Key to Good Christian Health: Nutrition
A healthy Christian life requires balancing spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical needs. Nutrition, sleep, and stress management are the three keys to good health. Nutrition, providing the body with the nutrients it requires while avoiding the toxins that pollute this most intimate of God’s temples, is essential to a healthy Christian life.
A healthy Christian life is a life of balance. In a modern world, Christians must balance work, family, church, and community as they allocate time and energy in their lives. To maintain physical health, nutrition, sleep, and stress must be monitored and kept in balance. The first of these requirements for good health, nutrition, requires yet another balancing act. Therefore, maintaining Christian health, nutrition included, can be envisioned as maintaining a balance-in this case, a balance in what is allowed to enter the body.
One Christian principle provides a ready guide to proper nutrition: the perfection of God’s creation, and the fallibility of humankind. Around the world, many people are recognizing that the best food is also the least altered from its original form. Fresh, raw fruits are obviously better choices than the same fruits baked into cobblers or mass-produced cookie bars. Whole grains are better choices than processed flours. To maintain health, nutrition at its best begins with accepting God’s gifts in their most natural form, with an understanding that every layer of human meddling introduces more flaws into the diet.
This principle also suggests that living as naturally as possible, according to God’s plan for human beings, is a better plan for maintaining a healthy Christian life than is eating according to the dictates of giant modern food industries. God gave His first people a garden, indicating His intent that people eat freely of an abundance of naturally-growing foods. Having evicted these first people from the original, paradisiacal garden, however, God did not take away the cornucopia of food available to nourish His people. Indeed, the earliest peoples were hunters and gatherers, often taking about 80% of their food from the plants indigenous to their homelands. Most of their animal protein came from seafood, and in most cultures the treat of red meat was to be had only occasionally in the form of lean game animals. Modern Christians do well to emulate this diet, originating as it did with God’s own plan for humankind, rather than from people’s greedy rewriting of it to include far more fats and sweets-intended as very rare indulgences, as indicated by their scarcity in nature-than is appropriate for good health. Nutrition, according both to the scientists and to God, begins with simplicity: a natural, plant-based diet supplemented by seafood and, more occasionally, lean meats.
However, the foundation for health-nutrition–involves not only what is allowed into the body as nourishment, but also what is not allowed. Excessive sugars, fats, and processed foods are obviously inappropriate nourishment for the body. Of even more importance are those substances more difficult to discuss: alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Alcohol and drugs, used recreationally, are poisons that both destroy the body and inhibit spiritual growth. Tobacco, inhaled or chewed rather than ingested, may seem to play no role in nutrition at all. Yet, its use damages all the body systems, polluting God’s temple with soot and tar, literally blackening the corporal host for the eternal soul. This damage keeps the digestive system from processing other foods properly. Tobacco use is inappropriate for anyone concerned with a living a healthy Christian life.
Any reasonable diet that acknowledges these principles will serve a Christian body well. By avoiding poisons such as alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs, the body is better able to process nutritional foods. The best foods are the most natural foods, and the best diet the most natural diet-because God’s plan for His people includes the foundations of a healthy diet. By eating healthful natural foods in the proportions God made readily available without the human intervention of mass food production, and by avoiding toxins, Christians can maintain the good nutrition essential to a healthy Christian life.