Healthy Tips for Elders

Saying “Yes” to a Healthy Diet

Adventists are known for their vegetarian lifestyle choice; however, we all know that being a vegetarian does not necessarily mean having a healthy diet. Yes, the Adventist Health Study has shown the many benefits of vegetarianism, but the truth is that many vegetarian diets are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar, which is not necessarily healthier. You can intentionally “Choose Full Life” by choosing to eat more plant foods and a balanced diet. Here are some Facts with Hope:1

Fact: A study found that 59 percent of added-sugar calories comes from food and 41 percent from beverages. About 65 percent of these calories are consumed at home.

Hope: Water is the best drink ever. Why not switch from sugary drinks to 7-8 glasses of water a day?

Fact: Research shows that a daily single serving of leafy green vegetables lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent and diabetes by 9 percent.

Hope: Don’t like leafy green vegetables? Try adding them to other foods. Toss a handful of spinach in a pasta dish, soup, or even a smoothie. You’ll hardly notice the taste difference, but your body will enjoy the added health benefits.

Fact: Individuals who eat high levels of saturated fats (e.g., fried foods, animal fats like cheese, etc.) tend to develop Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases at high rates, while those who eat more polyunsaturated fats tend to have better cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Hope: We can help to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease by paying attention to the types of fat in our diet. The best sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish. Homemade healthy salad dressings and avocados, nuts, and olives are also beneficial.

Fact: The latest nationally-representative surveys in the United States find that 80 percent of people don’t eat enough fruit, 90 percent don’t eat enough vegetables, and 99 percent fall short on whole grains.

Hope: Make a game of choosing colorful, natural plant foods over processed foods and animal products.

As a church, we have been blessed with wonderful counsel about a healthy diet, and books like Counsels on Diets and Foods and The Ministry of Healing bring important concepts that highlight not only what the ideal diet is but also the benefits it brings to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Additionally, studies suggest that the closer we get to God’s recommended plant-based diet, the lower our risk for illness and the higher our chance for longevity. A researcher from Harvard’s School of Public Health recommended in a recent report that people should “cut back on or eliminate refined grains, sugary snacks, soda, potatoes, cheese, butter, and red meat.”2

Many researchers who have never heard of the Adventist Church or our health message are sometimes better advocates and promoters of the health message that we were asked to share with the world. Perhaps it is time for us to consider this question: “What am I doing with the message of health that has been given to me as a gift of grace?”

As we approach the last days and seek revival and reformation, God is calling us to re-evaluate our lifestyle choices, including what we eat. Healthy food is not just about healthy bodies; more importantly, it is about healthy minds. Inspiration says, “Few . . . understand how much their habits of diet have to do with . . . their health, their characters, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny.”3 Let us embrace this choice by God’s power and teach others to understand this truth in a patient, caring, non-judgmental, and loving way.

1 “Facts with Hope,” from Health Unlimited, March 2012:4. See
2 S. M. Krebs-Smith, et al, Journal of Nutrition, 2010. Emphasis supplied.
3 Ellen G. White, Counsels on Diets and Foods, 51.

Katia Reinert is director of the Health Ministries Department for the North American Division.