Saturday, January 24, 2009

Caffeine and the Word of Wisdom

I read this article in the Ensign last month and somehow let it slip my memory for a time. The article is titled "The Energy Drink Epidemic" by Dr. Thomas J. Boud. What a powerful message about an ever increasing problem. You see college students buying cans of energy drinks at the store. You see teenagers guzzling a can in the morning before class. You see middle-aged women and men chugging down a Diet Coke or a Dr. Pepper. Caffeine is everywhere.

Caffeine truly is everywhere and is used everyday. Some think it is okay and others have a different view. Dr Boud states, "While we are counseled against taking addictive substances or harmful drugs, the Word of Wisdom does not specifically prohibit caffeine. However, I believe that if we follow the spirit of the Word of Wisdom, we will be very careful about what we consume, particularly any substance that can have a negative impact on our bodies. This is true regarding any drug, substance, or even food that may be damaging to one’s health. This includes caffeine. Think of all the problems that excessive caffeine use causes that could be avoided by following this counsel" (if you read the entire article (link above) he outlines many of the problems that caffeine can bring).

We have been strongly counseled to not drink coffee or tea but the data below reveals an interesting comparison between your average drink of soda (with caffeine), energy drinks, and coffee/tea. They are surprisingly too similar in their amounts of caffeine.

Having just two cans of soda gives you more caffeine than brewed tea and instant coffee. Having even a weak energy drink puts you above brewed coffee. An extreme energy drink sky rockets over the others and can be almost five times the amount of caffeine in brewed coffee. The data is staggering.

Regular Cola
41 mg Caffeine

Tea, Brewed
47 mg Caffeine

Coffee, Instant
57 mg Caffeine

Coffee, Brewed
107.5 mg Caffeine

Weak Energy Drink
120 mg Caffeine

Average Energy Drink
220 mg Caffeine

Extreme Energy Drink
500+ mg Caffeine

Now general authorities have rarely come out and flat out said that we should not drink caffeine so many of us may not have heard them say it but it has been said. In an interview on Larry King Live with President Hinckley their conversation went like this:

Larry King: "No to caffeine?"
Gordon B. Hinckley: "No to caffeine, coffee and tea."

Although we do not hear these things said so straight forward very often if we read between the lines of many other statements and let the spirit guide I think we know what many of our leaders are trying to get across and we know what President Monson is trying to say here, “The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Corinthians 3:17). May we keep our bodies—our temples—fit and clean, free from harmful substances which destroy our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.”

Let us re-think the substances we put into our bodies. Let us re-think how we take care of ourselves. Let us look over the Word of Wisdom and apply it more fully in our lives. Let us remember that when we follow the counsel given we are promised these great blessings:

“All saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall 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 shall 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” (D&C 89:18–21).

Dr. Boud's conclusion: "How marvelous these promises are, that we may walk and not faint and run and not be weary and that the destroying angel will pass us by! Great spiritual treasures are available to those who actively seek to keep the Lord’s commandments. Even when faced with overcoming an addictive tendency such as caffeine abuse, we can improve. It may take great effort, but we can do it. The power of the Atonement can give us the strength to overcome these challenges, and the Holy Ghost will be our support and our guide. In addition, our minds and hearts will be invigorated, our bodies will be healthier and stronger, and we will find a wealth of hidden treasures that will provide greater peace in our lives."

***Because the topic of this post is somewhat controversial I have decided to not allow comments on this post. The Word of Wisdom demands us to make many determinations for ourselves , including the use of caffeine which is not specifically stated in the Word of Wisdom. Thanks for reading and thanks for the insights previously sent in.