Q: I had COVID in March 2021, along with my husband and one of our adult children. It wasn’t severe for any of us, and they’re both now fine, yet I’m still overly tired and have a hard time focusing mentally. Why me? My doctor says there’s nothing to do but wait. Am I still infected or contagious? 

A: Unfortunately, your description points to what is called “long COVID.” Millions of people around the world are suffering from something similar. The diagnosis is not very precise and includes a wide variety of symptoms of varying degrees of discomfort, inconvenience, and severity that may last weeks to years after recovery from an acute COVID infection. Estimates of COVID patients who develop this condition range from 30 to 70 percent. Long COVID has significantly affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.

There’s no one test for long COVID, so doctors use descriptions such as yours to make the clinical diagnosis. But some family members and friends who have completely recovered from COVID and even some doctors may not take long COVID symptoms seriously. This increases the psychological stress of sufferers immensely. 

We can’t answer your “Why me?” question, but we do emphasize that anyone who gets acutely infected can get long COVID; nonetheless, we’ve listed the currently associated relative risk factors in the table below. People with this condition aren’t known to be contagious, so you don’t have to be overly concerned about spreading the virus to family or friends; however, please use prudent measures to avoid exposing the vulnerable people around you. 

What causes long COVID? The SARS-CoV-2 virus may “hide” in tissues and organs and induce the production of chemicals that stimulate inflammation, activate our blood-clotting platelets, and damage the cells lining our blood vessels. One hypothesis is that the symptoms are correlated with the location of the inflammation. Unfortunately, we still don’t know why some people and not others develop long COVID. So there isn’t any reliable advice about how to reduce your risk of long COVID once you’ve already caught COVID-19. As far as treatments, health-promoting lifestyle habits; antihistamines; naltrexone, a generic anti-addiction medication; antivirals; anticlotting agents; steroids; and nutritional supplements are all being used with variable benefits. 

The virus of COVID-19 is not yet finished with us, but following the God-given lifestyle that optimizes our immune resilience and observing prudent public health measures are still effective in reducing our overall risk of COVID (and a multitude of other illnesses). By God’s grace the research studies currently under way will soon give better solutions for individuals like you with this challenging condition. 

Risk Factors for Long COVID 

Q: Years ago numerous health talks highlighted cholesterol. Nowadays I don’t hear much about it. Is cholesterol still relevant?

A: Cholesterol became a household word during the 1980s and 1990s because of its association will atherosclerosis and disease of the heart, brain, and other blood vessels. Cholesterol travels through the body in the blood packaged in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or low-density lipoprotein particles (LDL), known as “good” and “bad” cholesterol respectively. People with high cholesterol have about twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels; and yes, heart disease and stroke are still leading causes of death around the world. So the relevance of adopting healthful-living practices to reduce cholesterol to appropriate levels is far from over. And we also now know that cholesterol is a player in the deadly processes involving risk, progression, survival, and prognosis of cancer. 

Cholesterol is necessary for making vitamin D, estrogen, testosterone, and other steroid hormones and is vital for sperm development, immune-system defense, and the health of our nervous system. While all our cells contain cholesterol, cancer cells tend to have higher levels of cholesterol than normal, healthy cells; and alteration in the level of cholesterol in the blood is a common occurrence in a wide variety of cancers. We don’t know whether the cholesterol “causes” cancer or if the cancer “causes” the cholesterol to accumulate in the cells, but we have some clues that have come from research conducted in the past few decades. 

Cholesterol stored in cancer cells may function as a reservoir for rapid cell division and makes breakaway cells more likely to produce new colonies away from the parent tumor (i.e., metastasis). In a manner of speaking, cholesterol is “hijacked” in the malignant process for the development, 

survival, progression, and metastasis of cancerous cells. In most cases tissue from tumors shows an increase in the uptake receptors for LDL cholesterol, which may then serve as a pipeline for new cholesterol to support rapid growth in the cancer cells. So could it be that a lifestyle that promotes high levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, may also be fueling the development of cancers and cancer metastasis? 

It’s now known that alteration of the way cholesterol is handled in cancer cells can hamper or facilitate the response to anti-cancer therapies. Increased cholesterol levels are associated with higher cancer incidence, and cholesterol-lowering drugs (e.g., statins) may reduce the risk of dying from certain cancers, such as breast, prostate, and colorectal. Yet some cancers aren’t affected by blood cholesterol levels, and cholesterol-lowering drugs themselves may increase cancer risk. So just looking for medication to “fix” the cholesterol may not be the answer. 

There’s robust evidence that a healthful lifestyle using a plant-based diet of whole foods, adequate exercise, rest, stress management, and trust in God makes a lot of sense in reducing the risk of cancer as well as other leading threats to our health.

Q: Is it really safe to microwave food? 

A: This question has come up from time to time, and the concerns include making food radioactive, destroying food’s nutrients, and the ovens themselves causing cancer. Perhaps some explanation about microwaves and the chemical processes involved in cooking foods may help you in your search for a definitive answer. “Radiation” is a broad term that means the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through some material. We are bathed in radiation (e.g., light, the earth itself, communication equipment, X-rays).

Some types of radiation promote health (e.g., sunlight), while others are dangerous (e.g., uranium). 

Microwaves are considered safe when used in such things as home appliances, Bluetooth devices, radios, cell phones, GPS devices, and televisions. The microwaves used for cooking fall between radio and infrared light on the electromagnetic spectrum. Only under extreme conditions way beyond what we experience in our day-to-day lives have they been shown to cause harm, such as with devices meant to emit high-power electromagnetic pulses in military and research applications.

Typically, when food is subjected to heat, the molecules in the food get agitated, and that energy changes the structure of the carbs, fats, and proteins in the food. The amount and duration of heat exposure as well as the cooking environment (water, oil, or air) determines the degree and kind of changes that occur during the cooking process. 

Microwave ovens cook food by energizing the water molecules in the food item, causing them to produce heat, which then cooks the food. The microwaves affect only a small distance beneath the food’s surface; the heat produced there then travels inward to heat/cook the whole item. The rotating plate in the oven helps to facilitate more even heating but does not guarantee it. 

Microwaves do not change the molecular structure of the food, nor do they make the food radioactive. Some food items—such as grapes, whole eggs, processed meats, foods in plastic containers, and foods that may have metallic residue on their surfaces because of heavy metals sometimes being present in the soil (e.g., carrots, spinach, frankfurters)—have been shown to be problematic when heated by microwaves. Currently there’s no evidence that microwaving food is dangerous, but as a precaution, microwave food in only glass or ceramic containers. 

The quality of the food is probably the most important issue since this is what will determine the nutritional benefit or nutritional harm that food will impose. God made fire, and He made microwaves (not the ovens, of course!). Both may be used to hurt or to harm. Either of them used with appropriate precautions is safe.

* Amy M. Dagro, Justin W. Wilkerson, Thaddeus P. Thomas, Benjamin T. Kalinosky, and Jason A. Payne, “Computational Modeling Investigation of Pulsed High Peak Power Microwaves and the Potential for Traumatic Brain Injury,” Science Advances, Oct. 29, 2021.

Q: Can music improve my health? 

A: Without a doubt, some music helps people feel happy. Population surveys show that music is used primarily for entertainment, personal enjoyment, background “space” filler, and religious purposes. So “health,” in the commonly used sense, is not what people generally give as their motivation for listening to or playing music, even though both these activities can have amazingly profound effects on our well-being, whether we are ill or otherwise healthy. In the Bible, David used music to calm Saul; Hippocrates played music to treat patients with mental illnesses way back in 400 B.C.; and Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, prescribed it to treat bodily and mental ailments. Modern science now finds the same benefits and even more.

Music is a special gift to humankind. It affects not only our mood but also our learning and thinking functions. Neuroscientists believe that music activates many of the brain regions and brain chemicals and can produce physical rewiring in brain structures known to modulate heart function. It affects the beat-to-beat variations in heartbeats (HRV), which has been shown to be a powerful predictor of heart-related illness and death. It can help ease pain and relieve stress by reducing the level of stress-related hormones in the body. Research shows that people with chronic bronchitis and emphysema breathe easier while listening to music and have a modest but noticeably increased endurance and tolerance of high-intensity exercise. But all music and all people are not the same. 

Some kinds of music can be stress-producing. Heart and respiratory rates are higher in response to exciting music than in the case of tranquilizing music. In 2015 Finnish researchers found that music can bolster both positive and negative emotions. Some types of music produce sadness or support anger and aggression. The rhythm and other characteristics of the music—along with the culture, age, gender, musical taste, and emotional state—can all influence how we may respond to music. In one study, music perceived as arousing, aggressive, and unpleasant disrupted performance on a memory task and led to a lower level of reported altruistic behavior in 10- to 12-year-old children. In another study, groups of people were subjected to various compositions by Mozart, Strauss, or the pop group ABBA for 25 minutes each per day for three days. Music by Mozart and Strauss lowered blood pressure and heart rate, while music by ABBA did not. The slower tempos, tranquil melodies, gradual chord progressions, and soothing rhythms of classical music reduce mild to moderate insomnia. There’s even evidence that people who listen to calming classical music for 20 minutes per day may increase the activity of genes associated with memory, along with an increase in dopamine secretion and nerve interconnections. 

During the COVID pandemic, single music sessions were shown to improve blood oxygen levels and reduce anxiety—imagine that! 

Music is an amazing contributor to total health and well-being. A happy brain is a healthy brain. Thank God for this gift! 

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. 

Q: Is playing sports a good way to get fit?

A: Getting “fit” may mean different things to different people, so let’s get on the same page. To be “fit” means that you have enough strength, endurance, and flexibility to do everything that your normal day requires, and that you have reserve capacity to get through a typical crisis, an emergency, or an additional desired activity (such as climbing a flight of stairs when the elevator is out of service or climbing a hill to see a spectacular view). To the athlete, getting “fit” may mean preparing for a triathlon or climbing to the summit of a challenging mountain. So who you are and what you aspire to achieve make a difference.

Whatever the situation, however, getting fit requires movement and a “load” that you work against or carry (e.g., your body weight is considered a “load”). As you regularly repeat the activity with more or faster movement and with greater load, you become more “fit.” Whoever you are, though, being fit requires more than just exercise; it also requires a healthful lifestyle that accommodates the level of activity that’s needed.

Most sports involve movement and “load,” so if practiced regularly, they will improve fitness. Aerobic sports cause the heart to beat faster. Enjoying them regularly strengthens the heart, improves circulation, and increases lung capacity. These together improve the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to all the cells. Adding load on the muscles (e.g., weights, basketball, baseball bat, water for swimming) improves total fitness, strengthening bones, tendons, and ligaments and increasing lean-muscle mass, benefiting weight management.

You don’t have to be a star athlete to engage in sports for fun and fitness. Twenty to 30 minutes of a low-intensity sport may be a healthy starting point for sedentary adults. Swimming , cycling , bowling, pickleball, rowing, and kayaking all can be done at low intensity to start and increased as you go. Table tennis and pickleball are the lowest cardio-intensity workouts of the racket sports. You can also do a search on the Internet for other examples of low-impact, no-contact, and variable-intensity sports.

Here are some suggestions when choosing a sport:

Enjoying a friendly sport safely with friends and family is a good way to get fit!

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

Q: We started to work two-month rotating shifts during the first pandemic surge. My family has recently complained that I’m increasingly irritable, moody, and negative. My weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels are creeping up too, and I’m always tired. Could this be because of the shifts?

A: You’ll need a comprehensive clinical evalu­ation to assess what else might be going on. We recommend you talk to your doctor for a defin­itive answer. That said, shift work affects stress levels, sleep quality, and overall health because of disruption of biological rhythms and may indeed contribute to your situation.

Our brain, other organs, and even our cells have biological clocks that strongly influence—in a rhythmic pattern—the way our bodies function and how we behave. Internal clocks regulate our hormones, our immune system, our digestion, and much more. These clocks are encoded in our genetic material, and the rhythms they produce provide special windows of time that are best suited for the various types of activities that we engage in daily (such as mealtimes and bedtime), and even the optimal timing for medications and radiation therapy on cancer.

The predominant body rhythm cycles every 24 hours and 11 minutes, or almost a day; hence, circa (almost) dian (day). It produces predictable changes such as reduced blood pressure during night-time sleep and a rapid rise to daytime blood pressure levels starting around 6:00 a.m. It’s not coincidental that the risk of a stroke or heart attack is highest between 6:00 a.m. and noon!

Our brain’s performance also varies with the time of day, dipping, between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in otherwise normal people, below the levels of someone legally drunk. We are naturally more prone to accidents and errors during those hours. The cycle disrupted by sleep deprivation, rapid travel across time zones (jet lag), and shift work has consequences (see table). Consistent bedtimes, wake­up times, and mealtimes diminish bio­ rhythm disruption and facilitate realignment.

Your situation may not permit avoidance of shift work. We recognize that there are some jobs that are needed to sustain our modern, 24/7 way of life. You may, however, be able to reduce the severity of the impact of shift work on your health and well­being. The most powerful resynchronizers include consistent, routine mealtimes, bedtimes, exercise, and, most important, sunlight exposure.

Sleeping in the dark and avoiding post-shift light, alcohol, caffeine, sedatives, and screen ­monitor light within 90 minutes of bedtime all help to realign your body functions with your biorhythms. Keeping a consistent schedule, applied even on your days off, will help your body’s adjustment, but frequent shift changes are not optimal.

Individually tailored, carefully and prayerfully crafted, wholistic lifestyle intervention will help you (and your co-workers) reduce your physical, psychological, and even your spiritual risks.

Short-term DisruptionLong-term Shift Work
Decreased:Increased Risk:
CreativityNoncommunicable diseases
Empathy/compassionDiabetes, hypertension, heart disease
Information processingObesity
Decision-making abilityDementia, anxiety, depression, “fog”
Micro-sleepsImmune function
ImpulsivityPsychological resilience

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

Q: My 28-year-old sister has breast cancer. Our mom died of ovarian cancer, and the doctor wants to test my sister’s genes. He mentioned that her high cholesterol needs to be controlled for best results with the cancer. I’m 33, and all four of us siblings have high cholesterol. What’s the link between cholesterol and cancer?

A: We’re sorry to hear about your sister’s diagnosis and encourage you and all your siblings—female and male—to get evaluated since your doctor suspects a hereditary cancer. Based on the history you provided, we also strongly recommend that you do some Internet-based research from trusted, accountable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,* and we remind you that prevention is more effective than any type of treatment available today. Early risk reduction and disease detection often produce greater survival, lower treatment complexity, and less cost.

Cholesterol biology is complicated. Our bodies naturally make as much cholesterol as is needed, but we can also get it when we eat foods of animal origin. For years correlations between high cholesterol in the blood and the likelihood of certain cancers have been reported. In some kinds of cancer—such as breast, prostate, testicular, and colorectal—lowering cholesterol levels seems to reduce the risk of getting and dying from these cancers. On the other hand, bladder and lung cancers do not appear to be associated with cho- lesterol levels, and the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) may increase the risk compared to the benefit. Specifically, increased dietary choles- terol is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, and that’s probably what prompted the comment by your sister’s doctor. Some studies also estimate that for every 300 milligrams of cholesterol in the daily diet (about a two-egg omelet per day), the risk of pancreatic cancer increases by 24 percent, endometrial cancer by 18 percent, and throat cancer by about 25 percent.

In 2018 researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed how cholesterol promotes tumor growth. In 2019 a scientific review concluded that both a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet and having elevated levels of blood cholesterol can affect cancer development because cholesterol handling is reprogrammed in cancer cells. In 2021 researchers at Duke University demonstrated the way breast cancer cells use cholesterol to fuel the mechanisms that make them impervious to the natural cell stress as they migrate (metastasize). Metastatic breast cancer is difficult to treat, so preventing the spread is preferable. Lowering cholesterol by lifestyle and, if necessary, with medications will interfere with breast cancer metas- tasis and be better for the affected person. Current cholesterol-lowering strategies include physical exercise, adequate sleep, stress reduction, and improved diets low in animal prod- ucts (saturated fat and cholesterol) and high in legumes, seeds, avocados, olives, and especially nuts such as pecans, walnuts, and almonds.

We encourage you and your siblings to find a health-care team that’s knowledgeable about lifestyle-based, wholistic risk reduction and follow their rational plan. Thank God for His evidence-based pathway to optimal health and wholeness even in our brokenness!

* https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/bringyour- brave/hereditary_breast_cancer/index.htm

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

You’re on death row. You’ve been diagnosed with a fatal illness that you may not have realized you have. And you’ve only been making the situation worse by your attitudes and actions.

As a matter of fact, we’re all in the same boat. Try as we might, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do to reverse our condition or save ourselves. Regardless of our rank, position, socioeconomic or even ecclesiastical status, none of us is able to save ourselves.

“But,” you may protest, “it’s not that simple; there’s more to consider.”

Really? Even those engaged in the God-appointed work of organizing a denomination were not placed in “exempt status.”

An Historical Case Study

Taking on an exaggerated workload, failing to mend fragile human relationships, or attending to the heart work that is high on God’s priority list serves only to hasten the progress toward the inevitable end. God has more in store for us than we have time to do, because we are doing what others should be doing, even as He is preparing them to do so. We have a sacred duty to attend to our well-being and arouse others to do this as well, but reject the notion and practice of imbalanced work, appetite, and self-reliance.

We must learn what God really requires of us, how to enjoy His Sabbath, to spend time with those in our care, to be tender and compassionate with our children and treat them as well as our associates with the spirit of forgiveness that Jesus possessed. We have to let our children find their highest pleasure with us, just as we find and lead them to find the unsurpassed pleasure of the Lord’s company.

And do not neglect to grow in intimacy with your marriage partner . . . both of you have peculiarly sensitive hearts. Yes, external problems will arise, but God wants us to have such a strong love for each other and to be in such harmony together and with Him that united in doing His assigned work, you can stand nobly, faithfully, and successfully. This will move us from saddening thoughts and saddening subjects to a place of cheerfulness, happiness, gratefulness, to greater reliance on God and unshakable confidence in Him who alone can do something about our diseased, terminal condition.

We must surrender ourselves to God so that He is in control of our mind, for that’s where our sense of well-being comes from.

The preceding narrative paraphrases some of the facets of a historic vision experienced by Ellen White on Friday, June 5, 1863, during Sabbath vespers at the home of Aaron Hilliard in Otsego, Michigan. Her comment about this is found in “Testimony Regarding James and Ellen White.”1 The vision came just 15 days after the successful incorporation of the General Conference. The Whites were to attend an evangelistic event. They were staying in the home of Aaron Hilliard when she went into vision for about 45 minutes. Sometime during the next day she wrote that she was shown some issues regarding her husband and herself, and she wrote a message to the church in Monterey.

Ellen White remarked that her experience on that day was a special blessing. Perhaps the tumult of church organization and wearying travel and her husband’s health were suspended for 24 hours but resumed later when she was able to write about the event and the insight shared with some of the members of the Monterey church, a church embroiled in issues of marital infidelity and misguided judgments. The family, specifically its integrity and protection, was a clear theme throughout. She perceived that God saw what we do, and that using our own distorted judgments was at odds with what He desires for us and the harmonious life we could have in Him.

The Hebrew term that best describes that Edenic perfection, completeness, and harmony is shalom. It is the profound, absolute peace that is exclusively of divine origin.

Not until August 18642 did Ellen White describe more fully the content of the vision in Otsego, but she wrote many letters and gave local and personal testimonies in the interim, including expressing the pain of the loss of their eldest son, Henry, in December 1863. The tone of her concerns appeared to be centered on integrity, Christlike attitude, mental health, and the spiritual component of well-being. Interestingly, the context within which “the great subject of health reform”3 was placed, as elaborated in the Otsego vision, is in the perfect origin of our species (and every other earthly creation) in the Garden in Eden.

“Adam and Eve in Eden were noble in stature, and perfect in symmetry and beauty. They were sinless, and in perfect health. What a contrast to the human race now! Beauty is gone. Perfect health is not known. Everywhere we look we see disease, deformity and imbecility. I inquired the cause of this wonderful degeneracy, and was pointed back to Eden.”4

This perfection, symmetry, and beauty, with all that is good and complete, in perfect harmony and everything at peace, is God’s ideal for us. When Eve and Adam fell, the entire order of things became distorted, and degeneration, decay, disease, and death entered the human sphere. But God, being love, mercy, and grace personified, had laid contingency plans from “the foundation of the world.”

The Hebrew term that best describes that Edenic perfection, completeness, and harmony is shalom. It is the profound, absolute peace that is exclusively of divine origin. Only God possesses this in Himself. He bestowed this upon our world at Creation, and we lost it with the Fall. But God promised to restore this to our first parents, and in the fullness of time He made good on that promise. God sent His Son in the flesh to reconcile humanity to Himself. “It was His mission to bring to men complete restoration; He came to give health and peace and perfection of character.”5 That is shalom!


While specific attention was directed toward the practical activities of daily life that contribute to or detract from our wholistic well-being, Ellen White’s 1863 vision placed the care of our health as a religious duty, and control of the mind as an essential component of overall health through His grace.

Even though disease prevention is prominent, when we position health practices within the framework of reforms and remedies, a presupposed “norm” already exists. Remedies are not used to prevent disease. The term inherently indicates treatment of a problem that already exists. When we place the practice of health reform as a preventive measure, people often mistakenly assume we are preventing death. This perverse aberration of the truth often leads to the idea of health being only a reflection of an individual’s ability to practice certain healthy behaviors. Then we set up a system of judgment and spiritual hierarchy based on health practices, and, even more sinisterly, health outcomes. Even the term self-control may distort the reality that this attribute is really a gift imparted by God through His Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23).

Christians do not engage in healthful practices in order to be saved, but rather because we are saved. We live healthfully in response to God’s desire and invitation for us to be one with Him, to be complete in Him, and to be the best version of ourselves for His glory. We are called to be ambassadors of shalom, and we should do everything in our power to remove all impediments that can interfere with our connection with God and our relations with each other as we run the race of this earthly life (Heb. 12:1-3).

We were created to be in harmony with God’s plan, and that required obedience to His laws. While we may focus on God’s moral law as divine, we shouldn’t forget that the physical laws that govern our universe from atoms to galaxies are also divine. Some of these natural laws govern our physiology and anatomy, ecology
and personal hygiene; cooperation with these laws is consistent with health. Ignoring the laws of health fosters sickness and disease. When we cooperate with God in His effort to re-create us, we are beneficiaries of a measure of shalom.

We do not belong to ourselves; we are not our own; we have been bought and paid for by God Himself. So in love and appreciation we honor God, not only in our minds but also with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20). The kingdom of God is more than just what we eat and drink (Rom. 14:17); we should also appreciate God by caring about our total health and well-being. The lifestyle choices we make are important to Him. Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we should do it to honor God (1 Cor. 10:31). We live by His grace, in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

There’s no question that healthful habits promote better physical health and longevity in general. But we must be careful to note that while the risks of unnecessary disease, suffering, and premature death are reduced, we still live in a fallen world, damaged by sin and to be restored only when the new heavens and new earth are created as promised.

So healthy living is a necessity for all who can do so. But that will neither save us nor immunize us against all sickness and suffering. That will come when Jesus returns, and we become full partakers of His shalom and see Him face to face.

Meanwhile, we are counseled to preserve ourselves completely, body, mind, and spirit, until He returns and completes His promise (1 Thess. 5:23). A healthy body favors a clear mind that is better able to understand God’s truth, resist temptation, and face the spiritual onslaught of our daily existence by accessing God’s strength through His Holy Spirit.

We are all on death row. Ellen and James White had to deal with this reality personally in 1863, as we do now. Only God can change that. He gives shalom, and all honor and praise is His.

  1. Ellen G. White, manuscript 1, 1863.
  2. Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts (Battle Creek, Mich.: Seventh-day Adventist Pub. Assn., 1864), vol. 4a.
  3. Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, Oct. 8, 1867.
  4. E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, p. 120.
  5. Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 17.

Zeno L. Charles-Marcel is an associate director of the General Conference Department of Health Ministries.

Q:I will be scheduled for in-hospital surgery under general anaesthesia within the next three to four months, and I’m scared. I’ve heard that there are ways to reduce my risk. What can I do?

A:People undergoing medical-surgical procedures often feel anxious, stressed, or scared. Doctors are paying increasing attention to interventions to reduce presurgery jitters, anxiety, and stress to improve recovery and avoid delayed discharge from the hospital. Using the time you have before surgery to optimize your total health is a must-do for all who can. Some hospitals have “prehabilitation” programs, so see if such a program is available where you are.

We are privileged to respond to your question, but remember that these general health tips should not supersede or replace the recommendations from your physician.

Preparing for surgery takes planning. Have a plan, and prayerfully work that plan. By God’s grace, trust Him to do for you what you can’t do for yourself.

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

The attendant at our local health food store said that some types of salt are more healthful than others and have less negative effects on heart disease and blood pressure. I have hypertension, but I always thought that salt is salt. Isn’t it?

As with many health issues today, what once appeared to be quite straightforward has become “complicated.” Even the word “salt” has different meanings depending on its use in regular language or in chemistry, for instance. We assume that we’re dealing here with the common, nonchemistry use of the word, which refers to “a crystalline food seasoning or preservative that gives seawater its characteristic taste.” In general use, “salt” and “sodium” are synonymous, even though salt is really only 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. There’s evidence that chloride itself may also be an important link between salt and blood pressure, but we’ll concentrate on sodium in our response.

The sodium content in salt is thought to be responsible for salt’s effects on health. Sodium is involved in many important biochemical and physiological functions of our cells, tissues, organs, and systems. Flawed methodology of some high-profile studies a few years ago produced some confusion as to the effects of varied dietary intakes of sodium on heart disease, strokes, blood pressure, and overall death rates. Nonetheless, current evidence shows that as the
amount of dietary salt increases, so does the risk of cardiovascular disease. So it’s relevant to know if all types of salt are equivalent.

The claims that “some types of salt are healthier than others” is potentially true but not generally so. Salt varieties all have roughly the same amount of sodium by weight; so they will be expected to have the similar sodium-related health effects depending on the amount ingested. Nonetheless, each type of salt has a different sodium content by volume, so one teaspoon of table salt has about twice the amount of sodium as does one teaspoon of kosher salt (see table). So following a recipe and substituting one kind of salt for another may not only give different taste outcomes; it also may confer different health risks because the amount of sodium will vary—although not because of the inherent properties of the specific type of salt (sodium) itself.

A little salt is essential for life, but too much is dangerous, regardless of the source. Choose the type of salt for its culinary properties, not for speculated health benefits that are likely to be insignificant compared to an overall healthful, balanced diet. Also, it’s important to be careful about where we get our health advice.

Type of saltPercent of sodium by weightSalt in grams per teaspoonSodium content per teaspoonSpecial feature
Table salt (iodized)~ 396~ 2325iodine and anti-clumping chemicals added
Sea salt~385~ 1870potassium, iron, zinc included
Kosher salt~ 383~ 1120 
Pink Himalayan salt~ 375~ 1870iron oxide

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.