas of Sylvester Graham.

Grahamism lives on in today’s world. Everyone knows that eating right, exercising, and following strict practices will ultimately help their physical lives. A product of Sylvester Graham still exists today; they are known as “Graham Crackers.” Enhanced and changed, of course, Graham Crackers come from the original recipe of Sylvester Graham for “Graham flour”; which was supposed to be a healthier type of bread for people to consume. This health reform is very much a part of people’s every day lives in



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