How to Be Always Well

Author(s): 
Robert G Jackson, M.D.
Publisher: 
Print-Craft (Canada)
Edition / Year: 
14th. 1927

For some reason it has been the pattern for those of the early health food and breakfast cereal companies that are still extant to have been created by the combined vision of a pair of men, one a practical businessman and the other a health food nut: Kellogg's was founded by the brothers William Keith Kellogg and John Harvey Kellogg; Ralston Purina was started by William Danforth as Purina Mills and later renamed to capitalise on the success of Webster Edgerly's Ralston Health Club; and William Matthaei, an experienced baker, turned the Roman Meal company originally founded by Dr. Robert G. Jackson into a national success.

A portrait of the author

The rather strange illustration at left shows Dr. Jackson, represented like a statue of an athlete in front of an idealised classical landscape. The text printed beneath it in the book reads as follows:-

PHOTO OF THE AUTHOR AS AT 75

The perfection of physique manifested in the above photograph can be attained in and maintained into very advanced life only by living in accordance with nature's living rules plainly written in the wide-open book of nature.

(Whatever Jackson's qualifications as an advocate of healthy living, he was certainly not the world's greatest prose stylist).

Jackson was not a bigoted charlatan like Edgerly nor obsessed with the perils of masturbation like J H Kellogg: he was a trained physician who had cured his own ill health through a tough regime, and who had hence come to believe that everyone else should follow his lead. Born in Edwardsburg, Ontario, Canada in 1865, he was apparently a sickly individual until middle age when he conceived his combination of a diet of “natural foods” coupled with a rigorous program of physical exercise. This approach was so successful that he achieved an undeniably athletic physique and - he claimed - perfect health.

Jackson wrote a number of books in which he set out his philosophy of health, including How to be Always Well. His fundamental idea is that civilization threatens the wellbeing of the human race as unnatural foodstuffs poison the insides, clothing inhibits the proper functioning of the skin and sedentary habits cause the muscles to atrophy. Hence, if you want to be healthy, reject the evils of civilized living and follow Jackson's way to a better life.

Unlike the typical modern diet'n'health guru peddling effortless schemes, Jackson required austerity and commitment from his followers. To illustrate, here is his own daily regimen:

I sleep in an unheated room (unheated at night), year round, windows open top and bottom, bed screened from draft, and wear no night clothes (pyjamas or nightshirt), but always sufficient bed coverings to keep me comfortable. Early morning I throw bed coverings over foot of bed and exercise for a half hour lying on the bed nude, windows still open, as they have been all night, regardless of temperature. Of course, in below zero weather I do not open windows so widely as in more temperate weather, but always they are open top and bottom. After bed exercises I retire to bathroom, open window when it is not frozen too hard to be opened; drink three glasses of water, hot or cold as suits fancy; respond to nature's calls; cleanse teeth; shave, wash, take a second set of exercises standing, designed to exercise fully all the muscles of the body, but especially those about the waist and abdomen; follow with quick, cold bath, taken as follows: Soap parts where odors might be present from accumulations; scrub with well-wrung-out washcloth; wash off soap with sopping washcloth; immerse body quickly for a few seconds, rapidly rotating the body with a side-to-side rocking movement while immersed; stand in tub, wring washcloth and briskly friction the entire body with it, then make it into a tight roll and grasp it firmly with both hands, arms fully extended straight forward from shoulders, hands close together, palms down make very rapid striking movements with both hands, simultaneously moving the whole body by bringing the hip and kneejoints into rhythmic movements with the striking movements of the arms and hands, one hundred times; take four to six deep breaths, exhaling through the compressed lips, and simultaneously raising the arms outward from the sides until they meet overhead during the inhalation, and lowering them during the exhalation; same position, grasping rolled washcloth, arms forward, snap arms sharply to one side, six to ten inches, then as sharply in the opposite direction, oscillating very fast one hundred times; repeat deep breathing.

I then rub my body well with wrung-out washcloth; leave tub and allow body to dry in air or wind through open window while with closed fists I pommel myself from scalp to toes; follow with a quick palm rub over the entire body that can be reached. Regardless of room temperature, I am now glowingly warm and completely thrilled. I dress without underwear, winter or summer, and begin a five-mile walk wearing no underwear, vest, nor overcoat in the coldest weather; in summer as few clothes as the conventions and the law allow. Then I breakfast on fruit and half-and-half or Kofy-Sub (apples, oranges, and grapefruit or the sweet fruits - especially in winter - dates, raisins, figs prunes, or any fruits in season). Lunch is a large bowl of granulated wholemeal porridge (Roman Meal), with milk; or Roman Meal bread with butter, honey (my only sweet with the exception of sweet fruits), and Kofy-Sub to drink; and a large leafy salad with onions, radishes or tomatoes in their season. Dinner is almost always a large salad, as above, with cheese, cottage cheese, baked beans, nuts or nutbutter. Frequently, in winter, I add steamed vegetables, served only with butter and little or no salt. In summer, dinner may be berries and milk only. In winter, if I feel I have over-indulged in food, I may make a dinner of sweet fruits and milk, or nuts and raisins and a cup of Kofy-Sub. I eat no dessert, unless it be a few dates or raisins or the acid fruits.

Occasionally, I live for one or more entire days upon juicy fruits alone, or juicy fruits and half-and-half, to rest and cleanse the digestive tract and the blood, and change the intestinal flora.

“Half-and-half” is half milk and half boiling water; “Roman Meal” and “Kofy-Sub” were both products of Jackson's own company, the former still available, while the latter was a coffee substitute made from roasted wholemeal grains (yum!). This extract is taken from a chapter quaintly entitled My Own Daily “Effort” that means the “Development” of Bodily Perfection.

Jackson suffered from a relatively minor form of crankery in which “what works for me” becomes “the only true way”. Much of his advice, while tending to the extreme, has a kernel of good sense in it, but he could not - or would not - see that most people neither require nor welcome the sort of life he proposed for them. The comforts of civilization, that he termed “sinful”, do not result in most cases in the sort of very poor health that he suffered before he changed his ways. In some ways, he was a very unlucky man, to require the sort of careful regard for his body described above in order to enjoy wellbeing; yet he made sufficient commercial capital out of the foodstuffs he invented to die rich. The mansion he built with his money, “Valley Halla” is now part of Toronto Zoo.

Comments

I have read this book and it has been very helpful to me. We need more people to think outside the box. Comfort is definitely the downfall of creation.
One of the Best books on Health ever written !!!
Well, yeah, I mean, who could resist THAT photo? L. Anchoviece
Forget the photos ! Read the book ! Don't fall for the negative review. I've tried the regime and it works .

I have read the book 1983 and realy it works untul today 2013.

Eat right, keep fit...die anyway. Gather ye rosebuds. Nice house though.
wonderful book! it is amazing! i surprised this book has been writen early 20th century! he is very visionary.
yes it is a wonderful book. I read it for about 25 years ago and I can still remember it very well. Is it possible to buy the book still? Does any body now how old he was when he past away. Best regards Bent Kjøller Denmark
Hi, In the dutch translation, 4th ed. by De Driehoek, Amsterdam, dr. Ralph Bircher is writing in a postscript te following. After reports from Canada Jackson died by an accident during skating. He was helpless and caught a pneumonia, more than 80 years old. I bought the book in 1977 when I was 37 and in bad health. The book convinced and I started with fasting 12 days. I was thin but healthy. The following years I built up a very good condition, realizing only a fraction of Jacksons way of life. I see the book as inspiration. In 1985 I completed the 200 km Elfstedentocht. I fell, but not seriously, and if so I would have been found immediately.
Hello Mr Kjoller, I happend upon your comment to the book How to Always Be Well by Robert G Jackson, and it so happens that I have this book. It caught my eye because the above illustration is in my book, only Mr Jackson is at that time only 73. He was certainly an insightful and forward thinking individual. Please contact me if you are still looking for this book.I have Seventh Edition copyright 1927 Canada. Thank you very much. J Lawson
To J Lawson I'm very interested in acquiring the book you have by Robert G Jackson. Could you please reply with how I may be able to do so. Best Regards Fred Kaus
please contact me as i am anxious to purshase this book.
i'm interested in your book 419 495 4257 spooky@metalink.net
I have read this book too. Writer wrote, he could live 120 years old, he was so healthy in age of 75 years. I would like to know, when he has dead and how? Was it accident or some sickness? Could somebody know that?

According to Time (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,795460,00.html) Jackson died in 1941 at the age of 83. However, if his true birth year was 1867 as he said at one time (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC403537/pdf/canmedaj00147-0073a.pdf), then he might only have been 74 at his death.

In any case, he did not live to anything like 120 years!

I'm interested in gathering as much information on Dr. Robert Jackson as possible. Irrespective of whether his age-fudging was commercially motivated, he was a Canadian health champion whose impact was substantial. And there is no denying his health advice must be considered visionary for the time. Any new threads or avenues of investigation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the review.
Contact me - I can provide a link for more info via another researcher.
If you have access to Dr. Jackson's book, I would like to obtain a copy, or copy it.
Death caused by a fall on the ice which resulted in a fractured hip and pneumonia.
When I was a child, my mother told me: The most important food is fruits and vegetables - especially raw. With 17 years old, I became a vegetarian. With 25, I lived mainly on raw fruits and vegetables. When I was 44, someone said to me: How can you be so crazy and live on such a CRAZY diet?! I thought about that and went back to my old wide-variety diet. With 45, I started have ongoing problems with constipation. With 46, I had a surgery with my large intestines. With 48, I had my teeth extracted and replaced with dentures. With 53 I had a memory-loss due to a medication I have received for three years. I did research on the Internet and switched back to raw food. After afew months I started to recover. Suddenly I remembered the book-title: "How To Be Always Well", so I must have seen the book in a library about 6 years ago. But I couldn't remember what the book was about. So I went back to the library again AND THEY STILL HAD THE BOOK!! I read the book again and my memory started to come back. Words came into my mind: Nature, natural foods, raw foods, God created nature and natural life, men created processed and junk-food with all sorts of artificial and chemical ingredients, ... THIS DOES NOT GO FOR EVERYONE. BUT IN MANY CASES THIS CAN BE A WAY BACK TO PART OR FULL HEALTH AGAIN! I have been in physically good shape: with long walks and hikes - especially in nature and parks. And lifting heavy items, like helping families moving by carrying furniture and heavy items into the U-Haul truck and then back into the new home with some other volunteers. IN THE LAST SEVEN YEARS I WAS LOST AND DIDN'T KNOW IN WHICH DIRECTION TO GO IN MY LIFE ANYMORE. IN THE PAST YEARS I WAS GOING CLOSER TO HELL SEVERAL TIMES. BUT NOW I HAVE READ THIS BOOK AGAIN, AND IT HELPED ME TO WAKE UP AND FIND MY WAY BACK TO LIVING LIFE WITH NATURE AND GOOD FRIENDS AGAIN. NOW I'M GOING IN THE DIRECTION OF HEAVEN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE - AND I WILL NEVER TURN BACK INTO A HELL LIFE ANYMORE - THANKS TO THE BOOK AND MOTHER NATURE!
I read Dr. Jackson's 'How to be always well' when I was fifteen and have spent the last fifty years living by it. I now discover that I've misplaced my copy and would like to acquire, or at least photocopy/digitize, one if a reader has one available. Please let me know.

I came across this book in oct 1983 and read it twice. I was 28 at the time and extremely fit so nothing worked on me, because you can only be so fit cant you. Anyway 30 years have past and it is time to try his regime. Time has eroded my health enough to get cracking and see if it works.

I live in Norway, and own a translated copy of How To Always Be Well (1952). The man who gave it to me said it was the strangest book his father had ever red. Over the years I have found this book to be EXTREMELY helpful in keeping a thin body that is also healthy. Every spring I have many reasons to bless the day I red this little book. And I have fully discovered myself the words of the author himself: " true health is ALWAYS visible in your face"

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