Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are known for their healthy lifestyles. A health plan for the Church was first written down in 1833 by President Joseph Smith, and he presented it to early members specifically as a revelation from God. Today, Latter-day Saints refer to these health guidelines as "the Word of Wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 89).
Among the provisions of the health code: no alcoholic drinks, no smoking or chewing of tobacco, and no "hot drinks" — believed to refer specifically to tea and coffee. "Wholesome herbs," along with fruits and grains, are specifically recommended. Meat is to be used "sparingly." The Church also interprets the misuse of drugs — illegal, legal, prescription or controlled — as a violation of the health code.
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"The health code ... of over a hundred years ago exactly mirrors the recommendations that are now being made in the scientific world in terms of improving health and maintaining quality of health," says Ted Adams, Ph.D., program director at the LDS Hospital Fitness Institute in Salt Lake City.
A 14-year UCLA study completed in 1997, tracked mortality rates and health practices of 10,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California. Specific findings: Church members who adhered to the health code had one of the lowest death rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease in the United States — roughly half that of the general population. The study also indicated that Church members who followed the code had a life expectancy eight to 11 years longer than the general white population of the United States.