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Health, Longevity and the "Word of Wisdom"

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By jessblack
Words 3326
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For over one hundred ninety years, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been taught to avoid consuming tobacco and alcohol. Additionally, they are instructed to eat fruit in season and meat sparingly. That grain is for the use of man. That by living this way they will find strength and knowledge. (D&C 89)

In the last 100 years, reports from various government agencies and health organizations have promoted diet, exercise and clean living to improve longevity. The “Word of Wisdom”, as this passage came to be known, was first taught in 1833 and describes a lifestyle that promotes using herbs & fruit prudently and eating meat in time of famine. Also addressed is the use of alcohol; “strong drinks are…for the washing of your bodies.”, and tobacco as an item to be used medicinally for bruises and on sick cattle, with knowledge and skill. (D&C 89:7-9) Studies show that people may live longer and healthier by observing the “Word of Wisdom”. It is a lifestyle that includes fruits and grains in the diet, limiting meat, and avoiding the consumption of harmful chemicals, such as tobacco and alcohol.

The benefits of the “Word of Wisdom” are within the capacity of the “weak and the weakest” (D&C 89:3), meaning that these changes are as hard to make as one makes them. Observing the “Word of Wisdom” can only benefit those who live by it. Making lifestyle changes can be difficult, however it has been proven that making a few lifestyle changes in diet and other areas can be useful indicators in predicting cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other causes of premature death due to disease and could significantly increase longevity. (Carlsson, 2012) These indicators are helpful to physicians when diagnosing patients and prescribing treatments for illnesses and injuries. Instructions for a middle-aged male patient with borderline hypertension whose diet is “meat and potatoes” could be eat more vegetables and less meat to help prevent heart disease. On the other hand, a young woman in early pregnancy could be instructed to increase her grains and to be careful to include those fortified with Folate for her baby’s neural development.

We all hope to enjoy healthy longer lives, but many are reticent to make the changes necessary to achieve this goal. Researchers at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii hypothesized that healthy women could be motivated to increase their fruit and vegetable intake in order to prevent breast cancer. The study hoped to increase the fruit and vegetable servings to nine a day, however at the end of the six-month study the participants in the intervention group were consuming on average only seven servings a day. The women did begin eating vegetarian meals at least once a week and they expressed a desire to continue to eat as they had during the study even though there was no evidence that this treatment could in fact prevent breast cancer (Maskarinec, 1999)

This information shows that it is possible to make wise choices that can extend our lives. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded that diet influences the risk of several major chronic diseases and recommended eating five or more daily servings of a combination of vegetables and fruit.(Committee, 1989). Including this in the American diet can be difficult due to continuing attitudes towards fruits and vegetables. If men only knew that researchers in Finland determined that a fruit, berry, and vegetable heavy diet could reduce the risk of premature death for middle-aged men, perhaps more would be willing to make the adjustment in their eating habits. The researchers concluded that their findings provide additional evidence that higher intakes of fruit and vegetable can prevent heart diseases and mortality, therefore plant-derived foods can promote longer life. (Rissanen et al, 2003). There have been many studies that demonstrate the need for more fruits and vegetables on our dinner plates. Besides the benefits of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, fruits and vegetables are linked to a decrease in the occurrences of obesity and diabetes in children. (USDA, 2014)

On any given day American adults will not eat a single serving of fruits or vegetables.(Patterson, 1988) There appears to be a good deal of evidence that links the relationship between eating fruits and vegetables and good health, that is why the NAS has recommended an increase of consumption of these foods. The discrepancy between the suggested nutritional guidelines and the American diet is so enormous that the commitment of our society to these guidelines is called into question (Patterson, 1990).

With the objective of increasing our longevity, perhaps a serious, hard-hitting campaign to promote the disease fighting benefits of fruits and vegetables should be instituted. The ChooseMyPlate campaign by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is geared towards telling Americans what to eat, but not necessarily why they should be eating those foods. The assumption being that the public already knows why. Addressing childhood obesity should also be of immediate concern. Obesity during childhood brings with it the same diseases that are typically only seen in adults. Type 2 diabetes is now the dominant form of diabetes for both children and adolescents. Other diseases including hypertension and high cholesterol are diseases that can increase the impact of a number of risk factors when these children reach adulthood. Prevention of childhood obesity through early education and food programs is essential for increasing longevity. An emphasis on vegetable and fruit consumption as well as other plant-based foods would be a big step towards avoiding foods such as fast food hamburgers. (Deckelbaum and Williams, 2001).

The USDA is the highest authority on nutrition in the United States and regularly reevaluates the nutritional needs of Americans. In addition to increasing fruits and vegetables, the USDA also advocates a diet that includes grains. The agency defines a grain product as “Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain.” The USDA recommends in their ChooseMyPlate guide that at least one half of grains consumed are whole. Consuming whole grains as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, constipation, help with weight management and prevent neural tube defects in fetuses during development. (USDA, n.d.)

The Mayo Clinic also promotes grains as part of a healthy diet. Grains have proven to be excellent sources of key vitamins, minerals and complex carbohydrates. Additionally, whole grains are low fat, making them a healthy choice. Grains provide the benefit of decreasing the risk of diabetes, cancers and heart disease, which prolongs life of most people. (Mayo Clinic, 2011)

There is some confusion as to what type of grain is what. As explained by the USDA, whole grains are those that still have the germ and bran intact. They have not been milled. Refined grains have been milled to make products like flour and oatmeal. Either way, adding grains to the diet could lead the way to a prolonged healthy life.

Substituting one serving of red meat per day with a different protein source such as fish, beans and legumes, is one more change that can lead to a longer life. Researchers studied over 100,000 men and women who had no heart disease. The study demonstrated that eating red meat led to an increase in chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Indications support choosing protein other than red meat can decrease the mortality rate by up to 19%. (Pan, 2012).

Another group of researchers looked into the possible benefits to humans of consuming red or processed meat less than once a week. Singh, Sabaté, & Fraser (2003) concluded that the data raises the possibility that sparing consumption of red or processed meat is in fact possibly beneficial to humans, and could increase longevity. (Singh, Sabaté, & Fraser, 2003). Eliminating just one serving or abstaining from meat products all together has been shown to decrease the risks of long-term diseases. As both studies have shown, consuming meat sparingly can increase the chance of living a longer, healthier life.

In recent years, there has been great controversy over tobacco and its effect on the human body. Members of the LDS Church have been warned through the “Word of Wisdom” to avoid tobacco for over 190 years, but it has only been in the last fifty years that smoking has begun falling out of favor with the public as a whole. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2008) reported an estimated 443,000 people died prematurely from smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke between 2000 – 2004. This annual average was higher than the estimated deaths from 1997-2001. The three leading causes of death from smoking tobacco are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and heart disease (CDC, 2008)

In comparison with the rest of the U.S., Utah has a distinctly lower occurrence of tobacco related cancers. Seventy percent of the population of the state of Utah is members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and because of living by to the “Word of Wisdom”, members of the LDS Church have lower instances of tobacco related cancers. (Merrill, Lindsay, & Lyon, 1999) Refraining from the use of tobacco increases longevity and significantly decreases the possibility of diseases associated with tobacco use (CDC, 2008).

Different from the previous information, researchers theorized that the link between smoking and alcohol co-abuse had more to do with the bioactive components of cigarette smoke. Exposing adolescent mice to cigarette smoke and offered unlimited alcohol, these mice would consume 3 – 5 times greater amounts of alcohol than the control group. The mice that were exposed had significant chemical changes in their brains that may explain the decrease of the affects of alcohol in the system. Human smokers have reported that they feel less drunk when they smoke. Decreased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol could lead to heavier drinking, that could result in alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol poisoning & even death (Burns & Proctor, 2012)

Our society accepts moderate alcohol use very easily, however heavy use is frowned upon and heavy drinkers are often ostracized in their community. Alcoholism or Alcohol Use Disorder is recognized as a disease and there are a variety of cures and programs available for alcoholics. Approximately 17 million U.S. Citizens have AUD, however only 8.4% seek treatment (NIAAA).

According to the CDC Fact Sheet - Alcohol Use, approximately 88,000 deaths each year in the U.S. is attributable to excessive alcohol use. These lives are shortened an average of 30 years leading to the potential loss of life at 2.5 million years. In 2011, Twenty-six thousand, six hundred fifty-four people died from alcohol induced deaths (CDC, 2011) Excessive drinking is the contributing cause to one in ten deaths of working adults aged 20-64 years. (CDC, 2014a). Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. (Mokdad, 2004). With these facts, using alcohol is obviously not a choice that would lead to a longer life.

Other factors to consider about alcohol, in moderation, in certain people, the health benefits have been shown to decrease some heart diseases and lower blood pressure; however, it is not recommended that anyone begin using alcohol because of the potential health benefits. Even moderate use is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes. (CDC, 2014b) The affects that alcohol has on a person is well documented. Aggression towards women, authority and society (Bushman & Cooper, 1990), negative health issues such as chronic illnesses, an increased death rate and disabilities have been linked to the consumption of alcohol. The occurrences of accidents and the incidents of violence increase even with moderate use (Rehm et al, 2003). Binge drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks in a day, is of major concern. Even though college students are more conspicuous, the fact is that 70% of binge drinking involves those that are 26 years or older (Naimi et al, 2003). A variety of studies provides evidence that binge drinking negatively impacts the spatial memory and cognitive function of the brain (Courtney, 2010, Squeglia, 2011, Squeglia et al, 2011). The U.S. Bureau of Justice report of 1998 states “On any given day in 1996, corrections authorities supervised an estimated 5.3 million convicted offenders. Nearly 2 million (about 36%) had been drinking alcohol when they committed their conviction offense.” (BJS, 1998). Considering the devastating influence of alcohol, even moderate drinking can lead to undesirable outcomes that are avoidable by simply abstaining from alcohol use.

In conclusion, these scientific studies and reviews confirm that adopting the lifestyle of the “Word of Wisdom” is a wise choice for extending anyone’s life. Evidence shows that increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet provides vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary for a healthy life. Additionally, grains, at least fifty percent of them whole, as part of the diet may provide protection from several chronic diseases such as cardio vascular disease and diabetes. Whether a member of the LDS Church or not, avoiding tobacco will help in preventing tobacco related cancers of the mouth, throat, lungs and stomach. Finally, alcohol in moderation is acceptable, but can lead to the same affects as heavy drinking, members of the LDS Church have been taught that “strong drinks are not for the belly” (D&C,89:7) allowing them to avoid most of the wreckage alcohol use can cause. Making these simple changes can greatly improve your overall health and decrease the chance of a chronic disease such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Following the “Word of Wisdom” appears to be a plan that has worked well for over 190 years to improve life, health and longevity.

References

Burns, B. & Proctor, W., (2012, March 6). Cigarette Smoke Exposure Greatly Increases Alcohol Consumption in Adolescent C57BL/6 Mice. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(S1), E364–E372. DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01911.x

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)(1998) An Analysis of National Data on the Prevalence of Alcohol Involvement in Crime, Alcohol and Crime, Washington, D.C.

Bushman, B. and Cooper, H (1990). Effects of Alcohol on Human Aggression: An Integrative Research Review. Psychological Bulletin, 107, (3)341-354. Retrieved from http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bbushman/bc90.pdf September 15, 2014

Carlsson, A., Wändell, P., Gigante, B., Leander, K., Hellenius, M., & Faire, U. (2012, Aug 27). Seven modifiable lifestyle factors predict reduced risk for ischemic cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality regardless of body mass index: A cohort study. International Journal of Cardiology, 168(2), 946-952. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.10.045)

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Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2013, p. 154.

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...What is wisdom? I thought wisdom was having a lot of knowledge that could be presented to another person. Or even show someone the tricks of their trade. But true wisdom comes from everyone of us. When we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us. So in Philosophy, Philon means love and Sophia means wisdom, so with that philosophy is essentially love of wisdom. Even though some people are clearly wiser than others. It’s not the same as being smart, skillful, or brave. Even though the combination is nice. In the hindsight, we recognize the foolishness for what it is. As Socrates set off “I went to interview a man with high reputation for wisdom” (Christian). Socrates went out to seek a politician, a poet, and a skilled craftsmen. After interviewing these men whom he thought every one of them to be wise, turns out that all of them were ignorant in the eyes of Socrates. So Socrates investigation revealed that those who claim to have knowledge either doesn’t know anything they claim to know or knows far less then they proclaim to know. So since these people already thought of them self as wise or knowing everything already, then they in the eyes of Socrates they will never want to be wise. “Socrates, we are told that neither suffers from the vice of claiming to know things he does not know, nor the vice claiming to have wisdom when he does not have wisdom” (Ryan). Socrates is considered wise because unlike the others he believes that he......

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Wisdom and Laziness

...Hebrew wisdom teaches that a wise man is one that is diligent with his work and a person that is lazy is a fool. One could say the primary source for Hebrew wisdom is form the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament written by a man who received wisdom from God, King Solomon (2 Chronicles 1:10). There are many themes covered throughout the book of Proverbs, however some of the most prevailing themes are that of wisdom and folly. “The book of Proverbs consistently presents the sluggard as a fool and the diligent person as wise” (Hindson, 2012). The teachings throughout the book of Proverbs show how diligence and laziness correspond with the contrast between wisdom and folly. If a person were to read the book of Proverbs they would not just understand that it is wise to be diligent but also see the rewards promised to them. King Solomon writes that, “ . . . the person in diligence is richly supplied” (Proverbs 13:4), “The plans of the diligent only lead to abundance . . .”(Proverbs 21:5), and “the hand of the diligent enriches.” (Pr. 10:4) (Frank, 2013). Through Solomon God has revealed the blessings that befall a diligent man and shows that he would rather a man be working than not. Being a diligent person will not only yield us fruit in the way of financial blessings but also in other areas of our lives. If we are diligent about the work Christ has left for us in Matthew 28, the great commission, we will be blessed as soul winners. A diligent man is not the only thing...

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Wisdom

...Does Wisdom Come with Old Age? Many centuries ago Sir Francis Bacon (1597) stated “knowledge is power”, and probably many people and scholars believed it is true, as we find some scholars such as (Drahos and Braithwaite 2002; Meredith 2007) who wrote many books and articles related to health and nursing and used such statement as a title. The 2012 American Educational Research Association( AERA) Annual Meeting entitled ““Non Satis Scire: To Know Is Not Enough,” addressed how to take what we know from research and put it to effective (policy and practice) use (Ball 2012). Moreover Hovenic et al (2012) believed only knowledge is not enough to be power. They supported their argument by a survey conducted by the American academy of dermatology that showed “32% of white teenage girls and young women had used a tanning bed in the past year, while 81% had tanned outdoors in the past year. These women stated they do so for cosmetic enhancement, although they are well aware of the associated health risks”. (Hovenic et al 2012). The question that arises is, if to know is not enough, then what is enough? Chavez answered that question by (stating in Ball 2012) “the end of all knowledge should surely be service to others”. Chavez's statement is reflected in the definition of wisdom in the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines wisdom as “the ability to make sensible decisions and give good advice because of the experience and knowledge that you have”.(Oxford University Press 2011)...

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Wisdom

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Wisdom

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