Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch – Book Notes

I share these notes with permission of the author.

Surprising insights from a whole food, plant-based perspective


Like usual, these my notes are much more simplified than the text, and I suggest a reading of the text for evidence & sources of statements written here. For more detailed analysis of WFPB, look at books and lectures by Joel Fuhrman and Neal Bernard, just to name a few.

Broad application of these topics into other topics: could apply to music, the idea of what to focus on and what to eliminate and what to use only sparingly when needed.

Can also apply to finance, avoiding debt, cutting out borrowing.


Where become certified WFPB? Pg. 47

Suggested books from the text: appendix 7; also…Collin Campbell’s Whole ;Pg. 30 more Pg. 47 Pg. 52 Pg. 56 Pg. 58 Pg. 65 Pg. 89 Pg. 154


Chapter 1: Awakening to the word of wisdom


-Dr. Grupa speaks of WFPB as heart attack proof diet; eliminates possibility

-Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn reversed all his patient’s CAD by WFPB

-taste buds will change

-no calorie counting so never go hungry

-this is hidden in plain view, but many ignore it

-8 days in you’ll enjoy it

-WFPB dramatically drops LDL and total cholesterol levels by 30% or more (which is how much a Statin drug would, perhaps even more)

-WFPB relieves knee issues and mental issues

-70% of what we believe to be regular aging is actually optional; some unhealthy elderly or late adults say ‘you just wait your turn is coming!’ but it doesn’t have to, not like that.

-see forks over knives documentary


Chapter 2 The Flesh of Beasts


-D&C, our most current revelation on health, says use meat in winter or famine to save your lives; we don’t have those right now

-plants can, unlike animals, synthesize organic materials from minerals air sunlight, thus they are the true source of nutrients (for example, cow doesn’t make dairy, it eats it and when we drink milk we get it second hand)

-more than enough (over 10% of calories) protein in WFPB

-D&C says plants for ‘nature and constitution of man’; they should be the core

-use meat as a backup source not a primary; disadvantages of meat (which don’t apply to plants) include too much cholesterol, too much protein, too much fat, wrong type of fat, too few essential nutrients, too much of some nutrients, no phytochemicals, no fiber, too many hormones & antibiotics, give to animals to get them fat and keep them from getting sick), too many pollutants, microbes, pesticides, herbicides

-protein like oxygen is abundant in nature, not something to worry about

-China Study showed cancer in rats from animal protein, but vegetable protein didn’t lead to cancer.

-in whole foods, we get the advantage of amino acids producing precise combinations needed; this doesn’t happen if you oil everything.

-don’t gamble your health by betting on some fad diet being better than the D&C

-report: in 6 wks. of this gone from cholesterol 238 to 164 or 201 to 138 etc. and lost 15 pounds.

-calorie for calorie broccoli has more protein than a stake


Chapter 3 Wholesome herbs and every fruit


-whole foods have many phytochemicals like alkaloids carotenoids flavonoids isoflavones organosulfides phenolic acids phytosterols saponins etc. even many not yet discovered;

-phytochemicals in a whole food work together in a symbiotic way;

-nutrition is a young science, we are just scratching the surface; we can’t really improve on god’s creation by our supplements, just eat the food as found in nature

-D&C says to eat wholesome plants; that also suggests seeking a whole form not an oil form or refined or other ways

-real food is alive and should eventually die; preservatives thus aren’t good, and sap much nutrient; D&C also speaks of using food ‘in the season thereof’

-modern foods are too concentrated; same with cocaine, the leaves aren’t addictive, it’s the concentration it’s sold in. eat naturally and you can avoid addictions common in the standard American diet

-President Packer speaks of many things not specifically listed in the word of wisdom which are harmful

-refined plant oils have way more calories than the whole food version; i.e. 1 cup sweet corn is 130 cal. and 10% fat; but 2 tbsp of corn oil is 250 cal. and 100% fat

-adding vegetable oil to a plant-based diet just adds unneeded calories

-eating good fats (monounsaturated, like olive oil) leads to less cholesterol than bad fats, but both lead to CAD

-some things resolved by WFPB eating: UTI, acne, eczema, PMS, emotional issues, Raynaud’s, blood sugar imbalances, arthritis, less hypoadrenalism symptoms, restore color in cheeks, decrease pain and weight and happiness, less allergens and asthma



Chapter 4 All grain is good


-‘staff of life’ as it says in D&C means ‘staple food for life’; we’re in an upside-down society that says eat lots of meat and little carbs, esp. little wheat. Wheat is endorsed by God and it’s the first thing many attack.

-some are glucose intolerant but human history shows that’s the exception not the rule

-6 foods sustained life historically: barley, corn, millet, potatoes, rice, wheat, getting a bulk of calories from starch

-eating starches (corn, potatoes, etc.) helps us not take all day to get enough calories like it does for grazing cattle etc.

-paleolithic people actually got most their calories from carbs, their ancestors were nearly vegetarian; societies living on mainly animal foods are historically scarce and exceptions not the norm

-in China (before McDonalds/American diet came there) they were the healthiest people and they ate mostly rice and noodles and veggies and they lived longest

-the word of wisdom was given for our day when disease is mostly from food intake; back in Joseph Smith’s time most disease was communicable (spread from person to person, lack of hygiene/sterility, etc.), but the word of wisdom was focused on helping us in our day when food choices are so vast

-the way we eat and feed our children is equivalent to how people used to mingle with others who had bubonic plague or typhoid fever

-chronic diseases today are preventable, yet 1.7 million die from them annually

-genes may load the gun, but behavior pulls the trigger

-noncommunicable diseases (ones that can be prevented by diet) are leading factor of death now everywhere but Africa (Africa is closely following suit however)

-when we eat more calorically dense meat, we eat less of other stuff, i.e. stuff with nutrients like grain

-food selection choices are highest today, more so than ever. Thus the word of wisdom is key for our time

-90% of turkey has disease causing organisms, which are resistant to antibiotics

-many antibiotics are becoming ineffective for humans because they’re used so much on animals. We should instead focus on keeping these vital for when we need them and not waste them on animals. We get resistant when it’s introduced to animal or human, so shift the focus away from animal eating; 23,000 die per year from antibiotic resistant infections, more so than die from HIV/AIDs.

-even being 10 pounds overweight makes you functionally much weaker, you can’t be middle ground on this

-WFPB can help swelling and joint issues



Chapter 5 what about dairy and eggs


-dairy is like liquid meat and isn’t the source of any nutrients. It has too much protein, fat, cholesterol, calories, hormones, bacteria, and pollutants, even if it’s from ‘happy cows’, it has pus in it too; that protein is highly carcinogenic

-billions of people around the world are healthy without consuming any dairy.

-US has lots of milk but a very high rate of osteoporosis; get calcium from plants, the original source with highest absorption potential

-dairy can neutralize needed acidity, so nutrients come out of our bones to restore it, thus we have weaker bones when we use dairy

-adult mammals in the wild don’t consume dairy; we don’t need nutrients that baby chicks need, so don’t eat eggs; we have different needs than a baby cow so don’t drink cow milk

-Pres. Hinckley said don’t justify eating bad stuff just because it isn’t specified in the word of wisdom

-WFPB helps fertility; brings energy you had 30 years ago


Chapter 6 science and the word of wisdom


-science is slowly catching up to the word of wisdom revelation

-many Christian traditions have promoted a vegan diet, especially 7th Day Adventists. 35% of 7th Day Adventists are vegetarian; Hugh Nibley says they have always been better than us at living the word of wisdom. They feel God has revealed the health code, and they are outspoken about sharing it as a religious duty. We should feel the same. John Westley promoted vegetarianism. Islam Buddhism and other world religions have long promoted elimination of animal products in diet. Joseph Smith taught the need to obey God before being blessed; some things in word of wisdom are contrary to modern fads and you need to take a leap of faith; however, most of this has been around for millennia.

-we have more science now but unhealthy people; knowledge doesn’t equal wisdom

-we always interpret the world of wisdom through contemporary science; for example, scientist and Apostle John Widtsoe spoke of using meat very sparingly, and even suggested eliminating animal products from the diet. He spoke of the need to heed the positives as much as the negatives in the word of wisdom, the do’s not just the don’ts. He says church members aren’t living up to this. He speaks of how vegetarians have often excelled in sports, and how meat proteins are more expensive and wasteful, and how all we need is found in vegetarianism.

-in the Korean war, the autopsies showed the Koreans were healthy, the American’s (eating lots of meat) were all predisposed for atherosclerosis

-get 10% calories from fat, 10 from protein, 80 from complex carbs

– avoid irreversible diabetes related nerve damage by catching your health early on as possible; but yes you can reverse diabetes with this and many have



Chapter 7 Common objections


-it takes money to promote a message and drug companies and dairy companies don’t earn money by promoting WFPB, that’s why you aren’t taught this as much in schools, TV, etc.; food executives call marketing unprocessed food ‘a fools game’; the D&C warns us of conspiring people, this certainly applies to food companies today who will do whatever they can to get money, intentionally making foods in addictive combinations (‘secret combinations’ haha!)

-we ignore healthy food when unhealthy is present; a rat will die of starvation when offered both food and cocaine regularly

-fake food leads to loss of regular self-control; we don’t have to have these overpowering cravings if we detoxify our bodies; we eat unnaturally rich foods; as mentioned earlier, your taste buds will adapt to what you give them within a short period of time; junk food leads to a loss of the ability in our biological feedback systems (with leptin etc.) to tell when we are full

-here are some myths: 1. We need meat for adequate protein. 2. Eggs are an ideal protein. 3. Milk is good for our bones. 4. Carbs are dangerous. 5. We need more ‘healthy fats’ in our diet. 6. Olive oil, fish oil, coconut oil are ‘health foods’. 7. It can’t be wrong if everyone is doing it. 8. If something is labeled ‘natural’ it is good for you. 9. Junk food is fun, popular, and will make you happy. 10. Eating whatever foods you find delicious is part of living the good life. 11. Serving people rich, scrumptious foods shows you love them

-what of scientists who disagree with WFPB? The bulk of scientific evidence truly points in this direction; many who follow the USDA still have heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc., and they blame it on factors like genetics, lack of exercise, or the environment, when really their diet is whack; even if they know of a healthier diet they don’t promote it because they think people are too weak to successfully do it (*note: promote the best, not just what you think people can handle! This is how they rise; humanity thrives on being challenged to become great, not on invitations to be mediocre.)

-many fad diets look like they’re working because they’re often better than the Standard American Diet (SAD), but that doesn’t mean they are the optimal diet (*Atkins/keto particularly leads to heart disease). And even a placebo can have real profound psychological effects resulting in physical changes (psychobiological effects)

– green smoothies aren’t as good as whole foods, less fiber etc.; (fiber tells you you’re full); we also can’t neglect starches or we’ll have not enough energy; supplements lack many phytochemicals found in whole foods; the apple has thousands of antioxidants impacting thousands of metabolic reactions, we can’t even calculate what’s going on, almost every chemical effects another chemical, an almost infinite number of biological consequences when we take things and change them from their natural state. Did they have a Vitamix 200 years ago? No, yet they were healthy. We can’t just go off of active ingredients, we are still learning about the complexity of anatomy and nutrition science

-when you stop eating bad stuff, at first you feel bad. Don’t let that trick you. It’s the same with stopping smoking or cocaine.

-the word of wisdom does not encourage us to “just eat right for your type”. among WFPB there is an extremely broad variety (*prophets have said regarding music which can be applied to nutrition: there is so much good, you don’t need to waste your time with the bad). Find a diet that works for you within the broad scope of WFPB.

-WFPB is the only diet clinically proven to eliminate heart disease; what’s more radical: the diet that causes many chronic illnesses, or the one that eliminates them? “moderation in all things” is not a scriptural statement. WFPB is the way the vast majority of humans have eaten in recorded history. The standard American diet is the real radical diet.

-many good latter-day saints ignore the positive aspects of the word of wisdom; this hurts relationships, dulls spiritual sensitivity, etc.

(*perhaps the Savior would say to them to live these principles when they ask, ‘what lack I yet?’. Will they like the young man go away sorrowing, now willing to consecrate what the Lord asks?)

(*it can also lead to hormonal imbalance, contributing to same sex attraction; think of all the estrogen in dairy products which men consume (the milk producing cows are pregnant after all)! Perhaps we have discovered one of the mysteries as to why boys from good religious homes can develop same sex attraction.)

-most Americans only eat 7% fruit and vegetable; we get 51% of food in a processed form. WFPB eliminates virtually all of the top ten sources of calories in the American diet (as identified by USDA): soda pop, cake and pastries, hamburgers, pizza, potato chips, white rice, white bread, cheese, beer, & french fries.

-D&C says the word of wisdom is adapted to the weakest of saints, so we know this can be done. Many people give things up, as seen in converts giving up tea coffee alcohol etc. (which they thought would be impossible) to be baptized (*then the Holy Ghost helps them even more after baptism). Similarly, we can give up meat, dairy, processed foods, etc. (*will this not bring an increase of the Holy Ghost, and thus more power to make good choices? Will it not make sin less appealing?). Many are so excited about the new life ahead that they don’t even experience withdrawals. Does a butterfly miss being a caterpillar?

(*chose to eat WFPB, and be firm in your resolve; then you don’t have to waste time debating the weaker side of your character and devils, which are very good debaters)

-what is harder, to give up certain foods, or to live with chronic illness?

-the ability to savor subtle delights of whole foods may take some time as your palate needs to adjust; eating real food is delicious and sustainable

-the church with it’s lines on what you can’t have has spared us from many illnesses, but we have yet to access the full blessings from fully heeding D&C 89.


Chapter 8 stewards of our bodies, the earth, and its creatures


-D&C 49:20-21 “it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”

-in the bible, the eating of animals is only introduced after the flood which destroyed the vegetation on earth!

-Genesis 9:9 Joseph Smith Translation “and surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.”

-meat may be ordained for our use, but not for our abuse

-Hugh Nibley suggests using meat ‘sparingly’ means spare the animals. He says the needy family in winter has right to using animals, but those who don’t need it have no right to them. He also says that “God will justify the taking of animal life to sustain man’s want, but he reserves a special blessing for those who place their nobility before their necessity” (source in text)

-how can animals find joy in filling the measure of their creation if we treat them so badly (the factories etc.)?

-using animal meats results in use of much more water than farming; it also creates more greenhouse gasses than all transportation; we could much more easily give up dairy than give up transportation!

-livestock industry leads in deforestation and reduction of biodiversity, an anthropogenic user of land; they make 130x more waste than humans, leading to widespread pollution of land and water

-the earth can produce enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed

-Brigham Young spoke of our savage nature going away as we use plants not animals for food (pg. 87)

-Joseph Smith had his fellow Zion’s Camp members not kill a snake among them, but encouraged them to become tame so the animals could follow suit (pg. 87) (remember full references to quotations etc. are in the text)

-George Q Cannon speaks of an increased spirit of God as we stop hurting animals, and peace then reigning on earth

-Heber C Kimball wrote of not hurting animals, but respecting that they too have life, the same as we do, and that the animals are doing their job, so should we do ours.

-Lorenzo Snow says the animals we kill unnecessarily may rise up someday and condemn us

-Joseph F. Smith said the love of nature is akin to the love of God

-more reports show WFPB can cure: bi-polar, sleep apnea, skin problems like boils and rashes, depression, panic attacks, reflux, eyesight, hearing, common sickness (rarely get sick), headaches, blood pressure, faster recovery when you do get sick, decreased anxiety


Chapter 9 Why doesn’t the church tell us these things


-D&C says it’s not by commandment or restraint

-Heber J Grant says some of the sweetest saints he knew disobeyed the word of wisdom

-some very noble people are yet not necessarily the healthiest

(*consider Thomas S Monson: a mighty prophet, but his biography shows they ate much meat growing up in his home, and later in life he was known for having a very bad case of diabetes; the Lord sustained and prolonged his health, but it was still a great hinderance to him, and perhaps shortened his life)

(*consider this positive example: George Albert Smith would bring a jar of wheat with him whenever he traveled; even eating in members’ homes, his escort would say ‘we are having stew for dinner, but President Smith is having wheat’. That’s amazing courage!)

-historically, it’s taken time for the word of wisdom to be understood in the church, and adapted into policy, culture, etc. We learn line upon line, as we are ready to receive it.

-Joseph Smith urged being merciful more than exacting when it came to this and other matters.

-Heber J Grant tried preaching the word of wisdom and few listened; after a sermon on it members giving him dinner had the nerve to offer him tea and coffee. Grant showed the saints that they were spending more money on tea and coffee than they were on tithes. Grant says he was called a crank for his views on the word of wisdom, but said that he therefore expected to go on being a crank to the end.

-another problem with enforcing positive aspects of D&C 89 is how hard it is to measure compliance. With alcohol etc. it’s easy to say ‘are you or aren’t you using it’ etc.

-Joseph Smith said, “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all.” (History of the Church 6:184-85)

-George Albert Smith said the Lord always wanted a people who would listen but couldn’t find it, he wanted to exalt them, but they wouldn’t have it

He goes on to say how the Lord could not “reveal to us a single principle farther than He had done” or “He would have upset the whole of us.”

-Perhaps the emphasis on not doing the wrong things (i.e. alcohol) is a step closer to doing the right things (plant-based eating).

-we aren’t that different from the early saints when it comes to resisting revelations in the word of wisdom

-perhaps other items are far more important (such as getting us to be baptized, keep the sabbath, pray, not commit adultery, be honest, have charity, etc.), and we must focus on the most key items needed for salvation; (*it seems we have not graduation from the early grades, we aren’t, as a people, taking on the higher grades yet)

-D&C says we shouldn’t be commanded in all things

-often the gap between what we believe we should do and what we do is enormous

-statistics show Utah saints are fatter than non-Utah saints. Fatter-day Saints.

-why settle for only moderate obedience and thus only moderate blessings?

-Lorenzo Snow said the day of introducing to the saints that they should not shed animal blood and should refrain from eating meet was near at hand

-Ezra Taft Benson said we are digging an early grave with our teeth, and we need a generation of Daniel-like people who refuse the kings meat, and whose countenances show it

-Gordon B Hinckley says he wishes we would live the word of wisdom more fully, and that we would be blessed if we would try to

-instead of asking ‘why haven’t church leaders spoken more of this?’ we would do well to ask, ‘why haven’t I listened to them more closely?’ as they’ve already encouraged this

-Heber J Grant ate very little meat, and he was known for working long hours without fatigue

-George Albert Smith ate no meat except for a small amount during winters; his meals are simple and nourishing (remember the jar of wheat story).

-Joseph Fielding Smith’s wife Jessie Evans said he doesn’t eat meat, and they eat lots of fruits and vegetables

-Ezra Taft Benson was sparing in his use of meat and generous in his use of fresh vegetables and grains

-as you see, many church leaders aren’t waiting for some official message to act on the council of D&C 89.

-in as little as 2 weeks of cutting animal products headaches can go away, menstrual pain becomes lessened, and the body manages its own weight (gains if it needs to gain, loses if it needs to lose)


Chapter 10 the promised blessings


-Harold B Lee said if we will be like Daniel and refuse the kings meat we will be protected when death comes to every household that doesn’t keep the commands of God

-D&C 45:31 speaks of an overflowing scourge to come where “desolating sickness shall cover the land” and “pestilences of every kind” perhaps it’s a super bug from complete resistance to antibiotics

-George Q Cannon says that when pestilence comes, many who are now careless about the word of wisdom will likely reform and pay attention to the councils; he says we as a people are promised greater safety than other people, but that is predicated upon our obedience, and we shouldn’t expect the blessing without obedience.

-President Boyd K Packer taught “the word of wisdom is a key to individual revelation”

-for observant Jews, their dietary laws are, a Jewish author puts it, “a daily commitment in action to one’s faith, a formal choice, a quiet self-discipline”

-it’s ok to be different and separate from society, God’s people have always been called to do that; food is a great vehicle to remind us (and others) that we are a separate people

-some suffering in this life is our own fault because of not heeding these things

-apparently D&C 89 is an ‘adapted version’ for the weak and weakest of saints; perhaps a more full version is to come, and with it, more blessings; why not seek these?

-this is the secret to weight loss everyone is looking for

-WFPB can cure cancers and other heart (and brain) diseases; imagine a family home evening where you have to tell your kids you have cancer and you won’t be with them much longer. Is this not motivation enough to bring you to WFPB?

-Gandhi says those who can are vegetarian just for helping a health issue fall back, and to stay vegetarian, you need a moral basis.

(more guidelines in appendixes)


*Note: Here are 2 small lists I made: one of things to add, and another of things to cut, perhaps in descending order, but doing cutting and adding at the same time:

Add: fruits, veggies, whole grain, nutrient knowledge, whole food snacks & meal prep, light exercise, rigorous exercise (perhaps not needed), naps, sleep, short fasting, long fasting, write a cook book, teach others.

Cut: soda, meat, dairy, pastries, white breads/white rice, oils, bad sauces, bad candy, bad juice, exceptions (days/meals off), feeding non WFPB to others, character: stop ingratitude, entitlement, resentment, jealousy, selfishness.

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