How Valuable Is Your Health?
Being a faithful steward covers more than just our money. It also
includes caring for our health, one of the greatest of God’s gifts. I sometimes
ask people, “How valuable is your health?” Would any of us take a million dollars in exchange for good
health and all we would have to do is be sick and miserable the rest of our
life? I don’t think so. Good health is the most valuable asset we possess. The
next question then is, “What are you doing to protect your health and even
The article pointed out that when comparing the United States with 34 other advanced countries in life expectancy, the U.S. ranked 27th out of 34. This is not very good especially when the U.S. spends more than any other nation on health care.
In a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA July 10, 2013), researchers evaluated the health of the
nation. As a nation, Americans are not the best stewards of health. The article
pointed out that when comparing the United States with 34 other advanced
countries in life expectancy, the U.S. ranked 27th out of 34. This is not very
good especially when the U.S. spends more than any other nation on health care.
The article pointed out that as a nation, Americans are not getting their
money’s worth when it comes to experiencing good health.
They also pointed out the leading
causes of premature death in the U.S.
Poor diet was number one, followed by smoking, high blood pressure,
overweight, low physical activity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, air
pollution, and alcohol. These are all factors that can largely be controlled—and are with the
exception of pollution, are all lifestyle choices. Eighty-two percent of the
years of life lost due to premature death can be attributed to these first eight
Good stewards of health will look at
these major causes of early death and take preventive actions. Let’s consider
the first cause of early death--poor nutrition. The study found 8 nutritional
practices responsible for the majority of deaths. Diets high in red and
processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages , added sugars, sodium and
salt. Diets low in fruits and
vegetables, whole grains (eating too much highly refined white bread, , white
rice, and cereals), nuts and seeds, fiber. Furthermore we do not eat enough
healthy fats as found in olive, soy and vegetable oils, flax seed, walnuts and
avocadoes. However we eat far too
much saturated fat, which is found in solid fats such as butter, coconut oil
and animal fats.
How many are eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity daily, keeping their weight in a healthy range, making sure their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels are in the healthy range?
Sounds familiar doesn’t it, and this
has been taught in our church for over 100 years. “Grains, fruits, nuts, and
vegetables, constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 296). This
quote echoes the whole, plant-based diet prescribed by God in Genesis 1:29.
Other recent research from the
Adventist Health Study (JAMA Internal Medicine, published online
June 3, 2013) verifies that the vegetarian diet, high in fruits, vegetables,
whole grains and nuts, is best for our health and decreases death from any
cause by 12% (by 19% for vegan men). The accompanying editorial in the same
medical journal commenting on this study was titled, “Should everyone be a
vegetarian?” The author pointed out the obvious advantages of a vegetarian diet
to one’s health: lower risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and many
cancers. Scientific evidence
now shows that vegetarians live significantly longer than
non-vegetarians. The implication was that everyone could benefit by eating more
like a vegetarian.
The next question to ask is, “How
many of our church members are following this good advice?” How many are eating
a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity daily, keeping their weight
in a healthy range, making sure their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood
sugar levels are in the healthy range? If we are not working proactively on
these critical determinants of good health, are we being good stewards?
None of us are
perfect, physically or morally. We
can all make improvements and we need God’s help in being faithful stewards of
all of God’s gifts to us. As we ask for God’s guidance daily, let’s include the
stewardship of health. As good stewards of our health, will we enjoy the
benefits of better health and a longer life. In addition, we will also be more
productive in God’s vineyard of life which is the goal of all good stewards.