Restoring the Temple: Physiology of Digestion

Respect paid to the proper treatment of the stomach will be rewarded in clearness of thought and strength of mind. Your digestive organs will not be prematurely worn out to testify against you. We are to show that we appreciate our God-given intelligence by eating and studying and working wisely. . . . We are to appreciate the light God has given on health reform, by word and practice reflecting clear light to others upon this subject.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 101.

“God holds you responsible to obey the light He has given you on health reform.” Ibid., 102.

Clogs the Machinery

“You indulge your appetite by eating more food than your system can convert into good blood. It is sin to be intemperate in the quantity of food eaten, even if the quality is unobjectionable. Many feel that if they do not eat meat and the grosser articles of food, they may eat of simple food until they cannot well eat more. This is a mistake. Many professed health reformers are nothing less than gluttons. They lay upon the digestive organs so great a burden that the vitality of the system is exhausted in the effort to dispose of it. It also has a depressing influence upon the intellect; for the brain nerve power is called upon to assist the stomach in its work.

“Overeating, even of the simplest food, benumbs the sensitive nerves of the brain, and weakens its vitality. Overeating has a worse effect upon the system than overworking; the energies of the soul are more effectually prostrated by intemperate eating than by intemperate working.

“The digestive organs should never be burdened with a quantity or quality of food which it will tax the system to appropriate. All that is taken into the stomach, above what the system can use to convert into good blood, clogs the machinery; for it cannot be made into either flesh or blood, and its presence burdens the liver, and produces a morbid condition of the system.” Ibid., 102, 103.

Digestion Aided by Moderate Exercise

“Exercise is important to digestion, and to a healthy condition of body and mind. You need physical exercise. . . . Healthy, active exercise is what you need. This will invigorate the mind. Neither study nor violent exercise should be engaged in immediately after a full meal; this would be a violation of the laws of the system. Immediately after eating there is a strong draft upon the nervous energy. The brain force is called into active exercise to assist the stomach; therefore, when the mind or body is taxed heavily after eating, the process of digestion is hindered.” Ibid., 103.

Aided by Pure Air

“The influence of pure, fresh air is to cause the blood to circulate healthfully through the system. It refreshes the body, and tends to render it strong and healthy, while at the same time its influence is decidedly felt upon the mind, imparting a degree of composure and serenity. It excites the appetite, and renders the digestion of food more perfect, and induces sound and sweet sleep.” Ibid., 104.

Avoid Very Hot or Cold Food

“The stomach is greatly injured by a large quantity of hot food and hot drink. Thus the throat and digestive organs, and through them the other organs of the body, are enfeebled. . . .

“Food should not be eaten very hot or very cold. If food is cold, the vital force of the stomach is drawn upon in order to warm it before digestion can take place. Cold drinks are injurious for the same reason; while the free use of hot drinks is debilitating. . . .

“Many make a mistake in drinking cold water with their meals. Food should not be washed down. Taken with meals, water diminishes the flow of saliva; and the colder the water, the greater the injury to the stomach. Ice water or ice lemonade, taken with meals, will arrest digestion until the system has imparted sufficient warmth to the stomach to enable it to take up its work again. Masticate slowly, and allow the saliva to mingle with the food.

“The more liquid there is taken into the stomach with the meals, the more difficult it is for the food to digest; for the liquid must first be absorbed.” Ibid., 106.

Caution to Busy People

“Take time to eat, and do not crowd into the stomach a great variety of foods at one meal. To eat hurriedly of several kinds of food at a meal is a serious mistake.

“In order to secure healthy digestion, food should be eaten slowly.” Ibid., 107.

Limit Variety

“For those who can use them, good vegetables, prepared in a healthful manner, are better than soft mushes or porridge. Fruits used with thoroughly cooked bread two or three days old will be more healthful than fresh bread. This, with slow and thorough mastication, will furnish all that the system requires.” Ibid., 108.

“Do not have too great a variety at a meal; three or four dishes are a plenty. At the next meal you can have a change. . . .

“There should not be many kinds at any one meal, but all meals should not be composed of the same kinds of food without variation. Food should be prepared with simplicity, yet with a nicety which will invite the appetite.” Ibid., 109, 110.

War in the Stomach

“Disturbance is created by improper combinations of food; fermentation sets in; the blood is contaminated and the brain confused.” Ibid., 110.

“It is impossible for the brain to do its best work when the digestive powers are abused. Many eat hurriedly of various kinds of food, which set up a war in the stomach, and thus confuse the brain. . . .

“When fruit and bread, together with a variety of other foods that do not agree, are crowded into the stomach at one meal, what can we expect but that a disturbance will be created?” Ibid., 111.

Fruits and Vegetables

“There should not be a great variety at any one meal, for this encourages overeating, and causes indigestion.

“It is not well to eat fruit and vegetables at the same meal. If the digestion is feeble, the use of both will often cause distress, and inability to put forth mental effort. It is better to have the fruit at one meal, and the vegetables at another.” Ibid., 112.

Sugar and Milk

“Far too much sugar is ordinarily used in food. Cakes, sweet puddings, pastries, jellies, jams, are active causes of indigestion. Especially harmful are the custards and puddings in which milk, eggs, and sugar are the chief ingredients. The free use of milk and sugar taken together should be avoided. . . .

“Sugar and the milk combined are liable to cause fermentation in the stomach, and are thus harmful.

“The less that condiments and desserts are placed upon our tables, the better it will be for all who partake of the food. All mixed and complicated foods are injurious to the health of human beings. Dumb animals would never eat such a mixture as is often placed in the human stomach. . . .” Ibid., 113.

Afflict the Stomach, Afflict the Soul

“If men and women would only remember how greatly they afflict the soul when they afflict the stomach, and how deeply Christ is dishonored when the stomach is abused, they would be brave and self-denying, giving the stomach opportunity to recover its healthy action. While sitting at the table we may do medical missionary work by eating and drinking to the glory of God.” Ibid., 111.