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Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

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She the People
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Posted at 10:32 AM ET, 06/20/2012

Mormonism good for the body as well as the soul?

Forget South Beach. Will the next great nutrition fad be the Provo Diet?

Mormon religious beliefs have gotten plenty of scrutiny in this election, but what about the Mormon lifestyle? Turns out there is evidence that Latter-Day Saints are more likely than the rest of us to actually live into their latter days.

At a presentation sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center earlier this week, Michael Otterson, the church’s managing director for public affairs, presented a variety of statistics that might bring in a few converts to the church’s lifestyle, if not its religious doctrines.

He described the Latter-Day Saint beliefs about health as “one of our
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes a walk with his wife Ann on the beach at Holland State Park in Michigan on Tuesday. (Evan Vucci - AP)
faith’s most distinguishing features.”

Its strictures against alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea are well known. But since 1833, Otterson said, the church has also encouraged limiting meat consumption in favor of grains, fruits and vegetables.

“In addition,” he said, “practicing Latter-day Saints go without food and drink for roughly 24 consecutive hours once a month as a fast. Subsequently, they donate to the poor what they don’t spend on meals.”

And the result? One 25-year- study of practicing California Mormons by James Enstrom and Lester Breslow of UCLA found that Mormon men and women who were married, had never smoked, attended church weekly and had at least 12 years of education had some of the lowest death rates ever reported for any group followed for that long a time.

Mormon women in the study had a life expectancy of more than 86 years— five years longer than comparable women overall; men lived to an average of more than 84 years, which was almost a decade longer.

Fasting, meanwhile, may be better than a juice cleanse.

Otterson noted that researchers at Intermountain Health Care found that people who give up food once a month were 40 percent less likely to be diagnosed with clogged arteries than those who don’t.

The finding, based on a clinical trial of more than 200 people, was presented last year at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Benjamin D. Horne explained it this way: “Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body. This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes.”

Just wait until New York’s health-conscious mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wants to shrink the size of soft drinks, hears about this.

By  |  10:32 AM ET, 06/20/2012

 
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