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In the early 1900s just 1 in 150 Americans were overweight. By comparison in 2009 two in three were overweight and we suffered from the highest rates of diet-induced disability, illness, and disease in the world. Compare how Americans ate then versus now? Then, two-thirds of what we ate was fresh from the garden. Now, ninety-three percent of what we eat is sugar, oil, refined grains,and animal-based foods. If you are satisfied with your present body weight and your health, then keep doing what you are doing. If not, consider Daniel's Challenge and the steps you can take to enable the dietary habits of the slimmest, longest living, and most disease-free people in the world.
The following dietary habits are enjoyed by populations that experience 1/10 the U.S. disease rates and only 1/50 the U.S. rate of obesity:
In 1989, Journal of The National Cancer Institute reported that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) suffer from less cancer and live longer than other populations. In June 2006, just 17 years later, Brigham Young University reported LDS have since become the most obese of religious populations in the world, a trend associated with decreases in longevity and increases in degenerative diseases[i]. So why did the generation of LDS who died between 1968 and 1975 live 10 to 12 years longer than the average American and enjoy far better health than LDS enjoy today? The credit for their longevity has been given primarily to their abstinence from coffee, tea, cigarettes, tobacco, and alcohol.
While LDS often give complete credit to temperance for the long-living LDS populations, research also reveals that rural Chinese suffer just a fraction of the LDS cancer rate, even though nearly all adult Chinese smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Dietary superiority is responsible in large part for their lower disease rates. While temperance is an important factor in LDS good health of the past, diet may have played an equal or possibly even a greater role. Let’s compare eating patterns of LDS who died between 1968 and 1975 with LDS today.
These long-living seniors were born in the 1800s and got their dietary lifestyle start long before today’s eating trends. Two-thirds of what they ate was whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, compared to today's average American that consumes just seven percent caloric intake from whole garden foods. Similar to today’s older generation in Okinawa that boasts the highest rate of centenarians in the world, long-living LDS who died in the 1970s continued to eat sensibly even as eating trends worsened for LDS in general.
Consider that while Okinawa centenarians follow more healthful and traditional Japanese eating patterns today, the youth of Okinawa are now the most obese of all youth in Japan. Due to U.S. military presence, U.S. fast-food chains have become well established in Okinawa and the youth have developed an appetite for Western fast-food eating trends. As these youth "go with the flow," of these new eating trends, they lose the distinct dietary advantage of their predecessors.
Let’s look at USDA food trend statistics. They reveal significant changes in eating patterns that have occurred which can help us better understand why our health today isn’t what it was in the1970s. Consider the following trends that occurred between 1909 and 1999, as reported by the USDA:
Today 93% of the average American’s caloric intake comes from sugar, oil, refined grains, and animal-based foods (see 9 through 12 below) and only 7% come from whole garden foods (see 1 through 8 below)[iii]. By comparison, long-living LDS who died in the 70s ate two-thirds of their calories from whole garden foods and less than one-third from sugar, oils, refined and processed grains, and animal-based foods.
Foods are listed below in order of highest to lowest, based upon nutrient density, or in other words, based upon which foods provide the most nutrients per calories consumed. The higher you center caloric intake on this list, the slimmer you will become and the longer you will live:
Fruits and Vegetables
Science reveals, per calorie, fruits and vegetables possess more vitamins, phyto-chemicals, and minerals than all other foods. Consuming whole fruits and vegetables abundantly, as did long-living LDS predecessors, provides the best support possible for sustainable vitality and good health. Together, fruits and vegetables provide the perfect balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Meat and grains should be used primarily to complementfruits and vegetables. Let’s look more closely at grains and animal-based foods and why they should be secondary to fruits and vegetables in a healthful dietary lifestyle.
Science has demonstrated that most everyone can consume up to 10% of their caloric intake from animal-based foods, without producing detrimental effects, but that as caloric intake exceeds the mid teens degenerative conditions begin to rise. Why does exceeding certain caloric limits with animal-based foods cause disease rates to rise?
The human body requires only so much protein for growth, repair, and maintenance. When that level is surpassed, protein is broken down and is converted to energy or is excreted from the body. Harmful by-products of animal-protein breakdown lay the foundation for many of today’s most common diseases. They retard bone formation, leading to osteoporosis; they initiate autoimmune disorders; they lead to cancer; they lead to premature aging, arthritis, and so forth. The over consumption of animal protein and fat are linked to numerous diseases.To enjoy vitality we must either eliminate animal-based food consumption or consume it sparingly. In general Americans eat four times more animal protein and fat on a daily basis than can be ideally metabolized.
Grain is the staff of life for man and animals. A staff is a secondary support tool, to be leaned upon as needed. The over-consumption of grain leads to problems for both man and animals. For example, grasses are the primary food for horses; the over-consumption of grain by horses leads to arthritic symptoms and allergies. Similar conditions are triggered in man as fruits and vegetables are under-consumed and grain is over-consumed. Fruits and vegetables meet the vital nutritional needs of the body with the fewest calories while providing the greatest volume. Use grains and legumes to complement and to fill caloric needs that remain unmet with fruits and vegetables.
Secretary of Agriculture
Ezra Taft Benson, former Secretary of Agriculture for the United States, saw first hand what was happening in the U.S. food industry, as whole foods were being converted to shelf-stable foods. On at least two occasions, he encouraged us to begin eating in a healthier manner, like the prophet Daniel of the Old Testament. He said, "To a significant degree, we are an overfed and undernourished nation digging an early grave with our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours.... We need a generation…,who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare on the'kings meat' —and whose countenances show it." [iv]
Based upon recent population studies and dietary trends, this counsel is good for LDS, the youth of Okinawa, and for all populations who have trended away from whole garden foods toward significant increases in refined and processed and animal-based foods. Do you really want to consume 93 percent of your calories from sugar, oil, refined and processed foods, and animal-based foods?
Remember, prior to these downward shifts in U.S. foodtrends, just one person in 150 was overweight. Nowadays, two in three Americans are overweight and suffer from the highest rates of diet-induced disability, illness, and disease in the world. You cannot avoid these realities by practicing temperance alone.
Well, if you are satisfied with your present body weight and your health, then keep doing what you are doing. But, if not, consider adopting the dietary habits of the slimmest, longest living, and most disease-free people in the world. Today’s most healthful populations eat very similar to the way long-living LDS ate, who died in the 1970s. Learn how you can enjoyably center your eating patterns high on the nutrient-density chart by accepting Daniel’s Challenge. Become a modern Daniel
What is Daniel’s Challenge?
Daniel's Challenge is a modern challenge to learn to follow a pattern of eating that was followed by the ancient prophet Daniel and that is followed by today's healthiest populations the world over. It includes the following recommendations:
Let's talk about Daniel for a moment.In 605 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, having conquered Jerusalem, selected from among the Jewish slaves, young men of Judah's royalty and nobility to attend Babylon's top University. Babylon maintained a practice of integrating conquered people into their way of life. They did so by teaching the Chaldean language and literature to hand-picked slaves that were also trained for important administration work within the government. It was an intensive 3-year training program.
The brightest of these students became counselors to the King in his royal court. According to scriptural records, Daniel served as a counselor in the royal courtfor at least 71 years. All slaves who had been selected to be so trained were fed the finest meats, delicacies and wines from the king's own kitchen. There were no limits. Students were permitted to indulge in whatever they desired and to consume as much as they desired. However, Daniel chose not to eat these foods.
When thekeeper of the slaves heard that Daniel and his Israelite friends--Shadrach, Messhach and Abednego--refused to eat the king's food he spoke with them and told them the King would kill them, and possibly him, if they did not look as fit as the other slaves. Daniel asked his keeper to test he and his Israelite friends for 10 days and to observe and judge their appearance for himself, before insisting that they eat the King's meat and wine.
After 10 days of drinking pure water instead of wine and eating fresh fruits and vegetables from the marketplace, pulse (combination of grains,legumes, nuts, and seeds), and dates instead of the King's meat, Daniel and his friends proved to be far stronger, wiser, and more active than all other slaves. They were consequently permitted tofollow their Jewish eating traditions indefinitely.
Daniel's Challenge today is a challenge to follow the dietary habits of the healthiest people in the world for just six weeks. During this time you will notice a significant difference in how you feel, in how easily you lose excess weight, and in measurable improvements with healthbiomarkers (such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood-sugarlevels). It is common to lose 20 to 40+ pounds during the six-week challenge and all excess body weight as the challenge is continuedlong-term.
It is also common to arrest and begin the reversal of any diet-induced disease from which you may suffer. Based upon your six-week results, you will then choose whether to adopt these habits for a lifetime.
Follow the eating recommendations outlined in our free Daniel's Challenge download. Also enjoy our many online support resources. These include a weekly call-in show where you can call-in live to ask and discuss your questions with us; you will also gain valuable insights by listening to the questions and discussions we have with other challenge participants. You can also enjoy the many show-me-how videos of recipes and meal plans, a discussion forum, and live chat where you can communicate live with other challenge participants who are online at the same time as you.
You can even join or startour own local support group where you can meet with others for various activities that support Daniel's Challenge. For instance,some support groups get together monthly for a potluck dinner whereyou can try many new recipes and determine more easily which ones you want to learn. And some support groups get together to walk daily or weekly!
In addition to these extraordinary online resources, the book Original Fast Foods teaches the what, why, when and how of a sound dietary lifestyle. It provides a foundation of sound understanding that will enable you to succeed long term. And, the resources found on this website provide their greatest benefit, only as you gain a sound understanding and knowledge of how to best integrate this information into your daily life.
Gain this understanding by reading Original Fast Foods. With more than 160 recipes, meal plans, and extraordinary information, it helps to lay a solid foundation for your long-term success.
To Your Best Health!
Jim and Colleen Simmons
[i] BYU Scroll Online, Spiritually fit but not physicallyfit, June 7, 2006, "http://www.byui.edu/Scroll/archive/20060606/news3.html">http://www.byui.edu/Scroll/archive/20060606/news3.html.This reference no longer exists and we have not been able to find the original article. If you have influence with the BYU ScrollOnline, perhaps you can persuade them to make this helpful article available again.