This section is from the book "Fletcherism. What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty", by Horace Fletcher. Also available from Amazon: Fletcherism, What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty.
Over twenty years ago, at the age of forty years, my hair was white; I weighed two hundred and seventeen pounds (about fifty pounds more than I should for my height of five feet six inches); every six months or so I had a bad attack of "influenza"; I was harrowed by indigestion; I was afflicted with "that tired feeling." I was an old man at forty, on the way to a rapid decline.
It was at about this time that I applied for a life-insurance policy, and was "turned down" by the examiners as a "poor risk." This was the final straw. I was not afraid to die; I had long ago learned to look upon death with equanimity. At the same time I had a keen desire to live, and then and there made a determination that I would find out what was the matter, and, if I could do so, save myself from my threatened demise.
I realised that the first thing to do was, if possible, to close up my business arrangements so that I could devote myself to the study of how to keep on the face of the earth for a few more years. This I found it possible to do, and I retired from active money-making.
The desire of my life was to live in Japan, where I had resided for several years, and to which country I was passionately devoted. My tastes were in the direction of the fine arts. Japan had been for years my Mecca - my household goods were already there, waiting until I should take up my permanent residence; and it required no small amount of will-power to turn away from the cherished hope of a lifetime, to continue travelling over the world, and concentrate upon finding a way to keep alive.
I turned my back on Japan, and began my quest for health. For a time, I tried some of the most famous "cures" in the world. Here and there were moments of hope, but in the end I was met with disappointment.
It was partly accidental and partly otherwise that I finally found a clue to the solution of my health disabilities. A faint suggestion of possibilities of arrest of decline had dawned upon me in the city of Galveston, Texas, some years before, and had been strengthened by a visit to an Epicurean philosopher who had a snipe estate among the marshlands of Southern Louisiana and a truffle preserve near Pau, in France. He was a disciple of Gladstone, and faithfully followed the rules relative to thorough chewing of food which the Grand Old Man of England had formulated for the guidance of his children. My friend in Louisiana attributed his robustness of health as much to this protection against overeating as to the exercise incident to his favourite sports. But these impressions had not been strong enough to have a lasting effect.
One day, however, I was called to Chicago to attend to some unfinished business affairs. They were difficult of settlement, and I was compelled to "mark time" in the Western city with nothing especially to do. It was at this time, in 1898, that I began to think seriously of eating and its effect upon health. I read a great many books, only to find that no two authors agreed; and I argued from this fact that no one had found the truth, or else there would be some consensus of agreement. So I stopped reading, and determined to consult Mother Nature herself for direction.