Biblical View of Food, Health and Nutrition
Mr. Mathew Stephen
Life consists of a series of choices. The choices we make on a day to day basis affect our health tomorrow, next year or the near future. In other words, all that we eat and don’t eat affect the long term picture of our health.
Genetic factors influence the equation in some ways, but the health and nutrition choices you make today can still help determine whether you end up battling heart disease, diabetes or cancer tomorrow.
Ask yourself a question- why do I eat this? Most of what we eat comes from ill-founded, unwise, and unconscious choices. In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 we read “…our body is the temple of God and we are not to destroy God’s temple.” One way to keep it holy and not to destroy it is to eat right.
In Leviticus chapter 11, God gave the Israelites specific dietary laws of what to eat and what not to eat. Before man sinned, God gave them herb-bearing seeds and fruits of trees yielding seeds (Gen. 1:29). God’s initial plan for our best health was for man to be a vegetarian. Only after the flood, God added meat to his diet. We think we do not have to follow Levitical laws, including dietary laws. In Colossians 2:14, we read: “Christ only blotted out the handwritings of the ordinances that was against us.” Therefore, dietary laws still stand.
Bible teaches us to eat in moderation. In Titus 1:12, Cretans are referred to as lazy gluttons. One of the sins of Sodom was overeating (Eze. 16:49).
Recommended Meal Plan: 1 Meat or Fish, 2 or more vegetables, 1 serving of starch, Low fat Yogurt or diary and a Fruit.
Now let us look at what we can and cannot eat:
FOODS TO AVOID
1. All Pork Products : bacon, sausage, hot dogs etc. These contain sodium nitrite which reacts with acids in the stomach to cause cancer.
“…and the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat…” Lev.11:7
2. All types of Shell-fish and smooth-skinned Fish: which includes lobster, crab, shrimp, clams etc. and catfish. These are scavengers and stay on the bottom of the water collecting a vast array of parasites, contaminants, viruses and bacteria that can be lethal.
3. Margarine Products: including hydrogenated vegetable oil such as Dalda, commercial brands of peanut butter and margarine. All these are in the trans-fat family. One Medical study found that those who have a high intake of saturated fat have higher risk of coronary disease and high LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
4. Sugar Substitute: This contains aspartame. Diet soda also contains this chemical. Aspartame contains methanol, which is toxic and can cause blindness, birth defects, and brain tumors. Dr. John Olney (Washington school of Medicine) found DIET DRINKS can also cause brain tumor (Fed. Reg. 46.38285, July ’81). It is better to drink regular sodas and use regular white or brown sugar.
5. Junk Food : Most fast-food places use trans-fat and when heated to high temperature it undergoes a chemical transformation and becomes CARCINOGENIC which is cancer causing. Avoid French fries and eat in moderation- chips, cupcakes etc. Another food additive that should be avoided is MSG which causes breathing problems, chest pain and skipped heart beats and partial paralysis.
6. High Fat Dairy Products : Whole milk is second only to beef as the biggest source of saturated fat. Use skim milk or goat milk. Goat milk is very close in consistency and nutrient content to human milk. Dr. Robert S. Mendelsolin, a noted Pediatrician writes in his book, “How to Raise a Healthy Child” -“The best formula for babies is mother’s milk (not the baby formula) and this should be their source of nourishment for at least 2 years.”
7. Caffeine: Caffeine shows up in everything from coffee, tea and chocolate to nearly every soft drink (soda). Excessive consumption can lead to anxiety, depression, nervousness, heart burn, recurrent headaches and muscle twitching. People with high blood pressure should avoid or stop drinking caffeine beverages. Dr. McDougall, in his book, “The McDougall Plan” notes that caffeine has been associated with cancer of the urinary bladder. Can drink decaffeinated coffee.
8. Alcohol: Stay away from alcohol.
Statistics tell us that half of the Americans living today, if they continue with the same eating habits will die of some type of heart disease and one third will develop some form of cancer.
GOOD EATING HABITS
MEATS: Avoid red meats as much as possible. If you do eat red meat, do the following:
1. Eat far fewer portions of red meat (beef, buffalo meat). Red meat we eat is high in saturated fat, which leads to high cholesterol and eventually cardiovascular diseases.
2. Trim off fat in all Red meats.
POULTRY AND EGGS : Deut. 14:20 says: “You may eat all clean Birds. These include, chicken, turkey, ducks etc.
Eggs: Many people avoid eggs because of the problem with Cholesterol. Egg yolks are the best known source of CHOLINE, which is associated with brain function and memory. Also it contains LECITHIN which breaks up cholesterol of the egg yolk. Limit the the consumption of eggs to no more than 3 or 4 per week. Do not keep eggs for more than 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Never eat raw eggs.
FISH: Lev. 11:9-12 tells us what type of fish we can eat-Eat only fish that have fins or Scales. Clean fish include mackerel (ayala in Malayalam), sardines (mathi in Malayalam), salmon, herring (a family of sardines), flounder, perch, tuna etc. They all contain omega 3 fatty acids. These are essentialfatty acids and our body cannot manufacture it. We need to acquire it.
They help lower cholesterol, prevent arthritis, relief to migraine headaches and prevent certain types of cancer.
Note: Take fish oil capsules and eat fish. Do not freeze fish for more than a Month. Do not deep-fry fish, it cancels out the omega 3 fatty acid.
GRAINS: When it comes to nutritional value of grains, choose whole grains. Instead of whole grain cereal, we feed our children commercial breakfast cereals, that are usually 50% sugar. Eat whole grain wheat, barley, oats and rye. Wheat is high in Vitamin B, iron, zinc and vitamin E. It is also high in fiber. Gluten is the main protein found in grains.
Wheat is high in gluten and rice has the lowest amount of gluten. Brown Rice contains 70 anti-oxidants.
DAIRY PRODUCTS: Butter, whole milk and cheese are all high in saturated fat which raises BAD cholesterol. Pasteurized and homogenized whole milk breaks down the butter-fat and which will build up as plaque in our arteries. Drink skim or non-fat milk. Skim milk lowers LDL (bad)cholesterol in the liver output. Soya-milk is also good.
BUTTER: Mix butter with equal parts of olive oil if you have to use butter.
YOGURT: is the healthiest of all the dairy products. Yogurt contains friendly bacteria as well as Vitamin A and B. Yogurt is regarded around the world as “super food.”
BEANS: are loaded with soluble fiber which help to lower LDL and reduce Blood pressure. They are full of Vitamin C, potassium, carbohydrates and high levels of protein and has no cholesterol or fat. Beans include chickpeas, green peas, green split peas and lentils.
GARLIC AND ONIONS: contain 150 chemicals that we need, has antibiotic and antiseptic properties. High in Vitamin B and C.
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: includes broccoli, cauliflower, all leafy vegetables and cabbage. These help reduce cancer. Broccoli is especially rich in photo nutrients that protect against cancer and increase antioxidant enzymes.
CAROTENOID VEGETABLES: These are yellow, orange and red color vegetables. These have Beta-Carotene- Vitamin A, Lycopene antioxidant red color found in tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, carrots etc. Other carotenoid vegetables include squash, sweet potatoes, bitter gourd, snake gourd etc. These are also high in soluble fiber.
COOKING OIL: Poly-unsaturated fats found in safflower, sunflower and corn oil produce lipid peroxide that does damage to the body at the cellular level. Use coconut and palm oil moderately. Use mono-unsaturated oils such as Olive oil. Use extra virgin olive oil which is the first pressing of olives, no refining. Olive oil decreases bad cholesterol and increase HDL level.
WATER: Water is necessary for nearly every body function- circulation, digestion, absorption, and excretion. It is also necessary for lung function. Drink 8 glasses of filtered water
FRUITS AND NUTS: Purple and Red grapes contain resveratrol which help protect blood vessels by inhibiting cancer activity. Apples lower bad cholesterol, fight viruses, stabilize blood sugar, prevent tooth decay and stop the growth of cancer cells. It should be eaten without peeling. Eat plenty of berries (mulberry, strawberry etc.)-these are high in anti-oxidants and reduce cancer. Watermelon reduces prostate cancer and papaya reduces gall bladder diseases.
NUTS: are rich in minerals- have zinc, iron, copper and calcium. Eat almonds, peanuts, cashews etc. Also provides Omega 6 fatty acid- this helps with brain function, growth, skin, hair growth etc. Since nuts are high in calories eat occasionally and handful of it.
FIBER: There are 2 forms of fiber, which are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber such as pectin, which is found in most fruits, dissolves easily in water- so it can be absorbed in the intestine and circulated in the blood-stream. Soluble fiber once in the blood has the ability to attach itself to blood fats and create a complex that will remove these fats from the blood system, thus lowering cholesterol. Insoluble fiber is not absorbed in the intestine, it remains there and forms the majority of the bulk necessary to sweep bodily wastes through the intestine and out of the body.
ANTIOXIDANTS: Under ideal conditions our bodies manufacture enough anti-oxidants to keep excess free radicals under control. Free radicals, will steal atoms or protons from the cells in our body, causing cell injury and possibly altering the
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid- unique hereditary material) with deadly consequences. Free radicals released through the effect of environmental and lifestyle factors such as smoking, pollution, drugs, ultraviolet light, pesticides, radiation, emotional stress, tissue injuries, sore and strained muscles, overcome the antioxidants we manufacture in our bodies. Exercise and proper food choices can help strengthen our internal antioxidant resources. But we still need to supplement our diets with external anti-oxidants to help scavenge and neutralize free radicals.
The 3 primary Anti-oxidants are: Vitamin E, C and Beta-Carotene. Antioxidants help prevent cancer.
1. Make sure your diet includes adequate amount of natural fiber.
2. Supplement your daily meals with Vitamins, Minerals and Anti-Oxidant supplements.
3. Drink at least 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
4. Make sure you get your daily requirements of essential fatty acids: Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils.
5. Exercise correctly and consistently.
6. Learn how to manage stress.
7. Get enough sleep (at least 8 hours).
“Dear friends, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 2 (NIV).