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The Word of Wisdom Applied
by Anne Zapf

In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation-- All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground. . . Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; and these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. —from Section 89

When Matthew and I first came to the Church we had very little experience maintaining vehicles and land.  We often ignorantly neglected a minor maintenance need which usually became, for us, a major repair job.  Most memorable are the winter missions to deliver Mana* pottery to Northern Arizona and New Mexico gift shops.      One time the radiator was damaged because we had neglected to put in antifreeze. Something that should have been a matter of maintenance became a major repair.  We learned the hard way from this and other experiences that preventive maintenance was much better for our vehicle and the checkbook than roadside repairs.

Our bodies are human "machines" which also need to be maintained.  Just as the truck needed to have its oil checked and antifreeze put in the radiator, so our bodies need to be nourished every day.  The guiding words in Section 89 of the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants or Word of Wisdom, tell us how to prevent costly hospital repairs.

The manifestation of illness is often the body’s way of dealing with toxic overload, and should be taken as a warning that something about our lifestyle and diet is harming us.  There are no "miracle drugs." Pharmaceutical companies distribute many experimental as well as time tested drugs.  A physician may prescribe one of these drugs and a temporary improvement may be noticed, but these drugs often have harmful side effects.  At best pharmaceuticals suppress an Illness giving the illusion of health. If there is no change in the individual's lifestyle and/or eating habits the disease will continue, perhaps manifesting in a different way.

When a vehicle needs oil we supply the oil.  We don't put gasoline where the oil should be, and we don’t overfill it, because we know that the vehicle will not function properly or be seriously damaged if we do.  We can't all be auto mechanics but we usually attempt to learn as much as we can to maintain our vehicles.  How much more important are our bodies, which are irreplaceable?

A woman about to give birth anxiously asks the doctor what she is to do.  He authoritatively replies "Nothing, my dear! You’re not qualified!" (Monty Python, The Meaning of Life.) We are taught that we are not capable of healing ourselves; that we must go to a doctor for healing.  Many of us no longer associate our health or lack of it to the food we eat, except maybe when we get indigestion from overeating.  There is a correlation and it’s time we acknowledge and accept it.  We can't all be doctors but we can learn the essentials to maintaining our bodies.  The Word of Wisdom is a good place to start.

The Word of Wisdom advises "that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good...And tobacco is not for the body." Modern research and experience support the wisdom of our Lord's advice through Joseph Smith, as Alcohol and tobacco abuse are among the major causes of death today.  We are also advised to abstain from the eating of animal flesh except "in times of winter, or of cold, or famine".  Clergy of the Peyote Way Church of God are encouraged to abstain from the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee ("..And again hot drinks are not for the body or belly”) and meat. Any drink that is too hot to the touch is too hot to drink. 

Many other products sold as food contain ingredients that can harm our bodies, refined sugar being one of the most dangerous.  Sugar depletes the body of vital nutrients and is the source of many common ailments: obesity, diabetes, candidiasis, etc. Sugar abuse is the world’s least discussed and most widespread addiction.  And it is one of the hardest of all habits to kick." (Terrence McKenna, Food of the Gods p 175).  Many foods have sugar in them because sugar masks foul tastes.  At one time it was only used with medicines.  Now, it can be found in many processed foods.  Sugar weakens the body’s natural immune system by robbing the body of essential nutrients.  We are all tempted by sugar, but personal experience has shown my family that the consequence of eating sweet treats is illness.  We avoid winter colds by also avoiding sugary treats.

Denatured grains are often fortified with synthetic vitamins to replace the bran and germ which have been removed (and sold to health food stores).  At one time only the very wealthy ate breads and cakes made with white flour.  Bleaching made it whiter and therefore "better."  Peasants ate the heavy whole grain products, and while the wealthy developed new illnesses the peasants remained healthier.  White flour held a certain status though, and soon everyone had to have it.  White flour was popular with manufacturers too: It stored well because insects couldn’t live on it long enough to consume it.  Today, the wealthy know that whole grain bread is better, and the poor eat the cheap white bread.  White flour has little nutritional value, but the bleaching process renders it valueless and perhaps dangerous.

Manufactured products often contain other questionable, possibly carcinogenic ingredients.  As wise consumers we must remember that the manufacturer is out to make a profit. If that means replacing a natural ingredient with something synthetic, then so be it.  Preservatives, stabilizers, BHA, BHT and any ingredients that cannot be pronounced are probably toxic.  These poisons build up in our bodies weakening our natural defenses.  When we reach our toxic limit, we become ill.

Knowing the truth about these non foods is our only defense against the sensual advertising that encouraged us to "Get all the gusto"; "Live for today"; and "Indulge."  Advertisers don't care about your health.  They are just trying to sell a product.  Junk food is big business, profitable for manufacturers, doctors, surgeons, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies.  One wonders if these are the conspiring men spoken of in the preamble to the Word of Wisdom.  Not that they intentionally want to hurt anyone.  These individuals are out to make a buck, and if we accept their products or services without question it is our own fault.

Taste satisfying fast food eating is making a few people very rich and a. lot of people very sick.  The alternative is that we each take responsibility for our own health.

We have a saying here at the Church, "The cheapskate pays twice".  Sad to say, those who cannot or will not pay for the organic vegetables, fruits and whole grain products now, may be paying a big hospital bill later.  But, suppose that instead of buying Health Insurance, we each paid a hospital fee along with the products we purchased.  All fruits and vegetables sprayed with potentially carcinogenic pesticides, for example, would have a 20% surcharge, which would be applied toward future Cancer treatment.  Cigarettes and alcohol, with their higher mortality rate, would have a higher fee.  Organic food would be the least expensive food on the market! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

The Word of Wisdom is my Health Insurance policy.  By living according  to its simple guidelines, I can avoid many of today’s diseases.  I may pay a higher price now for some of the food my family eats, but I save money in the long run by staying out of the doctor’s office.

The Word of Wisdom Health Plan works from observation of cause and effect.  When we feel sick, we review the foods that we have eaten in the past few days.  We ask, "What have I eaten lately or what combination of foods have I eaten that might have made me sick?"

Whole grains and whole grain products, unsprayed vegetables and fruits; filtered water, and fresh air (when we can find it) provide the necessary nourishment to sustain a healthy body.

The cost of repairing the cracked radiator on the Church pick-up was much more than the cost of a gallon of antifreeze. Surgery is more expensive than nourishing foods. Natural healing is slow. Years of abuse aren’t mended quickly, but the body has a wonderful capacity to heal itself.  We owe it to ourselves to take the first step towards true health, before we get "sick." No prescription drug can do it.  We are given this promise to encourage us in times of spiritual and physical weakness:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasure knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall and not faint.—from Section 89


Scriptural Commentary on the Word of Wisdom, Dr. Stan Malstrom  

From Chocolate To Morphine, Dr. Andrew Weil

School of Natural Healing, Dr. John Christopher

Sugar Blues, William Dufty

The Corporate Alchemists: Profit Takers and Problem Makers in the Chemical Industry, Lee Niedringhaus Davis. William Morrow & Company, 1984. 329 pages, including notes and index. An excellent examination of the economic and historical roots of toxic pollution.

Road Runner