After working in the health field and observing people over many years, I have come to the conclusion that not one in one thousand Seventh-day Adventists are following the complete health reform information that has been given to us as a people in the Scriptures and the writings of Ellen White. We are counseled in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor of God so we can resist the devil (verse 13). Numerous times throughout the writings of Ellen White we have been told that the health reform message is the right arm of the gospel. My question for many years has been, How does one put on a suit of armor with one arm? IMPOSSIBLE! Yet that is the condition of the vast majority of Seventh-day Adventists. Since not one in one thousand carefully and prayerfully observe the total health message, not one in one thousand has both arms available to put on the “whole armor of God”.
Although we have more than 2,500 pages written by God’s last day prophet on health and lifestyle, the majority continue to seek guidance from secular sources.
We are told in the book, Medical Ministry, on page “x” in the preface to the second edition that “The promulgation of the health message was for fifty years a topic of major concern to Ellen White. She wrote more in the field of health than on any other single topic of counsel.” Yet still the vast majority of Adventists, especially pastors, continue to believe that diet and lifestyle have nothing to do with one’s salvation. The question was posed by the pastor of my local church to the congregation, “Is diet and lifestyle a salvational issue?” The overwhelming response from the congregation was a resounding, NO!
How blind, deceived and ignorant can we as a people be? We have all heard or read the statement from Christ’s Object Lessons, page 69, “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.” Then there is the statement in Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 22, “It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection.” So I ask the question, “If we must have Christ’s perfect character before He can come to receive us to Himself at the second coming and it is impossible to have that character when we are not fully practicing the total health reform message, then how do we expect to be ready for His coming?” IMPOSSIBLE!
We need to take a long hard look at just exactly what comprises the total health message. Top of the list is the consumption of the flesh of animals. Notice this quote:
“Meat should not be placed before our children. Its influence is to excite and strengthen the lower passions, and has a tendency to deaden the moral powers. Grains and fruits prepared free from grease, and in as natural a condition as possible, should be the food for the tables of all who claim to be preparing for translation to heaven.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 352.
Many Adventists look at Leviticus, chapter 11, which discusses clean and unclean meats when it comes to what is acceptable to eat. However, there is much more recorded in the rest of the book regarding meat consumption.
If someone in the camp of Israel ate something that was unclean he was to leave the camp, wash his clothes and himself, wait until sundown, and only then could he return to the camp and to his family. (See Leviticus chapter 22.)
But if someone ate some meat, even clean meat that contained the fat and/or the blood, it says in at least three places in Leviticus, in chapters 7, 17, and 18, that such an individual would be “cut off’ from among his people.
The Hebrew word for cut off used here is karath, the same word that is used in Daniel 9:26, where it says that in the middle of the week Messiah would be “cut off.” We all know what happened to Jesus in the middle of the 70th prophetic week of Daniel 9. He was crucified and suffered the second death. I am pretty sure that a McDonald’s hamburger has not had the fat and blood removed nor has the steak that you buy at the local meat market been ritually slaughtered so as to remove all fat and blood.
When God gave Noah and his family permission to eat animal flesh, it was due to the fact that all plant life had been destroyed in the great flood. The use of animal flesh for food was to only have been for one, maybe two years, until the plant kingdom had reestablished itself on this earth. I would also surmise that as intelligent as the antediluvians were, Noah took quite a large quantity as well as selection of seeds onto the ark so that he could reestablish his vegetable garden after the flood. After that, mankind was supposed to return to the original diet given by God to man.
Let’s consider next animal products other than meat. Top of the list is dairy.
True, dairy in the form of milk and soft cheeses are mentioned in the Scriptures. However, animals were kept by the owners and ate natural foods which had been designated for them from the beginning. As we near the end of time we are told that animals will become more and more diseased as sin increases and that the time will come that it will be unsafe for health to use these products.
“Let the diet reform be progressive. Let the people be taught how to prepare food without the use of milk or butter. Tell them that the time will come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 135.
I was a child during the Second World War. During that time, if my mother needed something from the grocery store, we would walk a few blocks to a local “mom & pop” store. There was no such thing then as Walmart or any other supermarket. Milk was delivered by a local dairy to your doorstep in glass bottles. Eggs were produced by a local egg farmer. All vegetables and fruits were grown by local farmers, mostly without pesticides.
Shortly after the war ended in 1945, the first supermarket that I ever saw opened in Denver. The big food conglomerates began to appear, which for most people saw the end of pure food grown locally. Now only 4 or 5 mega-conglomerates control the production of almost all foods, animal and plant.
From the very beginning all the way through to your table every aspect of whatever food is being produced is controlled, and most of the time not for your health benefits. The food is to be produced as rapidly and as cheaply as possible—the dollar is paramount, not your health. That is why foods, for the most part, particularly foods of animal origin, are now unsafe for human consumption.
Milk contains at least 57 bioactive hormones. These hormones are mostly female hormones since a cow is female. During the last 100 years, the age when a girl reaches the menarche has dropped from an average of 17 years to 9.5 years, all due to female hormones that cause little girls to develop years before they should. Boys don’t fare much better since one of the most active of these hormones has the designation of IGF-1. This hormone is a growth hormone that is 200 times more potent than natural human growth hormone.
When I was in high school in the 1950s, a big boy might be 6’ tall and weigh 180 pounds. Today it is not unusual to find high school boys that are 6’4” and weigh in excess of 250 pounds, all due to this growth hormone. This is not natural and has proven to be very harmful. In fact, this hormone has been found in the tissue of every one of the nearly 200 different kinds of malignancies known to affect humans. After all, it makes tumors grow fast as well.
Saturated fat and only cholesterol are found in animal products. These substances lead to the most common diseases that affect humans: cancer, heart attacks, strokes, osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypertension, macular degeneration, hearing loss, and a host of others.
These fatty substances not only promote these diseases, but are primary in the need for hearing aids and joint replacement. How? In the eye, ear and joints of one’s body are very tiny capillaries that provide the nourishment for these structures. When they get plugged up with these fatty substances, they cease to work. In every joint of one’s body there is cartilage that makes the joint work smoothly. Surrounding the joint is a sack known as a bursa, composed of a tough sack lined with a synovial membrane that secretes synovial fluid which provides nourishment, oxygen and removes metabolic wastes. The cartilage in the joint has no blood vessels, but is living tissue supplied by the synovial membrane. When the capillaries in the synovial membrane become plugged by fats, the cartilage dies and gradually wears away until one has nothing but bone on bone. That is painful and requires a joint replacement.
Many people think that because they use unsaturated oils that they are safe. Sorry! There have been at least 6 recent studies on the use of olive oil which show that cardiovascular disease (the plugging up of capillaries with fat) progresses at the same rate as it would with the use of solid animal fat. Many have swallowed the advertising campaign of the food companies instead of looking to inspired writings and/or scientific studies. Popular in recent years has been what is called “The Mediterranean Diet,” which is supposed to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Just what is a Mediterranean Diet? Let’s take a little trip around the Mediterranean Sea, starting with Morocco in North Africa. We will travel around the sea in a counter clockwise direction. Next we come to Algeria, then Tunisia, then Libya, then Egypt, then Israel, then Lebanon, then Syria, then Turkey, then Greece, then Albania, then Bosnia/Herzegovina, then Croatia, then Trieste, then Italy, then France, then Spain. Within the Sea we find Cyprus, then Crete, then Sicily, then Malta, then Sardinia, then Corsica, then the Balearic Islands. Now the diet of which of these countries are you going to choose? All are Mediterranean.
In the writings of Ellen White on health and diet, you will find the following statement with slight variations 114 times. It is basically this: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts (sparingly) prepared in as simple a manner as possible, free from grease of all kinds, constitute the best diet for mankind.
Notice that this diet is not a fat free diet, as some who obviously can’t read and correctly assimilate what has been written assume. It is the preparation of the food that is to be grease and oil free. After all nuts, seeds, and many vegetables and fruits have oils and fats in them—for example: avocados, olives, as well as seeds and nuts. Ellen White mentions the benefits of olive oil three times, each time she states that olive oil as taken in the olive is beneficial to the digestive tract—not poured out of a bottle.
Now to the two items of diet that are killing more Seventh-day Adventists than any other thing—cheese and ice cream. It takes about 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese or ice cream. All of the harmful substances found in dairy are now concentrated by a factor of 10 times. It was no wonder Ellen White said: “Cheese should never enter the stomach” and “Cheese is wholly unfit for food.” These statements are found in The Ministry of Healing, 302, and in Counsels on Diet and Foods, 368. I now ask the question, “What part of never don’t you understand?” Cheese also has three times the acid producing properties of a steak and is a main cause of osteoporosis, since the body has to pull calcium from the bones to neutralize the acid produced. Eggs are also very high on the list to cause acid production in the body and they are loaded with cholesterol.
The dessert table at an Adventist gathering is next. George Vandeman, of “It Is Written,” wrote me a letter years ago which I still have. In it he said that the dessert table at most Adventist potlucks would put to shame the table of ‘delicacies’ set before Daniel and his friends by Nebuchadnezzar.
Sugar is one of the most detrimental items in anyone’s diet. Numerous studies have been done which show that even a small amount of sugar inactivates one’s white cells, the body’s first line of defense against invading organisms. How much does it take to damage one’s immune system?
An average adult has about 5 liters (5000 ml) of blood. A normal blood sugar has 1 mg of sugar in each ml of blood. So one’s total blood sugar in 5000 ml would be 5000 mg of sugar which amounts to one rounded teaspoon. That is all. A single glazed donut has 6 teaspoons of sugar. A serving of chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream has 12-15 teaspoons of sugar. A banana split has 25 teaspoons of sugar. Now you can see how sugar has the potential to do damage to one’s immune system. And people wonder why they catch a cold or the flu. It is because they pursued it until they caught it.
Chocolate is actually worse for one than coffee. I have had many ask me, “If it is worse than coffee, then why didn’t Ellen White write about it”? She very clearly states that coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco use is a sin. There are many things she never mentioned such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, as well as many other harmful substances. There is a very logical reason why she said nothing about chocolate. It wasn’t until 1904 that Hershey started making chocolate products in Hershey, Pennsylvania. By the time of her death in 1915 chocolate still was not as common as it is today.
Chocolate contains at least 10 substances that are harmful. They are: Sugar (chocolate in its natural state is very bitter and requires a lot of sugar to make it palatable), Caffeine (chocolate has about 1/3 the amount of caffeine that coffee contains), Theobromine (theobromine is a methylxanthine and is a first cousin to caffeine. Chocolate contains more of this substance than any other source), Cocoa Butter (this is a saturated fat which plugs arteries), Phenylethylamine (this chemical is a neuro-excitotoxin and has the same effect as an antidepressant that a psychiatrist might prescribe for a depressed patient), Oxalic Acid (this substance binds calcium and forms calcium oxalate which is insoluble and precipitates out in the kidneys, contributing to kidney failure), Purines (these substances are also found in red meats and are the excitotoxins and stimulants), Tyramine (this is also an excitotoxin that has, in some people, been known to cause dramatic rises in blood pressure), Tannic Acid (this harmful substance is what is used to tan leather. It is very irritating to the stomach lining), Bugs (due to the way that chocolate is harvested, all chocolate averages from 10%-15% insect parts, rat and mouse droppings, bird droppings, dead bugs and worms).
The principle that should govern our lives is not whether the Scriptures or the Spirit of Prophecy say anything about something, but whether or not it is harmful. Also remember the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Notice that specifically mentioned here is “eating and drinking” and then everything else that one might do in his life is listed under “whatsoever.” Only “eating and drinking” are specifically mentioned; so this must have been important to God.
Most people are very lax when it comes to the time for eating, with many who are constantly snacking. I have often asked people to name a healthful snack. The correct response is that there are NONE. Anything eaten between meals as a snack is harmful though many think nothing of having some “light refreshments’’ at any number of gatherings and at any time of the day or night. There are dozens of statements by Ellen White as to the harmfulness of eating between meals, after meals, or before going to bed. She says that not even an apple should be eaten between meals. Eating between meals is particularly harmful to growing children.
All meals should be at a specific time and this time should vary by no more than one-half hour. The human body functions best when it has developed certain rhythms known as circadian rhythms. When these activities vary by more than one-half hour the body suffers to the point that the immune system is affected.
Studies have been done in this area and have shown that when someone eats breakfast and then snacks an hour or two later that digestion stops completely until the new item eaten has been assimilated by what is already in the stomach. Then and only then does digestion begin again. Most have put something else into their stomach before that can occur and thus endoscopically identifiable foods are still in the stomach as much as 14 hours after ingestion. This leads to putrification and fermentation. Sleep is also disturbed when there is digestion going on during the nighttime hours.
All of the above reasons and more are why I say that not 1 in 1000 Seventh-day Adventists observe the counsel that we have been given on health reform. That is also why, when we have availability to this information in the volumes written under inspiration, that most Adventists will not be ready for the second coming. Remember, “it is impossible to develop a Christ-like character while indulging in unhealthful practices.”
‘’Sanctification—how many understand its full meaning? The mind is befogged by sensual malaria. The thoughts need purifying. What might not men and women have been had they realized that the treatment of the body has everything to do with the vigor and purity of mind and heart.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 909.
Gene Swanson was an Adventist pediatric anesthesiologist in a large pediatric hospital. He retired in Montrose, Colorado, before he passed away.