Much of my youth was spent at our ranch/farm, located within one-half mile of the Nevada border in Utah’s west desert. We had no electricity and no indoor plumbing, necessitating old methods of cutting wood for the heater and carrying water in from the well for drinking and culinary purposes. It was a hard but good life, and we always had plenty to eat. We ate the typical cowboy fare, starting with bacon and eggs for breakfast, with an occasional bowl of cereal, and always a plethora of milk. I milked the cow, who was quite generous to us, providing not only milk, but cream and butter, which I often ate by the spoonful.
We did have some healthful foods, since my Dad loved fruit and often would buy cherries, apricots, peaches, watermelon, and apples, and we had some corn, peas and tomatoes from our garden or the gardens of our neighbors who sometimes had surplus.
Every meal contained meat and/or chicken, duck, turkey, fish or other animal food. I killed them, cut them up, put them in a cool area, and sometimes cooked some meals. When Mom was gone for a few weeks to keep her teaching certificate renewed (she taught school in the winter), Dad and I would eat as many as 16 eggs daily, he consuming about 8-10 and I another 6 or so. They were all sloshed liberally with bacon or other meat grease. I feel fortunate to have survived past my teenage years, considering the mountain of animal products along with their cholesterol and saturated fats that went through my digestive and circulatory systems! In spite of the hard ranch work my weight at one time was as high as 217 pounds at a height of 5’10 ½.” I now weigh about 178 pounds and am very muscular for a man of 72 years.
There was always plenty of sunlight, and I loved to soak it up while riding horses or tractors. I realize now that if it had not been for the sunlight I would have been sick much more often. As it was, I was ill much of the winter as I attended school and the hard work moderated. I had every cold and flu that came around. At least, due to my sunlight exposure, I never had any illness in the summer. I later learned that the vitamin D, nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphins, and melatonin that were a result of my early-to-rise habits in the sunlight were protective against myriad maladies, including respiratory ailments.
I attended BYU for many years, and studied exercise science, physical education, and health education. The professors in those days had nothing against eating plenty of meat, sugar, and other undesirable foods. However, I was fortunate that there was an exception. Dr. Garth Fisher and I had a talk about nutrition one day, and he asked me to read a book by Jon Leonard, Jack Hofer, and Nathan Pritikin called Live Longer Now (1974). It was a near-vegan diet, and I didn’t want to believe what I was reading; however, the research seemed irrefutable. That one experience changed the path of my life and my career, and I will always be grateful to Garth for the book.
Pritikin’s books became my guidelines, and as my wife and I started our health and fitness resort business, we mostly adhered to that program, although we offered our guests a choice to be plant-based or to consume two ounces of chicken or fish daily.
Fortunately, another book came into my life called McDougall’s Medicine—A Challenging Second Opinion (1985) by John McDougall, M.D. After perusing that book, I did another paradigm shift and personally became plant-based in my nutrition habits. Still, we allowed the guests the choice of a totally plant-based diet or a very low-fat diet with the small amount of animal products. The results were nearly miraculous. National Institute of Fitness (NIF) was the name of our resort in Saint George, Utah, and during our time in that business, our clients lost over one hundred tons of fat. Two thirds of diabetic guests were free of all medication in less than two weeks, and many others recovered from high cholesterol, hypertension, lupus, arthritis, migraines, asthma, and allergies. The business was consistently ranked as one of the world’s best destination health resorts. NIF was featured in full-page articles in the New York Times, Tokyo Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Las Vegas Review Journal, Singapore Times, and numerous other large newspapers. We had an offer we couldn’t refuse to sell our business to the Franklin Quest Corporation (later Franklin Covey) and accepted.
While studying my scriptures, I began to realize that our entire program was encompassed in the Word of Wisdom. I regret now that we did not go fully plant-based in our program in Saint George. However, we received another chance. A resort in Midway, Utah asked us to establish another health program there. This time we used a totally plant-based diet and the results, person-per-person were even better. Within two years there we were ranked number three in the world by Reader’s Digest.
Here are a few of the results achieved in Midway:
- Mary, UT: lost 12 pounds and 12 inches in 6 days and reversed her inflammatory arthritis.
- DiDi, GA: DiDi was using a walker and cane before she attended the program. In one week, she no longer needed the cane or walker and was able to walk three miles.
- Alan, KS. Alan arrived with diabetes and severe diabetic neuropathy; his feet were so painful that he could not wear socks and shoes. Three weeks later, tears of gratitude poured down his cheeks because, as he said, “my neuropathy is gone.” Alan’s diabetes also disappeared shortly after returning to Kansas.
- Marilyn, UT: Marilyn arrived on medication for both high blood glucose and high blood pressure (hypertension). She was prediabetic, with a fasting blood glucose level of 100-120. In one day, she normalized her level and gave up the diabetes medication. Her sugar level is now 78, which is perfect.
- Debra, VA: In two weeks, Debra reduced her serum cholesterol levels from 204 to 164; her triglycerides dropped from 386 to about 200.
- Joyce, RI: Joyce lowered her blood pressure 31 points systolic and 24 points diastolic.
Perhaps the most impressive result was achieved by Junias from Salt Lake City. Twenty-one years ago, he went in for a check-up with a cardiologist and was told, “You need to have a quadruple bypass tomorrow morning.” Instead, he decided to visit us at our resort (at that time in Saint George, UT). We presented the information regarding the reversal of heart disease, and within a week he was walking the canyon without angina. He called me in late 2012 and said, “I was told to have a quadruple bypass 19 years ago, and never needed to have it.” Junias in now 85 years old.
Though converted to the plant-based diet long ago, these results and thousands of others make me thank God that I was given the understanding on how to make myself and others well. The Word of Wisdom stands on its own without being interpreted. We should not wrest the scriptures. Follow it as written and it will be the best recipe ever for a long and healthy life.
Marc Sorenson is 72 years old and lives in St. George, Utah. He received his doctoral degree from BYU in 1973. He and his wife, Vicki, founded and developed two of the top health resorts in the world where they have helped thousands of clients regain their health. Marc’s book Megahealth was a selection of the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Doubleday Health Book Club. He has also published several other books, has spoken more than 3,000 times in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Italy. He has appeared on many radio and TV programs and conducted his own radio show. In addition to his hobby of English literature, Dr. Sorenson’s favorite activities include studying scripture, traveling with Vicki in Europe and Mexico, playing with the grandchildren, reading medical and nutritional journals, speaking Spanish, hiking on 13,000 foot Mount Wheeler near their Nevada ranch, listening to classical music, attending concerts and theater, cruising, and traveling in Mexico and Europe.