According to a May 22, 2019 publication  researchers say diet is an important risk factor for cancer that is amenable to intervention. The estimate is 80,110 new cancer cases among adults 20 and older in the United States in 2015 were attributable simply to eating a poor diet. The researchers evaluated seven dietary factors: a low intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy products and a high intake of processed meats, red meats and sugary beverages, such as soda. Researchers also said, “Low whole-grain consumption was associated with the largest cancer burden in the US, followed by low dairy intake, high processed-meat intake, low vegetable and fruit intake, high red-meat intake and high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.” The researchers found that colon and rectal cancers had the highest number and proportion of diet-related cases, at 38.3% specifically related to the consumption of processed meats. (cold cut meats, hot dogs, morning cereal, quick ready to eat meals, etc) The study had some limitations, including that the data couldn’t shed light on how the association between diet and cancer risk may change as a person ages. These results suggest one may protect one’s self from cancer by avoiding ultra-processed foods and instead choosing organic foods. People who frequently eat organic foods lowered their overall risk of developing cancer, according to a study published last year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.  Specifically, those who primarily ate organic foods were more likely to ward off non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer than those who rarely or never ate organic foods. Additionally, according to a study published in the same journal in February, we face a 14% higher risk of early death with each 10% increase in the amount of pre-processed foods we eat.  So the question is why are people eating more processed foods? The reason is the fast paced world causes people to look for convenient solutions to eating quickly or on the go in shorter stretches of time. For people who are selecting food, the primary factors are (i) taste, (ii) price, and (iii) convenience with the convenience factor being at the top, grab-and-go-ready-to-eat. The research listed here consists of three studies from a vast body of literature on this topic that has already been published, therefore the body of evidence is against eating foods made with industrial ingredients (fast foods, processed meats, cereals, etc). People who eat large amounts of heavily processed foods, from breakfast cereals and ready meals to muffins and ice-cream, have a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and early death. This should cause us to take pause and think about what we are putting into our bodies.
- Fang Fang Zhang, Frederick Cudhea, Zhilei Shan, Dominique S Michaud, Fumiaki Imamura, Heesun Eom, Mengyuan Ruan, Colin D Rehm, Junxiu Liu, Mengxi Du, David Kim, Lauren Lizewski, Parke Wilde, Dariush Mozaffarian, Preventable Cancer Burden Associated with Poor Diet in the United States, JNCI Cancer Spectrum https://doi.org/10.1093/jncics/pkz034
- Baudry J, Assmann KE, Touvier M, et al. Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk: Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(12):1597–1606. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4357
- Schnabel L, Kesse-Guyot E, Allès B, et al. Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(4):490–498. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.7289
The spiritual insights that we receive from these studies is that we should also take pause to note what we are taking into our bodies spiritually? We have to learn to be proactive to keep our spiritual lives strong and healthy just as we need to be proactive for our bodies. Our bodies need regular care and attention as is being described in the scientific literature, our spiritual lives need maintenance also in order to be healthy. This is what the God of Israel was telling Moshe to tell the people in the opening passages of the Torah portion Parashat Bekhukotai from Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-5 we read, ג אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם: ד וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ: ה וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹֹבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח בְּאַרְצְכֶם: 26:3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 26:4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 26:5 ‘Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. (NASB) To the Hebraic mind, there is an inherent goodness in the Torah of God and the primary purpose of the Torah was to teach humanity how to hit the mark in life (defining sin and rebellion) as opposed to committing sin (missing the mark). This week’s Torah portion draws out this concept saying אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ, “If you will walk in My statutes” the Lord God will command the clouds and the soil and the trees all of which have been created only for our sake, to do their share, and He will bless us. The word תִּשְׁמְרוּ means we are anxiously awaiting an opportunity to physically fulfill such commandments. As a result the phrase וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם, “so as to carry them out” carries the meaning that you will not only receive the reward for studying God’s Word but for having also put God’s Word into action. This is why the NT holds such a high standard to love and knowing our Father in heaven and His Messiah Yeshua. (1 Corinthians 13:2, 1 John 2:6-10) This is what it means to have faith by being faithful to God’s Word. These are the Torah based principles the Lord is trying to teach us that are to become essential elements in our daily lives. The result of studying God’s word daily causes us to be continually strengthened to accomplish the tasks the Holy Spirit of God has entrusted to us. Actually studying God’s Word is analogous to the organic foods we all should be eating. God’s Word calls us to faithfulness, to live for Him, and to do so with joy. By beginning our day with the Word of God, we spend time feeding our spirit and which strengthens us for the ensuing day.
The Hebrew word for “life” chayim (חַיִּים) is a plural noun that contains two consecutive letter yods (יי) which is described kabbalistically as a picture of two “hands held together” (the Hebrew word yad (יָד) means “hand”). This word Yad speaks of the hand of God in our lives lifting us up and sustaining us. This illustrates how we have no life apart from a union with God who extends His hand and invites us to join Him saying “Live in me” as Yeshua phrased it in John 15:4. The God of Israel is our life, our love, our truth, our healing, our joy, our breath, and our salvation. Faith in Yeshua the Messiah is the way to all life, and we find nourishment, strength, and fullness of joy as we walk in His ways according to the Torah. David said in Tehillim / Psalms 27:1 “The Lord is my light and salvation” (see John 1:4) Another kabbalistic way to interpret the word chayim (חַיִּים) is how this word may be divided into two words, (i) the singular form as chai (חי) meaning “alive” combined with (ii) the particle im (אם) meaning “if” which suggests our being alive is conditional upon our connection with the God of Israel. Notice the connection here to Yeshua’s words when he said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (חַיֵּי עוֹלָם) and “whoever refuses the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains” due to sin. (John 3:36) Life, health, joy, and peace are inextricably connected to faith in Yeshua, and those who refuse Yeshua, the Prince of Peace (שַׂר־שָׁלוֹם), separate themselves from unity with the God of Israel, the God of all life, the Creator! Yeshua alone is the means of receiving the divine life as the apostle John wrote saying, “Whoever has the Son has the life (הַחַיִּים); but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12, 12 מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ הַבֵּן יֵשׁ לוֹ הַחַיִּים. מִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ הַבֵּן אֵין לוֹ הַחַיִּים). The Divine Life is such that it is never diminished as it shared but instead grows and multiplies in miraculous ways. This is alluded to by the Hebrew word for love (i.e., ahavah, אהבה) where the gematria of ahavah is thirteen (13 = 1(א)+5(ה)+2(ב)+5(ה)). Now if this love of God is shared with another, (Person 1) + (Person 1) = 2, we have two times the love, therefore 13 x 2 = 26 which is the value for the Name of God HaShem (יהוה), i.e., (26 = 10(י)+5(ה)+6(ו)+5(ה)). The love given to us in His son connects us to the Lord God of Israel when we hold too and keep His truth, the Torah, and obey His words, the wellspring of life giving waters. This “life” chayim (חַיִּים) is written in the plural form to indicate that each person contains a multiplicity of changes. The Lord God is working in our lives to make each of us into the person that He wants us to be so that we may be used in His kingdom. As a result of our having God working in our lives in a unique way, this has lead the rabbis to comment on Cain murdering his brother Abel, the Torah says, “the voice of your brother’s bloods (דְּמֵי, plural) cries out from the ground” (Bereshit / Genesis 4:10, י וַיֹּאמֶר מֶה עָשִֹיתָ קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן-הָאֲדָמָה) suggesting that that Abel’s descendants also cried out. In light of this the Talmud states, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world; and whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world” (Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 37a). The reason the rabbis go on and on about the importance of Torah study is because of the matter of its connection to those around us. The power of God in our lives will lead us to do what the Lord God calls us to do, to love one another, to walking according to His ways, if we truly believe in the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua, we will have an authentic faith that is put into action. We will have a desire to be faithful to Him and His Word and seek to serve Him in any way that we can. What these things teach us are those who are called by the Name of God, and by His Messiah Yeshua, daily make the choice to submit to God for the work of His Spirit in their lives. The parallel to the scientific research is on how important it is to take care to grow spiritually and live our lives for the Lord. If we choose to disegard the word of God in our lives, much deception and error will enter into our lives. We need to seek for the Lord God to transform us into the image of His Son Yeshua. Are you seeking these things daily as the Scriptures are teaching us to do? The spiritual insight we receive is how Torah centric perspective coupled with the scientific research illustrate the importance of the Messiah, God’s Word, and the application of God’s Word in our lives! Read and study the Scriptures daily, for this is an organic source of nurishment for our souls!