Adelle Davis

From ArticleWorld

Adells Davis (1904-1974) is best known for teaching a generation of Americans and others about the importance of nutrition through her Let's... series of books, including Let's Have Healthy Children. Davis's legacy is complex: she is generally acknowledged to have enormously raised awareness about the importance of healthy eating, but her books also contain some potentially very harmful, or even fatal, advice. She is sometimes described as a food faddist, and her estate lost a lawsuit in 1978 based on advice that proved fatal to a baby. A trained biochemist, Davis also wrote a classic book-length personal account under a pseudonym of the effects of LSD.

Ideas and influence

Davis is known for her soundbite-like quotes such as 'We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are'. She did graduate and postgraduate work at Columbia University and the University of California at Los Angeles, and her book Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit details in simple language the specific roles played by different micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals in the functioning of the body, as well as the effects of deficiencies. This is the work she is best remembered for, though her first book, Let's Cook it Right, is probably the least controversial and most-respected. In it, she makes a case for fresh-cooked food, especially vegetables, and cooking to conserve nutrients by such techniques as low-heat cooking. Her other works include Let's Get Well and Let's Have Healthy Children. From the 1940s to the late 1970s, Davis's word was taken as gospel by many and her books sold over 10 million copies.


Many now say that although Davis's concern with food safety and nutrition were well-founded, her books should be treated with skepticism. Some of the advice Davis gives in her books involves ingesting very large quantities of compounds such as vitamins A and D that are normally considered micronutrients. In 1978 her estate was sued by the parents of one Ryan Pitzer. The two-month-old had been suffering from colic, and his parents, devoted followers of Adelle Davis's work administered the vast quantities of potassium chloride she recommends for colic. The baby died within a week. Similar cases of extreme illness, disease, and permanent damage in children has ben reported by parents who followed Davis's prescriptions religiously. Scientists, dieticians, nutritionists, and public health experts say that Davis, who referenced all her books copiously, took bits and pieces of advice from many sources and put them together in totally different contexts, leading to misinformation and just plain wrong advice at times.