Archive for D&C 89

I believe the Lord intended us to have joy and to be healthy!

Chris DrysdaleBy: Chris Drysdale

Even though I felt I knew quite a bit about nutrition, I was always looking for new information. It wasn’t that I had to lose a lot of weight; I just wanted to be healthier. I was also worried about getting cancer. I had a tumor on my thyroid removed when I was 31 years old. And then at 44 years old I had a tumor removed from a lymph node in my neck. Plus I was hearing of other people passing away too early in their lives from either heart disease or cancer. Last, I was concerned about osteoporosis, which runs in my family.

In studying nutrition, I learned there is a lot of conflicting information out there: carbs are bad, meats are good, etc. But I felt at least semi-educated on nutrition and thought I was a fairly healthy eater. After all, I rarely had fried foods or red meats. But I was eating a lot of lean meats like chicken and fish. The buzz word in nutrition was “protein,” so I would make sure I ate lots of dairy, chicken, and fish.

Just over two years ago, my mom told me about the documentary Forks Over Knives. My husband and I watched it together. After viewing the program I knew I was done eating animal protein. But though I wanted to cut the animal protein out of my diet, I didn’t really know what to eat. A few weeks later I learned about the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. That book really educated me and helped me know what I should be eating. Shortly after that, I was given Jane Birch’s book Discovering the Word of Wisdom.

My eyes were opened after watching Forks Over Knives and reading to Eat to Live, but after reading Jane’s book I realized how this whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet goes right with Heavenly Father’s guidelines and recommendations.

After watching Forks Over Knives, and without having a full understanding of a WFPB diet, we first eliminated meats, dairy, and all animal proteins—cold turkey (pun intended). But, I still didn’t know exactly what to do. We were still eating some processed foods like chips and crackers, and wondering where all my protein was going to come from.

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“I love eating this way. It makes life so simple.”

Perpetue RobertBy: Perpetue Robert Pardieu

All my life my legs and feet have felt really heavy, sometimes swollen, but I never knew why. I remember ten years ago I was praying and asking the Lord for help and He sent me to D&C 89. At that time I learned that meat was to be eaten sparingly, during winter and famine. It was summer, and it was difficult, so I did not follow it. So, I remained with my swollen feet.

In January 2012, I was hit by a car and my kneecap, tibia and femur broke. I had three surgeries and still was having inflammation even though I was taking anti-inflammatory medication. I hit my head during the accident, and I was having panic attacks and anxiety. I felt depressed and overwhelmed often. So, I started doing research because I did not want to be taking pills and become dependent. This is how I heard about alkaline and acid food. I started researching and changed my diet by eating more alkaline, non-hybrid foods. But I got so anxious about everything I was eating that I could not sleep. So, I went to the Lord with that and felt that that kind of anxious spirit doesn’t come from him.

By researching on the Internet, I discovered Jane Birch and the Word of Wisdom diet she writes about. When I read this, I remembered that ten years earlier the Lord had sent me to D&C 89. I automatically knew that what she was saying was a confirmation of what the Lord had told me ten years ago. I stopped eating meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, and most processed food. I now eat extremely little fish and use only a tiny bit of olive or coconut oil once in awhile. Now, the spirit I feel is one of peace instead of being anxious or stressed about food.

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“I remember laughing out loud and jumping for joy”

Cara MappBy: Cara Mapp

For as long as I remember I have struggled with body image issues and a never-ending battle to maintain a weight without struggling to do so. My heaviest weight was 35 pounds over my personal ideal. While seemingly not a huge amount overweight, I will say that I am a petite 5’2 and that as little as 5 pounds gained will affect my wardrobe, believe it or not! For someone of my stature eating the standard American diet is a CONSTANT struggle not to gain. I felt hungry most of the time, and when I did listened to my hunger cues, I put on 10 pounds in an instant. I could not understand why it was such a struggle.

In 2009 I decided to go vegetarian for just a month out of a dare. My brother did not think I could do it and said I was all talk and no game. Naturally I stuck out my chin and clenched my jaw, sibling rivalry at its best. Not only did I prove him wrong, I surprised myself by staying on the diet after a month was up. Something in my mind had triggered. I was looking for real answers now, not just what diet could do for my outward appearance. Questions like “Is there one diet for humans?” “Can diet cure cancer and prevent heart attacks and Alzheimer’s?” and “Did God want us to struggle this much with food?” arose. I was now on a quest. I read everything I could get my hands on to find my answer but found myself reading in circles. There is SO much conflicting information out there that at one point I felt like I had hit a dead end.

In this quest, I HAD concluded that there had to be a diet that ALL humans could thrive on because I felt that God did not want us diet obsessed, fat and sick. Life is so much more. These bodies are gifts and it just did not make sense for there to be this much struggle. Yet I could not seem to find the answer.

Soon after my husband and I got married, we decided to try and start a family. After a year of no luck, even after being on hormone treatment, we went to see a fertility specialist. In 2013 I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). I had irregular periods, as long as 60 days and sometimes none at all. Overall I was hormonally imbalanced. Yet again, I was frustrated with my body and hated that I had to be medicated in order for my body to function properly. Luckily for me I was already on a path that would not only heal my body, but heal my relationship with it as well.

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“I can’t believe the energy I have and how good I feel”

Brian and Tammi SevyBy: Brian Sevy

I knew I was clearly on the wrong course when a physician friend of mine pulled me aside at church, expressed concern about the way I looked, and point-blank asked me if I had cancer. This conversation occurred about 4 and a half years ago. A few months before that I had been increasingly concerned about my health. I was overweight and under a lot of professional stress. I generally didn’t feel good. At times I felt bad enough that I knew I needed to make some changes in order to avert a health crisis.

Based on a flawed assumption that my problems would go away if I just lost weight, I embarked on one of the high animal protein diets. I lost weight quickly, but I felt worse and developed a gaunt look. Other friends pulled me aside and ask if the weight loss was intentional, implying that I might be afflicted with a serious health issue.

As I contemplated what to do next, my daughter stumbled across a documentary called Forks over Knives. She and I had done the animal protein diet together and were both so tired of eating meat that the idea of vegetables sounded very refreshing. This documentary, and my personal research that followed, was life changing. The scientific and clinical evidence gathered over decades by Drs. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, and others was irrefutable. I have always considered myself analytical by nature, and so I was surprised and shocked to discover how thoroughly I had been duped.

In reviewing the research on causal links between animal-based foods and a host of chronic diseases, I was forced to consider the reality of my situation and the damage I had most likely done to my body over the years. My grandfather died of heart disease at an early age — only a few years older than my age at the time. The beautiful thing about this research, especially Dr. Esselstyn’s clinical work, is the evidence that a plant-based diet would not only stop the progression of these lurking chronic conditions but that it would actually reverse them.

As I connected the dots, I realized that this way of eating would not only improve the quality of my life but that it could actually extend it. Tammi and I have been blessed with a wonderful family. We are all very close and being with our family is our greatest joy. At the point I was contemplating this shift to a whole food plant-based lifestyle, I thought of our first grandchild who was about a month away from being born. My grandfather passed away when I was only 3 years old and so I really didn’t get to know him. I felt like I had been given an opportunity for a different course and a different outcome.

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“He was not hiding it”

Katie Johnson FamilyBy: Katie Johnson

Since becoming a new mother in 2003, I began to develop a passion for nutrition and healthy cooking. I tried hard to teach and feed my family good and healthy things. Over the years, I learned to make homemade wheat bread and enjoyed taking healthy recipes and adapting them to make them even healthier. I didn’t, however, fully adopt all the things I was learning and often fell back into the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). Through much of my own personal study, as well as trial and error, I learned many good nutritional principles but with this also came “the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.” While I see that I’ve been guided line upon line, I can see more clearly that it all was meant to come together to ultimately teach me light and truth.

Health trials

During the time of having our family, I began to develop anxiety and post-partum depression. I soon found that having a family was taking its toll on my body and my emotions. Pregnancies were accompanied by weight gain and hormone changes. Weight gain called for dieting and weight loss, finances caused stress, motherhood brought time constraints, and being a support to my husband through school taxed my mind, body, and spirit. I spent many years struggling with whether I should take medication to help alleviate the stress and just put up with the accompanying side effects. I decided that I was not willing to deal with those side effects and preferred to seek more natural ways of coping, such as yoga and vitamin supplements. Throughout the years, I also rode a giant roller coaster of different fad diets, including several versions of the oh-so-loved “high-protein, low-carb” diets.

In early 2011, I was 29, had born three children, had struggled through years of schooling for my husband, and we were now embarking on opening our own law practice in the worst economy since the Great Depression. It was then that I discovered a lump on my right breast. Shortly afterwards, my OBGYN also discovered that I had an ovarian cyst. I was terrified and knew some things with my health just were not right. I received a breast exam, and I was told I needed an ultrasound to check for cancer.

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“I wanted revelation like unto Daniel”

Karmel Larson FamilyBy: Karmel Larson

I have discovered a powerful pattern in my life. I ask God questions, and he gives me answers. If I obey those answers, he gives me more. Line upon line, precept upon precept, he has led me down an exciting path of self discovery, self improvement and understanding. I find that the more quickly I obey and comply, the more abundantly the flow of knowledge and revelation comes to me.

Daniel, of the Old Testament, was rewarded by his obedience to God by receiving the gift of revelation. His power to receive revelation was so great that he did not even need to have Nebuchadnezzar’s dream told to him in order to give the interpretation. God, through revelation, gave him direct and pure knowledge of the dream and its interpretation.

I was seeking this kind of access to revelatory knowledge. I wanted revelation like unto Daniel. I wanted to know what was required of me to be worthy of pure knowledge. I wanted access to the mysteries of the kingdom. I knew that it was possible, and I wanted to know what I should refine in myself to be worthy of that gift and privilege.

In 2010 I took this question to the Lord. In response, all of my prayers guided me to a need for “physical change,” but I didn’t know how or what to do with those impressions.

I set a goal to attend the temple weekly. This period of weekly attendance also overwhelmingly directed me to physical change. Here are some of my impressions, promptings, and experiences on different visits, as recorded in a notebook that I take with me to the temple each week: Read More→

“I was thrilled with how smooth the transition was”

Ashley ParkinsonBy: Ashley Parkinson

I have loved nutrition and healthy eating for years. I have tried so many eating styles because I was curious to see if they felt right for our family. My driving force in searching for a healthy diet was really all about my children. I wanted to make sure that I was nourishing them with the best nutrition. I researched a lot of different eating philosophies, each one promising to be healthier than the last. We would test these eating styles out to see if we felt they were truly impacting our family for the best. We tried vegetarian, raw food, vegan, and of course lapses into the standard American diet in between. As we tested each eating style, we felt that they bounced from one extreme to the other. Our home base for nutrition was always the Word of Wisdom, and though some eating styles came close, none quiet meshed with the revelation given in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

I studied the Word of Wisdom with a lot of effort, trying to make heads or tails of all the information within the scriptures with all the contradictory eating habits so prevalent around us. I wanted something that was modern, current, and avoided large portions of meat, eggs, dairy, etc. I was impressed when I learned of The China Study because it was more in line with the expectations I had for an ideal explanation of a balanced diet. In his extensive research, Dr. Campbell describes a direct correlation between health and nutrition and sheds a lot of light on the value of plant-based eating. I started looking for a book that merges the principles of The China Study with the revelations in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

I came upon Jane Birch’s amazing book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom, when I was doing a search for any new books on the topic that I hadn’t seen before. I was curious after seeing so many positive reviews and checking out her beautiful website, and I wanted to read her take on some questions I had about milk, eggs, and things of that nature.

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“An 1833 Guide for the Prevention of Heart Disease” by Ray G. Cowley (1969)

From Word of Wisdom Literature by Jane Birch. See also: Discovering the Word of Wisdom Pioneers: A Heart Attack Proof Diet

Ray G. Cowley, M.D “An 1833 Guide for the Prevention of Heart Disease,” Improvement Era (August 1969), pp. 60-63.

Cowley Article

The blood of man, which delivers oxygen and nutrition to billions of body cells, requires an unfailing propulsion source to drive it through the many miles of blood channels of its never-ceasing circulatory route. This driving force, the human heart, is a complex dual circuit pump with unidirectional valves that is responsive on an instant’s notice to every body need.

In addition to this rapidly responsive capability, durability of an unbelievable degree is required for the span of a lifetime. Yet the healthy heart has these qualities in surplus amounts. The pump action is provided by muscles that contract forcefully and rhythmically under the influence of self-generated electrical impulses. Provide these heart muscles with sufficient oxygen and proper nutrients via a good blood supply, and, in the absence of chance disease or injury they will outlast average life span today.

The blood flow to heart muscles is through coronary arteries originating directly from the large aorta. These are the first arteries supplied by freshly oxygenated and nutritionally renewed blood. If the heart’s blood supply is diminished slightly, it cannot respond maximally to stress. If it is diminished more, severe disability and painful angina pectoris or failure may ensue.

If it is cut off completely, the heart muscles in the deprived area will die, and if the whole person survives, they are replaced by functionless scar tissue.

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Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Discovering Joy!

by Jane Birch

This article is the first in an on-going series in Meridian Magazine on Discovering the Word of Wisdom. To view all the articles in this series, see “Discovering the Word of Wisdom.”

MM_Discovernig Joy Woman

In a church chock full of commandments, the occasional “freebie”—something totally easy to obey—is especially welcome. As a lifelong member of the Church, that is how I viewed the Word of Wisdom. I was sure I had it down pat. I’ve never even been tempted by a forbidden substance.

Then suddenly, without warning, my understanding of the Word of Wisdom was almost instantly transformed, and I discovered there is so much more to this wise counsel than I had ever learned in Primary. As a result, I have also discovered the joy of fully embracing all of God’s counsel.

A “Heart-Attack Proof” Diet

My enlightenment took place early one Saturday morning in August 2011, when I happened to hear Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigating a “heart-attack proof” diet on CNN. I had no risk factors for heart disease or any other chronic disease, but I was intrigued by the thought that the #1 killer in America could be stopped dead in its tracks through proper diet. I had to learn more.

I went straight to work, digging up facts on the diet, which was described as “whole food, plant-based.” It quickly became clear that it was not as outrageous, and was even more powerful, than I first thought. Not only is the diet known to prevent and reverse heart disease, it has also proven effective in preventing and reversing many of the other chronic diseases we’ve just assumed would strike most of us at some point or other, such as diabetes, strokes, digestive disorders, obesity, and many cancers.[1]

Chronic Disease Is Largely Preventable

There they were: study after study demonstrating that most chronic diseases are not the inevitable fate of the human race, but rather the natural consequence of what we put into our mouths every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This information was new to me. If most disease is preventable, why do more than 90 million Americans live with chronic illness, which accounts for 70 percent of deaths and 75 percent of medical care costs? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that

Chronic diseases—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S. . . . 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases.[2]

Note the top three causes of death in America:

  1. Tobacco use
  2. Poor diet and physical inactivity
  3. Alcohol consumption[3]

Latter-day Saints have #1 and #3 down pretty well, but despite the wisdom revealed in D&C 89, can anyone argue our diet is significantly better than the average American’s? We certainly enjoy lower rates of many diseases, thanks to not using alcohol and tobacco, but our rate of some diet-related diseases like diabetes appears to be higher,[4] and our obesity rate is significantly higher.[5] If we adopted a healthier Word of Wisdom-based diet and increased our physical activity, might we be equally protected against many more diseases?

Faint echoes of the promises in the Word of Wisdom began to emerge:

I, the Lord, give unto them [all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings] a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. (D&C 89:18, 21)

More on this later . . .

What Is a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet?

The whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet I discovered on CNN is simple, yet dramatically different from my daily fare at the time. “Plant-based” means foods from plants rather than animals. “Whole foods” are plants as they are when they are harvested from the ground or the trees, before they are transformed in factories into highly processed substances never seen on a farm.

Here are the three main principles of a whole food, plant-based diet:

1. Whole, relatively non-processed plants are the foundation of good health. They are the powerhouses of nutrition, beautifully designed to fuel our bodies.

2. Animal foods are not needed for nutritional purposes and unavoidably contain substances that can be harmful. They should be kept to a minimum, if eaten at all, for optimal health.

3. The bulk of our calories should come from starchy plants, which are primarily grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, rice, and millet. These are the foods that have fueled large, healthy populations throughout history.[6]

If this diet sounds dramatic, consider that eating this way can eliminate up to 80-90 percent of all chronic disease. Is suffering from heart disease, diabetes, or a stroke any less “dramatic”? Would eating a diet that helps us achieve optimal health and our ideal weight, and that protects us from most chronic disease, not be worth some effort?

Evidence the Diet Works

If I was going to change my diet, I wanted solid evidence that a whole food, plant-based plan would deliver. Here are just a few of the facts I found compelling:

  • In populations of the world (past and present) where the food is generally whole food, plant-based, the incidence of non-communicable chronic disease is ridiculously low.
  • People who move from such areas of the world to the U.S. and adopt a more American diet start to develop the same chronic diseases as Americans. The same thing is happening to entire nations as they introduce more meat, dairy, and processed foods into their diets. Clearly, genes alone do not determine our health.
  • Cardiovascular injury can be scientifically measured after only one fat-filled American meal. Imagine the damage done by three meals a day, 365 days a year! Scientists tell us that even our children now show early signs of beginning cardiovascular disease.
  • People with chronic disease who adopt a WFPB diet quickly experience dramatic changes in their health and are often able to dispense with former medications and recover their vitality.
  • Even people with advanced chronic disease are able to halt, and in many cases reverse, the progression of disease when adopting a WFPB diet. No other diet, for example, has been proven to have this effect on cardiovascular disease.[7]

Connection to the Word of Wisdom 

As impressive as all of the foregoing was, the clincher for me was opening the Doctrine and Covenants to section 89 and re-reading those familiar verses. After understanding the power of a WFPB diet, I found myself reading this section with a very different perspective. To my amazement, I realized the Word of Wisdom also consists of three simple dietary principles, principles that precisely parallel the three WFPB principles listed above:

1. “All wholesome herbs [i.e., plants] God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving” (vss. 10, 11, emphasis added).

I guess I had never thought about the word “wholesome” or considered that the intense modern processing of plants, which strips them of many of their nutrients, may not be what the Lord has in mind. Stripping plants of their nutrients does not sound very prudent.

2. “Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is PLEASING unto me that they should NOT be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” (vss. 12, 13, emphasis added).

Oh yes, I had seen these verses before, but since no one ever talked about them, I assumed they could be safely ignored. But why exactly would I want to ignore something that “pleases” the Lord?

3. “All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger” (vss. 14, 15).

In a day when grains, particularly wheat, are under a surprising amount of criticism, I’m thankful for the Lord’s words to help evaluate the evidence. I also noticed the additional emphasis on saving animal flesh for times of need: “only in times of famine and excess of hunger.” I wondered why the clarity of this phrase had never struck me before.

In short, I was impressed by the discovery that the diet modern science shows can prevent and reverse chronic disease is the very diet the Lord gave to Joseph Smith in 1833!

MM_Discovernig Joy_Planting TomatoesI Make My Decision

My study of the health benefits of a WFPB diet and the way it amazingly matches the counsel in the Word of Wisdom had a powerful impact on me. I can well remember the impression that came to my mind: “This is the way we humans are supposed to be eating. I had better eat this way.” If people had told me I would someday be convinced to give up all junk food, much less animal foods, I would have thought they were crazy. The strange thing is, this change of diet turned out to be no sacrifice at all. I can testify that changing my diet has been one of the most joyful adventures I have ever experienced.

Although I didn’t have any serious diet-related health issues when I started this new way of eating, the change in my health was nonetheless dramatic (at least to me). First, I quickly lost all of the remaining excess weight I had put on since high school (some 25 pounds). My total cholesterol went from a borderline 199 to 130 (a level at which heart disease is practically non-existent). In addition, all of the small, annoying health issues I’d simply dealt with disappeared (good riddance)! I felt great, I enjoyed plenty of energy, and I finally began sleeping well. Beyond these physical blessings, however, I am even more grateful for the distinct spiritual blessings I have received—including a much greater appreciation for this beautiful earth our Savior created, an enhanced receptivity to the Spirit, and a marked increase in feelings of peace and joy.

Two Meanings of the Phrase “Word of Wisdom”

I feel I should break here to make an important clarification. I realize now from experience that some people feel threatened by the idea that a careful reading of D&C 89 might suggest they may not be “keeping the Word of Wisdom” after all, so I need to be clear: I think it means nothing of the sort!

We commonly use the phrase “Word of Wisdom” in two very distinct ways in the Church. The first is plainly the most important. Our Church leaders have determined that the standard of worthiness for keeping the Word of Wisdom is abstaining from all alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and harmful drugs. I fully sustain this standard, and I want to be clear that I believe anyone abstaining from these substances is fully keeping the Word of Wisdom and is fully worthy of the privileges contingent on obedience to this important commandment.

But there is a second way we commonly use the phrase “Word of Wisdom” in the Church, and that is in reference to the entire text of section 89 in the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains much more wisdom, advice, and blessings than are covered in the few prohibitions. This is the meaning of the phrase “Word of Wisdom” I’m using in this article.

Who May Benefit from This Counsel?

If you are fully satisfied with the blessings you have obtained by obeying the Word of Wisdom according to the Church’s worthiness standard, and if you are fully satisfied with your health and do not anticipate having to deal with any of the chronic diseases that can make life so very challenging, this article may not be useful to you.

This article is for those who desire increased physical or spiritual blessings and are intrigued by the amazing promises given in D&C 89, promises that pertain to following all of the wise counsel in this beautiful section. These other verses may not be “commandments,” but we don’t need to be commanded in all things in order to receive blessings; we can do things of our own free will (see D&C 58:26-27). I simply offer some ideas to consider.

I am not suggesting that every Mormon must be vegetarian, nor would I ever insist anyone must abstain from all meat and processed foods. That is a personal decision each person must consider, given our own understanding of what is appropriate. It is not our place to judge one another or to forbid anyone from eating certain foods (see also 1 Timothy 4:3; D&C 49:18; and Romans 14). God does not forbid us from eating meat. In fact, He has ordained the flesh of animals for our use—but only under certain circumstances.

If it is pleasing to Him that we reserve the consumption of meat for times of need, perhaps we should carefully consider what compelling reason would we have to do otherwise.

Are We Claiming All of the Blessings of the Word of Wisdom?

Hugh Nibley once declared, “On the whole, the Seventh-Day Adventists are better keepers of the Word of Wisdom than we are.”[8] Indeed, Mormons are often compared to Adventists because both groups are urged to avoid alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. But in addition, Adventists are encouraged (not commanded) to be vegetarian, and about a third eat a plant-based diet. Many other Adventists eat meat more sparingly than Mormons, who, by and large, are meat eaters. Our meat consumption, in fact, is comparable to that of the general population.[9]

As a consequence, where both religious groups enjoy significant health blessings, the vegetarian Adventists are significantly healthier and live longer than meat-eating Mormons.[10] Could it be that the Adventists not only live the Word of Wisdom better than we do but are also enjoying more of its promised blessings?

President Spencer W. Kimball stated, “We believe that the Lord, when he gave the Word of Wisdom, was speaking to all the people in the world.”[11] The Adventists are not the only ones leading out in eating a Word of Wisdom diet. Many other people, religious or not, have also switched to a WFPB diet and are reaping related blessings.

Where are the Mormons in all of this? Having received the Lord’s counsel in 1833, we should be as well ahead of the world in sound dietary practices as we are in other dimensions of our religion. Instead, we (or at least, I) have had to be taught by those outside of the Church to realize what a treasure we have in D&C 89! Experts like Colin Campbell, John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, Neal Barnard, Hans Diehl, and Caldwell Esselstyn are among those who can teach us quite a bit about the principles found in the Word of Wisdom.

Mormons Waking Up to the Word of Wisdom 

Since changing my diet, I have shared my re-discovery of the Word of Wisdom with hundreds of other Latter-day Saints and have seen the light turn on for many of them as well. When I introduce a WFPB diet to Mormons, I don’t even need to mention the Word of Wisdom; they get the connection.

Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch

Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch

In late 2013, I published a book detailing my experience: Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (see the first two chapters of the book here).[12] In the course of writing this book, I solicited stories from other Latter-day Saints who are converts to a WFPB diet. As the stories poured in, I could see that the WFPB way of life has begun to impact the Mormon community. I feel great joy in witnessing what is happening as Mormons “wake up” to the Word of Wisdom. I am now featuring their stories on a website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom.

Discovering Joy!

Yes, we live in a Church chock full of commandments. But we know that God’s commandments, far from restricting our freedom, are the doorway to the greatest freedom—and joy! The Lord tells us that the faithful and diligent will be “crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few” (D&C 59:4). Why would we want to ignore any of the Lord’s counsel and miss out on any of His precious blessings?

I testify that heeding the counsel in D&C 89 brings marvelous blessings. We have the Lord’s promise that those who obey this counsel and walk in obedience to all of the commandments,

. . . shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. (D&C 89:18-21)

I should have known that a Church so blessed with commandments needs no freebies!

Jane Birch is the author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (2013) and many articles on the Word of Wisdom. She can be contacted on her website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom.

To view all the articles in this series, see “Discovering the Word of Wisdom.”


[1] T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health (Dallas: Benbella, 2006).

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion,” August 13, 2013. (Emphasis added to the quote.)

[3] Ali H. Mokdad, James S. Marks, Donna F. Stroup, and Julie L. Gerberding, “Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000,” Journal of the American Medical Association 291, no. 10 (2004): 1238–1245.

[4] Sterling C. Hilton, Ray M. Merrill, and Jared D. Sturgeon. “Comparison of Causes of Death During 1994–1998 Between LDS and non-LDS in Utah.” Utah’s Health: An Annual Review 2000–2001 7 (2000): 39–49.

[5] Philip Mason, Xiaohe Xu, and John Bartkowski, “The Risk of Overweight and Obesity Among Latter-Day Saints,” Review of Religious Research 55, no. 1 (March 2013): 131–147.

[6] John A. McDougall, The Starch Solution (New York: Rodale, 2012).

[7] Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (New York: Avery, 2007).

[8] Hugh Nibley, “Word of Wisdom: Commentary on D&C 89,” 1979.

[9] Lester E. Bush, Jr. Health and Medicine among the Latter-day Saints (New York: Crossroad, 1993), 67.

[10] See the series of studies cited in “Do Vegetarians Live Longer Than Health Conscious Omnivores?” (February 2014).

[11] Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?” Ensign (May 1975): 4.

[12] Jane Birch, Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (Provo, UT: Fresh Awakenings, 2013).

Meridian Magazine – “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” series by Jane Birch

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Disclaimer: The first 20 articles were written before Meridian updated their site in Nov. 2014. When these articles were converted to the new site, many small, random formatting errors were introduced. Please ignore these errors and enjoy the articles. I welcome feedback on the content!

See also: Articles and audio by Jane Birch on the Word of Wisdom and WFPB nutrition.

Discovering the Word of Wisdom Basics

Discovering Joy!

The Flesh of Beasts, Part I

The Flesh of Beasts, Part II

Where Do You Get Your Protein?

Wholesome Herbs and Every Fruit

Food Addiction

Healthy Fats & Vegetable Oils

All Grain Is Good

The Danger of Displacing Grain

Wheat for Man

What About Dairy and Eggs?

Commonly Asked Questions

Word of Wisdom: Why Aren’t We Told How to Eat?

LDS Leaders on the Word of Wisdom

Why the Preoccupation with the Prohibitions? Read More→