Archive for The China Study

“I kept questioning why I was led to this way of eating”

By: Brittney Fairbourn

Ever since college, I have steadily pursued information about healthy eating (all while eating pretty terribly). I started with a small goal to drink more water during the day. Almost anything was better than what I was doing. I got pretty good at drinking water, and it became my primary source of hydration. I slowly changed my diet over time to include whole grains and more fruits and vegetables as I read about the benefits they provide.

While nursing my third baby, who had terrible reflux, I tried quitting dairy to lessen her misery. Letting go of some foods (milk) were easier than others (cheese, chocolate, and ice cream). I wasn’t perfect at it, but this ban on dairy gave me a small success that helped my journey; I proved to myself that it was possible to change my diet in a way that seemed absolutely impossible at the outset.

Around the same time, I started to study the Word of Wisdom. I was struck by all the counsel I had missed. Most of all, my eyes were opened when I learned that God is pleased when we do not use animals for food.

The sanctity of animal life had never crossed my mind before, but now I realized every creature’s life has value. I realized that if I do eat animals, I need to be much more grateful for the life that was given so I could have that meal. I also realized that if I were required to butcher my own animals, you can bet I would hardly ever have meat.

I started to eat less meat and bought less for my family. I didn’t really have a desire to eat it anymore, but I wasn’t sure how to cook without it either. So I started cooking dairy-rich meals to fill the meat void.

About a year ago, I chose to read The China Study for a book club. This book changed me. The strong correlation between consumption of animal products and incidence of chronic illness, especially cancer, really stood out to me. Eating plants to prevent all types of illness made a lot of sense. All those “Milk does a body good” ads came to my mind, and I felt sad that Americans have been lied to for so many years. Everything I read in the book made me think about the Word of Wisdom.

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“It makes me so happy to only eat plants!”

Laurie Hoer Hiking in PatagoniaBy: Laurie Hoer

As I write this, I have just completed hiking 156 miles (carrying a 25 lb backpack) through and around Patagonia in less than two weeks. Last year I climbed Kilimanjaro, and each day I hike 2.5 miles up a mountain outside our Utah home with 1700 feet in elevation gain. Not bad for a 56-year-old! Proof that eating a whole food, plant-based diet not only provides enough protein but enough fantastic energy to fuel my whole life!

My journey to a plant-based lifestyle began with a natural interest in nutrition and a desire to find out the healthiest way to eat. I grew up in a weight-conscious family where being thin was the goal, but how to achieve this in a healthy way eluded me. I remember following my parents as they tried the Atkins diet, the grapefruit diet, Weight Watchers, and other low calorie plans. Each new eating program usually only lasted a short time and were followed by bouts of overeating (usually junk food) when I got too hungry and fed up to continue. During the last 2 years of high school and first year of college, I really struggled with disordered eating and my weight fluctuated 20 pounds a couple of times a year during this time. Not feeling in control over this aspect of my life really made it difficult for me to feel the Spirit or to feel good about myself. There truly is a connection between feeling good physically and feeling good spiritually and having good self-esteem.

After I got married, my husband and I moved to Xian, China in 1982. It was the first time I encountered really thin, healthy, active people. They ate primarily a whole foods, plant-based diet (with relatively small amounts of animal products). I was so surprised to see tiny women literally inhale huge bowls of rice! With absolutely no processed foods available, people snacked on whole sweet potatoes, ears of corn and sunflower seeds in the shell. Could it be that what I’d been told my whole life—that eating lots of carbs would lead to weight gain—was wrong? This started me on a quest to find out how we are meant to eat. I studied nutrition books and tried to discover “the best” eating plan, but my search was frustrating because there seemed to be no consensus on how humans should eat. There truly could not be a more confusing topic than nutrition! Read More→

“As a radiologist, I had seen fatty plaque clogging critical arteries”

Chad Harston familyBy: Chad Harston, MD

Our C-130 transport plane touched down in the middle of the night at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. It was 2010, and I had been deployed to Iraq to take part in Operation New Dawn ordered by President Obama. I was part of the crew responsible to keep the base hospital operational during the orderly withdrawal of US Forces. After a few hours of sleep I rolled out of my bunk, put on my battle dress uniform and made my way to the hospital in the 120 degree July heat for my first day of work. An NCO issued me a firearm and another checked my gas mask and chemical protection gear. I sat down to start reading radiographs, CT scans, and ultrasounds generated from combat traumas as well as routine cases like twisted ankles, kidney stones, and pneumonias. At first I only had to work 12 hour shifts 7 days per week. The base was large with over 30,000 military troops and contractors when I arrived, but most of the soldiers were healthy and combat injuries were diminishing every month as more and more troops were sent home.

When the trauma work was light in the middle of the night I finally had time to myself. The frantic demands on my time that I had been dealing with for nearly 20 years came to a sudden halt. After all those years of working and studying 80 – 100+ hours per week, suddenly I found that I had time to ponder life and study whatever interested me. I also wanted to use some of my free time to get in better shape. Fortunately, the Iraqi army had left a swimming pool when they turned over the base to the US Air Force, and the base commander had made it a priority to acquire gym equipment for the troops. After a night shift I enjoyed going to pool or the gym for a morning workout. The only inconvenience was the frequent C-RAM siren indicating incoming rockets and mortars. This required us to jump out of the pool and run for cover. I planned out an ambitious exercise regimen, but as the weeks went on I didn’t lose weight or feel stronger. In fact, I felt progressively worse. I was following the usual fitness precepts: alternating weight lifting and cardio while eating large amounts of protein — mostly meat, eggs, and dairy. Yet somehow my weight was going up while my stamina was going down.

Finally, my frustration reached a peak one night when I couldn’t even jog a slow mile on the lonely treadmill in the hospital basement without feeling exhausted. I walked back through the dark empty halls to my office and opened my scriptures to a well-known passage: Doctrine and Covenants Section 89. Read More→

“Good health can be one of the hidden treasures from God”

Craig and Tussy Norman, 2015By: Tussy Norman

At the age of 36, shortly after moving with my husband’s job transfer from southern California to Houston, Texas, I began experiencing bloody diarrhea and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I was given a drug to take but not any dietary advice other than if a food upset my system, to avoid eating it. Soon all my symptoms disappeared, and I was glad to put that experience in my past and not think about it.

I had grown up in west Texas eating fried chicken, fried potatoes, fried okra, bologna and Miracle Whip sandwiches on white bread, Pop Tarts, and all the other things we kids in the ’60’s and ’70’s ate. Missionaries brought the gospel to my family when I was 10, and my parents immediately stopped smoking, drinking tea, coffee, and beer, and we became devoted members of the Church.

Attending BYU in 1976 was a dream come true for me, and I discovered a whole new cuisine which seemed to consist of casseroles made with cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, dainty crescent rolls made with an incredible amount of margarine, and of course Jell-O! My husband Craig, from southern California, and I were married in 1980. He had definite likes and dislikes in food choices, and of course I wanted to please him, so most of our dinners were a variation on ground beef: spaghetti, tacos, beef stroganoff over rice, chili, etc. Of course we didn’t know much about nutrition beyond making sure to eat enough protein. We definitely did that.

My husband was transferred a couple of times with work and each time we moved, I experienced a flare of ulcerative colitis, but with treatment I would get well, then go for years without symptoms.

After our four children were grown, Craig and I had the privilege of serving a mission in the same place he had served as a young man: Hong Kong. I had never worked outside our home so serving in the busy office of the Asia Area presidency was a challenge, but it was rewarding, and the time we spent with the other couples in the office was wonderful. However, I began having symptoms of ulcerative colitis again.

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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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“I asked the Lord for a definitive answer”

Mignon ProbstBy: Mignon Probst

Weight loss was not a driving factor in my change of diet. Just under 5’8″ my top weight was 155 pounds, but I typically kept it in the mid 140’s. It was my belief that as we age, our metabolism slows down and weight gain is inevitable. I was married to a dairy/cattle farmer (he has since gotten out of the dairy business, but still raises a few cows) so those foods were a huge part of our family diet and we loved the foods we ate.

There were two reasons I was searching for a better way of eating. Firstly, in my early forties, my doctor began talking to me about my unfavorable lipid count. For two or three years I tried to get my cholesterol under 200 and lower my lipids without prescription medications, trying many different “low fat” diets. None were successful. In years past, my father had a quadruple bypass surgery in his mid fifties after suffering a mild heart attack. Father took a regimen of pills for the remainder of his life and suffered the side effects of them. I began to believe bad genetics had sealed my fate and was fearful that ill health would limit my ability in future years to serve a senior couple mission, which had long been my desire.

Secondly, I was very troubled with the idea of being reliant upon prescription medications to sustain life. I worried that a time might come when I could not obtain medications. What then? I find it paradoxical in our LDS culture of preparedness that we spend a great deal of money and effort to store food and other necessities, yet may have only a three month supply of life sustaining drugs at any given time for conditions brought upon us by consuming the “king’s meat” (see Daniel 1:5) and other rich foods. So of what personal value is our home storage beyond that? I am satisfied that self-reliance not only includes gathering and storing, but decreasing/eliminating the need for prescription medications. I believe that after having done all we can do, we might more confidently call upon the Lord’s healing power for conditions beyond our control.

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“I gave it a three-month trial”

Elon MangelsonBy: Elon Mangelson

My dad was a wonderful gardener. I grew up eating crisp fresh radishes, tender green onion, luscious red ripe tomatoes (my favorite), and many other earth jewels that sprang up under his watchful eye. We had a chicken coop full of chickens who supplied our eggs and a cow or two that lived out back and gifted us with rich creamy milk for our growing family, which eventually swelled to 11 of us including mom and dad.

Our diet was composed of mostly clean, homegrown unadulterated food. My dad was always telling us that we should eat meat sparingly, in times of cold and famine. The usual pattern was to eat vegetables with boiled potatoes and milk gravy made with a browned flour rue or vegetable soup and other variations during the week. Then our meat meal was reserved for Sunday dinner.

I don’t exactly know how my dad got to be such an unrelenting advocate of what he considered healthy eating. He became the real food police. No black pepper in the house since it was hard on the lining of the stomach. Mustard was questionable. No double desserts for birthdays, only cake but no ice cream—already too much sugar. No added sugar in the hot cereal we ate each morning. Deep fried foods were another no no. Some unexplained disappearances of sweets were solved when one day we found a half eaten cake, dry and hard, safely hidden in Dad’s dresser drawer.

After graduating with a PhD in biochemistry and nutrition, Dad could lay claim to being a real professional. He became a much sought after public speaker on the Word of Wisdom and its implications for everyday eating habits. He delved into the parts of the Word of Wisdom that many had not even considered before. I emerged from all this with a pretty healthful attitude toward food and respect for trying to eat well.

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“I am 81, and my wife is 79”

Cy and Pat WelchBy: Cy Welch

My name is Cy Welch. My wife is Pat Welch. I am 81, and my wife is 79.

When I read “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” by Jane Birch on Meridian Magazine, it rang a bell with me. I was struggling with the normal health problems of aging, such as lack of mobility, some arthritis, enlarged prostate (BPH), hypertension, hearing problems, and lack of strength. My wife is diabetic, arthritic, has fallen many times over the years, has hearing problems, and lots of migraine headaches, etc.

After I read a couple of the articles on “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” on the Internet, I bought the book and started the transition to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating. It has been an interesting journey to say the least. I also bought and read The China Study as recommended by Jane. It connected the dots for me on health problems we were dealing with and just made sense. We went on a two-week vacation about this time while making the transition and found out just how difficult it can be to find food which supports the WFPB lifestyle on the fly so to speak. We did the best we could and are now about 90% changed over to WFPB.

One of the first benefits I noticed was my mobility began to return. I used to be fairly flexible, but I slowly lost my flexibility over the years. I am now flexible enough to get in and out of the van without bumping my head on the top of the door opening. I feel almost twenty years younger. I’m also slowly losing weight, although I wasn’t much over weight. I have much greater flexibility, strength and endurance.

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“When I was 28 years old, I was told I had cancer”

James Max ChristensenBy: James Max Christensen

After I married in 2005, I asked my wife, “Where is the meat?” I wanted meat with every meal because that is how I grew up. My loving wife graciously accommodated me. She is so kind and understanding. . . . but now she makes every meal without meat for me!

My patriarchal blessing talks about the Word of Wisdom. I have never smoked, never drank alcohol, tea, nor coffee, and never done drugs. I played on my high school basketball team and exercised quite often while trying to be healthy and eat my vegetables. But when I was 28 years old, I was told I had cancer. This started my quest to be healthy and whole, to understand the counsel in my patriarchal blessing and to better follow the Word of Wisdom. I started studying the Word of Wisdom in depth because I want to embrace the truth and obey all of God’s commands.

In 2011, through a series of many unordinary events, such as taking a day off of work to attend a seminar an hour away from home because I felt a strong spiritual prompting to do so, I met someone that did not eat meat. He told me that he chooses not to eat meat because he read a book called The China Study. At first, I was kind of afraid to know what the book might say, but I decided that I wanted to know the truth, even if that meant giving up something I loved. The title seemed intriguing, so I checked it out from the library. It changed my life forever.

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