…and we’re back, with an amazing guest-post by Skip Hellewell from Word of Wisdom Living on how to hack your health, using the Word of Wisdom, and the Spirit as your guides.

Almost two centuries ago Joseph Smith brought forth the Word of Wisdom. Considering the overwhelming complexity of nutrition science, it was a breathtakingly simple document. Seven basic rules: three of them prohibitions, four of them prescriptions (wholesome fruits and herbs, sparing meat, whole grains) defined our diet. It took the Church 90 years to master the prohibitions—up until 1921 you could chew tobacco, drink coffee, or a little alcohol as long as you weren’t a drunkard, and still go to the temple. I still have a childhood memory from the aroma of my blessed Grandmother’s coffee percolating. The point here is that change is hard; these slow adopters of the Word of Wisdom were good people.

In the 20th century the old infectious diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, polio, etc. were vanquished, first by public health improvements, later by vaccinations. But there arose a new class of diseases even more frightening. We know these as the chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity and diabetes, a raft of autoimmune diseases, and so on. Do you recall the Joseph’s warning phrase, “destroying angel”? Today these diseases are the leading cause of premature death. They afflict you, and your friends also.

There is a growing mountain of scientific evidence that our best protection against these chronic diseases is to live the forgotten half of the Word of Wisdom—the prescriptions. Elder Dallin Oaks spoke brilliantly at the last conference of “Two Lines of Communication”, meaning priesthood revelation for the Church, and personal revelation for the member. This dichotomy is beautifully illustrated in the Word of Wisdom: the prohibitions are defined, and enforced, by priesthood revelation. Strong drink means alcohol, etc. The prescriptions, on the other hand, must be discovered by the member through study, meditation, and personal inspiration.

Elder Oaks answered a question I had puzzled with for a long time: For the health of the members, why doesn’t the Church speak up about nutrition? The answer (for me) was because we are all so different there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to nutrition. Around the world, member needs and circumstances differ, and we also differ in our willingness to change.

In this new century there has been an encouraging groundswell of interest in better nutrition. With the clues left for us in the Word of Wisdom, Joseph Smith uniquely prepared us to be leaders in today’s “food reformation”. So that is the goal of Word of Wisdom Living—to save the world. Ha, ha, ha. You have to laugh at such an overwhelming aspiration; it’s Quixotic isn’t it? But that is how reformations start. Want to join in? Visit us at Word of Wisdom Living.

Let us know how you feel about the Word of Wisdom and the health habits it prescribes in the comments.