Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daniel's Diet

I've been looking for ways to describe the importance of healthy eating from a Biblical perspective. The best example always seems to come back to the book of Daniel.

"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.' Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables* to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.' So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead."  -Daniel 1:8-16 (NIV)

*The word “vegetables” is translated as “pulse” (food grown from seed) in some texts.

In Daniel 10:3, Daniel says he ate "no pleasant or desirable food for three weeks, nor did any meat or wine come into my mouth." Because of this, Daniel's way of eating has come to be translated into a 21-day "Daniel Fast" by many people looking to rejuvenate their bodies, souls, and spirits (http://daniel-fast.com/).  Food choices are limited to fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and oil. The only beverage consumed is water. A modern day translation of the Daniel Fast means that aside from the exclusion of all animal products, there are no processed foods, white flour products, preservatives, additives, sweeteners, flavorings, caffeine, or alcohol allowed.  (More information can be found at: http://danielfast.wordpress.com/daniel-fast-food-list/.)

Essentially, this describes not only a vegan diet, but a non-processed, whole food diet as well.  This is without a doubt a strict way of eating that the average person would have trouble following on a long-term basis, and certainly would not be without some health consequences, such as the iron and Vitamin B12 deficiencies commonly found in vegetarians and vegans who do not properly supplement their diets with these nutrients. However, the larger lesson here, rather than how to go on the same 21-day fast that Daniel partook in, should be that "rich" foods should not be eaten on a regular basis, and a person's diet should primarily be comprised of plant-based foods.  (I once heard the saying, "What's the best diet to be on?" The answer? "The one you can stick with."  It stuck. A person's eating habits should be based on lifestyle changes.  Fasting for religious purposes is one thing, but don't kid yourself: if you want to improve your health long-term, fasting or dieting is not the way to go.   95% of all dieters regain their lost weight and more within 1 to 5 years.  You'll be more effective by making incremental lifestyle changes.)

There is a team of people compiling research being done to support the health benefits of Daniel's way of eating (http://danielfastresearch.com/).  As they point out, Daniel 1:8-14 is in essence "an early example of a controlled scientific experiment, in which one group (Daniel and his three friends) received the 'treatment' (vegetables) and the other group (the king’s young men) received the 'control.' The guard’s subjective assessment of their physical state of health served as the 'statistical analysis,' with the treatment of vegetables and water clearly outperforming the king’s usual diet of fatty meats, rich food, and wine." Further support for this way of eating has been documented by T. Colin Campbell (author of The China Study) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, both of whom were featured in the films "Forks Over Knives" and "PLANEAT."

Taking small steps towards a plant-based diet is ultimately the best way to go to improve health.  The Meatless Mondays campaign encourages people to go one day a week without consuming any meat, for example.  The authority on vegetarian diets from Registered Dietitians is the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).

Sunday, January 10, 2010


In preparation for starting my rotation at WIC this week, I came across this quote, on breastfeeding:

“Imagine that the world had created a new dream product to feed and immunize everyone born on Earth.

Imagine also that it was available everywhere, required no storage or delivery and helped mothers to plan their families and reduce the risk of cancer.

Then, imagine the world refused to use it.”


Mothers in New York State have a lot of rights in regards to breastfeeding in hospitals, public areas, etc. Other states and countries may have similar rights which you can look into, and if not you should find out why, and advocate for these rights. See here for the NY State Breastfeeding Bill of Rights (available in multiple languages).

Monday, November 2, 2009

more thoughts on faith

Check out this blogpost from cracktheplates.com - scroll to Oct. 29, "Vegan MoFo #29: Some thoughts on Faith." It relates well to my post from...3 months ago.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Manna God Gave Us

The theme of today's mass at church today was bread. The Deacon who gave the sermon preached that the story of Jesus feeding the masses with five loaves of bread and two fish is really about God testing us.

I'd like to take this story (about God providing us with food to eat and using it as a "test") a step further. Especially after reading The Jungle Effect, it seems to me that those who eat the food provided by God (i.e., preparing meals so that they bear as much resemblance as possible to the crops which grow from the ground) are the healthiest and suffer from the least disease. In The Jungle Effect, Dr. Daphne Miller explains that epidemiological "hot spots" are areas where there is a high prevalence of a disease, and so naturally, the parts of the world where they still eat indigenous diets are "cold spots" and have very low rates of these diseases.

Here are some more biblical references to eating the food God gave us: Psalm 78:24 says, "He rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven." Also, Exodus 16: "4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions."

It's shown that God provides food for us and expects us to gather only enough for that day. He does not want us to gather more than we need and save it (in modern day, this would equate to putting preservatives in it and in essence making less work for ourselves later on). God expects us to prepare our food daily when we can. When we don't do His will, the food becomes bad for us (in the rest of Exodus 16, copied below, you can see He puts maggots in the bread). When we become lazy - eating fast food, highly processed food with many preservatives - it leads to disease. Large farming operations that douse crops in fertilizers and pesticides and raise animals on CAFOS to increase yield are doing more harm than good, as this food is harmful to our body. Small farmers that don't use fertilizers or pesticides at all (or only use them minimally) are much more in keeping with what God wants.

God allows for us to save up sometimes - for the Sabbath, or perhaps also in the winter months. In this case whole, natural foods could be frozen or pickled for the winter months. These foods are sometimes available at farmers markets or CSAs during the winter. This is much different than buying highly processed foods from supermarkets and mega corporations, where you can normally only find products from the government's awful system of subsidizing commodities.

Exodus 16

11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.' "

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.' "

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning."

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' "

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.' "

33 So Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come."

34 As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony, that it might be kept. 35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Jungle Effect

Sorry I haven't been able to dedicate much time to this blog yet, but in the meantime, please read The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, MD. I first learned about this book when reading this article in Today's Dietitian.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spices & herbs

Adding spices & herbs to your food can be beneficial for your health. It's a good alternative to using a lot of salt (or eating processed foods that have huge amounts of sodium), which leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. Here's some info on adding spices & herbs to your food: Flavor that Food!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Meat was one of the topics addressed at the Practicum last week, where Rashmi Sinha from NCI (who is mentioned in the article below) presented.

Daily Red Meat Raises Chances of Dying Early

Basically what I remember from last week is that the more red meat you eat, the higher the risk of cancer there was. Very well done meat was associated with a higher risk of colorectal adenomas than well done, which was riskier than rare/medium. This is because cooking the meat produces carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzo[a]pyrene. In order of cancer risk: grill/BBQ gives the highest risk, followed by frying, other methods, baking, and finally broiling.

Red meat overall was associated with more adenomas than eating white meat.

Red meat also has saturated fat, which is associated with breast and colorectal cancers - and is associated with more cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

So ethical and environmental issues aside, for all intensive nutrition purposes, don't eat red meat. To quote Michael Pollan, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."