Modern Medicine Proves White Wrong
By Dirk Anderson, Oct. 2009, last updated Oct. 2023
Many years ago, SDA leaders claimed Mrs. White received her health teachings directly from heaven. In more recent times, after Dr. Ronald Numbers and Elder Walter Rea exposed the extent of Mrs. White's plagiarism of other health reformers, many SDAs are beginning to admit, at least privately, that she copied most of her health ideas from other health reformers of her day. However, they insist that God guided her in what materials to copy into her books and what materials to leave out. Is this true? Are her health writings really inspired? The evidence below will demonstrate that her writings were no more inspired than the reformers she copied from.
1. Is the Vegan Diet Really Better?
In her writings Mrs. White repeatedly advocated a vegan diet as the ideal diet for her followers. In spite of the fact that Mrs. White ate meat most of her life, she forbade her followers from eating meat and commanded they go vegan:
"Meat should not be placed before our children. Its influence is to excite and strengthen the lower passions, and has a tendency to deaden the moral powers. Grains and fruits prepared free from grease, and in as natural a condition as possible, should be the food for the tables of all who claim to be preparing for translation to heaven."1
Mrs. White emphasized that in order for Seventh-day Adventists "to attain to Christian perfection" they needed to make sure meat, eggs, and butter were not provided to their children:
"You should study to prepare a simple yet nutritious diet. Flesh meats, and rich cakes and pies prepared with spices of any kind, are not the most healthful and nourishing diet. Eggs should not be placed upon your table. They are an injury to your children. Fruits and grains, prepared in the most simple form, are the most healthful, and will impart the greatest amount of nourishment to the body, and, at the same time, not impair the intellect."2
Apparently Mrs. White's spirit guides forgot to inform her of the following scientific fact about vegan diets:
"Children on low-fat and/or vegan diets can suffer from growth problems, failure to thrive, and learning disabilities."3
Here is a another quote where Mrs. White advocates a vegan diet to her followers:
"Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it. I cannot think that in the practice of flesh eating we are in harmony with the light which God has been pleased to give us. All who are connected with our health institutions especially should be educating themselves to subsist on fruits, grains, and vegetables."4
In addition to restricting meat from the diet, Mrs. White took a dim view of dairy foods and eggs. She instructed that "cheese should never be introduced into the stomach."5 Mrs. White forbid the use of eggs and milk in baked goods although she did allow for vegetables to be cooked with milk or cream.6 She also permitted use of milk and eggs by the ill and for those too poor to obtain alternative foods.7 When it came to butter, she said it was "better to dispense with it altogether."8
So, while allowing for a very limited usage of milk, cream, and eggs, Mrs. White made it clear that SDAs were to progress toward a purely vegan diet:
"Let the diet reform be progressive. Let the people be taught how to prepare food without the use of milk or butter. Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time is near when, because of the iniquity of the fallen race, the whole animal creation will groan under the diseases that curse our earth."9
In 1901, she instructed an SDA physician that in the future Adventists would discard with dairy and eggs:
"Soon butter will never be recommended, and after a time milk will be entirely discarded; for disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time will come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter."10
Even though few SDAs have progressed to the vegan diet advocated by the divine revelations of Ellen White, her followers today are making fantastic claims about their vegetarian diet. Some say that this diet, supposedly given to Ellen White in a "health reform" vision by none other than God Himself, has directly resulted in the SDA people living longer, healthier lives than those less-enlightened flesh eaters. Is this the truth? Do scientific studies, such as the Adventist Lifestyle Study, confirm this? Is a diet of "fruits, grains, and vegetables" indeed the healthiest for Christians? Will it reduce disease and lead to a healthier, longer life?
Pros and Cons of a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet
In recent decades, due to environmental reasons, millions of people have adopted a vegan or vegetarian diet. There are some benefits from this diet. There is some evidence a vegan diet can benefit one's health in the following ways:11
While this may appear as vindication for the vegan diet, the truth is not so simple. Many of the health differences between vegans and meat-eaters are most pronounced in people who eat large volumes of meat. Studies have shown that there are much smaller differences between vegans and meat-eaters who eat smaller volumes of meat. There are many nuances about eating meat that must be understood:11
To conclude, while there are some health benefits from a Vegan or Vegetarian diet, many of those benefits can be gained by eating less red meat, and less processed meat, rather than abstaining from meat. Adding fish to the diet can also reduce the risk of some diseases.
There are several well-known negatives to a Vegan diet:11
Vegan Diet Does NOT Reduce Mortality
A 2019 meta-study at Cambridge University, analyzed over 280,000 participants in eight different studies, including the SDA Lifestyle studies. Great care was taken to reduce non-dietary factors from the study. The researches concluded there is no significant difference in mortality between vegans/vegetarians and meat-eaters:
"Overall mortality is similar for vegetarians and comparable non-vegetarians."13
A 2021 meta-survey involving 131,869 participants compared a vegetarian diet to a non-vegetarian diet. The researchers concluded there was no difference "all-cause and cerebrovascular mortality."14 To conclude, there is no evidence to believe that vegans or vegetarians have any lower overall mortality than meat eaters.
Does Low-Fat = Less Disease?
In 2006, one of the largest scientific studies ever conducted studied the effects of a low-fat diet. The study involved 48,000 women, of whom 40% cut their fat intake in half by increasing "their consumption of fruit, vegetables and grains," much akin to Mrs. White's recommendations. After eight years, the results were in:
"Those women told to follow a low-fat diet had more or less the same rates of these diseases as those who continued to eat whatever they fancied."
Some SDAs have claimed that studies on Seventh-day Adventists prove that eating meat causes cancer. However, there are many other factors involved besides diet. For example, SDAs do not smoke and because of the sect's emphasis on healthy living, they tend to pay closer attention to living a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Stephen Byrnes writes:
"It is usually claimed that vegetarians have lower cancer rates than meat-eaters, but a 1994 study of vegetarian California Seventh Day Adventists showed that, while they did have lower rates for some cancers (e.g., breast and lung), they had higher rates for several others (Hodgkin's disease, malignant melanoma, brain, skin, uterine, prostate, endometrial, cervical and ovarian), some quite significantly. In that study, the authors actually admitted that 'Meat consumption, however, was not associated with a higher [cancer] risk' and that 'No significant association between breast cancer and a high consumption of animal fats or animal products in general was noted'."16
The relationship between meat eating and heart disease is also questionable. Dr. Byrnes writes:
"It also does not appear that vegetarian diets protect against heart disease. A study on vegans in 1970 showed that female vegans had higher rates of death from heart disease than non-vegan females>. A recent study showed that Indians, despite being vegetarians, have very high rates of coronary artery disease. High-carbohydrate/low-fat diets (which is what vegetarian diets are) can also place one at a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer due to their hyperinsulemic effects on the body. Recent studies have also shown that vegetarians have higher homocysteine levels in their blood. Homocysteine is a known cause of heart disease. ...
Do vegetarians actually live longer than meat eaters? The Adventist Lifestyle Study claims that SDAs out-live non-SDAs by at least nine years, but is that due to their vegetarianism or to other factors, such as not smoking and living a healthy lifestyle?
It is a great selling point for the sect: Become a Seventh-day Adventist and live a decade longer! But are the health teachings of Ellen White really unique in some way that makes SDAs live longer than everyone else?
It has been discovered that the bulk of SDA longevity is due to factors that many other Christians are also practicing. For example, recent studies have suggested that having a religious belief and praying could increase the life span:
If one were to add up all these years saved by living a Christian lifestyle, that equates to ten years, which is approximately how much longer SDAs outlive the general population. If that is combined with moderation in drinking alcohol, as nearly all Christian denominations advise, then there is virtually no gap between Seventh-day Adventists and Christians of other denominations. If you are a practicing Christian who abstains from tobacco, drinks in moderation, and exercises regularly, then do not expect to live any longer by adopting the Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle!
Dr. Byrnes informs us:
"There is no proof that a healthy vegetarian diet, when compared to a healthy omnivorous diet, will result in a longer life. Additionally, people who choose a vegetarian lifestyle typically also choose not to smoke; they choose to exercise; in short, they choose to live a healthier lifestyle. These things also are factors in one's longevity. ... Russell Smith, PhD, in his massive review study on heart disease, showed that as animal product consumption increased among some study groups, death rates actually decreased! Such results were not obtained among vegetarian subjects. For example, in a study published by Burr and Sweetnam in 1982, analysis of mortality data revealed that, although vegetarians had a slightly (0.11%) lower rate of heart disease than non-vegetarians, the all-cause death rate was much higher for vegetarians.
One example that refutes the idea that a vegetarian diet increases longevity is the Icelandic diet. Since Iceland has such a short growing season (40 days), they do not grow many fruits or vegetables. Their diet consist primarily of Skyr (cultured milk), lamb, bread, fish, and beef. The typical Icelandic male drinks alcohol and eats virtually no vegetables. In nearly every regard, this is the exact opposite of the diet recommended by Ellen White. Interestingly enough, the average life span for an Icelandic man is 79.7 years, whereas the average life span for an SDA man in the USA is 78.5 years.24 This proves a man can eat plenty of meat, drink milk and alcohol, and still live a long, healthy life.
Digestive Track Designed for Vegetarian Eating?
The claim is often put forward by Adventists that the human digestive track is not designed for meat eating. Dr. Bryce writes:
"Some vegetarian groups claim that since humans possess grinding teeth, like herbivorous animals, and longer intestines than carnivorous animals, this proves the human body is better suited for vegetarianism. This argument fails to note several human physiological features which clearly indicate a design for animal product consumption.
Dr. Byrnes warns of the dangers to Vegans from a lack of vitamin B12:
"While lacto and lacto-ovo vegetarians have sources of vitamin B12 in their diets (from dairy products and eggs), vegans (total vegetarians) do not. Vegans who do not supplement their diet with vitamin B12 will eventually get anaemia (a fatal condition) as well as severe nervous and digestive system damage. Most, if not all, vegans have impaired B12 metabolism, and every study of vegan groups has demonstrated low vitamin B12 concentrations in the majority of individuals. Several studies have been done, documenting B12 deficiencies in vegan children--deficiencies which often have had dire consequences. Additionally, claims are made in vegan and vegetarian literature that B12 is present in certain algae, in tempeh (a fermented soy product) and in brewer's yeast. All of them are false, as vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods. Brewer's and nutritional yeasts do not contain B12 naturally; they are always fortified from an outside source."26
Dr. H. Leon Abrams highlights other deficiencies in the vegetarian diet:
"In addition to lacking vitamin B12, extreme vegetarian diets are often deficient in adequate proteins and even calories. Moreover, total vegetarian diets tend to be low in calcium and riboflavin (Raper and Hill 1973). Certain coarse, green leafy vegetables may be high in calcium, but the calcium is not well absorbed because of the high fiber content of the diet, and other minerals, including zinc, phosphorus, and iron, may also be poorly absorbed (Haviland 1967: 316-25; Reinhold et al. 1976: 163-80; Bodzy et al.1977: 1139; Freeland, Ebangit, and Johnson 1978: 253).
Dr. Abrams examined native diets of various native meat-eating peoples and found the following:
"The Eskimos constitute a classic example. They lived almost entirely on a traditional diet of raw sea and land mammals, fish, and birds, and so long as the traditional diet was followed, Eskimos remained in excellent health. ... The Eskimo diet, then, also tends to confound the notion that meat and fats undermine human health. Paul Martin, for example, who spent years in the Arctic, discovered that although Eskimos consumed large amounts of animal fats, whale blubber, and seal oil, they did not have problems with cholesterol and, in fact, were remarkably free of degenerative diseases, especially those related to heart and to blood pressure (Martin 1977: 25-8).
Dangerous for Children
Dr. Abrams explains the dangers of a the vegetarian diet for children:
"Infants and children may suffer the most from extreme vegetarian diets. ... Infants breast-fed by women who are strict vegetarians have been found to be deficient in vitamin B12, and such lactating women are advised both to take a vitamin B12 supplement and to include soybean milk or fermented soybean foods in their diets (Dwyer 1979: 1-2). Vegetarian infants and children tend to be smaller and to grow at a slower rate than do children from the general meat-eating population. One factor may be the high-bulk/low-calorie content characteristic of vegetarian diets (Erhard 1973: 11).
Conclusion on Ellen White's Vegan Diet
It is questionable whether Mrs. White's admonitions about vegetarianism have benefited SDAs to any large degree. In fact, a pure vegan diet can be harmful to the growth and development of children if proper steps are not taken to insure the correct balance of proteins and vitamins. Dr. Barry Groves sums up the situation:
"Many people become vegetarians because they believe that such a lifestyle is healthier, particularly in terms of heart disease and cancer. They believe that an intake of meat, and particularly animal fat, will shorten their lives. As evidence of this, a study of largely vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists is usually quoted despite the fact that its authors conclude: ' We hope that no-one will take data from this report and use it to say Food A lowers or food B raises mortality risk.' It is certainly true that this religious sect suffers less from heart disease than the general population. However, the use of this argument to show that vegetarianism is healthier is flawed. A similar study of Mormons in Utah, who eat a considerable amount of meat, found similar low levels of the disease. In fact, the diet of both communities had little or no impact on their incidences of heart disease; the incidences of the disease is low because they are both close-knit and supportive communities, a situation which is known to be protective as far as such diseases are concerned.
2. Is Tea Really Bad for You?
Mrs. White compared tea to alcohol in its ability to destroy health:
"The drunkard sells his reason for a cup of poison. Satan takes control of his reason, affections, conscience. Such a man is destroying the temple of God. Tea drinking helps to do this same work. Yet how many there are who place these destroying agencies on their tables, thereby quenching the divine attributes."31
Mrs. White's prohibition included both black and green tea:
"I do not use tea, either green or black. Not a spoonful has passed my lips for many years, except when crossing the ocean, and once since on this side I took it as a medicine when I was sick and vomiting. In such circumstances it may prove a present relief."32
Many scientific studies have been done on tea. Scientists have found that tea contains polyphenols, biochemical compounds that include flavonoids, or antioxidants which prevent cell damage. Green tea contains the potent flavanoid EGCg. Black tea contains high amounts of catechins which have proven effective in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. Flavonoids and cathechins are tea antioxidants which have been the subject of research for the past twenty years. Numerous studies have been conducted testing the effects of these antioxidants which show favorable results for the prevention of strokes, heart attacks, cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as tooth decay and sunburn.
Research continues in a wide variety of studies involving tea's participation in cancer risk reduction and other health improvements. Here are the latest findings on black tea:33
Here are the latest findings on green tea:
The scientific evidence is overwhelming that tea--particularly green tea--is one of the most beneficial, health-restoring natural substances on earth. How unfortunate that the inspired prophet commanded SDA physicians not to prescribe this natural remedy to their patients:
"You will not prescribe flesh, tea, or coffee for your patients..."35
Were Ellen White's health teachings really inspired? You decide.
3. Is Coffee Really Bad for You?
Ellen White placed coffee in the same category as tea, believing it to be a dangerous substance that would destroy the physical and spiritual life of Adventists.
"Satan is taking the world captive through the use of tea and coffee, liquor and tobacco."36
Does coffee really ruin the physical, mental, and moral powers? Should it be discontinued to preserve health and prevent disease?
Not according to modern medical science. Under the title "Coffee May Protect Against Disease", according to the Harvard Medical School Health Letter, when coffee is used in moderation, it provides a whole range of health benefits:38
Seventh-day Adventists point to a few negative studies on coffee in an attempt to prove Mrs. White was correct. However, the vast majority of the evidence is weighted against them. According to WebMD, coffee has been the subject of 19,000 health studies in recent decades, making it the most closely studied substance in human history. In addition to cutting the risk of diabetes by 54% for men and 30% for women, reducing the risk of Parkinson's disease by 80%, colon cancer by 25%, and liver cirrhosis by 80%, gallstones by 50%, "there's also some evidence that coffee may help manage asthma and even control attacks when medication is unavailable, stop a headache, boost mood, and even prevent cavities."40
Tomas DePaulis, PhD research scientist at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world, says:
"Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful. For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good."41
Recent research has shown that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and increased longevity.42
4. Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Although Mrs. White used alcohol in private she publicly crusaded against its use. Mrs. White was a noted temperance speaker of her day and she warned people to abstain from all alcohol use. At some point in her lifelong crusade against alcohol someone must have pointed out to her that some people drinking alcohol were living to ripe old ages. Her admonition was:
"Those who use tea, coffee, opium, and alcohol, may sometimes live to old age, but this fact is no argument in favor of the use of these stimulants."43
While it is true that longevity is not a valid reason to use a mind-altering drug, it would certainly lead one to question just how dangerous moderate alcohol consumption is for adults. Mrs. White was probably unaware of the fact that when all other factors are equal, moderate drinkers of alcohol actually out-live both abstainers and heavy drinkers!
Two thousand years ago the apostle Paul advised Timothy to use a "little wine" for his infirmities.44 Paul was probably not aware that twentieth century scientists would be giving out the same advice for a "little wine." In recent years researchers were surprised to discover that wine drinkers in France had much lower cardiovascular disease than those who did not drink. Further research showed that all alcoholic beverages have this same effect. Researchers discovered that alcohol retards arterial aging and promotes the health of the endothelium, the layer of cells lining your arteries that promotes proper blood flow. More than two dozen studies have shown that drinking one or two drinks a day discourages heart disease.
Wine appears to be especially beneficial. Grapes and other fruits are loaded with phenolic chemical compounds called flavonoids, as well as other antioxidant compounds. These compounds have been shown to reduce the artery-clogging propensities of low-density lipids (LDL), the "bad" form of cholesterol, as well as inhibit the formation of blood clots. The grapes used to create red wine are rich in resveratrol, a component that increases HDL "good" cholesterol and limits the production of LDL cholesterol. Saponins, a plant protective agent found in the grapes’ waxy skin, which dissolves into the wine during its fermentation process, are believed to bind to and prevent the absorption of cholesterol and are also known to settle down inflammation pathways. Researchers think alcohol may make the saponins more soluble and thus more available in wine.45
One study also found that fruit consumption itself led to lower cardiovascular disease mortality--just drinking grape or other juice and eating fresh fruits may suffice to improve heart health. But wine presents these flavonoids and antioxidants to the body in a way that juices do not. During the course of processing ordinary juice, the phenolic compounds are largely degraded by their exposure to oxygen, dramatically lowering levels of the heart-helping chemical substances. Wine making, with its anaerobic process (that is, one not exposed to oxygen), preserves these. Juice is still "good for the heart," but perhaps not as good as wine.
Other recent findings:
Cardiovascular Health - In the Nurses Health Study, a study of the health habits of 90,000 nurses, researchers found that those who drank three or more drinks a week had a 40 percent lower rate of nonfatal heart attacks and arterial disease than those who did not. The study further found that women who drank one drink a day and men who drank one to two drinks a day did not have any higher risk of cancer or liver disease. However, those who drank more than this did increase their risk of cancer and liver disease. An Italian study found that women with moderate alcohol consumption cut their risk of heart attack by 30%. However, heavy drinkers increased their risk by 20%. In 2011, a meta-study of 84 studies on alcohol consumption and health determined that moderate drinkers had better heart health than those who abstained.46
Liver Damage - An animal study shows that light alcohol consumption seems to speed the recovery of damaged livers in rats. Researcher Dr. Gerald Minuk of the University of Manitoba said, the results "cause us to revisit what we are advising our patients who are interested in having one to two drinks per day but who are concerned about what effects that might have on the liver." In the study, scientists divided 86 rats, who had a portion of their livers surgically removed, into four groups. The group receiving high concentrations of alcohol showed inhibition of liver repair, as expected. The moderate consumption group, and the control group, which got water, showed neither bad nor good effects on the liver. But interestingly, the light consumption group had a more rapid recovery and an increase in liver repair. Researchers speculate that small amounts of alcohol may activate some protective genes.47
Sudden Cardiac Death - The Physicians' Health Study used data from 21,537 men over a 12-year period. Researchers found that men who had two to four drinks per week lessened their risk for sudden cardiac death by 60 percent. Those who had five to six drinks per week lowered their risk by 79 percent. Though some alcohol is good, more is not better. Rates of sudden cardiac death increased among people who had more than two drinks per day.48
Reduced Stroke Risk - A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says alcohol consumption appears to protect against ischemic strokes, which occur when blood supply to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. Ischemic strokes account for 80 percent of all strokes. "Our study showed that having a drink a day or perhaps two drinks per day can reduce the risk of stroke perhaps by as much as 50 percent," said Dr. Mitchell Elkind of Columbia University. The study found those who drank up to two drinks a day had a 45 percent lower stroke risk.49
Protects Against Lung Cancer - Researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain found that each daily glass of red wine reduced the risk of lung cancer by 13 percent. The Spanish researchers attributed the beneficial effects of red wine to its tannins, which have antioxidant properties, and to resveratrol, a substance shown to hamper the development of tumor growth in other research.50
Bone Loss in Women - Preliminary data shows that moderate drinking--no more than seven drinks a week--can increase estrogen levels, an effect that may prevent heart disease and stop bone loss in post-menopausal women. Heavier drinking, however, doesn't help and in some cases can be harmful.51
Hypertension - In persons with high blood pressure, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease is much higher in northern Europe and the United States than in Mediterranean countries. French researchers found that in persons with hypertension, moderate regular wine drinking reduced the risk of death from all causes, not just coronary artery disease.52
Gallstones - Half a glass of wine or beer a day reduced gallstone incidence about 40% in a Harvard study. Theoretically, a little alcohol increases the breakdown of cholesterol, making less of it available to form gallstones.53
Breathing Problems - A review of the medical records of more than 177,000 adults shows "that those who drink one or two glasses of wine, beer or liquor daily are 20% less likely to develop asthma, emphysema and other breathing problems."54
Cholesterol - "Any form of alcohol raises HDL [good cholesterol] and reduces clotting. Red wine has additional benefits--if consumed in moderation. It contains clot-inhibiting bioflavonoids and resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that guards cholesterol from oxidation." "A 2013 randomized controlled trial found a daily glass of red wine (100ml for women and 200ml for men) improved the LDL/HDL ratio by 13% over the course of 20 weeks." "More than 35 studies have shown that people who have one to two drinks a day are 25% to 40% less likely than nondrinkers to have a heart attack." 55
Longevity - Perhaps the strongest evidence of the health benefits of moderate use of alcohol is longevity. The 90+ Study, which included over 1,600 people who lived to at least age 90, found that "people who consumed one to two glasses of alcohol (beer, wine or hard liquor) per day had 9-15 percent lower likelihood of dying compared to those who abstain from all alcohol." A huge 2021 meta analysis of 48,423 people found a "J-curve relationships between alcohol consumption and mortality in those with cardiovascular disease, with the greatest risk reduction being observed at 7 g/day for all-cause mortality and 8 g/day for cardiovascular mortality relative to current non-drinkers." A similar massive study of 99,654 older adults in 2018 also found a J-curve with those drinking one drink a day having the lowest all cause mortality. A 2020 study in the Netherlands found that the people who were most likely to reach age 90 were not abstainers but those who drank 5-15 grams of alcohol per day. A 2018 study at Harvard of 123,219 people found that those who drank alcohol moderately had the longest life expectancy. 56
Diabetes - A trial of red wine use by people with type-2 diabetes reported: "[I]nitiating moderate wine intake, especially red wine, among well-controlled diabetics as part of a healthy diet is apparently safe and modestly decreases cardiometabolic risk."57
Cognitive Decline - A 2018 study found that "moderate and heavy drinkers (up to 3 drinks/day for women and for men 65 years and older, up to 4 drinks/day for men under 65 years) had significantly higher adjusted odds of survival to age 85 without cognitive impairment."58
Are you a parent who allows your child to eat cinnamon? If so, Mrs. White has a rebuke for you:
"Parents who have taught their children to eat unhealthful, stimulating food, all their lives, until the taste is perverted, and they crave clay, slate pencils, burned coffee, tea grounds, cinnamon, cloves, and spices, cannot claim that the appetite demands what the system requires."59
Is cinnamon really that dangerous? Exciting new research has shown that Cinnamon can significantly lower the blood sugar levels of people with Type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown to lower "triglycerides (fatty acids in the blood), LDL (or bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol."60
"Cinnamon is one of the most anti-oxidant rich herbs on the planet. ... Cinnamon has been shown to have remarkable medicinal qualities that enhance blood sugar signaling, reduce inflammation, stimulate immunity and promote neurological health."61
Cinnamon has long been used by natural health advocates to stimulate the digestive system and relax the stomach, thereby supporting digestion. It is said to be effective in relieving nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Furthermore, cinnamon kills E. Coli bacteria. When added to apple juice contaminated with E. coli, cinnamon eliminated 99.5 percent of the bacteria. The spice is a potent antimicrobial agent.
Used since Biblical times, it may prevent urinary tract infections, reduce candida infestations, and kill bacteria that cause tooth decay.62
6. Pepper and Mustard
Mrs. White was opposed to the use of spices, particularly spicy peppers:
"Mustard, pepper, spices, pickles, and other things of a like character, irritate the stomach and make the blood feverish and impure."63
Mustard and pickles have both been used since Biblical times and modern scientific research has shown that these and other spices are not nearly as harmful as once supposed:
7. Sleep Better Before Midnight?
Once it was believed that the moon and stars favored pre-midnight sleep. "An hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours thereafter" goes an English proverb published in 1670. Health reformer Sylvester Graham taught that sleep was better before midnight:
"And all experience in civilized life has proved also, that, other things being equal, those who get a considerable portion of their sleep before midnight, are, as a general fact, the most healthy and long-lived."66
Ellen White apparently believed the myth about sleep before midnight to be a revelation of truth because she wrote the following:
"I know from the testimonies given me from time to time for brain workers, that sleep is worth far more before than after midnight. Two hours' good sleep before twelve o'clock is worth more than four hours after twelve o'clock. . . . "67
Through scientific studies of shift workers, modern sleep researchers have dispelled the myth that sleep before midnight is superior:
"As long as you fulfill your sleep requirement without interruption, it doesn't really matter what time you go to bed or get up. ... 'Grandmother' psychology tells us that sleep before midnight is best, and that one hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two hours of sleep after midnight. Again, 'it ain't necessarily so.' While the first few hours of sleep are the most restful in terms of deep sleep and the secretion of the growth hormone, it doesn't matter what the time on the clock is when such sleep occurs. Duration of sleep and regularity are what count."68
Contrary to what Mrs. White wrote, researchers have found that sleeping early in the evening, prior to 9 PM, results in a significant increase in the chance of a person developing Alzheimer disease.69
8. No Antidote for Strychnine Poisoning?
As one final example of Mrs. White's misguided health teachings, in 1864, she had a "vision" regarding strychnine:
"A branch was presented before me bearing large flat seeds. Upon it was written, Nux vomica, strychnine. Beneath was written, No antidote."70
Even prior to this "vision," English scientists had discovered charcoal to be an effective antidote. In England, by 1855, powdered animal charcoal suspended in sugared water was being used in London to treat poisoning with strychnine and other alkaloids. Later antidotes discovered by scientists include magnesium oxide, potassium permangnate, and tannic acid.
Defenders of Mrs. White are quick to point out that much of her advice on health is beneficial for us today. This we do not argue. She advocated eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking good pure water, and getting plenty of rest. All of this is good. However, mixed in with her good teachings are extremes that are either not beneficial or downright harmful. When one stops to consider that her health writings contain both truth and falsehood, then one must admit that these writings did not originate from visions of God, but were merely copied down from the other health reformers of her day. As such, her teachings are no better than the teachers she copied from, and represent the antiquated human knowledge of the nineteenth century. Science has advanced greatly since she wrote her books, and as scientists discover more and more about the human body and medicine, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Mrs. White's health teachings missed the mark a number of times. Today, anyone can clearly see that her health writings are not the product of divine inspiration as earlier generations had been led to believe. It seems that the more that science discovers, the more modern medicine proves White wrong.
1. Ellen White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, 63.
2. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church vol. 2 (1868-1871), 399.
3. M.M. Smith and F. Lifshitz, Pediatrics, 1994, 93:3:438-443.
4. Ellen White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, 380-81.
5. Ibid., 368.
6. Ibid., 113, 92.
7. Ibid., 202,205.
9. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 135.
10. Ellen White, Letter 14, 1901, 3. (To Dr. S. Rand, January 22, 1901.)
11. "Are Plant-Based Diets Good for your Health and the Planet?" extracted Feb. 8, 2023. https://www.ndph.ox.ac.uk/longer-reads/are-plant-based-diets-good-for-your-health-and-the-planet.
12. "New research sheds light on the role of meat intake and cancer," Oxford Population Health, Aug. 20, 2020. https://www.ndph.ox.ac.uk/news/new-research-sheds-light-on-the-role-of-meat-intake-and-cancer.
13. Paul N. Appleby and Timothy J. Key, "The Long-term Health of Vegetarians and Vegans," Cambridge University Press, Dec. 28, 2015. https://www-cambridge-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/longterm-health-of-vegetarians-and-vegans/263822873377096A7BAC4F887D42A4CA.
14. Ahmad Jabri, Ashish Kumar, Elizabeth Verghese, Anas Alameh, Anirudh Kumar, Muhammad Shahzeb Khan, Safi U. Khan, Erin D. Michos, Samir R. Kapadia, Grant W. Reed, Ankur Kalra, "Meta-analysis of Effect of Vegetarian Diet on Ischemic Heart Disease and All-cause Mortality," American Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 7 (Sep. 2021). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajpc.2021.100182.
15. David Usborne, "Modern nutrition: Forget all you ever knew about diets", The Independent World, 9 February 2006, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/modern-nutrition-forget-all-you-ever-knew-about-diets-466035.html, extracted Oct. 5, 2009.
16. Stephen Byrnes, N.D., "The Myths of Vegetarianism", Nexus Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 3, Apr-May 2002. Dr. Stephen Byrnes was a board certified naturopathic doctor through the American Naturopathic Medical Certification & Accreditation Board and the Natural Health Certification & Education Board. He also held registration as a nutritional therapist, had a PhD in Alternative Medicines, and a graduate diploma in naturopathy. Dr. Byrnes has had over 100 articles and papers published in health magazines and journals around the world. He was author of the books Diet & Heart Disease : It's NOT What You Think and Overcoming Aids With Natural Medicine.
18. Newsroom.lds.org - Health Professionals See Sense in Latter-day Saints' 170-Year-Old Health Code. Extracted from the Latter Day Saints News and Information web page verbatim as of Jan. 22, 2005.
19. Uwe Siemon-Nieto, "Pray Often, Live Longer", UPI.
20. Clem Boyd, "The Health Benefits of Prayer", Focus Over Fifty.
21. The Sunday Mail, September 26, 1999 p. 55.
22. Data from the American Journal of Epidemiology as quoted in "Longer Life", The World's Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets, (© 2008) p. 70.
23. Byrnes, Ibid.
24. Dr. Cate Shanahan, Iceland’s Genetic Secrets, Sep 6th, 2010, http://drcate.com/icelands-genetic-secrets/. Longevity for Icelandic males taken from "Country statistical profile: Iceland 2011-2012", for the year 2009, last updated: 18 January 2012. (http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/fulltext/191100121e1t003.pdf?expires=1339995695&id=id&accname=freeContent&checksum=639FC306B9B074CA20BAE186C50E6815). Adventist longevity figures taken from Jack Norris, RD, "Disease Rates of Vegetarians and Vegans", http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/dxrates: "Life expectancies in the Adventist Health Study were published in 2001 (2). They showed that white, non-Hispanic Seventh-day Adventists live longer than other white Californians (7.28 more years for men, 4.42 more years for women). According to the researchers, this group of Seventh-day Adventists were the longest-lived, formally studied population in the world (with an average life span of 78.5 years for men, 82.3 for women)." Footnote cited: (2) Fraser GE, Shavlik DJ. Ten years of life: Is it a matter of choice? Arch Intern Med. 2001 Jul 9;161(13):1645-52.
25. Byrnes, Ibid.
27. H. Leon Abrams, Jr., MA, EDS, "Vegetarianism: Another View", http://www.biblelife.org/abrams2.htm, extracted Oct. 5, 2009.
30. Barry Groves, Ph.D., "The Naive Vegetarian", http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/vegetarian.html, extracted Oct. 5, 2009.
31. Ellen White, Manuscript 130, 1899. Mrs. White was so opposed to tea that she went so far as to pronounce that God's people should refuse to help impoverished people who spend their money on tea: "I saw that the stewards of the Lord have no duty to help those persons who persist in using tobacco, tea, and coffee." (Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 224).
32. Ellen White, Testimonies on the Case of Elder E.P. Daniels, p. 53.
33. Taking Care, Vol. 22, Issue 11, Nov. 2000, p. 9. Prevention, Nov. 2006, p. 149.
34. Health Secrets, July 2004, PhiSciences.com.
35. Ellen White, Counsels on Diet and Foods (1938), p. 294.
36. Ellen White, The Review and Herald, May 1, 1900.
37. Ellen White, The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters (1985), p. 22.
38. Harvard Health Letter, "Coffee Health Benefits", February, 2009, http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/coffee_health_benefits, extracted Oct. 6, 2009.
39. Donald Hensrud, M.D., "Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Expert Answers", http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coffee-and-health/AN01354, extracted Oct. 6, 2009.
40. Sid Kirchheimer, "Coffee: The New Health Food?", WebMD, Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD., http://men.webmd.com/features/coffee-new-health-food, extracted Oct. 6, 2009.
42. Chieng D, Canovas R, Segan L, et al., "The Impact of Coffee Subtypes on Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Arrhythmias, and Mortality: Long-term Outcomes from the UK Biobank, European Journal of Preventative Cardiology 29, iss. 17 (Nov. 2022): 2240-49. dei:10.1093/eurjpc/zwac189.
43. Ellen White, Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 34. A good example is Elder Stephen McCullagh, who left the SDA Church as a young man and rejected Ellen White's "health message." In addition to eating meat and drinking tea, Stephen McCullagh occasionally drank heavily. His wife reported that he could put down a bottle of brandy in an evening (R. H. Abbott, "Sworn Testimony October 6, 1952," DF 28-C-I-B, EGW Research Center, Avondale College, Cooranbong, Australia). Despite this, he lived as long as Ellen White (Dec. 24, 1863 - May 17, 1951).
44. 1 Timothy 5:23. The use of alcoholic wine was a widely recognized remedy for some illnesses among both Jews and Greeks, as reflected in the Hebrew Talmud, the writings of Hippocrates, Plutarch, and Pliny (Fee, Gordon (1984), New International Biblical Commentary – 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), p. 135). “Wine was often helpful in settling stomachs and preventing dysentery (it disinfected water)” (Keener, Craig (1993), The IVP Background Bible Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), p. 619).
Ellen White and some Seventh-day Adventist leaders have claimed that Paul was encouraging Timothy to drink non-fermented grape juice, but this is unfounded (cf Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, September 6, 1899, paragraph 2). The question is, why would Timothy need exhortation to drink "grape juice"? It would appear that Timothy had refrained from the use of any alcohol, even for medicinal purposes, to protect his reputation. This was taking Paul's admonition against alcohol to an extreme. Paul corrected the extreme stance taken by Timothy by establishing the principle that the concern's over one's health are to hold precedence over the various prohibitions against consuming alcoholic beverages. For a further discussion on wine in the Bible, refer to: https://m3rcytriumphs.wordpress.com/more-on-yayin/.
45. "Grapes", www.whfoods.com.
46. Jean Carper, Food, Your Miracle Medicine, 31-32. P.E. Ronksley, S.E. Brien, B.J. Turner, K.J. Mukamal, W.A. Ghali, "Association of Alcohol Consumption with Selected Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," British Medical Journal 342, (2011):d671, doi:10.1136/bmj.d671. For further research, see Michael F. Roizon, M.D., Real Age, 1999, 249-250.
47. CNN, Nov. 8, 1999.
48. CNN, Aug. 30, 1999.
49. CNN, Jan. 5, 1999.
50. Thorax, Nov. 2004.
51. CNN, Oct. 18, 1996.
52. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Sep. 2004.
53. Carper, Food Your Miracle Medicine, p. 188.
54. Woman's World, Feb. 25, 2008, p. 5.
55. Joe D. Goldstrich, M.D., "Eating Right for a Healthy Heart and Long Life", p. 67; and Eric B. Rimm Sc.D., "Alcohol and Disease", p. 282, The World's Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets, (© 2008). Dirk W. Droste, et al., "A Daily Glass of Red Wine Associated with Lifestyle Changes Independently Improves Blood Lipids in Patients with Carotid Arteriosclerosis: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Nutrition Journal 12, 1 (2013):147. https://doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-147.
56. Mary Brophy Marcus, "Grab a Beer, Because There Might Be a Link to Drinking Every Day and Living Past 90," Men's Health, Feb. 21, 2018, https://www.menshealth.com/health/a18564484/alcohol-longevity-drinking-every-day-linked-to-living-past-90/. A.T. Kunzmann, H.G. Coleman, W-Y. Huang, S.I. Berndt, "The Association of Lifetime Alcohol Use with Mortality and Cancer Risk in Older Adults: A cohort Study," PLoS Medicine, 15, iss. 6 (2018): e1002585, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002585. Piet A van den Brandt, Lloyd Brandts, "Alcohol Consumption in Later Life and Reaching Longevity: The Netherlands Cohort Study," Age and Ageing, 49, Iss. 3 (May 2020): 395–402, https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afaa003. For comparison, a drink in the USA is about 14 grams of alcohol. Yanping Li, An Pan, Dong D. Wang, Xiaoran Liu, Klodian Dhana, Oscar H. Franco, Stephen Kaptoge, Emanuele Di Angelantonio, Meir Stampfer, Walter C. Willett and Frank B. Hu, "Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population", Circulation 138 (2018): 345-345, https//doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.032047.
57. Yftach Gepner, et al., "Effects of Initiating Moderate Alcohol Intake on Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: A 2-Year Randomized, Controlled Trial," Annals of Internal Medicine, 163, 8 (2015): 569–579, https://doi.org/10.7326/M14-1650. Chengyi Ding, et al., "Association of Alcohol Consumption with Morbidity and Mortality in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease: Original Data and Meta-Analysis of 48,423 Men and Women," BMC Medicine) 19, 167 (2021), https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-021-02040-2.
58. Erin L. Richard, et al. “Alcohol Intake and Cognitively Healthy Longevity in Community-Dwelling Adults: The Rancho Bernardo Study,” Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 59, iss. 3 (2017): 803-814. doi:10.3233/JAD-161153.
59. Ellen White, Health Reformer, Dec. 1, 1870.
60. Judy Foreman, Boston Globe, "Cinnamon joins cholesterol battle", August 24, 2004.
61. Dr. David Jockers, "Cinnamon: the blood sugar stabilizer", April 22, 2012, NaturalNews.com, http://www.naturalnews.com/035642_cinnamon_blood_sugar_regulating.html.
62. Jordin Rubin, Ph.D., The Maker's Diet, 181.
63. Ellen White, Ministry of Healing 325.
64. Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions (2nd Edition), New Trends Publishing, (1999).
65. P.F. Louis, "The amazing healing powers of cayenne pepper (capsicum)", April 19, 2012, NaturalNews.com, http://www.naturalnews.com/035612_cayenne_pepper_healing_herbal_medicine.html.
66. Sylvester Graham, Lectures on the Science of Human Life, 623-624 (1854).
67. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 7, 224.
68. Dr. James B. Maas of Cornell University, Power Sleep, p. 63. See also The Old Farmer's 2001 Almanac, 99.
69. Liu, R, Ren, Y, Hou, T, et al., "Associations of Sleep Timing and Time in Bed with Dementia and Cognitive Decline Among Chinese Older Adults: A Cohort Study. Journal American Geriatrics Society, 70, iss. 11 (Sep. 2022): 3138-3151. doi:10.1111/jgs.18042.
70. Spiritual Gifts vol. 4, 136.
Category: Health Teachings
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