Friday, March 11, 2011

Brigham Young’s Teaching on Health


As I have mentioned I have spent some time reading and studying The Discourses of Brigham Young compiled by John A. Widtsoe. I have been asked several times about my stance on health and eating. What does eating looking like Zion's way versus Babylon's way? I have a long way to go in this area. I have some opinions, but they are that, simply opinions. I believe that there is more to the Word of Wisdom than eat this or don't eat that.  I think an overall view should be looked at.  How do we view food?  What are our eating patterns? 

Since some of you do not have this book I will share various quotes from President Young on the Word of Wisdom. These are powerful quotes that have deep meanings and application in a profoud way.  Perhaps it will spark some discussion and/or lead you to your own ponderings to apply in your own life. I have omitted the extensive quotes about tobacco, tea and coffee, because I hope this is not a problem and thereby focusing on his other thoughts. The quotes are taken from chapter 16 of this book.

"Excessive eating, drinking, or exercise all tend to the grave."

"Rule your own passions, and exercise faith until you can govern and control your appetites…Permit your bodies to have natural forms; also take pains to have the bodies of your daughters grow naturally, and teach them what they are made for, and that they through faith, must overcome every besetting sin and every unholy passion and appetite."

"The strength, power, beauty and glory that once adorned that form and constitution of man have vanished away before the blighting influences of inordinate appetite and love of this world. The health and power and beauty that once adorned the noble form of man must again be restored to our race; and God designs that we shall engage in this great work of restoration."

"Then let us seek to extend the present life to the uttermost, by observing every law of health, and by properly balancing labor, study, rest, and recreation, and thus prepare for a better life. Let us teach these principles to our children, that, in the morning of their days, they may be taught to lay the foundation of health and strength and constitution and power of life in their bodies."

"By and by, according to the Scriptures, the days of a man shall be like the days of a tree. But in those days people will not eat and drink as they do now; if they do their days will not be like a tree unless it be a very short-lived tree."

"We are trying to become natural in our habits, and are striving to fulfill the end and design of our creation."

"The people have laid the foundation of short life through their diet, their rest, their labor, and their doing this, that, and the other in a wrong manner with improper motives, and at improper times."

"…good cold water…this is the beverage we should drink. It should be our drink at all times."

"As we got richer and built warm houses, and have lived more richly, indulging in sweet cake, plum pudding, roast beef and so on, we have had more or less disease among us."

"If the people were willing to receive the true knowledge from heaven in regard to their diet they would cease eating swine's flesh. I know this as well as Moses knew it, and without putting it in a code of commandments. The beef fed upon our mountain grasses is as healthy food as we need at present….Fish is as healthy a food as we can eat, if we except vegetables and fruit, and with them will become a very wholesome diet."

"The Americans, as a nation, are killing themselves with their vices and high living. As much as a man ought to eat in half an hour they swallow in three minutes, gulping down their food like the canine quadruped under the table…If you want a reform, carry out the advice I have just given you."

"When men live to the age of a tree, their food will be fruit….If every woman in this Church will now cease drinking tea, (etc.) and live upon vegetables, etc., not many generations will pass away before the days of man will again return. But it will take generations to eradicate entirely the influences of deleterious substances."

"{We should have} well ventilated dwelling-houses, especially the rooms occupied for sleeping."

"Study to preserve your bodies in life and health, and you will be able to control your minds."

"My mind becomes tired, and perhaps some of yours do. If so, go and exercise your bodies."

"Doctors make experiments, and if they find a medicine that will have the desired effect on one person, they find a medicine that will have the desired effect on one person, they set it down that it is good for everybody, but it is not so, for upon the second person that medicine is administered to seemingly with the same disease, it might produce death…I say that unless a man or woman who administers medicine to assist the human system to overcome disease, understands, and has that intuitive knowledge, by the Spirit, that such an article is good to that individual at that very time, they had better let him alone. Let the sick do without eating, take a little of something to cleanse the stomach, bowels and blood, and wait patiently, and let nature have time to gain the advantage over the disease."

"Sisters, you will take notice, … to adopt this rule-stop your child from eating meat, and especially fat meat;…let them eat a little more porridge; let them eat sparingly."

"Children should have milk, bread, water, and potatoes, and everything that would lay the foundation for disease should be strenuously kept from their stomachs, that no appetites may be formed for pernicious substance."

6 comments:

Kestrel said...

Very interesting! I had never heard of most of these before. I do have Widstoe's book "The Word of Wisdom," and I did a fairly in depth writing on the actual Word of Wisdom a few years ago (like, dissecting each verse type thing.) Like for example, this part: "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days," I feel strongly that that references fast food type places, processed foods and additives like high fructose corn syrup and other stuff.

I wonder what Brigham Young had to say about shellfish. I know it was forbidden under the law of Moses. Let me know if you read anything about that! Someday I want to move to the coast and live off crab :)

Ranee said...

History is so amazing to me! I have always been drawn to church history, particularly that of the early pioneer saints. How blessed we are, to have these prophetic words, to live by! Just another reminder of the call for simplicity, that keeps tugging on my heart and mind! We truly have to leave the world at the door. Our homes can be simpler--simpler meals, simpler dress. We must slow down and focus on the gospel and other good things! We must slow down and enjoy wholesome foods that God has granted us. Let the world keep running at 90 miles an hour, I want to go more like 35 mph. :0)

Jenni Taysom said...

Thank you for everything you share, I have particularly enjoyed reading the quotes from RS and Brigham Young, learning from those who have gone before.
I was reading through some of your older posts and I am curious how things are going with your kids and home life overall in the areas you made big changes - like your family work hours - are you able to find two hours of work a day in the little house you moved to, what other ways have the headgate principles changed your family life.

Nicole said...

Have you read Farmer Boy recently? I am always astounded at the quantity of food they ate as a prosperous farming family in New York (and I assume many of the early saints ate similarly if they were well-to-do). And this was before the unfood that is marketed in grocery stores today...like President Youns said, once the LDS grew prosperous, they changed their diets accordingly.
The advent of modern food production and government subsidized food commodities brought that type of "rich" food to the masses; the rich food is now the cheap food.
I grew up not eating pork, shellfish, ect. as my parents believed that they were unhealthy. Our entire family still eats that way. There is research bearing that out, but there is a lot of campaining (ahem, dairy, cattle and pork associations) that goes on...
it's all very political. You can read President Benson's God-Family-Country about that...
Pork is teeming with parasites that can live through a lot of processing. Shellfish and such are scavengers-they eat a lot of nasties-but we also have to be worried about the toxic load they carry as well these days. Most of our shrimp is imported from places like China and we all know how much they care about health regulations...

Callie said...

This is fascinating! We have been taking a close look at what we are eating and trying to follow the Word of Wisdom. I'm very interested in reading more!

ℛℯℬℯḉḉα said...

I can't help smiling as I think about the Lion House Cookbooks and how far they are from any of these ideas. Thanks for a few more things to think about. It may be one of the easiest changes to make but I have been sleeping with my window open. ;)