The Signs of the Times


September 30, 1897

Exercise and Diet


There are many suffering from ill health today because they do not pay attention to the laws of health. They do not exercise their reason in caring for the human machinery that God has intrusted to them and thus they present to God a crippled offering. Many persons confine themselves in ill-ventilated rooms, where the air is not charged with its appropriate supply of oxygen. In expiration we are constantly throwing off from the lungs impurities that defile the air, and there is positive necessity of having a constant supply of pure air. Many breathe air that is poisoned, and the blood is not purified in the lungs, and passes into the body without being vitalized by a fresh current of air. The result is that such persons are troubled with giddiness, restlessness, with confused thoughts, and gloomy spirits. The process of digestion is not properly carried forward, the brain is clouded, and the heart depressed. Such persons are suffering for want of exercise in the pure air. If they would have their organs perform their work properly, and be saved from the inroads of disease, they must change their course of action. ST September 30, 1897, par. 1

Schoolrooms are often death traps, as also are ill-ventilated bedchambers. If buildings are constructed in such a way that they can not have a constant supply of fresh air, the health of their inmates will surely be impaired. Ministers are often forced to pay a severe penalty for speaking in close, ill-ventilated buildings. The preacher marvels that he has not power to impress the people, when they, as well as himself, are suffering from lack of vitalizing air, and are thus rendered incapable of appreciating the subject upon which he is speaking. The want of the circulation of pure air in a church makes many a meeting of no effect; for labor is expended for naught, because the people can not keep awake. ST September 30, 1897, par. 2

There are many who imagine that they are health reformers, and that they are practising right habits in matters of diet. Many have wretched feelings, which they attribute to an insufficient amount of food, when these wretched feelings are due to a different cause altogether. Sometimes it is because the food is not of the right quality, or has not been properly prepared. Others who have indulged their appetite from childhood, think that it is essential for them to have food that tastes good, no matter how unhealthful may be its character. Thus they cultivate a perverted taste, and as a result have a diseased stomach. They abuse and overtax their digestive organs by eating that which they like rather than that which is good for them. On the other hand, many who think themselves patterns of strict propriety in matters of diet are in reality not intelligent health reformers, and their example is not worthy of imitation. They have educated their tastes in the wrong direction, and will have to learn anew what constitutes health reform. Some who have professed to be health reformers have said that they were furnished with rich food from their youth, and that their tastes were cultivated to enjoy this kind of a diet. But such should understand that they should take a different course, and educate themselves to enjoy simple, nutritious food. They should study to prepare inexpensive dishes for the table. Those who profess to be health reformers should not mislead others by their own habits of eating. Neither by precept nor example should they give a false example in these matters. If we do not begin to practise economy now, we shall be compelled to practise economy in the near future. Time is money; it belongs to God. To use precious time in preparing a variety of dishes that will only result in dyspepsia, is certainly putting time to a wrong use. The cook should not be made a slave, or be required to cater to appetite. Let the diet be of such a character that she may prepare it, and yet have time for the reading of her Bible, for prayer, and for relaxation from labor. We should not cherish self-indulgence, or teach others by our example to follow in a selfish course. We should understand what we are about, and consider what kind of impressions we are making upon the minds of those who look to us for guidance. ST September 30, 1897, par. 3

As applied to diet, true hygiene demands the intelligent selection of the most healthful articles of food, prepared in the simplest and most healthful manner. It is customary to provide a variety of vegetables and other articles of diet for the first course at dinner. Then fashion requires that dessert shall come on the table in puddings, custards, or other kinds of sweets. To introduce such combinations into the stomach after partaking of vegetables and fruit is anything but wise. A large share of the endless mixtures called health reform dishes is in reality anything but healthful. Grains and fruits, or vegetables with bread and accompaniments, are all that the system needs. It would be better not to tax the stomach with unhealthful desserts, and not to demand that the cook expend time and strength and ingenuity in preparing them. It would be much better to discard the sweet puddings, jams, and marmalade, which cause fermentation in the stomach. When these are banished from our tables, when we have sweeter stomachs, we shall have sweeter tempers, and be better enabled to live a Christian life. ST September 30, 1897, par. 4

There is real common sense in health reform. We can not all eat the same things. Some articles of food that are wholesome and palatable to one person may be hurtful and unpalatable to another. Some can not use milk, while others can subsist upon it. Some can use dried beans and peas, while others find them indigestible. Some, whose stomachs are sensitive, can not use the coarser kinds of graham flour. It is impossible to make an unvarying rule by which to regulate every one's dietetic habits. Do not indulge the idea that we are health reformers only as we use mush for breakfast. There are some who can not eat mush and have a healthy stomach. ST September 30, 1897, par. 5

But while we would recommend simplicity in diet, let it be understood that we do not recommend a meager diet. Let there be a plentiful supply of fruits and vegetables that are in a good condition. Overripe fruit or wilted vegetables ought not to be used. Vegetables and fruit should not be eaten at the same meal. At one meal use bread and fruit, at the next bread and vegetables. Thus we may have all the variety that we need to desire, and if we must have puddings and custards, let bread and these articles form the meal. ST September 30, 1897, par. 6

In order to preserve health, we must practise temperance in all things,—temperance in labor, temperance in study, temperance in eating and drinking. Our heavenly Father sent light on health reform to guard against the evil that results from a debased appetite. He would have us know how to use with discretion the good things he has provided for us. By exercising temperance in our daily life, by loving purity and holiness, we may become sanctified through the truth. ST September 30, 1897, par. 7

Intemperance in eating and drinking, intemperance in labor, intemperance in almost everything, exists on every hand. Those who make great exertions to accomplish just so much work in a given time, and continue to labor when their judgment tells them that they ought to rest, are never gainers. They are living on borrowed capital. They are expending vital force which they will need at a future time. When the energy they have so recklessly used, is demanded, they fail for want of it. Physical strength is gone, and mental power unavailable. They realize that they have met with loss. Their time of need has come, and their physical resources are exhausted. Those who violate the laws of health will sometime have to pay the penalty. God has provided us with constitutional force, and if we recklessly exhaust this force by continual overtaxation, our usefulness will be lessened, and our lives end prematurely. ST September 30, 1897, par. 8

Mrs. E. G. White