August 1, 2019

Inasmuch & Diet as Lifestyle

How God regards those who are poor and disenfranchised & wholistic health.


70 1 7Inasmuch

For the Least of These, Nathan Brown, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018, 120 pages. Softcover, US14.99 ($7.99, Kindle edition). Reviewed by Stephen Chavez, Adventist Review.

In the book’s preface author Nathan Brown writes: “The hardest part about writing this book has been choosing what to leave out.” He goes on to assert that the Bible contains roughly 2,100 references about how God regards those who are poor and disenfranchised, and how His people are to lighten the load of those crushed by poverty, sickness, and homelessness.

Part of the author’s dilemma stems from the fact that his book was written to accompany the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for the third quarter of 2019 (July through September). So this short book has only 13 chapters, one for each week in the quarter. But each chapter is packed with thoughtful, poignant anecdotes to which he attaches biblical and socially relevant commentaries.

This book, and the lessons in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (authored by ADRA president Jonathan Duffy) not only focus on the biblical mandate to care for those who are materially impoverished, but also highlight the work done by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to extend Christ’s hands of service, healing, and restoration to a world in desperate need of it. Hardly a place on earth can’t benefit from a demonstration of Christian compassion.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the book (and the accompanying Sabbath school lessons) is the reminder that when we call ourselves Christ’s disciples, we are obligating ourselves to carry on the ministry He so often highlighted in both word and deed during His earthly life. We can help by financially supporting this charity or that, or we can roll up our sleeves and get involved on a regular basis with some group that serves those who have needs in our own communities.

An added bonus is the author’s perceptive linking of loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbors as ourselves; in other words, how we demonstrate our love for God by our service to others. We Adventists have understood this mandate from our beginning as a movement. To the extent that we’ve become inactive we simply must brush away the cobwebs and rediscover service. When God gave His prophets a prophetic message, it was often to remind people with means of their duty to those who were poor: to care for widows, orphans, and strangers. To be truly prophetic, we have to likewise stand with those who are impoverished.

Take your time with this book. Its message has always been relevant, but perhaps never more so than now.

70 2 0 4Diet as Lifestyle

Eat Plants, Feel Whole George E. Guthrie, M.D., M.P.H., C.D.E., AdventHealth Press, Orlando, Florida, 2019, 448 pages. Hardcover, US$29.99. Reviewed by Fred Hardinge, Dr.Ph., R.D., former associate director of the General Conference Adventist Health Ministries.

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After a lifetime of involvement in nutrition and health I have become almost jaded regarding health books. The vast majority are written with book sales as the primary focus—making science, physiology, scientific principles, and common sense hard to find. This book is different.

Using real-life examples taken from his patients, George Guthrie, a family medicine physician who teaches lifestyle medicine at AdventHealth, Orlando, leads readers to an accurate understanding of the history, market forces, and challenges of the typical American diet, along with the unhealthy consequences for most who choose to follow popular patterns of eating.

We routinely hear numerous nutrition terms, but rarely do we really understand what they mean. This book guides readers to common sense understandings about many of these in an easy-to-grasp, practical way that is consistent with current scientific fact.

Have you ever wondered about trans fats, artificial sweeteners, free radicals, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, the microbiome and your genes, the Paleo diet, whole-food plant-based diets—to name just a few? You will need to read the whole book to benefit fully from the knowledge Guthrie shares.

I appreciate the author’s sense of balance in dealing with these diet and health matters—a rare commodity today. He recognizes that there are unhealthy ways of following “healthful” diets, and clearly makes the case for a lifestyle, not just a diet. Health is the result of more than just following a good diet. Even vegetarian or plant-based diets can be practiced in unhealthy ways.

The 18-day meal plan, and the recipes included, form a helpful and practical approach to making wholesome changes in one’s diet that should result in better health. The author’s strong recommendation to include vitamin B12 supplements is much appreciated, and too often ignored by those promoting this kind of diet. He recognizes that a strict, total vegetarian (vegan) diet may not be best for all—but easily makes the case for a diet based primarily on whole plant foods.

As a nutritionist, I found a few points in this book with which I disagree, but they’re relatively minor. That is to be expected.

While focusing on what and how we eat, the author does a good job of also informing readers of the importance and value of exercise. Including something about the role of sleep and rest in supporting healthful choices, reducing the risk for metabolic disorders, and improving clarity of thought and decision-making would have been valuable.

Eat Plants, Feel Whole is well worth the read. Even more valuable is to apply the principles to our lifestyle. They will make a positive difference!