Hundreds of thousands trace the beginnings of their confidence in the writings of Ellen White to their discovery that scientific research validates her health counsels. It is fascinating to compare the latest scientific research with Mrs. White's comments regarding the components of a healthful life-style--as well as the dangers of animal fats, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, excess salt or sugar, and lack of exercise.
The late Clive M. McCay, Ph.D., long-time professor of nutrition, Cornell University, said, "As near as one can judge by the evidence of modern nutritional science, her extensive writings on the subject of nutrition, and health in general, are correct in their conclusions. This is doubly remarkable: Not only was most of her writing done at a time when a bewildering array of new health views--good and bad--were being promoted but the modern science of nutrition, which helps us to check on views and theories, had not yet been born. Even more singular, Mrs. White had no technical training in nutrition, or in any subdivision of science that deals with health....
"When one reads such works by Mrs. White as Ministry of Healing or Counsels on Diet and Foods, he is impressed by the correctness of her teachings in the light of modern nutritional science. One can only speculate how much better health the average American might enjoy, even though he knew almost nothing of modern science, if he but followed the teachings of Mrs. White.''1
In the early 1940s the use of live yeast was advocated as having therapeutic value as a source of vitamins because it contains vitamin B in appreciable amounts. For years the readers of popular magazines were urged to eat a cake of the yeast every day. But Ellen White, writing in 1905, had said, "Bread should be light and sweet.... The loaves should be small, and so thoroughly baked that, so far as possible, the yeast germs shall be destroyed."2 Obviously, Mrs. White's statement was questioned. But now it is known that yeast cells are capable of passing through the acid contents of the stomach without destruction and then proliferating in the intestines.
In 1946, University of Wisconsin researchers reported to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, "Those persons who regularly ate one or more squares of fresh baker's yeast daily with the idea of supplying themselves with extra amounts of B vitamins missed out....
"The yeast eaters not only failed to get extra amounts of B vitamins but may even have lost some of the vitamins they had gotten from other foods."3
In 1966 E. S. West and W. R. Todd wrote, "It is of interest that though live yeast contains a high concentration of thiamine, not only is the vitamin [B1] unavailable to humans, but the yeast also appears to compete with the body in the gastrointestinal tract for other dietary thiamine.... The thiamine of killed yeast on the other hand, is almost completely available."4
The Senate Select Committee
On January 14, 1977, the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs presented its study, Dietary Goals for the United States, the first comprehensive statement by any branch of the federal government on risk factors in the American diet.
The committee was assisted by some of the country's leading nutritionists: Dr. Mark Hegsted, Professor of Nutrition from the Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Beverly Winikoff of the Rockefeller Foundation; Dr. Philip Lee, Director of the Health Policy Program at the University of California, San Francisco; and Dr. Sheldon Margen, a nutritionist with the University of California, Berkeley. The following dietary suggestions from their report echo and validate Ellen White's counsel.
The following is a brief summary of the goals recommended:
1. Increase carbohydrate consumption to account for 55 to 60 percent of the energy (caloric) intake.
2. Reduce overall fat consumption from approximately 40 to 30 percent of energy intake.
3. Reduce saturated fat consumption to account for about 10 percent of total energy intake; and balance that with poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats, which should account for about 10 percent of energy intake each.
4. Reduce cholesterol consumption to about 300 mg. a day.
5. Reduce sugar consumption by about 40 percent to account for about 15 percent of total energy intake.
6. Reduce salt consumption by about 50 to 85 percent to approximately 3 grams a day.
The goals suggest the following changes in food selection and preparation:
1. Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
2. Decrease consumption of meat and increase consumption of poultry and fish.
3. Decrease consumption of foods high in fat and partially substitute poly-unsaturated fat for saturated fat.
4. Substitute non-fat milk for whole milk.
5. Decrease consumption of butterfat, eggs, and other high cholesterol sources.
6. Decrease consumption of sugar and foods high in sugar content.
7. Decrease consumption of salt and foods high in salt content.5
In 1890 Ellen White wrote: "God has furnished man with abundant means for the gratification of an unperverted appetite. He has spread before him the products of the earth,--a bountiful variety of food that is palatable to the taste and nutritious to the system. Of these our benevolent heavenly Father says we may freely eat. Fruits, grains, and vegetables, prepared in a simple way, free from spice and grease of all kinds, make, with milk or cream, the most healthful diet. They impart nourishment to the body, and give a power of endurance and a vigor of intellect that are not produced by a stimulating diet."6 "The Lord intends to bring His people back to live upon simple fruits, vegetables and grains...."7
Eighty-seven years later, in 1977, the Senate Select Committee said, "Increased consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole grains is also important with respect to supplying adequate amounts of micro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This is particularly important for those who are limiting their food intake to control weight or save money....
"Fats and sugars, the principal dietary elements that have displaced complex carbohydrates [unrefined natural whole-grain products, vegetables, fruits] are...relatively poor sources of micro-nutrients, particularly in view of the levels of calories they induce.
"...Furthermore, the high water-content and bulk of fruits and vegetables and bulk of whole grain can bring satisfaction of appetite more quickly than do foods high in fat and sugar....
"Highly-refined fruits and vegetables generally should not be viewed as nutritional equivalents or substitutes for the same food in its fresh form. . . . Potato chips and dehydrated potatoes should not be thought of as the nutritional equivalent of fresh, baked potatoes. In addition, it is apparent that potato chips carry significantly more fat than the baked or mashed form; potato chips are 40 percent fat compared to .1 percent fat in baked potatoes."8
Fats and Heart-and-Blood-Vessel Diseases
In 1868 Ellen White warned overweight individuals of their being "liable to acute attacks of disease, and to sudden death" if they continued a dietary program which included large amounts of animal fats.9
"Acute attacks of disease," such as strokes and heart attacks, are the major causes of "sudden death" in some countries. Coronary attacks and strokes are now known to be closely related to the saturated or hard fat in the diet. This type of fat is found almost exclusively in flesh foods, eggs, and dairy products. In 1966 the American Heart Association advised the public to reduce or control the amount of fats consumed, particularly saturated fats, because of the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
As Joseph T. Doyles, M.D., reported in "Modern Concepts of Cardiovascular Disease," "Diet is one variable that most consistently and convincingly has been related to...the prevalence and incidence of CHD [coronary heart disease]. Repeatedly and unequivocally it has been shown that the serum total cholesterol concentration can be raised or lowered significantly by manipulation of the total amount of fat ingested and of the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat.''10
Quoting from Drs. McGill and Mott, in "Present Knowledge in Nutrition" (a report published by the Nutrition Foundation in 1976), the Senate Select Committee states that "The average American ingests 600 mg. of cholesterol per day, well above the 400 mg. limit....11 Professional and governmental bodies in the United States and other countries have generally recommended that cholesterol intake be decreased to 300 mg. a day or less."12 The committee further notes that a single egg yolk alone contains 250 mg. cholesterol.13
One effective way to control cholesterol and enhance one's general health is through vegetarianism. The balanced vegetarian diet is based on the four basic food groups generally recommended today by nutritionists as a guide to good eating:
I. Four servings a day of fruits and vegetables (including one high in vitamin A and one high in vitamin C);
II. Four servings a day of whole grain or enriched breads and cereal products;
III. Two servings a day of milk or cottage cheese; and,
IV. Two servings a day of protein-rich foods.
Sugar and Disease
In 1890 Mrs. White wrote: "The free use of sugar in any form ...is not infrequently a cause of disease."14
In 1905 she wrote: "Far too much sugar is ordinarily used in food.... Especially harmful are the custards and puddings in which milk, eggs, and sugar are the chief ingredients. The free [unrestricted] use of milk and sugar taken together should be avoided."15
The Senate Select Committee said, "The most immediate problem often cited by nutritionists is the danger in displacing complex carbohydrates which are high in micro-nutrients, with sugar, which is essentially an energy source offering little other nutritional value....
"Sugar has also been implicated in tooth decay, which may be the most widespread disease related to nutrition.''16
The Misuse of Salt
Dr. R T. Trall, a noted physician and author of the late 1800s, stated in 1869 that "salt, being a poison, should not be used at all.''17
Ellen White spoke out against the "no salt" diet, but stated in 1884 (and repeated in 1905): "Do not eat largely of salt.''18
Dietary Goals for the United States notes that the intake of salt in this country is estimated to range from about six to 18 grams a day, according to "Recommended Dietary Allowances," published in 1974 by the National Academy of Sciences. The committee further states that the average human requirement for salt (according to Drs. George Meneely and Harold Battarbee in "Present Knowledge in Nutrition") is probably only about half a gram, and that the three-gram-a-day allowance, which is derived from the National Academy of Sciences report, "is more than enough.''19
"Salt has been found to cause an increase in blood pressure, hypertension, among some individuals, but others do not seem genetically susceptible."20
A person's inherent susceptibility to hypertension together with prolonged, high-salt intake seem to be key factors in the development of hypertension. "Drs. Meneely and Battarbee estimate that 20 percent of the United States' population is susceptible to hypertension and up to 40 percent of older people. They recommend reduction of salt intake as an important countermeasure.''21
Other researchers have found that when patients with blood vessel disease eat less salt, their blood vessel condition improves. Research also has shown a possible connection between high salt intake and changes in levels of gastric acid secretion, stomach cancer, and cerebrovascular disease.22
I. A. Prior, M.D., reported a study of two populations of the Polynesian Islands. The higher-salt-intake group had a higher blood pressure, which increased with age. The low-salt-intake group had only a slight upward change in blood pressure as they grew older.23
Coffee, Tea, and Unexpected Illnesses
In 1905 Mrs. White said, "Tea acts as a stimulant and, to a certain extent, produces intoxication. The action of coffee and many other popular drinks is similar. The first effect is exhilarating. The nerves of the stomach are excited; these convey irritation to the brain, and this in turn is aroused to impart increased action to the heart and short-lived energy to the entire system. Fatigue is forgotten; the strength seems to be increased....
"Because of these results, many suppose that their tea or coffee is doing them great good. But this is a mistake. Tea and coffee do not nourish the system. Their effect is produced before there has been time for digestion and assimilation, and what seems to be strength is only nervous excitement. When the influence of the stimulant is gone, the unnatural force abates, and the result is a corresponding degree of languor and debility."24
In 1967 H. A. Reimann, M.D., stated in the Journal of the American Medical Association that "the nature and degrees of reactions to caffeine are influenced by the age, [by] the emotional or nervous state, or by the idiosyncrasies of [the user]. Its action on physiological functions is inconstant and variable, often diametrically opposed in different persons, and even in the same person at [different] times." He stated nevertheless that, in general, the effect of caffeine is to stimulate the cerebral cortex, the thalamus, the vasomotor center, the respiratory center, and evidently also the thermal regulatory mechanism. And caffeine reduces the cerebral blood flow.
"Among the acute and chronic toxic effects are insomnia, irritability, cardiac palpitation, tremors, convulsions, flushing, anorexia, dehydration from diuresis, fever, albuminuria, and epigastric discomfort." His indictment of caffeine included coffee, tea, and cola beverages.25
As Samuel Vaisrub, M.D., Senior Editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association, noted in an editorial, "Caffeine is known to precipitate ectopic [eccentric] beats and to accelerate the heart rate. It raises the blood pressure, interferes with sleep, elevates the plasma levels of free fatty acids, and in diabetes it causes a disproportionate rise in blood glucose level in response to glucose loading."26
Soft drinks containing caffeine account for "about 65 percent of total soft drink consumption.... There have been findings of withdrawal symptoms of headache, nervousness, and irritability among subjects deprived of normal coffee doses as well as similar symptoms among those who may have ingested too much caffeine. ...Colas are of special concern since they are the major caffeine source for most children."27
Alcohol, the Brain, and Life
Ellen White was distressed as she saw men committing slow suicide. She wrote in 1885 that men were "destroying reason and life by liquor drinking."28 In 1905 she linked the use of alcoholic beverages with destruction of the sensitive nerves of the brain.29
In 1971 the U.S. Government Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reported in "Alcohol and Society," "Prolonged high doses of alcohol can result in pathological changes in peripheral nerves and other tissues. Also, it can cause brain damage, as evidenced by deterioration of various higher mental functions, such as memory, judgment, and learning."30
"Alcohol, in various doses and with various responses, can produce mild to marked central nervous system changes."31
"[Drinking] small quantities of alcohol usually reduces feelings of anxiety and worry and causes a mild but general reduction of inhibitions. If drinking is continued beyond euphoria and exhilaration, dysfunctional reactions such as aggression, antagonism, depression, and psychosis may appear, as well as disruption of speech and memory.
"...Adverse physical consequences associated with alcohol intake range from mild nausea to fatal cardiac arrest.... Gastritis, ulcers, and pancreatitis are not uncommon complications...
"...There is evidence that alcohol in quantity can injure the [middle muscular layer of the heart wall], either directly or through the metabolic changes it induces....
"...Abuse is defined as self-administration of a drug for non-medical reasons, in quantities and frequencies which may impair an individual's ability to function effectively and which may result in social, physical, or emotional harm. Abuse of alcohol, in this sense, occurs each time a drinker becomes intoxicated."32
As Kurt J. Isselbacher, M.D., notes, "Although alcohol is best known for its influence on the brain, it actually affects almost every organ system in the body."33
The U.S. Department of Public Health rates alcoholism as the third greatest health problem in the country, involving more than nine million people, or four to five percent of the total adult population. According to Richard W. Shropshire, M.D., writing in the American Family Physician, even social drinking is a source of significant health difficulties; however, "moderate drinkers [those who have two to six drinks daily] usually don't believe their low-level alcohol intake can cause problems." It can, however, cause "headaches, diarrhea, insomnia and irritability...."34
Tobacco: Lung Cancer and Other Fatal Diseases
In 1864 Mrs. White said: "Tobacco is a poison of the most deceitful and malignant kind, having an exciting, then a paralyzing influence upon the nerves of the body. It is all the more dangerous because its effects upon the system are so slow, and at first scarcely perceivable. Multitudes have fallen victims to its poisonous influence. They have surely murdered themselves by this slow poison."35
Scientific evidence for the relationship of cigarette smoking to many diseases has been extensively documented in the worldwide scientific literature. However, here a brief review will verify the above comments by Ellen White.
An article entitled "Cigarette Smoking Ten Years Later" in the Western Journal of Medicine noted: "In 1954 the American Cancer Society and the British Medical Research Council in separate studies observed a higher death rate among cigarette smokers than non-smokers. In 1962 the Royal College of Surgeons found cigarette smoking a serious hazard to health. In 1963 a second American Cancer Society report showed that death rates had increased over the years as the number of cigarette smokers increased.... In January 1964, a Special Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health to the Surgeon General of the United States concluded that 'cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant remedial action.'"36
Luther Terry, M.D., who became Surgeon General of the United States in 1961 wrote: "In 1964, when we released the report of the U. S. Public Health Service Surgeon General's Advisory Committee, Smoking and Health, our findings for condemning cigarette smoke for many of these illnesses were backed up by reports in professional journals on respiratory disease and cancer....
"We had come to the point where cigarette smoking, as a factor contributing to the death of 300,000 [now 500,000] people in the United States each year, could not be disregarded."37
According to the Surgeon General's report, "The risk of developing lung cancer increases with duration of smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and is diminished by discontinuing smoking. In comparison with non-smokers, average male smokers of cigarettes have approximately a 9- to 10-fold risk of developing lung cancer and heavy smokers at least a 20-fold risk."38
"Women smoking during pregnancy have babies of lower birth weight than non-smokers of the same social class. They also have a significantly greater number of premature deliveries.... The difference in infant weight may be due to vasoconstriction of the placental blood vessels or to toxic substances such as CO [carbon monoxide] in the circulation of the smoker and fetus."39
"According to a British study women who smoked during pregnancy had a 30 percent higher still-birth rate than non-smokers, and infants born to smoking mothers had a 26 percent greater death rate in the first few days than babies of mothers who did not use cigarettes."40
A striking dose-related association of the cigarette habit with myocardial infarction, sudden death, and coronary mortality in general has been demonstrated. W. B. Kannel, M.D., F.A.C.C., has shown in the Framingham Study that cigarette smoking has "a relatively immediate effect (triggering lethal coronary attacks in vulnerable persons).... It is encouraging to note that for those who renounce the habit (except for those over age sixty-five) the risk [of coronary heart disease] is half that of those who continue to smoke.''41
"Smokers dying of causes other than I.H.D. [ischemic heart disease] have been found at autopsy to have more coronary atherosclerosis than non-smokers. The major influence of smoking is upon the incidence of sudden death, however; and the data now appear convincing that stopping smoking rather rapidly decreases this particular risk."42
A supplement published by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare reports that "...cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer in men.... Smoking is a significant factor in the causation of cancer of the larynx and in the development of cancer of the oral cavity. Further epidemiological data strengthen the association of cigarette smoking with cancer of the bladder and cancer of the pancreas."43
In an article entitled "Smoker Who Kicks Habit Can Reverse Lung Damage," Dr. Oscar Auerbach, Professor of Pathology at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, stated: "All lung disorders increase in severity as cigarette consumption increases.... Cigarette smoking...[affects] the walls of the alveolar sacs, thereby causing emphysema, which is responsible for many deaths but even more disability....
"Typically, a lung section from a non-smoker reveals a 'smooth' lung. A lung section from a smoker with emphysema, however, is full of holes caused by the rupture of the alveolar septa and looks like a piece of Swiss cheese."44
In 1999 Philip Morris acknowledged for the first time that smoking is dangerous and addictive--a turnaround that appears to be aimed at protecting the world's largest tobacco company against smokers who might someday claim they were unaware of the dangers. The producer of the best-selling Marlboro publicly acknowledged with the debut of its corporate Internet site Wednesday, October 13, 1999, that smokers face serious health risks. The company posted its comments on smoking risks as it launched its $100 million ad campaign to change its image, which has taken a beating as smokers, unions, and the government have sued tobacco makers for compensation to recover billions of dollars in costs for treating sick smokers.45
Exercise and the Circulation of the Blood
In 1905 Mrs. White said, "Inactivity is a fruitful cause of disease. Exercise quickens and equalizes the circulation of the blood, but in idleness the blood does not circulate freely and the changes in it, so necessary to life and health, do not take place. The skin, too, becomes inactive. Impurities are not expelled as they would be if the circulation had been quickened by vigorous exercise, the skin kept in a healthy condition, and the lungs fed with plenty of pure, fresh air. This state of the system throws a double burden on the excretory organs, and disease is the result."46
In 1870 she said, "When the weather will permit, all who can possibly do so ought to walk in the open air every day, summer and winter.... The muscles and veins are enabled better to perform their work. There will be increased vitality which is so necessary to health."47
In their standard textbook, two famous physiologists, Drs. Best and Taylor, wrote, "The abdominal and limb muscles support the vein walls and prevent their 'giving' under the weight of the blood.... The intermittent contractions of the skeletal muscles in conjunction with the valves of the veins propel the blood in the upward direction."48
In 1960 Mervyn G. Hardinge, M.D., Dr.P.H., Ph.D., commenting on this well-known phenomenon, said, "In designing our bodies, the Creator built into our veins little one-way valves. The veins themselves, lying between muscle layers or under the skin, are compressed or squeezed as the muscles contract, thus forcing the blood upward, the valves preventing any back flow."49
The simple, matter-of-fact statement that through exercise "the muscles and veins are enabled better to perform their work" was made at a time when the venous circulation was but poorly understood. Today, based on an understanding of this concept, patients confined to bed are turned frequently and encouraged to exercise the toes, feet, and legs as much as possible, even while lying or sitting in bed, to maintain adequate circulation and minimize the development of blood clots and other related complications.