Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2


Chapter 41—Diet and Mind

Brain Must Be Healthy—The brain is the organ and instrument of the mind, and controls the whole body. In order for the other parts of the system to be healthy the brain must be healthy. And in order for the brain to be healthy the blood must be pure. If by correct habits of eating and drinking the blood is kept pure, the brain will be properly nourished.—(Special Testimonies, Series B 15:18, April 13, 1900. (Counsels on Health, 586, 587.) 2MCP 385.1

The Brain Supplied With Life and Strength—The human organism is a wonderful piece of machinery, but it can be abused The transformation of food into good blood is a wonderful process, and all human beings should be intelligent upon this subject.... 2MCP 385.2

Each organ of the body gathers its nutrition to keep its different parts in action. The brain must be supplied with its share, the bone with its portion. The great Master Builder is at work every moment, supplying every muscle and tissue, from the brain to the ends of the fingers and toes, with life and strength.—Letter 17, 1895. 2MCP 385.3

Results of Flaunting Nature's Laws—God has granted to this people great light, yet we are not placed beyond the reach of temptation.… An invalid—apparently very conscientious, yet bigoted and self-sufficient—freely avows his contempt for the laws of health and life, which divine mercy has led us as a people to accept. His food must be prepared in a manner to satisfy his morbid cravings. Rather than sit at a table where wholesome food is provided, he will patronize restaurants, because he can there indulge appetite without restraint. A fluent advocate of temperance, he disregards its foundation principles. He wants relief but refuses to obtain it at the price of self-denial. 2MCP 385.4

That man is worshiping at the shrine of perverted appetite. He is an idolater. The powers which, sanctified and ennobled, might be employed to honor God, are weakened and rendered of little service. An irritable temper, a confused brain, and unstrung nerves are among the results of his disregard of nature's laws. He is inefficient, unreliable.—Testimonies for the Church 5:196, 197 (1882). 2MCP 386.1

Close Relation Between Eating and Mind—In connection with the injunction of Peter that we are to add “to temperance patience,” I referred [in an address] to the blessings of health reform, and the advantages to be gained by the use of proper combinations of simple, nourishing foods. The close relationship that eating and drinking sustain to the state of one's mind and temper was dwelt upon. We cannot afford to develop a bad temper through wrong habits of living.—The Review and Herald, July 12, 1906. 2MCP 386.2

Indulgence Greatest Cause of Mental Debility—Indulgence of appetite is the greatest cause of physical and mental debility and lies at the foundation of the feebleness which is apparent everywhere.—Testimonies for the Church 3:487 (1875). 2MCP 386.3

Mind Confused by Improper Diet—We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this, the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. Overeating befogs the brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many have done more than they think to dishonor God.—Testimonies for the Church 6:357 (1900). 2MCP 386.4

Through Appetite Satan Controls Mind—Through appetite Satan controls the mind and the whole being. Thousands who might have lived have passed into the grave, physical, mental, and moral wrecks, because they sacrificed all their powers to the indulgence of appetite.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 37, 1890. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 167.) 2MCP 387.1

The Digestive Organs Affect Life's Happiness—The digestive organs have an important part to act in our life happiness. God has given us intelligence that we may learn what we should use as food. Shall we not, as sensible men and women, study whether the things we eat will be in agreement or whether they will cause trouble? People who have a sour stomach are very often of a sour disposition. Everything seems to be contrary to them, and they are inclined to be peevish and irritable. If we would have peace among ourselves, we should give more thought than we do to having a peaceful stomach.—Manuscript 41, 1908. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 112.) 2MCP 387.2

Vigor of Mind Depends Upon the Body (counsels to writers and ministers)—Obey the principles of health reform and educate others to do this. The health of the mind is to a large degree dependent upon the health of the body, and the health of the body is dependent upon the way in which the living machinery is treated. Eat only that food which will keep your stomach in the most healthy condition. 2MCP 387.3

You need to learn more thoroughly the philosophy of taking proper care of yourself in regard to the matter of diet. Arrange your work so that you can have your meals at regular hours. You must exercise a special care in this matter. Remember that to live the truth as it is in Jesus requires much self-discipline.—Letter 297, 1904. 2MCP 387.4

Irregular Hours and Careless Inattention to Laws of Health—The mind does not wear out nor break down so often on account of diligent employment and hard study as on account of eating improper food at improper times, and of careless inattention to the laws of health.… Irregular hours for eating and sleeping sap the brain forces. The apostle Paul declares that he who would be successful in reaching a high standard of godliness must be temperate in all things. Eating, drinking, and dressing all have a direct bearing upon our spiritual advancement.—The Youth's Instructor, May 31, 1894. 2MCP 388.1

Overcrowding the Stomach Weakens the Mind—Overeating, even of the most wholesome food, is to be guarded against. Nature can use no more than is required for building up the various organs of the body, and excess clogs the system. Many a student is supposed to have broken down from overstudy, when the real cause was overeating. While proper attention is given to the laws of health there is little danger from mental taxation, but in many cases of so-called mental failure it is the overcrowding of the stomach that wearies the body and weakens the mind.—Education, 205 (1903). 2MCP 388.2

Indulgence Blunts Nobler Sentiments of Mind—The indulgence of appetite in overeating is gluttony. The great variety of foods often taken at one meal is enough to create a disordered stomach and a disordered temper. Therefore God requires of every human being cooperation with Him, that none may go beyond his proper boundary in overeating or in partaking of improper articles of food. This indulgence strengthens the animal propensities and blunts the nobler sentiments of the mind. The whole being is degraded, and the human agent becomes the slave of appetite, by pampering and indulging his own groveling sensual passions.—Manuscript 113, 1898. 2MCP 388.3

Overeating Produced Forgetfulness and Loss of Memory (counsel to a gourmand)—You are a gourmand when at the table. This is one great cause of your forgetfulness and loss of memory. You say things which I know you have said, and then turn square about and say that you said something entirely different. I knew this, but passed it over as the sure result of overeating. Of what use would it be to speak about it? It would not cure the evil.—Letter 17, 1895. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 138.) 2MCP 389.1

Overeating Blunts the Emotions [See Counsels on Diet and Foods, 131-142, “Overeating,”.]—Intemperance in eating, even of food of the right quality, will have a prostrating influence upon the system and will blunt the keener and holier emotions. Strict temperance in eating and drinking is highly essential for the healthy preservation and vigorous exercise of all the functions of the body. 2MCP 389.2

Strictly temperate habits, combined with exercise of the muscles as well as of the mind, will preserve both mental and physical vigor and give power of endurance to those engaged in the ministry, to editors, and to all others whose habits are sedentary. As a people, with all our profession of health reform, we eat too much. Indulgence of appetite is the greatest cause of physical and mental debility, and lies at the foundation of feebleness, which is apparent everywhere.—Testimonies for the Church 3:487 (1875). 2MCP 389.3

Restrict the Varieties of Food—We must care for the digestive organs and not force upon them a great variety of food. He who gorges himself with many kinds of food at a meal is doing himself injury. It is more important that we eat that which will agree with us than that we taste of every dish that may be placed before us. There is no door in our stomach by which we can look in and see what is going on; so we must use our mind, and reason from cause to effect. If you feel all wrought up, and everything seems to go wrong, perhaps it is because you are suffering the consequences of eating a great variety of food.—Manuscript 41, 1908. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 111, 112.) 2MCP 389.4

God's Plan for Us—God desires us, by strict temperance, to keep the mind clear and keen that we may be able to distinguish between the sacred and the common. We should strive to understand the wonderful science of the matchless compassion and benevolence of God. Those who eat too largely and those who eat unhealthful food bring trouble upon themselves, unfitting themselves for the service of God. It is dangerous to eat meat, for animals are suffering from many deadly diseases. Those who persist in eating the flesh of animals sacrifice spirituality to perverted appetite. Their bodies become full of disease.—Manuscript 66, 1901. 2MCP 390.1

Intellectual Activity Diminished by a Heavy Meat Diet—The intellectual, the moral, and the physical powers are depreciated by the habitual use of flesh meats. Meat eating deranges the system, beclouds the intellect, and blunts the moral sensibilities.—Testimonies for the Church 2:64 (1900). 2MCP 390.2

What We Eat Diminishes Intellectual Activity—We are composed of what we eat, and eating much flesh will diminish intellectual activity. Students would accomplish much more in their studies if they never tasted meat. When the animal part of the human agent is strengthened by meat eating, the intellectual powers diminish proportionately. 2MCP 390.3

A religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates into intense activities, lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral and spiritual nature. “The flesh ... [warreth] against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17). 2MCP 390.4

We greatly need to encourage and cultivate pure, chaste thoughts and to strengthen the moral powers rather than the lower and carnal powers. God help us to awake from our self-indulgent appetites!—Letter 72, 1896. (Medical Ministry, 277, 278). 2MCP 390.5

Meat Eating and Disposition—As a general thing, the Lord did not provide His people with flesh meat in the desert because He knew that the use of this diet would create disease and insubordination. In order to modify the disposition and bring the higher powers of the mind into active exercise, He removed from them the flesh of dead animals.—Manuscript 38, 1898. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 375.) 2MCP 391.1

Results of Pork Eating—It is not the physical health alone that is injured by pork eating. The mind is affected and the finer sensibilities are blunted by the use of this gross article of food.—Healthful Living, 58, 1865 (Part 1) . (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 393.) 2MCP 391.2

Imprudent Eater Disqualifies for Counseling—Sugar is not good for the stomach. It causes fermentation, and this clouds the brain and brings peevishness into the disposition. And it has been proved that two meals are better than three for the health of the system. [See Counsels on Diet and Foods, “Number of Meals,” pages 173-178.] 2MCP 391.3

What a pity it is that often, when the greatest self-denial should be exercised, the stomach is crowded with a mass of unhealthful food, which lies there to decompose. The affliction of the stomach affects the brain. The imprudent eater does not realize that he is disqualifying himself for giving wise counsel, disqualifying himself for laying plans for the best advancement of the work of God. But this is so. He cannot discern spiritual things, and in council meetings, when he should say Yea and Amen, he says Nay. He makes propositions that are wide of the mark. The food he has eaten has benumbed his brain power. 2MCP 391.4

Self-indulgence debars the human agent from witnessing for the truth. The gratitude we offer to God for His blessings is greatly affected by the food placed in the stomach. Indulgence of appetite is the cause of dissension, strife, discord, and many other evils. Impatient words are spoken and unkind deeds are done, dishonest practices are followed, and passion is manifested—and all because the nerves of the brain are diseased by the abuse heaped on the stomach.—Manuscript 93, 1901. 2MCP 391.5

Coffee Affects Mental and Moral Powers—Coffee is a hurtful indulgence. It temporarily excites the mind, ... but the aftereffect is exhaustion, prostration, paralysis of the mental, moral, and physical powers. The mind becomes enervated, and unless through determined effort the habit is overcome, the activity of the brain is permanently lessened.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 34, 1890. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 421.) 2MCP 392.1

Erroneous Eating Leads to Erroneous Thinking—The health of the body is to be regarded as essential for growth in grace and the acquirement of an even temper. If the stomach is not properly cared for, the formation of an upright, moral character will be hindered. The brain and nerves are in sympathy with the stomach. Erroneous eating and drinking result in erroneous thinking and acting.—Testimonies for the Church 9:160 (1909). 2MCP 392.2

High Appreciation of Atonement Blunted—When we pursue a course to lessen mental and physical vigor—in eating, drinking, or in any of our habits—we dishonor God, for we rob Him of the service He claims of us. When we indulge appetite at the expense of health or when we indulge habits which lessen our vitality and mental vigor, we cannot have a high appreciation of the atonement and a right estimate of eternal things. When our minds are beclouded and partially paralyzed by disease, we are easily overcome by the temptations of Satan.—Letter 27, 1872. 2MCP 392.3

Too Much Thought About Food—It is impossible to prescribe by weight the quantity of food which should be eaten. It is not advisable to follow this process, for by so doing the mind becomes self-centered. Eating and drinking become altogether too much a matter of thought. Those who do not make a god of the stomach will carefully guard the appetite. They will eat plain, nourishing food.... They will eat slowly and will masticate their food thoroughly. After eating they will take proper exercise in the open air. Such need never trouble themselves to measure out precise quantities. 2MCP 392.4

There are many who have carried a heavy weight of responsibility as to the quantity and quality of food best adapted to nourish the system. Some, especially dyspeptics, have worried so much in regard to their bill of fare that they have not taken sufficient food to nourish the system. They have done great injury to the house they live in and, we fear, have spoiled themselves for this life.—Letter 142, 1900. 2MCP 393.1

Eat According to Your Best Judgment, Then Be at Rest—Some are continually anxious lest their food, however simple and healthful, may hurt them. To these let me say, Do not think that your food will injure you; do not think about it at all. Eat according to your best judgment; and when you have asked the Lord to bless the food for the strengthening of your body, believe that He hears your prayer, and be at rest.—The Ministry of Healing, 321 (1905). 2MCP 393.2

Intemperate Persons Cannot Be Patient—There are ample reasons why there are so many nervous women in the world, complaining of the dyspepsia, with its train of evils. The cause has been followed by the effect. It is impossible for intemperate persons to be patient. They must first reform bad habits, learn to live healthfully, and then it will not be difficult for them to be patient. 2MCP 393.3

Many do not seem to understand the relation the mind sustains to the body. If the system is deranged by improper food, the brain and nerves are affected, and slight things annoy those who are thus afflicted. Little difficulties are to them troubles mountain high. Persons thus situated are unfitted to properly train their children. Their life will be marked with extremes, sometimes very indulgent, at other times severe, censuring for trifles which deserved no notice.—Healthful Living, 41, 1865 (Part 2). (Selected Messages 2:434.) 2MCP 393.4

Dyspepsia Leads to Irritability—A dyspeptic stomach always leads to irritability. A sour stomach leads to a sour temper. Your body must be kept in subjection if you make it a meet temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.... Eat sparingly of even wholesome food. Exercise moderately, and you will feel that your life is of some account.—Letter 27, 1872. 2MCP 394.1

Unhealthful Food Stupefies the Conscience—In health reform our people have been retrograding. Satan sees that he cannot have so great power over minds when the appetite is kept under control as when it is indulged, and he is constantly at work to lead men to indulgence. Under the influence of unhealthful food the conscience becomes stupefied, the mind is darkened, and its susceptibility to impressions is impaired.... 2MCP 394.2

Will our people see and feel the sin of perverting the appetite? Will they discard all hurtful indulgences, and let the means thus saved be devoted to spreading the truth?—Manuscript 5, 1875. 2MCP 394.3

A Definition of Temperance in Eating—The principles of temperance must be carried further than the mere use of spirituous liquors. The use of stimulating and indigestible food is often equally injurious to health and in many cases sows the seeds of drunkenness. True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful. There are few who realize as they should how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their character, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny. The appetite should ever be in subjection to the moral and intellectual powers. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 562 (1890). 2MCP 394.4

Shunning Extremes—Those who understand the laws of health and who are governed by principle will shun the extremes both of indulgence and of restriction. Their diet is chosen, not for the mere gratification of appetite, but for the upbuilding of the body. They seek to preserve every power in the best condition for highest service to God and man. The appetite is under the control of reason and conscience, and they are rewarded with health of body and mind. While they do not urge their views offensively upon others, their example is a testimony in favor of right principles. These persons have a wide influence for good.—The Ministry of Healing, 319 (1905). 2MCP 395.1