Are you fixing the plumbing, or building a mansion? Part 2 of 2

At church Sunday, someone was making an announcement about a care center that wants us to bring them snacks for the mentally handicapped residents: “The care center staff said they want HEALTHY treats, like fruit snacks and Gushers.” I don’t know what Gushers are, but the fact that they have a brand name is a bad sign. The person making the announcement turned to the side of the room where I was sitting and said, “Robyn would not approve of these ideas as healthy snacks, and neither do I, but anyway, that’s what they want.”

(I love how at church I seem to have a “rep” even though I never talk about food there.)

It’s a throwback to my days as a grad-school intern on the State Hospital Children’s Unit 15 years ago. I went to the director to plead for less sugar on the unit. I could see that the kids were constantly ill, incessantly fed antibiotics, most of them overweight, because the school and therapists rewarded them with candy, the hospital cafeteria’s nutrition was appalling, and after-school volunteers brought cookies and junk nearly every day. I was brushed off by the psychiatrist director who said, “Sugar is the only love most of these kids every get, and it’s not a big deal. We’re dealing with REAL issues here.” In other words, he was saying: nutrition doesn’t matter for these kids.

I don’t want to roll my eyes. I want to educate patiently. I hope I am always tolerant. I hope I always teach to the knowledge level of the audience. I hope I never act superior.

Whatever knowledge I have, I gained it as God was building a courtyard in my cottage, while I would have much preferred just a little cleanup. I lean on others in their areas of subject-matter expertise where I am shaky. (Computers. Applied math. Spatial puzzles and maps.)

God is making a mansion of me. When He knocks out a support beam, I want to grow from it instead of shake my fist at heaven.

Last Sunday at church, Carla, in our women’s organization, gave a lesson on the Word of Wisdom scripture. I attend a lay church, where the parishioners are also the teachers. She said my name three times during the lesson, as if she had no right to teach on nutrition because I happened to be there.

Fact is, as I told her later, it was the best lesson I’ve ever heard on the Word of Wisdom, my religion’s scripture about nutrition. I told her, “I don’t think I would have had the courage to be so bold.”

She’d researched statistics about the health risks associated with red meat, caffeine, carbonation. She indicted Utah’s prescription drug dependency (especially anti-depressants) as fueled by the culture, even reading a quote from our attorney general. She read stats about the benefits of whole grains, the benefits of drinking a lot of water.

She didn’t cover sugar, she didn’t cover the Word of Wisdom’s counsel to “eat meat sparingly,” she said that poultry and fish are good for you. But overall, I found the whole lesson to be starkly committed to the truth, relative to most lessons I hear on that topic.

She did cover the closing line of D&C 89, that if we eat whole foods, “I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” This seemed to have a profound emotional impact on the teacher. No wonder, as her husband has battled prostate cancer this past year. Who doesn’t want to put that amazing promise to the test?

She was so stunned when I gave her a hug and told her I would probably have soft-pedaled the topic, myself. Why? I hate offending people. And, as I said to her, “People are more emotional and opinionated about food than they are about religion and sex.”

Anyway, thanks for the food for thought, Jennie, and the Word of Wisdom lesson, Carla.

Weston Price Foundation versus The China Study

A yahoo group I belong to, “Natural LDS Women,” is having a debate about the “science” of the Weston Price Foundation, versus The China Study.” A recent poster said that with scientific “facts” so conflicting, you really just have to pray about it and go with your gut. “LDS” means Mormon (my religion), and in this post I refer to the famous before-its-time scripture known as the Word of Wisdom, as I have in other places in my writings, about nutrition:

I rarely have time to respond to yahoo groups even though I follow some threads, but this morning I responded with this posting, about the two research titans, about research in general, and about navigating the “science” versus “gut” decision making tension:

The first people to tell you there are no scientific “facts” are scientists themselves. We have evidence, but not proof. Good science is hard to come by. In the modern world, the vast majority of our “science” (not even qualifying as “facts”) is bought and paid for. That is, the science looks objective but is funded by someone with a profit motive.

Industries paying for lots of research such as pharmaceuticals, dairy, meat, or processed foods (four huge industries that are very powerful) may have sifted through a lot of data and cherry picked whatever makes them look good, for promotion and publication.

Studies begin to become compelling when they are valid and reliable, the two highest standards in research. Briefly, VALID means the study truly measures what it purports to measure. (If a study saying wine consumption reduces heart disease is valid, it will have controlled for the fact that wine drinkers are more affluent than beer drinkers–so they also eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s hard to do!) RELIABLE means the research study was repeatable with consistent results.

The China Study is one of the most reliable studies I have ever encountered. Colin Campbell (PhD, Cornell) conducted the original animal studies, but other researchers all over the world copied them with the same results, over and over. Then he found similar findings in humans–in a huge study of 6,500 people spanning now 30 years (so the study is also longitudinal–that’s expensive and very rare in research, but one of the ways to achieve validity).

When you see a study saying oatmeal prevents heart disease, you don’t run out and buy all the oatmeal you can and knock every other good thing out of your diet. You watch and wait until you see lots of OTHER studies showing the same thing. You have a healthy skepticism about what you read–open minded, keen eye looking for more data. You are waiting for further light and knowledge. And you use your common sense. (For instance, in this case, “Well, I know that UNREFINED oats have bran and germ–vitamins, minerals, and fiber–so it’s good. But other grains have the same thing, so I’ll keep using them, too.”)

Vitamin D is one of those issues. The first time I read a study that those getting more sun get vastly less cancer, I was intrigued but skeptical. Now, more and more research is coming out with consistent conclusions, and I am beginning to believe strongly that getting more Vitamin D is critical to the strength of our immune systems, to our ability to minimize disease risk, to our ability to build and maintain bone mass. And it’s hard to get enough D in places with long winters, or for people who aren’t outside much–without supplementation. It has given me pause, since I have not been much of a fan of taking vitamin supplements in the past. Now that it’s cold here in Utah, I can’t get sun. I took a Quest Diagnostics baseline test during my peak of sun exposure in July, and now I’m supplementing with Vitamin D tablets and will test again in Feb. or Mar. I want to know if my synthetic Vita D consumption actually is utilized in my own body.

Double blinded, placebo-controlled studies are the best. Peer reviewed articles in journals are the best. Even they are not foolproof, though. Plenty of flawed research has been published in the most prestigious journals of the world. Studies that have had to be pulled back when their flaws are revealed. Good research is extremely hard to achieve. It’s meticulous, it’s difficult to isolate one factor, and above all, it’s time consuming and expensive.

This is not the place to go into why I vastly prefer the more recent, more thorough work in The China Study to the much older, much more flawed, much more biased work the Weston Price Foundation has done.

But let me say this, briefly: the findings of China Study match the LDS Word of Wisdom that we discuss in this yahoo group and are a fan of. Campbell’s studies weren’t meat eaters versus vegetarians. They were meat eaters (20%, matching the Standard American Diet in that respect at least) versus eating meat sparingly, in times of winter, cold, and famine. (Language culled from D&C 89, The Word of Wisdom.) Following the Word of Wisdom wins–with more than 200 statistically significant findings. (That means that the margin of error is NOT the reason for the finding.)

Yes, pray and receive revelation to guide your journey through what is admittedly a CONFUSING path in nutrition and health. But also be smart, savvy, educated consumers of information. Some research–though NONE of it qualifies as “fact”–is better than others.

That’s my $0.02. With that and a quarter, you can buy a phone call.

Robyn
GreenSmoothieGirl.com

My thoughts after Educ. Week: stand up in a sit-down world, part 4 of 5

I listened to this presentation for an hour by a very nice and apparently very poorly educated woman who very frankly has no business telling anyone what their diet should be.   I love formal education and am often impressed by doctorate degrees. But sometimes a PhD is worthless when the person who earned it has no critical thinking skills, is not discerning.

 

When she lauded mypyramid.gov as the best diet in history, I began to fidget rather uncontrollably as only people close to me know I do.   Just the day before, I’d been in attorney-activist-author-cancer survivor Merilee Boyack’s auditorium lecture, standing-room only, called “Standing Up In a Sit-Down World.”   Just today I read this from Seth Godin’s blog:

 

It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.

It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.

It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.

It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.

 

I really hate conflict. Believe it or not, I don’t argue with people about nutrition, not in the last 10 years anyway.

 

With my own university and community education experience, I’m pretty quick to formulate relatively articulate responses.   I did raise my hand, with this in my head ready to say, politely:

 

“That curriculum and ideology you have on the big screen was bought and paid for by the   most powerful industries in America: DAIRY, and MEAT.   It is not in keeping with the Word of Wisdom we profess to believe.   It has led to an epidemic in all the modern diseases that are destroying someone each of us knows and loves.   It has led to two-thirds of us being overweight or obese, which is bringing our economy to its knees.   There IS a better way than the diet you have on your screen.   It’s called living close to the land.   Eating mostly raw plants and whole foods.   The way God made them.   Before men discovered fire, and invented boxes and cans–and McDonald’s.”

 

My friends, I would like to finish this story with something besides what actually happened.   I know I’ve built this up, but unfortunately, you’ll find this to be a story with no climax.   She looked right at me, and didn’t call on me.   I should have raised my hand higher.   That was the place to speak up.   I didn’t get my shot.

 

Sounding off on my blog, here, is the next best thing.   I think I’ll send a newsletter to my 12,000 newsletter subscribers pointing to this blog entry.   This is important.   The world is going to teach your children a bunch of GARBAGE about nutrition.   Your children will listen, they’ll take notes, they’ll memorize it for tests.   This starts in elementary school.   I hope you’re teaching them the truth.   If you’ve been with me for long, you have sources.   Point to them.   Speak up when it’s appropriate.

 

(Even Merilee Boyack told a story of when she remained silent in a city council meeting when she was being considered for mayor after the mayor died.   It’s not always right to speak up, when speaking up constitutes “shooting off your mouth.”   But let your gut guide you: there is a time and a place to speak up.   I missed one this week. Boyack was actually sitting in this nutrition class near me, taking notes. If she reads this by googling herself, I would like to formally apologize here for NOT speaking up.)

I am teaching a 12 Steps class in July, and final comments on the Word of Wisdom

On Friday, July 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 at Classic Books and Gifts in Lehi, I have been asked to teach a 12 Steps to Whole Foods class.   Here’s the link to sign up:

http://classicbooksandgifts.ning.com/events/12-steps-to-whole-food-eating

I have taken some time off of teaching classes but am getting back into it, with my new book coming out next month.   I’ll post in the next few days that we’re preselling the book in the GreenSmoothieGirl.com store, so stand by.   I’ll also let you know if classes I have coming up are open to the public.

My final thoughts on that revolutionary scripture known as the Word of Wisdom, that was far (200 years, almost) before its time.   I long wondered why we are counselled not to drink “hot drinks” (coffees and caffeinated teas, we assume from historical analysis),  and  only minimal  animal flesh, but nothing is said about refined foods like white flour and white sugar that are currently destroying America’s health.   And LDS people provide  those foods  in abundance at EVERY SINGLE CHURCH EVENT, including the ones for children.  The Primary handbook asks teachers not to feed kids junk food, but teachers routinely do it anyway.  We don’t drink or smoke, but we experience the same obesity rates as everyone else and we’re infamous for making up the difference in what we DON’T  smoke/drink . . .  in sugar intake!

I have two theories about this.   First (this one is a no brainer), at the time of the revelation in 1833, white flour and sugar were virtually unknown.   More importantly, we cannot be given a higher law until we’re living the lower law.   Bluntly: we are  not living the lower law.

Many of our children are on drugs.   Utah (the highest LDS population) abuses prescription drugs more than any other state in the nation.   We eat tons of animals and ignore and rationalize away verses 12-15 of D&C 89 (see the part on God approving of eating animals  sparingly in times of winter, cold, famine).   We eat to excess and have obesity rates  similar to the national average.   All of these are gross violations of the law that is supposed to be for the “weakest of the Saints.”

I personally am ready for a higher law. I don’t say this to be arrogant.   I say this because I crave further light and knowledge; I have a lot of questions.    I wonder, what would God tell us regarding lifestyle and diet, IF WE WERE CLEARING THE VERY, VERY LOW BAR He is currently holding for us to clear?

Apocryphal texts of John refer to not eating any animal flesh and living very close to the Earth.   I’d love to know what God really wants for us . . . a Word of Wisdom 2.0, if you will.   (Oh, and hey, that reminds me: I will announce here very shortly a Green Smoothie 2.0 video I did, part 1 and 2.)

Let’s live the lower law so we can be given more light and knowledge on our path to a truly abundant life rich with divinity.

the rest of the Word of Wisdom

Here’s the rest of the body of scripture known as the Word of Wisdom.   Tomorrow I’ll comment on my theory about why  the scripture  doesn’t talk about soft drinks, sugar, refined foods, etc. (beyond the obvious fact that the scripture predates the invention of those  “foods”).   And I’ll comment on some of the interesting things you all have said, especially about conspiracy theory and Tina’s great response to my last  post  about “conspiring men.”

Here it is:

“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

“And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

“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–

“Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

“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 treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

“And shall run and not be weary , and shall walk and not faint.

“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.”

Great promise, right?   Seems to me that we’d be unwise to blow off the parts of this that we don’t like much, saying that it’s “straining at gnats” to examine our meat consumption, for instance, when an incredible promise hangs in the balance.   Would you like to run and not be weary?   Would you like to not fear destructive forces felling everyone around you?

 

more on the Word of Wisdom

I have this secret little hobby at church.   I love to hear the lessons on this scripture, the Word of Wisdom, and  mentally collect all the ways that, almost invariably, the teacher or people in the class find ways to rationalize their way out of having to actually adhere to those last two verses.   You know, the ones that say God gave animals for our use, but only sparingly, in times of winter, cold, or famine.

There is NO way to justify the way most of us are eating, against this counsel.   But I’ve heard some  really interesting rationalizations.   A really good one is this: “That counsel was for people in 1833, not us, because they didn’t have refrigerators or freezers like we do.”   Yesterday in church, it was about how the comma in that verse was added by church administration to make it clear that we’re actually being ENCOURAGED to eat meat.   Well, that’s a comforting interpretation for those who don’t want their testimony of the  Gospel of the Standard American Diet shaken in any way, but . . . I don’t think so!

I’m going to make a strong statement and welcome your comments about it:   I think that  the vast majority of  LDS people are not living this scripture for the “weakest” of the Saints.   Someone at church yesterday made the comment that worrying about those two verses is “straining at gnats.”

Tomorrow, the rest of that section of scripture, including some good stuff about whole grains.

does God intend for us to eat whole foods?

Today at church, they taught my favorite lesson, on “The Word of Wisdom” (7 million LDS people in the U.S. had this lesson today).   Mormons have a scripture (Doctrine & Covenants 89) revealed in 1833 that is all about what we should and shouldn’t eat.   Consider that this was almost 200 years ago, when little was known in the scientific community about nutrition.   Even if you’re not LDS (Mormon), I think you’ll find this scripture so interesting, that I’m going to put it here, in its entirety over a couple of days.

The green smoothie “testimonial” in my last post sets the stage for this scripture perfectly, since it links the body and spirit.   The most significant reason to care for our bodies as D&C 89 teaches is to become more spiritually pure.

The teacher today told a story about how he once went to get a homemade roll out of the cupboard, and ended up eating the whole bowl of rolls, with butter, and then a bunch of Pop-Tarts, Snickers bars, and Coke.   He said he had been in a positive mood at the beginning but his physical sickness after he ate destroyed his mental and spiritual state.

Please comment on these scriptures, regardless of whether you are LDS or not.   Are they not interesting and “before their time?”   I will  make some comments at the end, too.

“To be sent greeting; not be commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days–

“Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.

“Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: 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–

“That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

“And behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

“And again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

“And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

“And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man–

“Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudcnce and thanksgiving.

“Yea, flesh also of the beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”

Note from Robyn: I’ll post the rest tomorrow.   But consider these questions:

What do you think about this scripture relative to the Oxford-Cornell China Project, what the world now knows?   (See thechinastudy.com.)

What are the “evils and designs” of “conspiring men” in these last days with regard to health, nutrition, and food?   What do we learn from this scripture regarding the complaint, “Eating whole foods is too hard!”

What nutritional philosophies out there do you know that embrace the counsel in the last two verses?   And which absolutely defy them?