Fred Hardinge, DrPH, RD, is associate director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

A few months ago I received a troubling letter from a retired church worker. Her physician had strongly recommended she take some very expensive food supple­ments. Initially, she had complied, but the cost of these supplements was over US$2,000 per year that she could no longer afford. She felt that if she stopped taking them, it would be the same as committing suicide.

This kind of fear and confusion is multiplied many times over. No evi­dence exists that this kind of expensive supplement is necessary or effective to maintain good health. God has prom­ised, “ ‘As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night’ ” (Gen. 8:22, NLT). In this passage, God explains His commitment to feed and nourish us from the good, healthy foods He created as long as this earth exists.

Nutrition experts agree, a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is the best way to ensure nutritional adequacy. Even nutritional supple­ments taken long-term cannot be assumed to be free of risk, no matter how “natural” they may seem.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics clearly states a healthy diet is the preferred and best way to provide the necessary nutrients for health.1 Sometimes, because we are not quite sure whether God will do what He has promised, we randomly pick and choose among the thousands of known nutrients and select a few to take. Rare instances of disease or deficiency may require a supplement, readily and economically available. For those who think they need “nutritional insurance,” a good quality multivi­tamin from the local pharmacy will suffice.

At a recent international confer­ence on nutrition and cancer, many presenters shared fascinating research evidence for the potential benefits of a variety of nutrients they had studied. However, every single presenter ended by saying something like this: “Don’t look for a supplement of (this nutrient). Just eat a healthy, plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. That is the best way to get it.”2

Many people today constantly worry their diet may be inadequate or hurt them in some way. The following words of wisdom should provide great assurance: “Some are continually anxious lest their food, however simple and healthful, may hurt them. To these let me say, ‘Do not think that your food will injure you; do not think about it at all. Eat according to your best judgment; and when you have asked the Lord to bless the food for the strengthening of your body, believe that He hears your prayer, and be at rest.’ ”3

One thing that creates righteous indignation within my soul is the “sales pitch” used to sell these products. There are many today who market high-priced nutritional supplements. Those in the church who do so are like Elisha’s servant Gehazi. This story is very familiar!

Naaman was a leper (see 2 Kings 5). He tried all the “physicians” of Syria, including alternative healers. Through the witness of a maid, he was directed to the true prophet of God in the land of an enemy. Not only did the king of Syria grant permission for Naaman to go, he sent much in the way of riches with him. When he finally arrived at the house of the prophet, Elisha sent his servant, Gehazi, to speak to Naaman with instructions to go wash in the river Jordan seven times. Naaman became angry, but as his anger cooled and his wiser servants reasoned with him, he went to the river in faith, washed as instructed, and was healed. The prophet had asked for no payment.

With a joyful heart, Naaman offered payment, which Elisha declined. Gehazi wanted some of that wealth. He followed after Naaman, deceived him, and was given twice what he asked. “The course of Gehazi was such as to place a stumbling block in the pathway of Naaman, upon whose mind had broken a wonderful light, and who was favorably disposed toward the service of the living God.” 4

When God’s people stoop to sell products through a mixture of pseudoscience, partial truth, misrep­resentation, and outright falsehoods, they mitigate their God-ordained opportunities of witness and influence.

God has provided us with a wide variety of wholesome foods that pro­vide all we need when consumed with wise intelligence and faith in Him. These are readily available to all at prices far less than even the most common supplements.

1  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Dietary Supplement Advice,” eat right, January 28, 2014, -supplements/dietary-supplements/dietary -supplements.

2 “AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer,” American Institute for Cancer Research, accessed March 3, 2016, www

3  Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1942), 321.

4  Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1943), 252.

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Fred Hardinge, DrPH, RD, is associate director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

May 2016

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