I am 35 years of age and grateful for the emphasis the Seventh-day Adventist Church places on healthful nutrition. I understand that eating well can help control weight and diabetes as well as decrease heart disease and even influence longevity; but can an overall healthful lifestyle influence my mood, emotions, and well-being?
Since its inception the Seventh-day Adventist Church has placed significant emphasis on health and well-being. In 1863 Adventist Church cofounder Ellen White1 received a major health vision, which emphasized wholistic health of body, mind, and spirit (an earlier vision in 1848 revealed mainly the dangers of tobacco). This message was given because our “work was not yet done.” A healthful lifestyle may prolong life and prevent and modify disease, but the main purpose is to fit us for service—sharing wholeness despite our brokenness, and serving all. Selfless service itself enhances our physical and emotional well-being.
A healthful diet improves our physical health. A balanced vegetarian (plant-based) diet can also improve our mood. A recent analysis2 of older people on the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) low-sodium diet showed that those who adhered most closely to the diet were less likely to suffer from depression. These results are significant as depression becomes more common as individuals age. The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables and fruit, low-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts, and unsaturated fats, allowing very little red meat. Robust scientific literature shows a strong connection between a balanced vegetarian diet, a positive mood, enhanced happiness, and less depression. This includes large studies on Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians.
Regular, moderate exercise improves health and fitness. It also improves our mood and feelings of well-being, and can be protective against depression. These effects are more obvious during activity. The body produces endorphins, chemicals that elevate our mood and reduce pain. Our ability to plan, think, and problem-solve is enhanced by exercise; curiosity is also increased. Regular exercise may decrease the progression of dementia, and may even delay its onset. So let’s move!
Adequate sleep and rest make us more efficient and allow us to think more clearly. We are more pleasant, less grumpy, and less anxious. Healthy sleep patterns are associated with less obesity, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Time magazine3 attributes the weekly Sabbath day of rest, reflection, and recharging as being a significant factor in the increased longevity of Adventists living in Loma Linda, California, United States.
A healthful lifestyle improves our mood, emotions, longevity, spirituality, and well-being. God has given guidance on how we can be healthy, happy, and holy. Our health and wellness are to be channeled into His service as conduits of His grace to a suffering world—with no strings attached. It is exciting to live in a time when science accurately confirms the instructions given by our Creator, His Word, and prophecy!
1 To learn about Ellen G. White, go to www.whiteestate.org/about/egwbio.asp.
2 2018 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting. Abstract 3569 (P2.179). To be presented April 23, 2018.
3 See, for example, J. Kluger and A. Sifferlin, “The Surprising Secrets to living Longer—and Better,” Time, Feb. 26, 2018, p. 53.
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.
Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.