President Ezra Taft Benson: Natural foods, early sleep, and exercise affect your health AND your spirit.
“The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That's why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see D&C 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4), and that we should use moderation in all good things. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression. ... Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion, and a change of pace is necessary, and even its anticipation can lift the spirit” (“Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Nov. 1974).
Ezra Taft Benson: Junk food can cause health problems and shorten life.
“To a great extent we are physically what we eat. ... In most cases, the closer these can be, when eaten, to their natural state – without overrefinement and processing – the healthier we will be. To a significant degree, we are an overfed and under-nourished nation digging an early grave with our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours because we overindulge in junk foods. (“In His Steps,” BYU Devot, March 4, 1979).
President Boyd K. Packer: A main purpose for the Word of Wisdom is revelation.
"I have come to know that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. . . If someone `under the influence' can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings? As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically" ("Prayers and Answers," Ensign, Nov. 1979). "Your body really is the instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character" ("Ye Are the Temple of God," Ensign, Nov. 2000).
President Ezra Taft Benson: Drugs and harmful substances put people under power of the devil.
“The Lord foresaw the situation of today when motives for money would cause men to conspire to entice others to take noxious substances into their bodies. Advertisements which promote beer, wine, liquors, coffee, tobacco, and other harmful substances are examples of what the Lord foresaw. But the most pernicious example of an evil conspiracy in our time is those who induce young people into the use of drugs. My young brothers and sisters, in all love, we give you warning that Satan and his emissaries will strive to entice you to use harmful substances, because they well know if you partake, your spiritual powers will be inhibited and you will be in their evil power. Stay away from those places or people which would influence you to break the commandments of God. Keep the commandments of God and you will have the wisdom to know and discern that which is evil” (“A Principle with a Promise,” Ensign, May 1983).
Here is President Benson saying the quote above.
True to the Faith: Anything harmful is not in harmony with Word of Wisdom.
“Anything harmful that people purposefully take into their bodies is not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, p. 186).
President Thomas S. Monson: Treat our temple bodies free from harmful substances.
“‘The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Corin. 3:17). May we keep our bodies – our temples – fit and clean, free from harmful substances which destroy our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being” (“True to the Faith,” Ensign, May 2006).
Ezra Taft Benson: Health affects the spirit, and sin affects the body.
There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom. God has never given any temporal commandments – that which affects our stature affects our soul. ... Sin debilitates; it affects not only the soul but the body. The scriptures are replete with examples of the physical power that can attend the righteous. On the other hand, unrepented sin can diffuse energy and lead to both mental and physical sickness. Disease, fevers, and unexpected deaths are some of the things that have been directly related to disobedience. (“In His Steps,” BYU Devot. Mar. 4, 1979).
What about caffeine?
The LDS Church has NOT made a direct statement about cola drinks. On the other hand, there are quotes below saying we shouldn't drink harmful or addictive substances. An Ensign article that caught my attention is The Energy Drink Epidemic by Thomas J. Boud, MD. It's a very motivating article! He addresses the epidemic of health problems caused by overuse of the most common drug today: caffeine. Some of his quotes follow. The pictures below are based on his article.
Compare a healthy bone with a bone with osteoporosis, which is brittle and fragile. Osteoporosis is one of the health problems related to overuse of caffeine.
|Image from WebMD.com.|
Now compare a web made by a caffeine-free spider with a caffeinated spider.
|This is a normal spider web.|
|This is a web made by a caffeinated spider.|
The two spider web images courtesy of NASA, from this article.
Here are some quotes about caffeine.
Joseph Smith: “Hot drinks” means coffee and tea.
“Tea and coffe are what the Lord meant when He said ‘hot drinks’” (In Widtsoe, Word of Wisdom, p 85-86).
Priesthood Bulletin: Addictive or harmful drinks or substances should be avoided.
"With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised ... against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided" (Priesthood Bulletin, Feb. 1972 [volume 8, number 1], 3-4; see also "Staying Healthy: Welfare Services Suggests How," Ensign, Jan. 1981).
Thomas J. Boud, MD: Caffeine abuse causes addiction and serious health problems.
“[There is] abuse of a drug to which people give little thought, even though it is now the most commonly abused drug on the planet. What [is the] habit? Excessive cola consumption. The drug? Caffeine. ... Doctors are seeing more and more patients with caffeine-related symptoms and medical conditions. This situation has been made worse by the exploding use of heavily caffeinated...‘energy drinks.’” (“The Energy Drink Epidemic,” Ensign, Dec. 2008.)
Some of the medical issues associated with caffeine abuse:
Jitteriness, agitation, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, rapid heart rate, decreased brain blood flow, compromised long-term growth in infants, elevated blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, osteoporosis, acid reflux, urinary incontinence, restless leg syndrome, tremors, irritable bowl syndrome, atrial fibrillation, episodes of rage, irregular heart condition, and potentially coronary heart disease. (See Thomas J. Boud, MD, “The Energy Drink Epidemic,” Ensign, Dec. 2008.)
Average amount of caffeine in different drinks:
- Regular cola: 41 mg
- Tea, brewed: 47 mg
- Coffee, instant: 57 mg
- Coffee, brewed: 107 mg
- Weak energy drink: 120 mg
- Average energy drink: 220 mg
- Extreme energy drink: 500+ mg
Click here for a printable handout of the quotes above that's the right size to glue into your scriptures.
|On the right side is handout of the quotes above.|
Go here for Word of Wisdom gems part two, including a timeline, scriptures, counsel on how to heal from illness, and my take on the whole gluten issue.