Diet lessons from the Bible

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Healthbeat: Religion and health (WLS)

Faith in the good word of the good book is helping people with good eating.

What if you could lead a healthier lifestyle by incorporating the lessons learned in what many have called the ultimate guide to self-improvement? That's what one federally funded study is aiming for.

Coming together to sing god's praises, worship, and study the good word and thanks to a National Institutes of Health study known as ALIVE!, Pastor Darryl Jenkins says god's word is also being used to renew the body.

Working with medical professionals at Rush University, the program takes lessons from the Bible to teach us how to lead a healthy lifestyle. It was a partnership with community pastors.

"Living in a way that I believe God intended for his people to live and to maintain the bodies as temples in which the holy spirit dwells," said Jenkins, a pastor at Partner Faith Community Church.

According to two passages in the Bible, Daniel fasted twice, cutting out wine and other rich foods.

"That resulting in Daniel being stronger and being able to see farther than people who were eating the rich foods of the king," said Elizabeth Lynch, a principal investigator at Rush University Medical Center.

While participants don't have to fast, they are encouraged to eat three cups of veggies every day and trade out soda for water.

"It's really giving people motivation and strength from within a belief system that they already adhere to," Lynch said.

One extra serving of veggies a day can slash heart disease by five percent.

"It forced me to think about how I was going to incorporate more vegetables in tasty ways that would appeal to me," said ALIVE! participant Anne Farrell.

Those simple tweaks led to dramatic changes.

"I knew that I was doing the right thing for the right reasons because it was faith based; it was biblically centered," said participant Michael Johnson.

Johnson has not put back on the 42 pounds he lost. Now the congregation's rejoicing.

The National Institutes of Health helped fund the study with a $1.2 million grant. More than 200 churchgoers participated over a nine-month period.

For tips and recipes on how to incorporate more vegetables in to your diet, log onto

If you would like more information, check out

BACKGROUND: ALIVE! is a research partnership between academic researchers from Rush University Medical Center and church leaders from five African American churches. The leaders of this group created it to help create healthier lifestyles for the members of their community and African Americans worldwide. African Americans are more likely to have cardiovascular disease than non-Hispanic whites. 44.4 percent of non-Hispanic black males and 48.9 percent of non-Hispanic black females have a form of cardiovascular disease, compared to 36.6 percent of non-Hispanic white males and 32.4 percent of non-Hispanic white females. The ALIVE! project is aiming to lessen the gap between the races, although anyone worldwide can participate. The program includes weekly group meetings with bible studies, exploring ways to live a healthy lifestyle, and sharing stories and progress with others. They also hold some world-wide events, including expert presentations, smoothie tastings and competitions. Go to the project's website,, for tips on healthy eating, ways to get active and scriptures to inspire the health-conscious lifestyle.

VEGGIES: One of the ALIVE! project's main focus is eating three cups of vegetables per day.
Vegetables provide many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C. People who regularly eat vegetables are at a much lower risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and developing kidney stones. Vegetables can also help prevent certain types of cancer and can lower blood pressure. ALIVE! offers tips to make eating your vegetables easier. 1) They say find ways to cook faster, for example microwavable vegetables. 2) Choose vegetables rich in color. 3) Try some vegetable soup to switch it up a little. 4) While you're out at dinner order a side of vegetables instead of French fries. 5) Try something new. There are plenty more tips, recipes and videos on their website.

ACTIVE: From keeping control of your weight to being in a better mood throughout life, the benefits of remaining active are endless. It is best to be active at least three days a week and to spread the active days out. The ACTIVE! program is suggesting at least thirty minutes of cardio five days a week. Even if you are at the office all day there are ways to get active. Workouts are available on their website.

For More Information, contact Deb Song at

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