August 24, 2001: It was two weeks before we were scheduled to go to Yemen to film the Book of Mormon documentary "Journey of Faith" for the BYU Foundation of Ancient Research and Mormon Studies and 18 days before the fateful day of 9/11.
Concerned About the Safety of Food in a Third World Country
Peter Johnson, the director, and myself, the executive producer, were concerned about the kind and safety of the food that would be available for us to eat during our planned ten-day stay in this poverty-ridden third world country. Peter has many food allergies that, if aggravated, could sideline him for days. We couldn't take any chances because we had a lot to film but very little time to do so. Sickness due to bad food was not an option so we decided to make our own food and take it with us on this exciting journey.
As the co-author of the best-selling The New Neuropsychology of Weight Control, a "Word of Wisdom" inspired weight control program developed by Dr. Garth Fisher founder of the famed BYU Human Performance Research Center, I had an interest in and knowledge of healthy foods.
Could Biblical Daniel's "Pulse" Be the Perfect Food
I have always been fascinated with the Bible story of Daniel and his three companions' refusal to eat the "king's meat" and wine. Instead, they chose to eat "pulse" and water for ten days to prove that such a diet was preferable to the offerings.
"And at the end of ten days, their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat." (Daniel 1:15)
Even more remarkable were the results of eating this diet three years later.
"As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams." Daniel 1:17
So I thought pulse must have been some kind of super food. I've always wondered what kind of food pulse was and since the story of Daniel took place in the Middle East where we were going I thought it might be a good alternative to eating happen-chance in Yemen.
Search for Perfect Food Leads to Hebrew University of Jerusalem
I began my research by contacting by phone a professor of nutrition at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She told me the word "pulse" in Hebrew was "Hazeero`iym" or "Zeroa`"meaning a mixture of dried seed or grain, such as. barley, wheat, rye, and peas, or any kind of seed and plants that bear seeds as well as vegetables. She said pulse is very high in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and low in fat—ideal for optimal nutrition and weight control.
She suggested that I visit a good quality natural food store and purchase a variety of dried seeds, nuts, figs, dates and figs, mix these together with a small amount of honey and form this into "fruit bars." She told me this combination would form a perfect food that would give us all of the nutrition and energy needed for our Middle East adventure.
I followed her advice, bought and mixed together the ingredients to create a 10-pound lump of pulse which I cut and formed into small rectangular pulse bars. (Click Here to get Pulse Recipe)
Caught In Heart Of Al Qaeda Camp on 9/11 Ordered to Seek Refuge in Desert
Though we did eat some of what we considered some "safe" Middle Eastern food in Jordan and Yemen the pulse served as a healthy staple—especially when, on 9/11 we were ordered by the United States State Department to abandon our Yemeni filming and seek refuge in the Arabian Hidden Quarter desert until we could be safely taken out of the country.
At that time we were staying in Bin Laden's ancestral home in Marib, Yemen—five miles from an active Al Qaeda training camp. We sojourned four days in the desert after which arrangements were made for us to safely fly out of Yemen at three o'clock in the morning.
My lasting memory of that trip was admiring the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center as we flew out of JFK airport and then, when flying back into JFK, seeing the empty smoking pile of rubble where the Twin Towers once stood—and knowing we were involved in a small part of history by being in the heartland of terrorism when the attack occurred. Five days after 9/11 American drones took out the Marib Al Qaeda camp near our filming location.
Pulse Served Us Well But More Variety Needed. The New Neuropsychology of Weight Control Provides That Variety
The pulse served us well but it would be difficult to eat every day as the sole source of nutrition and food gratification. More variety is needed. In The Neuropsychology of Weight Control program, we offer that variety with three months of daily meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists all based on on the principles detailed in the "Word of Wisdom."
Our Creator's Prescription for Health, Energy and Happiness
What is interesting to me is how the similar the promises in the "Word of Wisdom" ( “All saints,” who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments,” are promised that they “shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones” and “shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:18, 20)) are similar to the blessings Daniel and his companions received from eating pulse.
To me, it seems the foods recommended in the Bible (Daniel) and the Doctrine and Covenants ("Word of Wisdom") are prescriptions given to us by the Heavenly Creator of our bodies. I think of these foods as "God's food."
God's Signature Foods
The Hebrew University nutritionist I spoke with also introduced me to a concept she called "God's Signature Foods." She said before humankind delved into nutrition science our early ancestors knew what foods were good for them by associating the shape and markings on certain foods to parts of the body to which the foods were beneficial.
Walnut Looks Like Brain. Good for Brain.
For example, she said the walnut, by recent research, is considered to be the perfect brain food. Walnuts are the same shape as the human brain. The outer shell looks like and is as hard as the human skull. The fruit on the inside looks like the human brain with two hemispheres joined together by a tissue similar to the brain's corpus callosum. On the underside of the walnut fruit, you'll see a small structure that resembles the human brain stem.
So what's new here? Considered the ultimate superfood, walnuts are now being served up as brain medicine for many reasons, not the least of which is because they are replete with omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid to keep the brain functioning normally.
Research says that low omega-3 intake can be linked to depression and cognitive degeneration. Eating a fistful of walnuts regularly then can keep the spirits up and prop up the grey cells for good measure. What is more, walnuts are known to raise melatonin levels by a whopping three times, promising relief from sleeplessness and insomnia. So if you're tired of counting sheep at night and would appreciate a knock-out sleep instead, then consider ingesting a few walnuts as a pre-bedtime snack.
In another example almonds also provide many essential nutrients that enhance our mood. The almond looks exactly like the almond-shaped set of neurons, the amygdala, located deep in the brain that controls our emotions. Conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias are suspected of being linked to abnormal functioning of the amygdala.
Almonds are a great source of magnesium, potassium, copper, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and phosphorus and are high in protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Together they not only help to stabilize our emotions and enhance our mood they also increase your antioxidant levels and lower your blood sugar and insulin that rise after eating.
Other Examples of God's Signature Foods
Other examples of signature foods are tomatoes that are good for the heart. Open a tomato and notice how the inside looks exactly like a four-chambered heart.
A bundle of grapes resembles air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. A diet high in fresh grapes has shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer and emphysema. Grape seeds also contain a chemical called proanthocyanidin which is thought to reduce the severity of asthma triggered by allergy.
Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and are shaped exactly like the human kidneys (hence their name). Kidney beans provide a variety of minerals and vitamins and so are generally beneficial for our health. If our kidneys are healthy, kidney beans can—when consumed as part of a balanced diet—contribute to our kidney health.
Celery, rhubarb, bok-choy and more look just like bone structures. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are made up of 23% calcium and these foods have calcium in them. If you don’t have enough calcium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
To learn about more signature foods such as carrots, figs, olives, sweet potatoes, avocados, mangos, pears, citrus fruit, bananas, onions, ginger root, mushrooms, broccoli, ginseng root and their associated health benefits CLICK HERE.
These signature foods and many others are many of the "Word of Wisdom" food staples upon which the eating and lifestyle principles of The New Neuropsychology of Weight Control are based.
Why We Get Fat & Sick. White (Flour & Sugar-Based) Foods
When we abandon these deity signature foods and substitute modern industrial and processed foods rich in refined sugar and flour (white foods) we get fat and sick.
A white diet is quickly digested and goes directly into the blood stream. This raises insulin levels resulting in a condition called insulin resistance. When we are insulin resistant our cells don't burn fat for energy but stores it around our stomach and hips. It also increases our appetite for more white food for instant energy. This creates a vicious cycle of sugar addiction and obesity that eventually leads to Type II adult onset diabetes.
And when we gain the weight we eventually go on a low-calorie near-starvation diet. On such a diet we lose a lot of weight, mostly muscle tissue and water, until we're overcome by hunger cravings. We then binge on the white foods and quickly gain the weight back plus another ten percent of our original weight.
Why does this happen and how do we avoid it.
Our Brain's Primitive Weight Regulating Mechanism Inherited From Our Hunter and Gatherer Ancestors
Our brain has a primitive weight regulating mechanism called the hypothalamus or "fat thermostat." It controls our metabolism and protects us from starvation.
We inherited this mechanism from our early hunter and gatherer ancestors.
In order to survive our ancestors had to eat. In order to eat, to hunt and gather food they had to move or exercise. To them, exercise was the key to their survival. If they didn't move they didn't eat. Exercise and food were inextricably linked.
The foods they ate were seeds, fruit, vegetables, nuts, roots, legumes, lean meats, honey, and water. When they experienced food shortages the fat thermostat kicked in to help them survive. Their metabolism slowed down and they became fatigued in order to preserve and not burn their body's fat reserves.
We Inherited Our Survivor Ancestors' Ability to Store Fat
Those who survived famine were the best fat storers. These survivors eventually passed their genes down to us. We inherited fat-storing metabolisms that were meant to be fed and nourished by the natural foods of the earth and acquired by physical effort such as walking, pushing, pulling, bending, reaching, lifting and climbing.
Our primitive metabolism is now misplaced in our industrialized modern society where food is processed and prepared for us. We don't require physical labor to provide for our nutritional needs. The food we eat consists of heavy doses of white and fatty food.
Because of our inherited propensity to be effective fat storers, we get fat and unhealthy.
Only when we live and eat in harmony with our fat thermostat can we lose weight, be lean and healthy.
400 Overweight Women Become Lean & Healthy By Eating, Not Dieting in BYU "Word of Wisdom" Study
When Dr. Garth Fisher worked with 400 overweight LDS women in his BYU Human Performance Research Center he learned they got that way by eating white foods and then engaged in cyclical starvation dieting to lose the weight. Their bodies were in a state of constant starvation. Their fat thermostat thought they were starving. It made them tired and constantly hungry for quick energy white foods. Over years this resulted in a vicious cycle of weight gain until most felt they were beyond help. They gave up until they met Dr. Fisher.
Instead of dieting, Dr. Fisher had them eat plenteous amounts of healthy earth foods (nuts, grains, fruit, vegetables, roots), lean meat and water. They developed delicious recipes, planned their meals based on these recipes and began to move—initially walking to mimic hunting and gathering activity.
Within a few weeks the fat thermostat began to feel secure—no longer starving—and began to shed the extra pounds of fat. These women had 25, 50, 100, 150 pounds to lose and all of them who stayed with the program were able to achieve their ideal weight at 22% body fat.
The New Neuropsychology of Weight Control Brings All of These Principles Together Into Easy-to-Follow Self-Study Weight Loss and Lifestyle Course.
Our Heavenly Creator knows our bodies because He created our bodies. He provided eating principles for us in the scriptures such as in the case of Daniel and the "Word of Wisdom". When we live and eat in accordance with sacred principles we enjoy the promises and blessings of good health—lean and energetic bodies and emotional well-being. The best-selling The New Neuropsychology of Weight Control with 1.3 million users is based on and taps into these sacred eating, physical activity and joyful lifestyle principles.