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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Utah State University Faculty Honor Lectures


The Faculty Association, Utah State Agricultural College

Publication Date



The science of nutrition is the science of life. Though man is still ignorant of the true nature of that elusive force we call life, he has learned by means of the discovered laws of nutrition how to preserve and prolong life as well as how to add to the satisfactions of living.

The emergence of the sicence of nutrition from the maze of superstition which for centuries clouded man's thinking is a fascinating story. A story, however, that arouses a feeling of regret that for so long a time man was willing to attribute to supernatural forces all phenomena that were to him not easily explainable.

This tendency to superstition together with the effortless effie· iency with which the healthy body functions, obscured for a long time the relationship between ingested food and bodily development and activity. Small wonder, therefore, that Galen and Paracelsus, dimly aware of the body's smooth functioning, were willing to credit their so-called "natural spirits," or "vital spirits," with the operation of a splendid mechanism that was beyond their understanding.

To Vesalius is due in large part, the beginning of a substitution of observation and inquiry for unthinking superstition. The science of nutrition as we know it today is greatly indebted to the fact that Vesalius was able to impress his many capable and influential students with the value of this substitution.


This work made publicly available electronically on August 15, 2011.