by Allen Leigh, Contributor
The Word of Wisdom (WoW), as applied by LDS leaders today, pertains to our physcial bodies, and the Lord promised the Saints who observe the WoW would:
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 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.
Because it pertains to our physical bodies, the WoW is subject to scientific scrutiny.
The WoW prohibits four things: tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee. Scientific data about the dangers of tobacco and alcohol are numerous, and scientific evidence about those two substances are not discussed in this post. Persons having an interest in the science and the use of tobacco see my previous post here.
The Lord said “hot drinks are not for the body or belly,” and LDS church leaders interpret the phrase “hot drinks” as being tea or coffee. The Lord didn’t say why those substances are not to be used, but I think most LDS consider caffeine as the reason. I was surprised to find that almost all science research that I read gave positive reports about the use of tea or coffee. Caffeine is a known stimulate, and it seems there are benefits to the use of stimulates in our bodies. In addition, tea and coffee may contain antioxidants that are beneficial to humans. Here is an example of a scientific report that gives positive statements about the effect of tea and coffee on our health:
Green tea and coffee may help lower your risk of having a stroke, especially when both are a regular part of your diet, according to research published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Scientific data about tea and coffee present a quandry to LDS who believe the WoW was inspired of God. This dilemma can be reduced if we realize that belief in the WofW is based on faith not scientific data. Our faith helps us realize that scientists are still learning about the effects of tea and coffee on our helath, and a rational approach to this dilemma is to give scientists more time to do research. In addition, we need to realize that scientist perform their research within a narrow scope and viewpoint, and this viewpoint may yield results that are different than results obtained by other researchers. For example, the research referred to above states that green tea and coffee may help lower your risk of having a stroke. Yet, other scientists have learned that tea and coffee increase one blood pressure and heart-rate, two conditions that may increase our risk of heart attack and likely stroke.
I believe that we need to take a spiritual approach to the WoW and let our observance of that health-code be based on faith. In addition, we need to give scientists more time to discover all of the effects of tea and coffee on our health. Eventually, scientific research and revelations from God will agree.