What Do Mormons Believe: Health

“Because we are created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:27), our bodies are temples and should be treated with care and respect (see 1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

“The Word of Wisdom, found in Doctrine and Covenants 89, is the Lord’s code of health and was revealed to Joseph Smith in 1833. It teaches that we should eat nutritious foods and avoid harmful substances. Apostles and prophets have since taught that we should shun all substances or practices that abuse our bodies or minds and that could lead to addiction.” 1

“Our physical bodies indeed are temples of God. Consequently, you and I must carefully consider what we take into our temple, what we put on our temple, what we do to our temple, and what we do with our temple.” 2

“Regular exercise can prepare us physically, mentally, and spiritually to function better, whether it’s in our relationships with others or in our all-important relationship with our Heavenly Father.” 3

For more information, see the Physical Health section of providentliving.org.

More from this website:

Health and the Word of Wisdom


Does Sin Cause Disease?

What Can’t Mormons Do? Part 1: The Word of Wisdom

If I were a Mormon, I would have to stop . . .

In nearly every conversation I have with people about my beliefs, they say something to the effect, “If I were a Mormon, I would have to stop drinking coffee, I just can’t live without coffee.”  Or, “I couldn’t drink alcohol anymore.”  Or, “I would have to get married to my girlfriend.”

Of  course people have things that they love and enjoy.  I do too.  But recently, I have started to think about all of the the blessings that are in my life because I am a Mormon and it has caused me to think about what people say they would have to give up to become a Mormon.  To me the things people say they would have to give up are a couple of pennies in comparison to the millions they could receive.

Lets talk about what blessings are in my life because I am a Mormon and do my best to practice what believe:

  • I have a beautiful wife who loves me and has given me three beautiful children.  She is the best thing that ever has, or ever will happen to me. Our marriage is strong and we have complete trust and faith in each other.  I know that she and I will be together forever and ever if we remain faithful to each other and to God.

  • My wife and I have had to make sacrifices so that she can stay home with the children, but they are growing up happy.  They feel safe and secure in my home and they know that I and their mother love them.  They trust us, their parents.  They like to spend time together and laugh and play with each other.
  • I was able to perform two years of missionary work for my church.  This experience has blessed my life in ways I can’t count.  I grew up and gained experience and perspective that would have taken me 10-15 years to acquire in other ways.  I learned a second language.  I learned how to interact with people.  I learned how to be an effective teacher.  I found out what true happiness is all about.  I went out a boy and came home a man.

  • I am able to run 3-4 miles without difficulty. I eat lots of fruit and vegetables which keep me feeling good. I don’t need coffee to wake me up in the morning, or a cigarette to calm my nerves, and I don’t need alcohol to have a good time on Friday night.    What’s more, I have been promised if I will live the Word of Wisdom, I will be given knowledge and understanding and have strength above and beyond what I would be capable of on my own.

  • I know who I am, I know where I have come from, I know why I am on earth, and I know where I am going.

These are just a few of the things that I can think of at the moment, but when I start to really think about it, the things that I have given up to be a Mormon pale in comparison to what I have gained.  I urge you to think about what I have written about.  These blessings are as available to you as they are to me.  Yes, you will have to make sacrifices initially, but believe me, when you start to see the way God will work in your life, you will realize that they aren’t sacrifices at all.

Health and the Word of Wisdom

For the past two years I have sat for probably thousands of hours learning and studying about the human body as a medical student.  The more I learn, the more I realize that our God truly is God.  It is amazing to think that there is someone who knows perfectly how our bodies work and what each little enzyme does, exactly how each muscle contracts, and so on.  We think that we know a lot, and we do, but there is so much more to learn.

The Human Body

With regard to physical health, it is important that we take care of our bodies and part of that process involves being wise in what goes into our bodies.  God revealed to Joseph Smith a general outline of how we should do this. This is known as the Word of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants 89).  I find that by patterning my physical lifestyle and health philosophy after the Word of Wisdom is liberating–I feel better about who I am, I am healthier, and I have faith that God will bless me with certain things that he has promised to those who live by the Word of Wisdom (see below).  I hope to encourage you to see the wisdom that is found in living the principles found in the Word of Wisdom.

As I have thought about how I should live my life with regard to physical health, I often think of what Paul teaches the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19):

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Cor. 3-16-17)  . . . For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Cor. 6:19).”

Salt Lake City, Utah LDS Temple

I don’t think that it could be any more plain–we are supposed to take care of our bodies in every way, because they are temples, temples where the Holy Ghost resides.   Furthermore, our bodies aren’t ours, they are God’s, because they have been bought with the blood, tears, and suffering of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we should take care of them.

I truly hope that you will think about how you treat your body.  Do you maintain your temple by eating properly, exercising sufficiently, and sleeping the right amount?  I believe, based on what Paul teaches, that we will be held accountable before God for the way that we have treated our bodies.

So, how does the Word of Wisdom apply?  The Word of Wisdom and what Paul teaches are in essence the same thing, but the Word of Wisdom gives a few more guidelines for how to maintain our “temples”.  The point that I want to emphasize are the promises that God gives to those who live their lives according to the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89:18-21).  He states:

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.  And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.”

Just as the destroying angel passed over those houses in Egypt that had the blood of a lamb painted on their door post (a reminder that it was the blood — Atonement — of the real Lamb saving them from destruction), those that abide by the Word of Wisdom will also not be hewn down.  Furthermore, health, strength, and treasures of knowledge will flow into our lives.  I  know that these promises are true, because I have seen them come into effect in my own life.

What does the Word of Wisdom teach us about health?  After the Lord lays out what we shouldn’t take into our bodies, He discusses what we should eat and how we should eat.  He states that we should eat mostly grains (D&C 89:14, 16), lots of fruits and vegetables (D&C 89:10-11, 16), and we should eat meat sparingly.  And when we do eat meat it should be during the winter or when there is a famine (D&C 89:12-13).  The diet that the Lord prescribes is a very sound diet.  Your body doesn’t need a lot of excess meat, what it needs most of is glucose and that is supplied by grains, fruits and vegetables.  Of course you can’t leave out the fact that their are essential amino acids, fats, and vitamins that we need from meat.  But if you eat just a small quantity of meat and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, you will get everything that you need.


In addition, the Lord teaches us that we need to use all of our food with thanksgiving and prudence (D&C 89:11).  I find it interesting that he says prudence.  According to the 1828 version of Webster’s dictionary, prudence means wisdom applied to practice.  This might be a stretch, but what I take away from that is that we need to be wise in how we eat–generally, we should eat less than what we typically do and we need to eat good wholesome foods (double-bacon cheeseburgers, fries, and many store-prepared foods really don’t fit in this category).

I wish that I could talk more about health, there is so much to say, but I don’t think that this is really the forum for that.  Please take care of your body by eating wisely, consuming the right amount and types of food, and exercising regularly. It will reap benefits in your life and from what the Lord and Paul teach, we will be much happier and live longer if we do.

Prophetic Prophets

I have been amazed as I have reviewed the addresses from our prophets and apostles during last General Conference (October, 2008). The Salt Lake City TempleThey spoke right to the difficulties that were coming with the economic crisis and the backlash against the church for proposition 8. Even though I have long believed that they can see “down the hall and around the corner”, re-reading and listening to their talks confirmed it for me yet again.

And so I thought, these inspired men are such a blessing and a resource in my life–everyone should know what they are saying. Which, obviously, is the point of broadcasting General Conference. For those of you who are interested in what modern-day prophets and apostles are advising, here is a summary of the things that they have really emphasized lately:

  • Stay out of debt. Ezra Taft Benson spoke about this back in 1987! They have been warning debtus to avoid unnecessary debt for decades. Hmm, do you think they anticipated the calamitous financial crash of 2008? You betcha. It takes years to get out of debt, once you have accumulated it, so they gave us plenty of time to be free of it. Unnecessary debt is consumer debt. They say that the only things that are okay to take out loans for are school and a home. You should buy everything else when you can afford to buy it.
  • Stay away from pornography. The apostles and prophets started emphasizing this before the internet really made its public debut. David B. Haight spoke about it in 1984, referencing the magazines, books and movies that were addictive and destructive. Since then there has been a steady crescendo both in intensity and occurrence in warning people to stay away from pornography. “Avoid pornography as you would a plague” is sound advice. So many homes are broken by this addiction. It destroys relationships.
  • Store a year’s supply of food and have extra money on hand for hard times. Food storageThe prophet and apostles have stressed self-sufficiency for, well, forever. They have advised us to accumulate everything that we would need for a year or more. Recently, with the talk of an upcoming flu pandemic, they have really stressed at least putting away a 3-month supply of food (the time it would take for the quarantine to be lifted). This is seriously important advice. EVERYONE needs to put away enough to live on for three months. Do it. Whether you are Mormon or not.
  • Be modest. Modesty in dress and speech and action demands respect and honor. This counsel is directed mostly at teens, but everyone benefits from this counsel. So many women are treated as objects both by men and other women–Dress modestlygirls are advised to take back their self-respect by not presenting themselves as just a “body” to be admired, but a mind, heart, and soul–a complete person. Modesty protects. “Modest” doesn’t mean wrist and ankle-length clothing (though, undeniably, that is modest), it means covering your shoulders and cleavage. Not wearing anything too high (much above the knee) or too low or too tight (all of this applies to boys too). Tattoos and multiple piercings are also in this category. Any time you wear something that attracts all of a person’s attention to your body, that is immodest.
  • Law of Health (Word of Wisdom). This has been reiterated since the time of Joseph Smith. The Word of Wisdom has been addressed on this blog before, but basically there are do’s and don’ts. Do: eat healthy foods, in their season, and in moderation. Don’t: Drink strong drinks (alcohol), hot drinks (coffee and tea), or use drugs unwisely (legal and illegal). If you want to be healthy, follow this counsel and add to it exercise and preventative check-ups.
  • Family time. The family is the central unit of society and of the church. Church leaders have encouraged us to have “Family Home Evenings” once a week (Mondays), family prayer and scripture study daily, and engage in family activities often. Nothing comes before the family (except our own personal relationships with God), not even Church activities or functions. Have family dinners as often as possible. Talk to your children/parents openly. Doing so will strengthen your family which will, in turn, help school work, self-esteem, friendships, trust, careers–everything. When a family is strong and children know that they can rely on their parents, that relieves a great burden from them and they can use their energy to excel.

There are more, but these are the things that our prophets have been advising us to do with the most fervor lately. They may seem like common sense, but how many of them do you really do? Those who follow this counsel are blessed to be happy, healthy, and prepared for the future. I encourage you to do it too. And if it seems unlikely that we would have a contemporary prophet in our time, remember that that is what Noah’s contemporaries thought too. And look where it got them.


Q. Why do you think smoking is so bad? Why is everything so bad?

skullsmokerYou sound like a struggling nicotine addict I knew, who wanted me and God and his conscience to stop pestering him to straighten up. By demanding from me an ever-better-but-never-good-enough reason to quit, he was really making for himself an excuse to keep smoking. Sound familiar?

Way deep down, though, you want peace. A quiet conscience and confident self-control. This peace will not come to you as long as you bind yourself to your cigarette master. You know it, but you also know what a terrible and difficult road it is to quit. You have probably tried several times already.

Get help. If you don’t have friends or family who want you to give up smoking, contact the local LDS missionaries. They have a highly-successful stop-smoking program that they will teach you for free, just because it’s their job to help people repent and come closer to Christ and feel the peace that only He can bring.

Don’t focus on the tough road ahead of you. Think of your destination. How wonderful will it be to put your $5 per pack into groceries or gifts for your children? You won’t feel compelled to take a five-minute break every hour. You will start tasting delicious foods again. You will have energy. Your shame and guilt will turn into confidence. Think of how nice it will be not to have to ask the question above; never having to rationalize your habits.