Diet and Destiny? The Now-and-Forever Benefits of Health Reform
Author: Jean Handwerk
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Health reformer Ellen White tells us that even our eternal destiny is influenced by what, how, and when we eat! Are we paying attention?

There are but few as yet who are aroused sufficiently to understand how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their characters, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny (1 Testimonies 488–489).

Our loving Lord has sent us health reform principles to prepare us for eternal happiness with Him, but also to relieve human suffering:

The work of health reform will go forward; for it is the Lord’s means of lessening the suffering in our world, and of purifying His people (Counsels on Diet, 38).

In this text, the love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for us is revealed. The work “will go forward.” Willing hearts and minds will be found to spread the principles of health that can alleviate the pain we feel on this Earth.

If God’s plan is to ease human hurting, and to prepare a people who will inherit the earth made new, what becomes of those who reject the dietary principles God has provided in plain language and detail in these last days?

Those who refuse to be purified by God’s health principles will neither share these principles with others, nor receive their benefits for themselves.

What a tragic loss, both for all heaven and for the individuals involved. But perhaps the focus has been too much on the negative consequences associated with rejection of health reform, instead of on encouraging people to obey.

This article, therefore, discusses recent research into the wonderful and exciting benefits of the health reform diet. We can begin to understand our Creator’s unsurpassed brilliance when we see the human body’s response to the diet He intended for us. This reaffirms our faith in Him, assures us of His love, and inspires our cooperation with all His efforts on our behalf.

Therefore, consider the following studies proving the truth behind God’s health message:

Lifestyle and Genetics

Comprehensive lifestyle changes including a better diet and more exercise can lead not only to a better physique, but also to swift and dramatic changes at the genetic level, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

In a small study, the researchers tracked 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer who decided against conventional medical treatment such as surgery and radiation or hormone therapy. The men underwent three months of major lifestyle changes, including eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products, moderate exercise such as walking for half an hour a day, and an hour of daily stress management methods such as meditation.

As expected, they lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and saw other health improvements. But the researchers found more profound changes when they compared prostate biopsies taken before and after the lifestyle changes. After the three months, the men had changes in activity in about 500 genes—including 48 that were turned on and 453 genes that were turned off. The activity of disease-preventing genes increased while a number of disease-promoting genes, including those involved in prostate cancer and breast cancer, shut down, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research was led by Dr. Dean Ornish, head of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, and a well-known author advocating lifestyle changes to improve health. “It’s an exciting finding because so often people say, ‘Oh, it’s all in my genes, what can I do?’ Well, it turns out you may be able to do a lot...In just three months, I can change hundreds of my genes simply by changing what I eat and how I live? That’s pretty exciting,” Ornish said. “The implications of our study are not limited to men with prostate cancer.”1

What’s so incredible about this research is that the health reform steps those men took changed them at the DNA level! This shows that God’s genetic engineering method is more comprehensive, successful, and safe than humankind’s genetic engineering.

Nutrition and the Brain

In another article on diet’s direct effect on the brain structure and chemistry, we read, "Most conventional Western diets imbalance the membranes [the nerves and linings of the blood vessels of the brain] not only biophysically but also biochemically.2

That means that not only are the membranes’ physical structure negatively impacted, but the chemical processes by which the mind operates are also affected.

Bear in mind that depression, an increasing cause of suffering in America, is usually a chemical imbalance in the brain.3

This bad news can actually be good news! Simply put, if we make just one change in our lives—if we avoid a Western diet—we can avoid many of the physical and mental consequences associated with it. Changing eating habits is not as difficult as it sounds. And imagine that positive effect throughout an entire family: lower health bills, fewer days lost from school and work, happier and calmer personalities—the benefits are numerous.

To the Israelites in the wilderness, whom the Lord was trying to purify with His diet of manna, God said, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).

I would guess that the Exodus participants never truly understood how beneficial to their health God’s provisions were. God, in His wisdom, knew what was best to cleanse them from the idolatry and pagan practices they’d been exposed to for 400 years.

We are told in Inspiration that, “mental and moral power is dependent upon the physical health.”4 God’s health reform at that time in history had mental and moral purification in mind as much as physical—just as it does today. In the same way that God was preparing His people to enter earthly Canaan—in part through health reform&mash;today He is preparing a people for heavenly Canaan.

Nutrition and DNA

In yet another study on genetic engineering via nutrition rather than physical gene manipulation, the conclusion was that is likely that differences in DNA methylation, and resulting changes in gene expression, are due to dietary variations in humans. This promising new area of investigation promises to enhance our understanding of how nutrition modulates [changes] the milieu [environment] in which biochemical and genetic mechanisms operate.”5

Once again we see a positive correlation between a diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts and our health, beginning at the intercellular level.

In that context, nutrition during gestation now becomes especially important. In Duke University animal studies, pregnant Agouti mice, bred to be obese for laboratory experiments on obesity, were given a single nutrient in addition to their usual diet. They “gave birth to pups that stayed slimmer as adults. Mice that did not receive [the same nutrient] in utero were much heavier as adults—double the weight,” in fact. In addition, the typical yellow coat of Agouti mice reverted to the normal brown of non-Agouti mice, “demonstrating that a single nutrient can have a widespread systemic impact.”

The Duke scientists said their results lend support to the “develop- mental origins of adult disease” hypothesis, in which an individual’s long-term health is influenced by prenatal factors.

“We are increasingly finding that our parent’s and even our grandparent’s nutritional status and environmental exposures can regulate our future risk of disease,”said Randy Jirtle, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology and senior author of the study. “In other words, it may not only be the hamburgers and fries we are eating, but also what our parents consumed or encountered in the environment that predisposes us to various conditions.”6

The study also shows that such effects need not be passed on “to the third and fourth generations of them that hate me” by not obeying divine health laws. Informed and dedicated parents-to-be can, to some extent, reverse genetic damage in their own children that might otherwise have been passed on to them according to the laws of heredity.

Apparently, a higher law motivated by compassion has made it possible to overcome at least some of our genetic predispositions for illness. What a wonderful God we have!

Clearly, the health reform diet has immense potential for prevention of disease and for restoration, improvement, or maintenance of health. In ways previous generations were not able to understand, we can now see more of the benefits of obedience to the health reform diet, which is nothing more than the “fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts” set forth so frequently in Inspiration on our behalf.



1. Will Dunham, “Healthy lifestyle triggers genetic changes: study,” Yahoo!News,, June 16, 2008.

2. Bernell E. Baldwin, “Nutrition and the Brain,” Journal of Health and Healing, Vol. 17 (2000), No. 3, 31.

3. That connection is well recognized by Dr. Neil Nedley, author of Depression: The Way Out. He knows from his research and professional experience that what we eat affects how we think. Therefore, his book and 18-day programs emphasize mind-healthy foods in conjunction with other lifestyle changes. His clients enjoy a 95% recovery rate.

4. Ellen White, Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 1, 61.

5. “DNA ‘methylation’ is increasingly identified as the trigger for environmentally-caused gene alterations. During this process, a person’s exposure to chemicals, nutrients, or even a behavioral experience such as nurturing can elicit a change in how a specific gene behaves—but without altering the genetic sequence in any way.

Rather, the exposure or event prompts a quartet of atoms or ‘methyl group’ to attach to the regulatory region of a gene, where it acts as a switch to activate or silence the gene. Such an effect is called ‘epigenetic’ because it occurs over and above the gene sequence without altering any of the letters of the gene’s four-unit code, said Jirtle. Micronutrients can change the extent of DNA methylation by directly donating methyl groups or by altering the efficiency by which DNA methylation is modified.” See endnote 6 for source of this information.

6. Science Daily, March 30, 2006. Adapted from materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Results of the study, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute, are published in the April 1, 2006, issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.