The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors
To Your Health
Kudos to the Adventist Review for the “Good Health” issue (Jun. 25, 2009). The articles were excellent and provided a lot of balanced, practical information.
In the article, “Diabetes: It’s Time for Change,” Warwick Baag correctly suggests that we can’t use diet police or brick bats to get people to change their diets. People have the freedom to live their lives as they see fit without condemnation. When a person gets a disease we don’t know the specific cause, and it does no good to blame the person for anything they did or didn’t do. We need to show that person compassion.
At the same time, having compassion should not stop us from telling people the truth. We know that in places where the typical western, industrialized diet (high in refined sugars and animal products) is eaten and exercise is minimal, people have much higher rates of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and obesity-related diseases than in societies that eat a whole food, plant-based diet and get adequate exercise.
Many people who, like “John” in Bagg’s article, do not want to take charge of their health. For those, let’s give them the three C’s: compassion, chemicals (their medications), and (minimal) counsel. The author suggests we should use other means to help them have a better diet by removing some of the unhealthy choices. That’s a good idea, but unfortunately not workable in most industrialized countries--the fast-food, meat, and dairy industries are highly powerful and very protective of their interests.
Even government standards sometimes can’t be trusted. In the United States, as recently as 2000, out of 11 members on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (a group that sets dietary standards for Americans), six had financial ties to the meat, dairy, or egg industries. What is even more troubling about that case is that the government hid those financial ties from the public (in violation of federal law) until the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine sued.
Baag referred to a study of four different diets (none of them whole food, plant-based) that showed weight loss was three to four kilograms in two years. The study participants’ body mass index (BMI) was still in the “obese” range. The conclusion was that personal choice is ineffective in the long-run. However several studies have reported that when on a whole food, plant-based diet, obese people lost an average of about half a kilogram per week, and kept it off long term while enjoying much improved health.
The two graphs (from the preliminary results of Adventist Health Study-2) on p. 18 of the “Good Health” issue are enough reason for Adventists to support a plant-based diet. The lower graph shows that men and women on a plant-based diet are, on average 18 and 21 pounds (8.2 and 9.5 kg), respectively, lighter than those on an omnivorous diet. If every obese person lost eight kilograms we could save millions of dollars in healthcare costs and many lives.
The dairy industry pushes the idea that milk is needed to supply calcium for strong bones; but research shows the opposite may actually be the case. A seven-year investigation at University of California (San Francisco)* studied 1,035 women older than 65 years. They found that those with the highest ratio of animal protein to plant protein had 3.7 times more bone fractures than those with the lowest animal to plant protein ratios. Women who ate the most animal protein lost bone density four times faster than their low animal protein compatriots. The best way to have a very low animal to vegetable protein ratio is to eat no animal protein.
*D. E. Sellmeyer, et al. 2001. “A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73: 118-122. Abstract at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11124760
Congratulations on the health issue of the Adventist Review! I particularly appreciated the articles by Jo Ann Davidson and Miroslav M. Kis. I also found quite interesting the article on vitamin D.
I’m going to share the Davidson article with a woman I do pet therapy with. She’s very much into the environmental “thing,” but not especially into organized religion. She’s a vegetarian, and when she learned I was an Adventist, the first thing she asked was, “Oh, are you a vegetarian, then?” She even wanted me to help her plan her son’s wedding reception, which is another story altogether! Now when we visit together, there’s always some talk about what to eat and the environmental crisis.
I haven’t read every article, but I’m looking forward to doing so, even KidsView.
My sincere congratulations for a wonderful Adventist Review issue focusing on health. This is the best health issue our church paper has ever produced, and I am proud of what the Review did with this theme.
Miroslav Kis’ article, “Wellness: More Than a Word,” is the finest I have ever seen that places health into a marvelous global matrix and context. With societal forces now lifting the health reform and lifestyle medicine issue into a position of importance, I’m glad our church is re-discovering its roots of health and the priority health deserves in a unique Adventist context of wholism.
Loma Linda, California
I refer to the article, “Brain Aging” by Abdulla Dean Sherzai: I need to find out more information on the intervention to prevent or reverse dementia. I found the report to be informative in explaining the causes of dementia.
Thank you for the series on health matters.
Centurion, South Africa
The Message Beyond the Music
I read “In Perfect Harmony" (Jul. 9, 2009), about Amanecer vocal group. While the commitment of these young men to the Sabbath and their passion for fulfilling mission is commendable, the musical style they use to share the Good News of salvation in Christ is regrettable.
Their musical style can be attractive to the masses, but it is incompatible with our faith. It is possible to put religious words to that music, but the music itself (independent of the words) will deliver a message contrary to those words.
Carlos A. Steger
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Order, Not Chaos
“Paulsen Speaks on Issue of Origins” (Jul. 9, 2009), the pastoral reminder on the issue of our responsibility vis-a-vis the creation account of Genesis is timely. It needed to be said, and heeded by Adventist teachers and pastors alike. The belief in a recent, seven literal day creation as spelled out by the church in its statement of the fundamental beliefs is not an option.
When a person takes the baptismal vow and becomes a Seventh-day Adventist, when a person accepts the sacred duty of a pastor or a teacher in an Adventist church or school, he or she is honor bound to uphold that fundamental belief in both the pulpit and the classroom and in every context where faith is shared or challenged.
While teachers in their normal duties in the classroom are expected to present alternate theories of origins, such as, evolution, they must not leave students in the wilderness of uncertainty where faith is questioned, doubted, or ignored. That luxury is not available to Adventist teachers or pastors. At the end of every discussion or debate on origins, students must be brought back to the home of revelation and faith, where abides the certainty that God is and that we are His creation.
John M. Fowler
Silver Spring, Maryland
Regarding Stephen Chavez’ editorial about evolution, “Evolve This!” (Jul. 9, 2009) he stated: “When a summer heat wave or a particularly threatening virus comes along, ‘at-risk’ portions of the population are urged to take precautions—the young, the elderly, the feeble.
“Why? If society is governed by the principle “survival of the fittest,” why be concerned about the weak, the marginalized, the infirm? Why not just let nature take its course?
“The same with the current preoccupation with the health of the planet: you can hardly go a week without hearing about how this or that ecosystem is being threatened. Hey, isn’t that what evolution is all about? Evolve or die?”
I would point out that humans, being social, improve their fitness through cooperation with other people. Even if survival of the fittest were taken as a basis for morals, it would imply treating other people well. Same thing with the environment: We have to cooperate with it by protecting it to ensure our own survival.
Sadly, the explanation of evolution in his editorial is not “what evolution is all about.” This fight against science and verifiable fact by the church will continue to drive away the young, especially today, where all sorts of claims can be verified with the click of a mouse. There is a huge gap between current Adventist theology and science. Misrepresenting science is not the right way to breach it.