There have been many chemists over the years that have been primarily concerned with diet and nutrition, and one of the most important in the Philippines was Francisco Santos. He worked not only on the scientific side to try and break down the chemical composition of foods that are indigenous to the area, but also on a humanitarian side to improve the diet of those locals living in impoverished areas of the country. This was accomplished throughout his career in a methodical manner, with research being used to create data that was then presented to government agencies and the public in the spirit of ongoing education.
Another area in which Francisco Santos was able to make positive strides for was in establishing the Anti-Beriberi content of sweet potatoes. Although home gardening is now considered to be a valuable component of a healthy lifestyle, as part of a backlash against the fast food industry, at the time this is exactly what Dr. Santos advocated in deprived Filipino communities. He believed with the use of nutritious local foods, that growing problems of diet and nutrition could be solved. He placed a high emphasis on the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet, which has lasted until this day thanks to the chemical and vitamin analysis that he was able to perform on these foods.
Before becoming a nutritionist, chemist, and social advocate, Francisco Santos began his career by attending the University of the Philippines for his undergraduate degree as well as his MS degree. He then attended Yale University and received his PhD in Agricultural Chemistry in 1922. This was used as a jumping off point for his further studies and research programs that feature a very heavy agricultural component.
As a result of his extensive work in the humanitarian industry, as well as his dedication to nutrition research, Doctor Francisco Santos was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal in 1955, which recognized his contributions in the nutrition field of the Philippines. He also was awarded the University of the Philippines Alumni Award in 1979, and the Andres Soriano award for excellence in the field of chemistry, in 1956. These were but a few of the professional recognitions and awards that were awarded to Dr. Santos, but his legacy as one of the first proponents of a nutritious diet in the Philippines has been revered by many advocates in the past century.