“Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in Divine power-these are the true remedies”- Ellen White.
Is Sunlight Still A Good Thing?
As Adventists part of our health message has always been that exposure to sunlight is a great thing. In today’s world though, we don’t hear a lot of positive messages about the sun. We are told to put on (chemical laden) sunscreen and avoid sun exposure to limit our chances of skin cancer. But, are there positive aspects of sun exposure? Well, we know that everything needs some sunlight to live right? That’s a pretty important aspect of our sun!
It Lower Blood Pressure
You might not know that sunlight can lower you blood pressure reducing your risk for heart disease! Researchers found that 30 minutes of sun exposure significantly lowered blood pressure and raised the levels of nitric oxide in the blood stream. Although skin cancer is real risk of UV radiation, heart disease kills many more people then skin cancer does. Martin Feelisch, a professor of experimental medicine at the University of Southampton feels that we need to talk about balancing sun exposure instead of eliminating it completely. Researchers are currently working on discovering the best levels of sunlight exposure for reducing heart disease without significantly increasing skin cancer risks.
Sun Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes
Another little known fact about sun exposure is that it can lower your blood sugar.
Studies have found that Vitamin D can help to lower glucose levels. Research has shown that Vitamin D (sunlight exposure) can be an indicator on whether or not you will develop type 2 diabetes. People who are exposed to the sun, or take quality vitamin D supplements have lower incidences of type 2 diabetes.
It Even Converts Your LDL Cholesterol To Vitamin D
People with high (LDL) cholesterol should also be out in the sun! UVB- one type of radiation found in sunlight actually interacts with cholesterol and changes it into vitamin D. With this being said, it’s important to eat lots of good cholesterol so the sun can convert it into vitamin D. Too little cholesterol=too little vitamin D.
Not Enough Sun?
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to so many other health issues such as…
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Low Immune System
- Multiple sclerosis
- Ovarian cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Prostate cancer
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Tooth decay
So, perhaps sunlight isn’t such a bad thing! While people should be aware of the risk of skin cancer, they should also be aware of the risks of using sunscreen and the risk of not having enough sun exposure!
It may be possible to decrease the risk of skin cancer while still getting some exposure. People who advocate for sun exposure recommend starting with 5-10 minutes and working your way up to 20-30 minutes. If you have lighter skin you will as much time in the sun as people with darker skin. Also, remember that it’s important that you don’t burn so after a few minutes put on a (chemical free) sunscreen to protect yourself.
My favorite sunscreen is this one by Bare Minerals. The reason why I like it so much is that it’s made with safe ingredients compared to regular sunscreen, and it’s available everywhere unlike a lot of other “natural” sunscreen options!
“Water is the best liquid possible to cleanse the tissues…. Drink some, a little time before or after a meal.”—Ellen G. White, Healthful Living, p. 226
I think it goes without saying that water is an especially important part of any diet and lifestyle. Water is one of the eight main health principals that Adventists base their diet on.
Water is the foundation of our body and brain so it’s extremely important to drink enough of it!
Most people know the benefits of water, but here are five you may not know.
- Flushes toxins out of your body.
- Balances Body Fluids
- Increases Energy
- Keeps Your Skin Healthy
- Prevents and Helps to Get Rid of Cramps
Water When You’re Trying To Lose Weight?
You’ve heard that it’s important to drink water when you’re dieting. But does it really contribute to weight loss?
The answer to this question is sadly no…
Water is not a magic pill that works to make you thin, but it does significantly contribute to your dieting regime.
So why should you continue to drink water while you’re dieting?
- When you lose weight-burn calories- your body creates toxins which need to be flushed out of the body. Water play a key role in this!
- Most people experience loss of water when they start to lose weight. Water is important in this stage of weight loss to prevent dehydration from losing too much water and not replacing it.
- Dehydration will slow down many processes in the body including fat-burning and it causes a reduction in the volume of blood in the system. Drinking lots of water will help to make the fat burning process efficient while supplying lots of fluids for the blood stream. A bigger blood volume equates to more oxygen being available for our muscles to use.
- Speaking of muscle, water lubricates joints while helping muscles contract. This means that your muscles will be less sore when you are properly hydrated!
- Do you have a problem with proportions? Drinking water can help you feel fuller so you won’t eat as much!
- If you have switched over to a good diet that includes lots of fibers then you will need to drink lots of water to make sure that you don’t get constipated.
- Making sure that you stay hydrated will help you to identify the difference between feeling thirsty and hungry thus helping you to make good diet decisions.
- Your metabolism will work more efficiently when you are well hydrated. As we’ve already seen our body works best with proper water.
- You can also replace sugary or caffeine filled drinks with water which helps to reduce your calorie intake.
How Much Should I Drink?
Good question! The amount of water you should drink varies between individuals and depends on many things. How much do you weigh? What kind of activities are you doing? How hot or humid is it and what is your diet like? There are water calculators online that can give you a good estimate of where to start. Also pay attention to your urine. When you are drinking enough it will be a pale yellow color. If you’re not use to drinking much water it’s best to gradually increase the amount you’re drinking and to spread it out through the day.
Is It Possible to Drink Too Much Water?
While this has been a widely talked about topic, I will mention that there is too much of a good thing. In excess, water can dilute the electrolytes in your bloodstream which can cause interference with the way your major organs (brain and heart) work.
What About Substitutions for Water?
Other liquids can provide water for your body, but a lot of drinks are diuretics (soda, tea, alcohol and coffee) which actually cause your body to lose water. Another source of water is the food that we eat including fruits and vegetables.
The best foods for water consumption include:
Other Uses of Water
Seventh-day Adventists also are firm believers in other benefits of water as well. These include hydrotherapy, hot and cold fomentation and enemas.
“The stomach, liver, lungs and brain are suffering for want of deep, full inspirations of air which would electrify the blood and impart to it a bright, lively color, and which alone can keep it pure, and give tone and vigor to every part of the living machinery.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies Vol. 2, pp. 67-68
Fresh Air Principle
It may seem silly-obvious, but one of the Seventh-day Adventist health principals is to get out in fresh air. While this may be one of the simplest principles, it is often forgotten, or just simply not practiced with the same importance of other things such as nutrition or exercise.
Air Is Important
Although you can go a few days without most things like food and water you can only go a few minutes without air. The better the air quality, the more oxygen that is available for your body and the easier it is on your lungs! When we inhale bad quality air our body has to work extra hard to filter out the oxygen to use.
What Exactly is Fresh Air?
Fresh air can be hard to define- although it is chemically different than indoor air or outdoor polluted air. One characteristic of fresh air is that it has negatively charged ions. In Animal Studies negative ions in fresh air were shown to normalize animal behavior and increase animal growth and health. Other studies show that children with disabilities had a statistically significant improvement on their functioning when exposed to negative ions. These ions have also been shown to increase serotonin in the brain, lower our resting heart rate, and body temperature. Not to mention that bacteria have a harder time thriving in negatively charged air.
Benefits of Fresh Air
Besides those listed above there have been lots of studies showing that good ol’ fresh air is a true champ. Kids who are outside more have been found to have less ADHD, and more success in school. Fresh air also makes you happy, decreases your chances of lung disease, improves your immune system, gives you energy and sharpens your mind.
What if I Don’t Have Access to Fresh Air?
A large portion of the population doesn’t have access to “fresh air”. While organic fresh air is the best, there are alternatives to get fresher air and even negatively charged air particles. If you live in a city with a large park, going for a walk or doing deep breathing exercises in that environment will help you get some good quality air. On the other hand, you can buy an air purifier-some air purifiers even claim that the air that comes out has a negatively charged ion!
Want to Get More Fresh Air?
1.Learn to do deep breathing exercises and do them outside in the morning and evening.
2.Try and ventilate your house.
“Abstemiousness in diet and control of the passions, will preserve the intellect and give mental and moral vigor, enabling men to bring all their propensities under the control of the higher powers, and to discern between right and wrong, the sacred and the common.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 491
What is Abstemiousness?
Abstemiousness is an old word that simply means temperance or self-discipline. Abstemiousness is one of the eight SDA health principles and is especially relevant to diet.
Why is it Important?
Self-control or discipline, is a predictor of how “successful” you will be in life. I put successful in quotes because there are many different forms of success with the most common one being money and career status. While self-control can definitely help you reach those forms of success, it also helps you to achieve whatever you put your mind to. It’s been shown that children with higher self-control grow up to be wealthier and healthier than their counterparts. While still in school, self-control (even over IQ) can determine how well a student will do academically. Self-control is huge part of life in whatever field you end up in and it’s important for your overall well-being and health.
Abstemiousness and Diet
In diet, abstemiousness is important in avoiding foods and drinks that are harmful to you and your body. Some examples of things that Adventists avoid include animal products, excess food, fast food, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, caffeine, and sugar. The idea here is that it’s important to only eat foods that benefit our bodies so that we can be effective in everything that we do. Of course, no one is perfect and many SDA members do eat things that aren’t good for them. The great thing about temperance or self-control is that by practicing it we can make smarter decisions which will lead to better health and in turn, a better overall lifestyle.
Trying to Lose Weight or Eat Healthier?
Learning to practice self-discipline in small areas of your life can help you achieve your goals and improve your lifestyle. The best way to “learn” better self-discipline is to focus on only one thing at a time. Very few people do well trying to change everything at once. When they become overwhelmed and fail, they feel as if they don’t have any self-control, when in reality, they just aren’t utilizing it effectively. For instance if your goal is to cut out all fast food and stop biting your nails then you should just focus on cutting out fast food first. When you have been successful for 30 days straight, then you can start working on not biting your nails. By doing it this way, you will see a positive cycle start to form.
“A life in Christ is a life of restfulness.”—Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ
What is Rest?
Rest may be thought of as good sleep, meditation to relax your brain or “taking it easy” after excessive physical activity or sickness. While it can be all these things, Seventh-day Adventists also include the Sabbath which is an entire day devoted to resting.
“He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.” Genesis 2:2
Types of Rest
It would be lovely if eight hours of sleeping resulted in us waking up feeling amazingly rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world every single day. Unfortunately, most everyone has experienced that you can actually sleep 8 hours or more and wake up completely unrested. So, it serves to reason that there are various types of rest that may not be accomplished with sleep alone. In fact, there are four different types of rest that we should strive for every day.
The four different forms of rest include:
- Physical Rest
- Sensory Rest
- Mental Rest
- Emotional Rest
Why Rest Matters
While it goes without saying that without proper rest you feel terrible, there are many other reasons that rest really does matter!
- Improves your memory.
- Helps you learn.
- Results in Longer Lifespans.
- Reduces Inflammation.
- Kids who get more rest have better grades.
- Helps you pay attention.
- Helps you stay fit.
- Lowers stress.
- Lowers the chance you will experience depression.
- Contributes to heart health.
How to “Rest”
There are lots of different ways to rest, but try practicing resting techniques that cover all four types of rest.
Physical rest- This encompasses any physical relaxation including sleeping, laying down, sitting, or reclining.
Mental rest- To rest mentally you need to remove yourself from stress and other mental vigor. There are various ways to do this including Christian meditation, walking, hiking, playing with pets, doing things that make you laugh, massage, or even art.
Emotional rest- Emotional rest can be complicated to achieve. Christian meditation and prayer may be a good way to release some of the emotional stress in your life.
Sensory rest- Sensory rest focuses on giving your eyes, ears, and other senses a rest during the chaos of a normal day. Sensory rest may be best achieved by turning off the TV, music and bright lights and just closing your eyes for a few minutes. During this time focus on your breathing.
As you can see from above, Christian meditation is a common theme running through the various forms of relaxation. During the week, this may be a great way to accomplish getting different types of rest that you wouldn’t normally get all bundled into one activity.
On the other hand, everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. For some people putting together a puzzle may be relaxing in terms of mental and emotional rest. For others though, it may be a stressful, frustrating or just unpleasant experience. When trying to figure out the best options to get mental, sensory or emotional rest ask yourself how you feel in terms of the four different types of rest after doing various activities.
Seventh-day Adventists have another type of rest-The Sabbath. The Sabbath is all about resting. Adventists don’t go to work, do normal household chores, watch TV, go shopping, or make their kids do homework. Adventists also prepare for the Sabbath ahead of time so that they don’t have to worry about cooking or getting gas on Sabbath. Instead, the entire day is a holy day of rest created by God. On this day Adventists go to church, enjoy a laid back lunch, spend time with each other or family and God. Some go hiking or to the beach while others sit and chat. The whole day though is a very de-stressing and relaxing time that covers all four types of rest.
Many people know that Adventists live longer and studies have contributed this primarily to our diet (the purpose and existence of this web-space). But, the Sabbath and rest may be the real reason that Adventists live longer. We all know that stress is a killer, but few people actually take the time to rest one day of the week, or even just to rest a few minutes every day. Adventist or not, just try to put one day of the week aside to rest. You may think that you can’t afford to, but in reality it will increase your productivity both at work, and at home.
“God designed that the living machinery should be in daily activity. For in this activity or motion is its preserving power…. The more we exercise, the better will be the circulation of the blood.”—Ellen G. White, Healthful Living
It’s no surprise that exercise makes the list of Adventist health principles. In fact, exercise is taken pretty seriously by Americans with somewhere between 50-75% of Americas claiming that they exercise at least once a week.
But wait- If that many people actually exercise why there are such high rates of obesity and heart disease?
Well, it’s very probable that people don’t exercise regularly or even when they are exercising- they aren’t doing it effectively or monitoring their food intake appropriately.
My sister, a frequent gym junkie, often observed overweight individuals who would come into the gym and walk on the treadmill while drinking large sugar filled beverages. Has the power of exercise been over-touted?
Exercise is wonderful and it does amazing things for the body, but there are some ways to exercise that are better than others!
What is Exercise?
The official definition of exercise is “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness”.
Exercise should consist of a mixture of stretching, cardiovascular activity and strength training.
Stretching increases your range of motion throughout every muscle group in your body.
Cardiovascular activity, which includes running, swimming, and cycling, works out your heart and lungs. With heart attacks rampant and on the rise working out your heart and lungs is extremely important!
Strength training is also extremely important as it allows you to build muscle mass and strengthen your core. Not only can it help you have better posture, but it can prevent injuries from occurring.
Benefits of Exercising
- The main benefits of exercise are included in the list below:
- Living a longer and healthier life.
- Protects you from heart disease.
- Protects you from certain cancers such as endometrial, lung, breast and colon cancer.
- Protects you from diabetes.
- Protects you from osteoporosis.
- Increases cognitive function.
- Increases positive feelings and mood.
- Helps to prevent obesity.
- Improves the function of the muscles, joints, lungs and heart.
- Improves sleep while reducing stress.
- Wow, those sound great right?! But, what about the individual types of exercise, what do they do?
Brings nutrients to the joints and contributes to bone and joint health. Being flexible also reduces your chances of injuries to your joints and muscles and improves coordination. If you’re getting older (which we all are) your muscles will lose their elasticity. So, it’s important to stretch in order to maintain the range of motion in your joints.
Aerobic activity is important because it strengthens you heart and lungs.
Physiologically speaking, your lungs bring oxygen into your body where it ends up in your blood stream. Your heart them pumps that blood throughout your entire body.
Cardiovascular activity is awesome because it works both of these organs making it easier for your lungs to disburse oxygen through your tissue into the blood stream as well as dispose of harmful carbon dioxide. Your heart on the other hand, doesn’t just get more efficient, it grows stronger and has an easier time sending the correct amount of oxygen throughout your body with ease. Because of this, those who do aerobic activity will also reduce their risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.
Besides all the wonderful heart health effects of cardio, it also releases serotonin which makes you feel good and helps to reduce symptoms of depression. It helps you to sleep better at night and reduces your over-all stress.
Strength training helps you to be a stronger and fitter person while revving up your metabolism. Building muscle helps to protect your bones which is great for those who are prone to osteoporosis. More muscle equates to more calories being burned which is great for those who are trying to lose or maintain weight. Strength training can also reduce and eliminate symptoms of depression, back pain, arthritis, obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
How to Start
Before starting any activity it is important to check with your doctor to verify that you’re healthy enough to proceed with your exercise plans!
The most effective way to start exercising is to set reasonable goals based upon your current fitness levels. If you are currently sedentary your goal may be to stretch in the morning for five minutes and walk for fifteen minutes during your lunch break. If you are already exercising then you should figure out what you’re missing in your routine. Are you taking the time to stretch? Have you forgone weights out of fear they will make you “bulky”. Re-evaluate these issues and set goals to start incorporating all three types of exercise into your routine. Whatever you decide to do, make it fun! If you don’t like what you’re doing you won’t stick with it!
Minimum of 5-10 minutes a day or 15-20 minutes a day, three days a week for a total of around 60 minutes a week. Going under three days a week is not as effective and you won’t get the full benefits of your stretch training.
Twenty minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week or thirty minutes of moderate cardio five days a week.
Note: It is important to make sure you don’t over do it! Before starting your cardio you should make sure you know your target range for your pulse and check it during your workout to make sure you aren’t pushing too hard. A heart monitor is a great tool for this!
With strength training you want to work out somewhere between three and four times a week and no more than two days back to back. You should try to train each muscle group at least once a week.
The most important rule though…..
You should have at least one day of rest from your exercise routine! This gives your body time to recover.
“Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God…. ‘The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.’ James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them…. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy, cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. ‘He healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds.’Psalm 147:3.”— Ellen White
As Seventh-day Adventist Christians we obviously believe in a higher power- God. We also believe in having a close and personal relationship with our savior and that in this relationship he cares for us and loves us immensely.
One of the SDA health principles is trusting in God. While trusting in God may not seem to be health related, we believe that trust is something that benefits our mental and emotional health. This in turn can benefit our overall physical health.
What Exactly is Divine Power?
The definition of divine power is:
Pertaining to a god, especially the Supreme Being.
Addressed, appropriated, or devoted to God; religious; sacred.
Proceeding from God; godlike; characteristic of or befitting a deity: divine magnanimity.
As mentioned above, for Adventists, divine power is God alone.
Trust in God= Good Health?
Yep, pretty much!
For the last several years studies have found people who actively believe in a form of divine power (go to church, pray, etc.) have lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, live longer, have better mental and emotional health, and higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than their peers!
On top of this, Adventists believe that God can provide us with healing and health and that this is His desire for us.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospereth.” 3 John 2
We know that in all things, God wants the very best for us and we trust that he will guide us. By trusting in Him we are able to function in more positive ways when we encounter stress, are late for work or find ourselves faced with the loss of a job.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding …it shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.” Proverbs 3:5, 8
Finally, the principle that is the core of this site-Nutrition.
When you think of nutrition a lot of different things can run through your mind. Kale, fish, eggs, milk, vitamin supplements and fortified breakfast cereal. With all of the conflicting messages of what you should and shouldn’t eat, it can be hard to figure out what to cut out or add into your diet.
The dictionary define nutrition as “the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.”
What is Nutrition?
Nutrition is all about getting the foods that we need to be healthy.
What are the right foods?
The right food is to some degree, a matter opinion, because although we are able to measure the results of eating some types of foods there are often other factors involved. Also, what works for one person may not work for someone else because they are prone to different diseases and deficiencies.
For instance, studies have shown that eating cheese can help prevent osteoporosis. But, for someone like myself- lactose intolerant with no family history of osteoporosis- the benefit of cheese doesn’t outweigh the cost.
Because of our individual DNA there is no one diet that will be 100% perfect for everyone, but
there is a consensus that certain foods ARE better than others. The main food group categories include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein and calcium-rich foods (dairy).
There is also a consensus that most of these foods should be eaten in the purest form possible. For instance, eating a frozen dinner of mystery meat and cooked, then frozen vegetables not only sounds horrible, but lacks most of the nutrients that the original foods had. Not to mention many of these foods are now saturated with preservatives, food colorant, and “natural” or “artificial” flavors.
Seventh-day Adventists focus on eating vegetables and fruits first and foremost, followed by seeds, beans, whole grains, and legumes. Nuts and healthy oils are also good in small amounts. Adventists typically avoid meat and meat products, processed food, pre-packaged food, fast food, and white sugar.
Unfortunately, SDA members have become well known for their veggie-meats and other processed soy products. These products were originally designed to help people transition from a heavy-meat diet to a vegetarian diet. Throughout time, these products have become a staple of Adventism though. So, rather than eliminating the meat replacements, people have increased the variety of fake meat types in their diet. Although these foods are not part of the Adventist health message, it is probable that you will see them being used by some church members as a staple of their diet. If you chose to eat veggie meat products instead of meat, it’s best to limit your intake to special occasions as you would any other product with low nutritional value.
Speaking of nutritional value, a good way to determine if you should be eating a certain foods is by looking at the nutrient density. High calories and low nutrients per serving are typically foods that you should stay away from, while low calorie high nutrient foods should be eaten frequently.
Another benefit to eating nutrient dense foods is that you will be able to eat a lot more food without gaining excess weight.
How to Eat Food
Adventists believe that there are ways of preparing and eating your food that are better than others.
First, keep food preparation simple! Don’t worry about cooking everything, raw is often better. Also, keeping preparation to a minimum can help you stick to a nutritional goal.
Second, eat the good stuff first!
What’s the good stuff you ask? Vegetables and fruits of course.
If you eat the most nutrient dense foods first, they will help to fill you up before you move onto the cooked foods. Remember in most cases cooked foods will have a lower nutrition density than their raw counterparts. Adventists also believe that it’s best to eat fruits and vegetables at separate meals for optimal digestion. Eat vegetables with two meals and fruits with one.
Third, chew your food slowly and savor each bite. The more you chew your food the less work it is on your stomach. Also, slowing down can help your body to register that you’re full before you overeat. If you ever have the urge to gobble something down, slow down and ask yourself why you want to devour it. In this way eating slowly can help you eliminate emotional eating patterns.
Forth, eat food regularly and don’t eat between meals. Although some people now eat several “mini” meals a day, most Americas eat the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating food at regular intervals without snacking will help to eliminate junk food snacks and help you to identify when you are actually hungry verses thirsty. Recent reports indicate that people have a hard time telling the difference between hunger and thirst, so if you feel hungry during the day-reach for a glass of water instead.
Fifth, eat for your health. This is hard for most people with taste buds. Fast food, desserts, fat and sweet foods all smell and taste delicious beckoning us to eat them. Unfortunately, these are the foods that we need to avoid the most! Overeating is often due to a lack of self-disciple which doesn’t benefit your overall health.
Bonus Point: Remember to consume a variety of foods every day! In some cases foods are in season and so it makes sense to eat them over other foods. But, it’s best if you try to mix it up. Eat garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans during the week instead of the lentils you normally eat. In food you really do want to eat a whole rainbow of colors.
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1st Corinthians 10:31.
Please Note: The material appearing on seventhdayadventistdiet.com is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.
- Martin Feelisch, Ph.D., professor, experimental medicine and integrative biology, University of Southampton, United Kingdom; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., professor, medicine, and associate chief, division of cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine; Jan. 20, 2014, Journal of Investigative Dermatology