What is the Felix Letter?
The Felix letter was the brainchild of nutritionist Clara Felix. This newsletter, first started in 1981, had the goal of sharing science based, nutritionally focused approaches to build and sustain health. Clara Felix's perspective was informed by an understanding that health was based on the wisdom of our ancestors. Ms. Felix drew from the fields of paleontology, anthropology, biochemistry and nutrition research in a way that helped to explain how we had deviated from the health and sturdiness of hunter gatherers to a people who were now plagued with chronic physical and mental disorders.
Each newsletter was rigorously researched and was at the forefront of bringing to our awareness many topics, decades before their importance was widely acknowledged. This ranged from the importance of Vitamin D to our health; gluten intolerance, and the many health problems it can be associated with; the role of omega-3 fats in the prevention and recovery from mental illness; the role of nutrition in the prevention and recovery from addiction; the value of breastfeeding to both mother and child; how folic acid prevents birth defects; homocysteine and heart disease; the value of Vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of chronic and acute health conditions; humans as aquatic apes, which explains our lack of fur, subcutaneous fat and access to the food sources that allowed our big brains to develop; and the role of nutrition to treat autism, arthritis, autoimmune disorders and sickle cell anemia.
Ms. Felix's diligent research led to great respect and appreciation from many of the leaders in the field of nutrition, including Dr. Mary Enig PhD, author of "Know your Fats," Robert Crayhon, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, Beatrice Trum Hunter, Dr. Bernard Rimland, Paul and Barbara Stitt, and Dr. David Horrobin. They all expressed their appreciation for the way that she made science accessible and actionable, showing people what they could do to apply this information to regain and/or maintain their health, and that of their families and friends.
On a personal note I first met Clara Felix in a 1977 class at UC Berkeley, titled "Unorthodox Topics in Nutrition." Clara researched and presented on the use of laetrile in the treatment of cancer and I researched and presented on the role of orthomolecular nutrition for the treatment of mental illness. We immediately bonded over our shared progressive politics, belief that health could be maintained and recovered through the use of many nutritional tools and a generally enthusiastic approach to life and its simple pleasures. This led to a life-long friendship. I am deeply grateful for the love, caring and immense inspiration that my conversations and sharing with Clara led to. I am humbled by the wisdom she tapped into and I consider her writing and research to be essential reading for anyone who wishes to better understand the field of nutrition and its many gifts.
Laura Brainin-Rodriguez MPH, MS, RDN
Illustrations in the Felix Letter are by
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