Hazards of some foods, replacement and classification
When it comes to matters of health, identifying the problem is not sufficient but providing a solution is the best thing. Here is a guideline of the hazards of some foods, replacement and classification.
Concerning yeast germ in bread; Ellen White penned that bread should be “thoroughly baked that, so far as possible, the yeast germs shall be destroyed.” She was scoffed at for this statement, even as late as the 1940s. For years popular magazines advocated eating a cake of live yeast daily! We now know that live yeast cells “take up B vitamins from the food material in the intestine, thus making them unavailable for the body.” MOL 320.8 – MOL 321.1
“Butter is less harmful when eaten on cold bread than when used in cooking.” “When properly prepared, olives, like nuts, supply the place of butter and flesh meats.”
What’s bad about butter? Two basic problems: disease and health factors relating to fat and cholesterol in the diet. Regarding disease, in the late 1800s butter “was often rancid … a mixture of casein and water, or of calcium, gypsum, gelatin fat sic and mashed potatoes.”
Referring to the future, Ellen White wrote: “Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing.”
Apart from the danger of disease, butter is almost pure fat. It has many of the long-chained saturated fatty acids that tend to increase serum cholesterol (as well as short-chained fatty acids which do not cause the problem). One tablespoon of butter contains 33 mg. of saturated fats and cholesterol.
- The American Heart Association stated on May 13, 1994: “Because butter is rich in both saturated fat and cholesterol, it is potentially a highly atherogenic food causing hardening of the arteries. Most margarine is made from vegetable fat and provides no dietary cholesterol. The more liquid the margarine, i.e., tub or liquid forms, the less hydrogenated it is and the less trans fatty acids it contains. Therefore, though still high in fat, margarine is a preferable substitute for butter, and soft margarines are better than hard ones.”
Dietary fiber. Ellen White warned that “fine-flour bread cannot impart to the system the nourishment that you will find in the unbolted-wheat bread. The common use of bolted-wheat bread cannot keep the system in a healthy condition.”
The body needs two major types of fiber in the diet. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The best sources are oats, beans, apples, barley, and buckwheat: thus these foods help reduce the risk of a heart attack. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, which reduces the risk of colon cancer. Foods high in fiber help to reduce the risk of carcinogenic agents in the intestines. The fiber attaches to the cholesterol and bile acids that have been secreted by the gallbladder, and removes them from the intestinal tract rapidly. MOL 321.3 – MOL 321.9
Animal products have little or no fiber. Refined grains and other refined products have very little. In an Adventist Health Study, 16 men who often ate whole wheat bread had only 56 percent of the expected non-fatal heart attack rate and 89 percent of the expected fatal heart attack rate.
Numerous recent studies relate the risk of colon cancer to the lack of fiber in the diet. Gastrointestinal transit time is seventy-seven hours when on a refined diet, but thirty-five hours on an unrefined diet. Populations on a refined diet have a higher incidence of colon cancer than in countries where most are on an unrefined diet. Colon-cancer risk decreases as the fiber in the diet increases. Experts such as Dr. D. P. Burkitt, world-renowned British surgeon and medical researcher, state that a lack of dietary fiber is a major cause of appendicitis, varicose veins, diverticulosis, colon cancer, hiatal hernias, constipation, and other health problems.
On flesh foods; in 1866 Ellen White wrote that “the liability to take disease is increased tenfold by meat eating.” Further, in 1869 she said that “meat should not be placed before our children.”
Why was she so explicit? Because the practice of meat eating is detrimental to physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Physical impact: Ellen White wrote that meat eating increases the “liability to disease … tenfold.” Further, it causes obesity, sudden death (heart attack or stroke), “unwholesome condition” of bones (probably osteoporosis), and cancer. Contrary to conventional thinking, she called it “a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food. The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed, without its use.” In addition, “the use of the flesh of animals tends to cause a grossness obesity of body.” MOL 321.10 – MOL 322.4
Mental impact: She cautioned that “students would accomplish much more in their studies if they never tasted meat. When the animal part of the human agent is strengthened by meat eating, the intellectual powers diminish proportionately.”
Spiritual impact: Even more important than the physical and mental liabilities of meat eating is the fact that the “religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates into intense activity lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral and spiritual nature.”
For Ellen White, “diet reform is progressive.” For this reason, she said frequently that she never felt it her “duty to say that no one should taste of meat under any circumstances. To say this when the people have been educated to live on flesh to so great an extent, would be carrying matters to extreme.”
At the same time, she did not soften her words when eternal issues were at stake. In the context of those who were proclaiming the messages of the three angels (Revelation 14) and thus were preparing for Christ’s return, she said: “Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet.” Meat eating will be eliminated “before His people can stand before Him a perfected people.”
- Ellen White spoke directly to church leaders regarding meat eating: No one should be a “teacher of the people” who, by teaching or example, “contradicts” the principles of health reform. Physicians “who use flesh meat and prescribe it for their patients, should not be employed in our institutions.” Ministers who eat meat “set an evil example,” and make it difficult for others to have “confidence” in them. MOL 322.5 – MOL 322.9
Aware of some of the dangers of too many nuts in the diet (because of their high fat content), she warned that “too large a quantity of nut food is an injury … but … all can eat freely of fruit.”
In the Adventist Health Study men who ate nuts 4-5 times a week had only half as many fatal heart attacks as those who rarely ate nuts. 80 Walnuts and almonds have been shown to lower serum lipids (reducing risk of atherosclerosis).
On fruits and vegetables;. recent research has focused on the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. “Vegetables and fruits are complex foods containing more than 100 beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other substances. Scientists do not yet know which of the nutrients or other substances in fruits and vegetables may be protective against cancer. The principal possibilities include specific vitamins and minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals—carotenoids, flavonoids, terpenes, sterols, indoles, and phenols—that are present in foods of plant origin…. Until more is known about specific food components, the best advice is to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.”
The Adventist Health Study indicated that vegetarians consume twice as much vitamin A and four times as much vitamin C as people in the general population. The antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E may lower the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease. Eating four servings of legumes per week decreases risk of pancreatic cancer much more than eating legumes only once a week.
Where does one find these antioxidants? In carrots, squash, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, dried fruits, fresh strawberries, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussell sprouts, etc. In a study of elderly people, high consumers of these foods had only 30 percent of the cancer mortality as that of low consumers. In the 1996 American Cancer Society’s Report, reference was made to the “oxygen-induced damage to tissues that occurs constantly as a result of normal metabolism. Because such damage is associated with increased cancer risk, antioxidant nutrients are thought to protect against cancer. Antioxidant nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids. Studies suggest that people who eat more fruits and vegetables containing these antioxidants have a lower risk for cancer.” MOL 324.11 – MOL 325.3
Those eating cabbage once a week had only one-third the risk of colon cancer compared to those who ate it once a month. 86 Those getting adequate vitamin A had only one-third the risk of lung cancer compared to those with low intake of vitamin A. Oral and pharyngeal cancer were reduced by half in those consuming high quantities of fruits and vegetables.
Adequate amounts of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E have been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts. Those who consumed fewer than 3.5 servings of fruit or vegetables daily had a five to ten times increased risk of cataracts!
Foods high in potassium … like oranges, bananas, potatoes, and milk … reduce risk of stroke by as much as 40 percent. MOL 325.4 – MOL 325.6
On fruits and vegetables at the same meal, Ellen White counseled that “we should avoid eating vegetables and fruit at the same meal.” “At one meal use bread and fruit, at the next bread and vegetables.” MOL 325.7
What are the problems when fruit and vegetables are combined? For many with a “feeble” digestion, the mix will cause “distress,” and “inability to put forth mental effort.” Some children “become fretful and peevish.”
Ellen White saw in vision the cause of a minister’s sickness: “I took notice of your diet. You eat too great a variety at one meal. Fruit and vegetables taken at one meal produce acidity of the stomach; then impurity of the blood results, and the mind is not clear because the digestion is imperfect.” MOL 325.9 – MOL 325.10
Alcohol affects brain cells. When Ellen White wrote in 1885 that alcoholic beverages destroy “reason and life,” and in 1905 that such drinking “destroys the sensitive nerves of the brain,” she sounded like an overzealous temperance orator. But in 1970 research indicated that “even the moderate imbiber may incur some loss of irreplaceable brain cells—every time he drinks…. The only real difference between his loss of brain tissue and that of the heavy drinker is one of degree.” The ability to make decisions concerning moral issues begins to slip at very low alcohol intake levels (much below what is considered adequate to lower heart attack risk).
Caffeine affects spirituality. Ellen White may not have known that she was many decades ahead of scientific confirmation when she warned that “all such stimulants and narcotics as tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine … exert a pernicious influence upon moral character. The earlier these hurtful habits are formed, the more firmly will they hold their victim in slavery to lust, and the more certainly will they lower the standard of spirituality.” But this truth is reflected in current studies. Researchers, among other findings, note that as coffee drinkers grow older, their coffee consumption increases. On a spiritual plane, this increase in consumption accompanies a decrease in religious involvement.
Faulty diet and poor scholarship. In 1884 Ellen White stated that “nine tenths of the wickedness among the children of today is caused by intemperance in eating and drinking.” Six years later she wrote that “the diet materially affects the mind and disposition.” Today widespread evidence indicates that there is a correlation between poor diet habits and poor scholarship. Better-fed children get better grades in school. When students with poor grades and poor diets are given nutritionally enriched meals, their grades and other scholastic indicators improve. MOL 326.12 – MOL 327.3
Lastly here is food classification that may shock many who have been carrying the matter to extremes. We are to avoid any kind of zeal without knowledge.
Mrs. White advised students to eat fruit and grains rather than vegetables for supper: “Let the students have the third meal prepared without vegetables, but with simple, wholesome food, such as fruit and bread.”
- The White family considered vegetables to include peas, beans, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, onions, cabbages, and squashes (although some of these would be classified as fruits botanically).
- Fruits included tomatoes, apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, grapes, cranberries, and raisins. Grains (or seeds) included wheat, corn, rye, barley, oatmeal, rice, farina, cornstarch, “and the like.”
Some have wondered about Ellen White’s inclusion of tomatoes within the fruit group, but that she did, according to common usage. MOL 325.11 – MOL 326.2
Principle Guides for the Third Angel’s Message
The first principle, which applies to all areas of Christian responsibilities, is that everyone knows for himself what “known duty” is. “Known duty” at any given moment may not be the same for any two people. Yet, to balk at “known duty,” little or much, reveals the heart of a rebel—a deeper problem than a matter of diet.
In 1893 Ellen White wrote: “No one can believe with the heart unto righteousness, and obtain justification by faith, while continuing the practice of those things which the Word of God forbids, or while neglecting any known duty.”
Neglecting “known duty” will cause “weakness and darkness, and subject us to fierce temptation.” In other words, to hear instruction that God validated through Ellen White but not to incorporate it into one’s life, opens the door to other temptations and spiritual darkness.
The second principle is that we should do the best we can under all circumstances. For example, in the days when nutritional supplements were not available, or when various vegetables and fruit were not easily obtainable, Ellen White suggested that grape juice in the best form available was appropriate as a food supplement for medicinal purposes. Obviously she was not suggesting that wine be used as a recreational beverage or as a feature of one’s regular diet.
When she advised “domestic wine” for medicinal purposes, she knew that the sick person needed the nutritional properties of the grape, nutrients that could be assimilated quickly by the body. Under the circumstances, if the domestic wine contained a little alcohol, it still would have provided more benefit than not taking it. In 1868, in one of his question/ answer articles, James White wrote: “During the past year, Mrs. W. has, at three or four times, had feelings of great debility and faintness in the morning…. To prevent distressing faintness at these times, she, immediately after rising, had taken an egg in a little pure, domestic, grape wine, perhaps a spoonful at a time, and never thought that this had to do with drugs, as she uses the term in her writings, more than with the man in the moon. During the past year, she may have used one pint of wine. It is only in extreme cases that the use of wine is justifiable, and then let it be a ‘little wine,’ to gently stimulate those in a sinking condition.”
In Australia during the 1890s, finding a quality diet was difficult and meat was the cheapest food available. On one occasion when sickness was in a neighbor’s home, Mrs. White recalled that “there was nothing in the house suitable to eat. And they refused to eat anything that we took them. They had been accustomed to having meat. We felt that something must be done. I said to Sara McEnterfer, ‘Take chickens from my place, and prepare them some broth.’ … They soon recovered.”
The lesson? “Although we did not use flesh foods ourselves, when we thought it essential for that family in their time of sickness, we gave them what we felt they needed. There are occasions when we must meet the people where they are.”
Here again, however, common sense is needed: the first and second principle taken together should give wisdom to the health-care provider and to the ill.
The third principle is to avoid “everything hurtful,” and
The fourth principle is “to use judiciously that which is healthful.”
The fifth principle focuses on self-control. “Excessive indulgence in eating, drinking, sleeping, or seeing is sin.” Self-indulgence is often displayed in “dressing” and “overwork,” thus indicating that the mind is not under the “control of reason and conscience.”
The sixth principle is that we should “not mark out any precise line to be followed in diet.” Obviously, clear and precise warnings were given on certain unhealthful foods. But in turning to the diet that should take the place of injurious foods, Ellen White stroked out broad lines, such as “grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables.” Why the broad strokes without “precise lines”? Because she recognized that a healthful diet must recognize individual differences in climate, occupation, and physical characteristics.
The seventh principle reveals caring and compassion: a non-flesh diet should not be urged until appropriate substitutes for protein are available and the reasons for the replacement understood.
The eighth principle focuses on the motivation behind health reform: health reform is not a set of duties by which we impress God and earn His love (legalism). Rather, it is one more revelation from a loving Lord as to how best to avoid sorry circumstances that result from bad decisions. Health reform contains those insights that will hasten character development and a life of service—the object of redemption and the purpose of living. Health reform embodies a system of choices that is understood progressively through experience. For this reason, meat eating, for example, has never been a “test of fellowship” in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The ninth principle is best expressed in Ellen White’s simple formula: “I make myself a criterion for no one else.” She did not attempt to be conscience for others; neither did she make “a raid” on the tables of those who were slower to follow advancing light.
The tenth principle permeates the previous nine: We must reason from cause to effect, perhaps best expressed in Paul’s counsel: “God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). MOL 310.2 – MOL 311.10
We cannot give an excuse on Reformation because EGW did this or that. She had a limited information. Even the pioneers were limited in understanding some subjects that’s why you can read they were still not clear on those unclean meats. They never took prohibited foods at liberty but emergencies. No wonder EGW said she doesn’t care about your health reform if you don’t have a better reason or you are doing it because she did. The problem with Adventists is that they have become mere reflectors of what they hear. Such laziness is something that has caught up with all of us and needs repentance. Another problem is presenting half-truths on the pulpit and trying to revise history to look so smooth and fit our bill. Truth should be told in a truthful manner if people will be urged to come to it. The history of human struggle including messengers and Prophets should inspire us to greater height for God is seeking that finished product, the 144,000. What we aim is what we shall achieve and by the grace of God, I hope the final generation will never forget Philippians 1:6, 4:13
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