50 Reasons Why Christ Suffered and Died

On this very Good Friday, I want to encourage the saints by showing exactly what was done for them at the Cross.

John Piper (in the book, “Fifty Reasons Why Christ Suffered and Died“), says he “gathered from the New Testament fifty reasons why Christ suffered and died. Not fifty causes, but fifty purposes. Infinitely more important than who killed Jesus is the question: What did God achieve for sinners like us in sending his Son to die?” 

#1. To Absorb the Wrath of God

  • “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:13
  • “God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Romans 3:25
  • “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

#2. To Please His Heavenly Father

  • “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10
  • “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2

#3. To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected

  • “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8
  • “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:10

#4. To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead

  • “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will.” Hebrews 13:20-21

#5. To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners

  • “One will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8
  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
  • “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7

#6. To Show His Own Love for Us

  • “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2
  • “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25
  • “[He] loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

#7. To Cancel the Legal Demands of the Law Against Us

  • “And you, who were dead in your trespasses… God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13

#8. To Become a Ransom for Many

  • “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

#9. For the Forgiveness of Our Sins

  • “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” Ephesians 1:7
  • “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28

#10. To Provide the Basis for Our Justification

  • “We have now been justified by his blood.” Romans 5:9
  • “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24
  • “We hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Romans 3:28

#11. To Complete the Obedience That Becomes Our Righteousness

  • “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8
  • “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19
  • “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • “…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ.” Philippians 3:9

#12. To Take Away Our Condemnation

  • “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:34

#13. To Abolish Circumcision and All Rituals as the Basis of Salvation

  • “But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision…the offense of the cross has been removed.” Galatians 5:11
  • “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Galatians 6:12

#14. To Bring Us to Faith and Keep Us Faithful

  • “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Mark 14:24
  • “I will make with them an everlasting covenant…And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” Jeremiah 32:40

#15. To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect

  • “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14
  • “He has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.” Colossians 1:22
  • “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7

#16. To Give Us a Clear Conscience

  • How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:14

#17. To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us

  • “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

#18. To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness

  • “Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
  • “[He] healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:16-17

#19. To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

#20. To Deliver Us from the Present Evil Age

  • “[He] gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Galatians 1:4

#21. To Reconcile Us to God

  • “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10

#22. To Bring Us to God

  • “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18
  • “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13

#23. So That We Might Belong to Him

  • “You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead.” Romans 7:4
  • “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • “Care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

#24. To Give Us Confident Access to the Holiest Place

  • “We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.” Hebrews 10:19

#25. To Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God

  • “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.” John 2:19-21

#26. To Bring the Old Testament Priesthood to an End and Become the Eternal High Priest

  • “The former priests … were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them…. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:23-27
  • “For Christ has entered … into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:24-26
  • “Every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:11-12

#27. To Become a Sympathetic and Helpful Priest

  • “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

#28. To Free Us from the Futility of Our Ancestry

  • “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

#29. To Free Us from the Slavery of Sin

  • “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” Revelation 1:5-6
  • “Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” Hebrews 13:12

#30. That We Might Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness

  • “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24

#31. So That We Would Die to the Law and Bear Fruit For God

  • “You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:4

#32. To Enable Us to Live for Christ and Not Ourselves

  • “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

#33. To Make His Cross the Ground of All Our Boasting

  • “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

#34. To Enable Us to Live by Faith in Him

  • “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

#35. To Give Marriage Its Deepest Meaning

  • “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25

#36. To Create a People Passionate for Good Works

  • “[He] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14

#37. To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love

  • “It is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly… For to this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:19-21
  • “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12:3-4
  • “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

#38. To Create a Band of Crucified Followers

  • “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
  • “Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38

#39. To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death

  • “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Hebrews 2:14-15

#40. So That We Would Be with Him Immediately After Death

  • “[He] died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:10
  • “To live is Christ, and to die is gain… I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Philippians 1:21, 23
  • “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8

#41. To Secure Our Resurrection from the Dead

  • “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:5
  • If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
  • “If we have died with him, we will also live with him.” 2 Timothy 2:11

#42. To Disarm the Rulers and Authorities

  • “He set aside [the legal brief against us], nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rules and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Colossians 2:14-15
  • “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

#43. To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel

  • “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
  • “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

#44. To Destroy the Hostility Between Races

  • “He… has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” Ephesians 2:14-16

#45. To Ransom People from Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation

  • “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9

#46. To Gather All His Sheep from Around the World

  • “[Caiaphas] did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” John 11:51-52
  • “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16

#47. To Rescue Us from Final Judgment

  • “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28

#48. To Gain His Joy and Ours

  • “For the joy that was set before him, [he] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

#49. So That He Would Be Crowned with Glory and Honor

  • “But we see… Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.” Hebrews 2:9
  • “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” Philippians 2:7-9
  • “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12

#50. To Show That the Worst Evil Is Meant by God for Good

  • “In this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus… both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” Acts 4:27-28
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Easter Resources

Dying eggs, Easter baskets and pastel church clothing isn’t wrong… but don’t let it become any sort of focus. Let our focus remain Jesus, Him crucified and resurrected from the dead. In the same power, we are also made alive with Him and will be resurrected in the last Day!

“Since When Did Bunnies Have Eggs?”  Great article  on TheResurgence.com about origins of Easter bunny and other Easter traditions.

What Happened on this day during Holy Week? Compilation of scriptures, placing the events of Jesus’ last week before crucifixion on the day they probably happened. Great devotional [Bible] reading, put together by Justin Taylor on GospelCoalition.org. Check back everyday!

To do with kids:

Books for Kids:
Books:
  • Death by Love: Letters From the Cross written by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, one of my husbands seminary professors
  • Keep Me Near the Cross edited by Nancy Guthrie. Contributing authors include John Piper, Tim Keller, Jonathon Edwards, John Owen, Alistair Begg, Augustine, Spurgeon, John McArthur, Adrian Rodgers, Calvin, Schaeffer, Lloyd-Jones, C.J. Mahaney, Martin Luther and others.

“Fat Is Your Friend” Pt. 2: Cholesterol and Heart Disease

This is Post 2 in our “Fat is Your Friend” series. 

This post contains valuable information and may turn everything you once thought you knew about diet on its head. If you think you know about cholesterol, read this. If you know nothing, read this. If you have been educated about it by schooling or your Dr. or any vegan, vegetarian, or low-fat book on nutrition, read this!!! This is long, but well worth it… trust me.

First, a history on cholesterol:

The theory– called the lipid hypothesis– that there is a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease was proposed by a researcher named Ancel Keys in the 1950’s. Numerous subsequent researchers have pointed out the flaws in his data and conclusions, but the experts assure us that the lipid hypothesis is backed by scientific proof. Most people would be surprised to learn that there is, in fact, very little evidence to support the contention that a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat actually reduces death from heart disease or in any way increases one’s life span. Consider the following:

  • Before 1920 coronary heart disease was rare in America; so rare that when a young internist named Paul Dudley White introduced the German electrocardiograph to his colleagues at Harvard University, they advised him to concentrate on a more profitable branch of medicine. The new machine revealed the presence of arterial blockages, thus permitting early diagnosis of coronary heart disease. But in those days clogged arteries were a medical rarity, and White had to search for patients who could benefit from his new technology. During the next 40 years, however, the incidence of coronary heart disease rose dramatically, so much so that by the mid-1950’s heart disease was the leading cause of death among Americans. Today, heart disease causes at least 40% of all US deaths. If, as we have been told, heart disease is cause by consumption of saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fat in the American diet. Actually, the reverse is true. During the 60 year period from 1910 to 1970 the proportion of tradition animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per year to 4. During the past 80 years, dietary cholesterol intake has increased only 1%. During the same period the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increased about 400% while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60%.
  • The Framingham Heart Study is often cited as proof of the lipid hypothesis. This study began in 1948 and involved about 6,000 people from the town of Framingham, Mass. Two groups were compared at 5-year intervals– those who consumed little cholesterol and saturated fat and those who consumed large amounts. After 40 years, the director of this study had to admit: “In Framingham, Mass., the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol… we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.” The study did show that those who weighed more and had abnormally high blood cholesterol levels were slightly more at risk for future heart disease, but weight gain and cholesterol levels had an inverse correlation with fat and cholesterol intake in the diet.
  • In a multi-year British study involving several thousand men, half were asked to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol in their diets, to stop smoking and to increase consumption of unsaturated oils such as margarine and vegetable oils. After 1 year, those on the “good” diet had 100% more deaths than those on the “bad” diet, in spite of the fact that those on the “bad” diet continued to smoke!!! But in describing the study, the author ignored these results in favor of a politically correct conclusion: “The implication for public health policy in the UK is that a preventive programme such as we evaluated in this trial is probably effective…”
  • While it is true that researchers have induced heart disease in some animals by giving them extremely large doses of oxidized or rancid cholesterol — amounts 10 times that found in the ordinary human diet– several population studies squarely contradict the cholesterol-heart disease connection. A survey of 1700 patients with hardening of the arteries, conducted by the famous heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, found no relationship between the level of cholesterol in the blood and the incidence of atherosclerosis. A survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of blood cholesterol levels with “bad” dietary habits, such as use of red meat, animal fat, fried foods, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, sausage and cheese.
  • Mother’s milk provides a higher proportion of cholesterol than almost any other food. It also contains over 50% of its calories as fat, much of it saturated fat. Both cholesterol and saturated fat are essential for growth in babies and children, especially the development of the brain. Yet, the American Heart Association has recommended a low-cholesterol, low fat diet for children!

Numerous surveys of traditional populations show that the lipid-hypothesis is just NOT TRUE. Of course, none of these studies are mentioned by those urging restriction of saturated fats:

  • A study comparing Jews when they lived in Yemen, whose diets contained fats solely of animal origin, to Yemenite Jews living in Israel, whose diets contained margarine and vegetable oils, revealed little heart disease or diabetes in the former group but high levels of both diseases in the latter. (The study also noted that the Yemenite Jews consumed no sugar but those in Israel consumed sugar in amounts equaling 25-30% of total carbohydrate intake.)
  • People in northern India consume 17 times more animal fat but have an incidence of coronary heart disease 7 times lower than people in southern India.
  • The Masai and kindred African tribes subsist largely on milk, blood and beef. They are free from heart disease and have low cholesterol levels.
  • Eskimos eat liberally of animal fats from fish and marine animals. On their native diet they are free of disease and exceptionally hardy.
  • An extensive study of diet and disease patterns in China found that the region in which the populace consumes large amounts of whole milk had half the rate of heart disease as several districts in which only small amounts of animal products are consumed.
  • Several Mediterranean societies have low rates of heart disease even though fat– including highly saturated fat from lamb, sausage and goat cheese– comprise up to 70% of their caloric intake. (Why isn’t anyone on THIS Mediterranean diet?)
  • In Okinawa, where the average lifespan for women is 84 years– longer than in Japan– the inhabitants eat generous amounts of pork and seafood and do all their cooking in lard.
  • The good health of the Japanese, who have the longest life span of any nation in the world, is generally attributed to a low fat diet. Although the Japanese eat few dairy fats, the notion that their diet is low in fat is a myth; rather, it contains moderate amounts of animal fats from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood and organ meats. With their fondness for shellfish and fish broth, eaten on a daily basis, the Japanese probably consume more cholesterol than most Americans. What they do NOT consume a lot of is vegetable oil, white flour or processed food (although they do eat white rice). Also, those who point to the Japanese statistics to promote the low fat diet, fail to mention that the Swiss live almost as long on one of the fattiest diets in the world. Tied for 3rd in the longevity stakes are Austria and Greece– both with high fat diets.
  • As a final example, consider the French. The French diet is notorious for their saturated fats in the form of butter, eggs, cheese, cream, liver, meats and rich pates. Yet, the French have a lower rate of coronary heart disease than many other western countries. In the US, 315 of every 100,000 middle-aged men die of heart attacks each year; in France the rate is 145 per 100,000. In the Gascony region, where goose and duck liver form a staple of the diet, this rate is a remarkably low 80 per 100,000. This “phenomenon” has been dubbed the “French Paradox”. (The French do suffer from many degenerative diseases, however. They eat large amounts of sugar and white flour and in recent years have succumbed to processed foods.)
Most fat in our bodies and in the food we eat is in the form of triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides in the blood have been positively linked to proneness to heart disease, but these triglycerides do not come directly from dietary fats; they are made in the liver from any excess sugars that have not been used for energy. The source of these excess sugars is any food containing carbohydrates, particularly refined sugar and white flour.

Our blood vessels can become damaged in a number of ways– through irritations caused by free radicals or viruses, or because they are structurally weak– and when this happens, the body’s natural healing substance steps in to repair the damage. That substance is cholesterol. Cholesterol is a high-molecular weight alcohol that is manufactured in our own liver and in more human cells. Like saturated fats, the cholesterol we make and consume plays many vital roles:

  • along with saturated fats, cholesterol in the cell membrane gives our cells necessary stiffness and stability. When the diet contains an excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, these replace saturated fatty acids in the cell membrane, so that the cell walls actually become flabby. When this happens, cholesterol from the blood is “driven” into the tissues to give them structural integrity. This is why serum cholesterol levels may go down temporarily when we replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated oils in the diet.
  • acts as a precursor to hormones that help us deal with stress and protect the body against heart disease and cancer; and to the sex hormones like androgen, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
  • is a precursor to vitamin D, a vital fat-soluble vitamin needed for healthy bones and nervous system, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, reproduction and immune system function.
  • Bile salts are made from cholesterol. Bile is vital for digestion and assimilation of dietary fats.
  • acts as an antioxidant. This is the likely explanation for the fact that cholesterol levels go up with age. As an antioxidant, cholesterol protects us against free radical damage that leads to heart disease and cancer.
  • needed for proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical.
  • maintains the health of the intestinal wall. Low-cholesterol vegetarian diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other intestinal disorders.
Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease but rather a potent antioxidant weapon against free radicals in the blood, and a repair substance that helps heal arterial damage (although the arterial plaques themselves contain very little cholesterol). However, like fats, cholesterol may be damaged by exposure to heat and oxygen. This damaged or oxidized cholesterol seems to promote both injury to the arterial cells as well as buildup of plaque in the arteries. Damaged cholesterol is found in powdered eggs, powdered milk (added to reduced-fat milks to give them body… not to mention so many packaged foods) and in meats and fats that hae been heated to high temperatures in frying and other high-temperature processes.
High serum cholesterol levels often indicates that the body needs cholesterol to protect itself from high levels of altered, free radical-containing fats. Just as a large police force is needed where crime occurs frequently, so cholesterol is needed in a poorly nourished body to protect the individual from a tendency to heart disease and cancer. Blaming heart disease on cholesterol is like blaming the police for murder in a high crime area.
The scientific evidence, honestly evaluated, does not support the assertion that “artery-clogging” saturated fats cause heart disease. Actually, evaluation of the fat in artery clogs reveals that only about 26% is saturated. The rest is unsaturated, of which more than half is polyunsaturated.
So what is the probable cause of heart disease?? I will tell you what has not caused it: animal fats and cholesterol! Rather, a number of factors inherent in our modern diets, including excess consumption of vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats; excess consumption of refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar and white flour; mineral deficiencies (especially low levels of protective magnesium and iodine); deficiencies of vitamins, particularly of vitamin A, C and D, needed for the integrity of the blood vessel walls, and of antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E, which protect us from free radicals; and finally, the disappearance of antimicrobial fats from the food supply, namely, animal fats and tropical oils. These once protected us against the kinds of viruses and bacteria that have been associated with the onset of the plaque that leads to heart disease.

Prevention of heart disease will not be achieved with the current focus on lowering cholesterol– either by drugs or by the diet they recommend– but by consuming a diet that provides animal foods rich in protective fats and vitamins B6 and B12; by improving thyroid function through daily use of natural sea salt (good source: Real Salt), a good source of usable iodine; by avoiding vitamin and mineral deficiencies that make the artery walls more prone to ruptures and the buildup of plaque; b including antimicrobial fats in the diet; and by eliminating processed foods containing refined carbohydrates, oxidized cholesterol and free-radical-containing vegetable oils that cause the body to need constant repair.

“Fat Is Your Friend” Pt. 1: [Saturated] Fats Are Good For You

This post is Part 1 in the “Fat is Your Friend” series. 

I have heard so many say, “fats are good for you, you just have to eat the RIGHT kinds of fats.” When they say this, they are most of the time referring Olive Oil and nuts and avocados, but they are almost NEVER referring to Saturated Fats.

Well, I am here to say: Nevermind popular opinion… Saturated fats are good for you!” Good for you and your heart! Do your own homework and you, too, can find the same conclusion. Here is my homework in a nutshell: (most of this is taken from the book, Nourishing Traditions and the book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat.)

Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.

There are three types of fatty acids:

  1. Saturated- These do not normally go rancid, even when heated for cooking purposes. They form a solid or semi-solid fat at room temperature. Found mostly in animal fats and tropical oils. Your body also makes them from carbohydrates.
  2. Monounsaturated- Your body makes these from saturated fatty acids and uses them in many ways. Tend to be liquid at room temperature. Like saturated fats, they are relatively stable, do not go rancid easily and hence can be used in cooking. The monounsaturated fatty acid most commonly found in our food is oleic acid, the main component of olive oil as well as the oils from almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts and avocados.
  3. Polyunsaturated- The two most frequently found in our foods are omega-6 and omega-3. Your body cannot make these fatty acids and hence they are called “essential.” We must obtain our essential fatty acids or EFAs from the foods we eat. These remain liquid, even when refrigerated. They are highly reactive, go rancid easily (particularly omega-3 linolenic acid) and must be treated with care. They should never be heated or used in cooking.

Politically Correct Nutrition is based on the assumption that we should reduce our intake of fats, particularly saturated fats from animal sources. Fats from animal sources also contain… da da dum… cholesterol, presented as the twin villain of the civilized diet. (I will talk about cholesterol in a later post… for now… FAT!)

The politically correct guys tell us that polyunsaturated oils are the ones we want- the ones that are the best for us- and that saturated fats cause cancer and disease. This misinformation has caused profound changes in western eating habits. At the turn of the century, most of the fatty acids in the diet were either saturated or monounsaturated, primarily from butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, and small amounts of olive oil. Today, however, most of the fats in the diet are polyunsaturated, primarily from vegetable oils derived from soy, as well as from corn, safflower and canola. Bad, bad, bad. But do you notice that you still hear about heart attacks ALL THE TIME? Usage of animal fats and saturated fats in general has gone down, but heart disease has increased. So does it make sense that they keep blaming saturated fats? Let’s use our brains (and start nourishing them with healthy saturated fats!).

Excess consumption of polyunsaturates has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease, immune system dysfunction, damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs, digestive disorders, depressed learning ability, impaired growth, and weight gain. One reason they cause all of these problems is that they tend to become oxidized or rancid when subjected to heat, oxygen and moisture as in cooking and processing (extraction, hydrogenation, homogenization).

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that most polyunsaturates in commercial vegetable oils are in the form of omega-6 with very little omega-3.  Deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with asthma, heart disease and learning deficiencies. For the optimal production and balance of prostaglandins (hormones that act locally, within the cells), you need a good balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, with no more than 2-3 times more omega-6 than omega-3. In the modern diet, the ration is more like 20 to 1, as a result of the high consumption of vegetable oils containing mostly omega-6 fatty acids. (Good sources of Omega-3’s: Wild Salmon, egg yolks (from pastured chickens) and flax oil in small amounts.)

But back to saturated fats, which Americans are always trying to avoid. They are not the cause of our modern diseases. In fact, they play many important parts in body chemistry.

Fats and Your Brain

60% of the brain is composed of fat. Phospholipids (which contain about 50% saturated fats) help make up the brain cell membranes. They contain 2 fatty acids and one protein-like component. Thus you nourish your brain cells when you eat saturated fats, and when you don’t eat enough saturated fats, the chemistry of your brain may be compromised. In a recent study, rats given vegetable oils low in saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids had more strokes and shorter life spans.

Fats in the Cells

Every cell membrane is ideally made up of about 50% saturated fat. When we eat too much polyunsaturated oil and not enough saturated fat (or carbohydrates that the body turns into saturated fat), our cells don’t function correctly. The cell membranes need to be saturated for the cell to have the necessary “stiffness” or integrity and to work properly. If they don’t get enough saturated fat, they actually become “floppy” and cannot work properly.

Fats in Your Bones

For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of dietary fats should be saturated. This is one of the reasons osteoporosis has become such a problem these days.

Fats and Your Liver

Saturated fats protect the liver from toxins like alcohol and Tylenol. Today liver problems have become more common.

Fats and Your Heart

Saturated fats provide energy to the heart in times of stress. Saturated fats are the hearts preferred food and there is a concentration of saturated fat in the tissues surrounding the heart.

Fats and Your Lungs

Lungs cannot work without adequate saturated fats in the diet. The fatty acids in the lung fluid are normally 100% saturated. When people consume a lot of partially hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils, trans fatty acids and polyunsaturated oils are put into the phospholipids where the body normally needs saturated fatty acids. As a result the lungs cannot work effectively. Notice the rise in asthma, especially in children.

Fats and Your Kidneys

Omega-3 fatty acids, saturated fats, and cholesterol all work together synergistically to maintain normal kidney function, which is critical for managing blood pressure and filtering toxins from the body.

Fats and Your Hormones

Hormones are the body’s messengers, acting on the brain, nervous system, and glands and affecting thousands of bodily functions. They require the right kinds of fats. Your body cannot make stress and sex hormones without vitamin A, provided exclusively by fatty animal foods such as liver, shellfish, and cod-liver oil. In contrast, the wrong kinds of fats (trans fatty acids, etc..) inhibit the production of stress and sex hormones, leading to problems with glucose balance, mineral metabolism, and reproduction.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the “Fat is Your Friend” series: Cholesterol and Heart Disease

FAT Is Your Friend!

Coming up, a three-part series on “FAT Is Your Friend… Why Fats Are Good For You”.

I have heard too often that we are to eat “healthy fats.” I agree, though my definition of healthy may be different than theirs. I have come across valuable information in the last few years of my personal nutritional studies and wanted to share with you the importance of knowing your fats! Some of you will not care an ounce about what fat is good and what fat is bad for our bodies… or some of you may be geeks like me!

In Part 1 we will discuss the different kinds of fats, why your body needs fats, what kinds of fats Americans consume the most of, and why saturated fats are not your enemy.

In Part 2 we will talk at length about cholesterol and heart disease.

In Part 3, we will go over why coconut oil, butter, eggs, liver (I know…), beef, and whole milk are excellent sources of healthy fats and nutrients and are DEFINITELY not your enemy… instead, they should be your best buddy!

So geeks… Stay tuned!

[photo credit]

How to Hide His Word in Our Hearts

I read this post by John Piper today on DesiringGod.org about the importance of memorizing Scripture. At the end of the article, he attached a booklet entitled, “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture.” Sounds fun, right? Well, it should because this is the single-most complete, valuable and useful resource for memorizing God’s Word that I have ever seen*!  Piper’s Twitter update said: “I wish I could persuade everyone to do this.”

Me, too.  I personally see great value and love to memorize God’s Word. To preface this, I don’t say this with any pride or exultation of myself. That being said, in the past I have memorized several books of the Bible. I say “in the past” because I haven’t done it in a while… and… today I couldn’t recite an entire book or even an entire chapter for you. I have an easy time with memorization and will go on a streak where my husband will come home and I’ll say “I memorized the rest of Ephesians today!” But then… I don’t KEEP reciting it and working on it in the months to come and so, just as with anything else, what you don’t use, you lose.

That is the reason this article is like a Godsend to me, literally. Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit inspiration to write such a booklet. I am reading it and thinking, “I have found gold!” Really, this is how I feel. I so long to hide God’s Word in my heart and to “not let this Book of the Law depart from my mouth” but I just continue to fail at perseverance, I suppose.

I am excited to put these methods into practice… immediately!

Will you join me???

*(Another good one I have seen (though not for memorizing whole books of the Bible, but rather single verses) is the Memory Box System).

First Foods for Babies

There is so much misguided advice out there about what we should feed first to our babies. I just purchased the “Healthy Baby Issue” of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) journals. This topic is among the many that are in this journal. I would like to share it with you so that you can make informed decisions about what first foods to feed your baby!

Ideally, breastfeeding should be maintained for at least a year, if not more. The first year of life requires a full spectrum of nutrients, including fats, protein, cholesterol, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Once breastmilk is no longer the sole source of these nutrients, what should you do?

There are 3 concepts to keep in mind. First, make your baby a “whole foods baby” (speaking of real food, not the store!). Avoid processed and refined foods as much as possible, including many brands of baby food; they are usually devoid of nutrients and some have added undesirable ingredients. It really is best to make your own baby food so that you know the quality of the product you’re feeding your little one and you also know there isn’t anything else in it but the food itself (though, Earth’s Best Organic is a good brand if you must buy jarred baby food).

Secondly, go slowly and be observant. Every baby is different and will have an individual response to different foods. Just because something is healthy and a whole food, doesn’t mean that baby’s particular system will jive with it.

Thirdly, respect the still-developing digestive system of your infant. Babies have limited enzyme production, which is necessary for the digestion of foods. In fact, it takes up to 28 months, just around the time when molar teeth are fully developed, for the big-gun carbohydrate enzymes (namely amylase) to fully kick into gear. Foods like cereals, grains and breads are very challenging for little ones to digest. Thus, those foods should be some of the last to be introduced. (One carbohydrate enzyme a baby’s small intestine does produces is lactase, for the digestion of milk.)

Foods introduced too early can cause digestive troubles and increase the likelihood of allergies (particularly to those foods introduced). The baby’s immature digestive system allows large particles of food to be absorbed. If these particles reach the bloodstream, the immune system mounts a response that leads to an allergic reaction. Six months is the typical age when solids should be introduced.

Babies do produce functional enzymes (pepsin and proteolytic enzymes) and digestive juices (hydrochloric acid in the stomach) that work on proteins and fats. This makes perfect sense since the milk from a healthy mother is 50-60%  fat, which is critical for growth, energy and development.  In addition, the cholesterol in human milk supplies an infant with close to 6 times the amount most adults consume from food.

Thus, a baby’s earliest solid foods should be mostly animal foods since his digestive system, although immature, is better equipped to supply enzymes for digestion of fats and proteins rather than carbohydrates. This explains why current research is pointing to meat (including nutrient dense organ meat) as being a nourishing early food.

So is cereal the best first food? Remember the amount of breast milk decreases when solid foods are introduced. This decrease may open the door for inefficiencies in a number of nutrients critical for baby’s normal growth and development. The nutrients that are often in short supply when introducing food include protein, zinc, iron and B-vitamins. One food group that has these nutrients in ample amounts is meat.

Unfortunately, cereal is the most often recommended early weaning food. According to a swedish study, when infants consume substantial amounts of rice cereal, they could suffer from low concentrations of zinc and reduced calcium absorption.

There was a study done that found breastfed infants who received pureed or strained meat as a primary weaning food beginning at 4-5 months grew at a slightly faster rate. The study suggests that inadequate protein or zinc from common first foods may limit the growth of some breastfed infants. More importantly, both protein and zinc levels were consistently higher in the diets of the infants who received meats. Thus, the custom of providing large amounts of cereals and excluding meats before 7 months of age may short-change the nutritional requirements of the infant.

Meat is also an excellent source of iron. Heme iron (the iron found in meat) is better absorbed than iron from plant sources (non-heme). Additionally, the protein in meat helps the baby more easily absorb iron from other foods. Meat also contains a much greater amount of zinc than cereals, which means more is absorbed. Traditional peoples, uninfluenced by western diets, gave meat–usually liver–as the first weaning food. Also, the incidence of allergic reactions to meat is minimal.

Don’t fear fats! Milk and animal fats give energy and also help children build muscle and bone. In addition, the animal fats provide vitamins A & D necessary for protein and mineral assimilation, normal growth and hormone production.  Choose a variety of foods so your child gets a range of fats, but emphasize stable saturated fats (yes, that’s right… more on saturated fats in another post), found in butter, meat and coconut oil, and monounsaturated fats, found in avocados and olive oil.

Foods by Age

4-6 Months

(I personally don’t introduce these foods until 6 months or later, but I know some do introduce food earlier)

Egg yolk (if tolerated. Preferably from pastured or cage-free chickens)

Rich in choline, cholesterol and other brain-nourishing substances. If baby reacts poorly, try again one month later. The white is the part that most often causes allergic reactions, so don’t give egg whites until after your child turns one. Don’t neglect to put a pinch of salt on the egg yolk, which is actually critical for digestion as well as for brain development. Use unrefined salt to supply a variety of trace minerals. Boil an egg for 3-4 minutes (longer at high-altitudes), peel, discard the white, and mash up yolk with a little unrefined sea salt. (The yolk should be soft and warm, not runny). Small amounts of grated, raw organic liver (which has been frozen 14 days) may be added to the egg yolk after 6 months.

Banana– mashed, for babies who are very mature and seem hungry

Great food for babies because it contains amylase enzymes to digest carbohydrates.

Cod Liver Oil– 1/4 teaspoon high vitamin or 1/2 teaspoon regular, given with an eye dropper. Doubled around 8 months.

Excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (also important for brain development) as well as vitamins A & D. Use an eye dropper at first; later baby can take it mixed with a little water or fresh orange juice.

6-8 Months

Organic Liver— grated and frozen and added to egg yolk

Pureed meats– lamb, turkey, beef, chicken, liver and fish

Cook meat gently in water or homemade stock until completely tender, or use meat from stews, etc… Make sure the meat is cold and it is no bigger than 1-2 inch chunks when you puree. Grind up the meat first, then add water or breastmilk or the natural cooking juices as the liquid.

Soup broth– (chicken, beef, lamb, fish) added to pureed meats and vegetables, or offered as a drink

Fermented foods— small amounts of yogurt, kefir, sweet potato, taro, if desired.

Raw mashed fruits– banana, melon, mangoes, papaya, avocado

Cooked, pureed fruits– organic apricot, peaches, pears, apples, cherries, berries

High pectin fruits like the ones mentioned above should be cooked to break down the pectin which can be very irritating to the digestive tract.

Cooked (steamed) vegetables– zucchini, squash, sweet potato, carrots, beets, with butter or coconut oil (fat provides nutrition to aid in digestion)

 

8-12 Months

Continue to add variety and increase thickness and lumpiness of the foods already given from 4-8 months

Creamed Vegetable Soups

Homemade Stews– all ingredients cut small or mashed

Dairy– cottage cheese, mild harder raw cheese, cream, custards

Finger foods– when baby can grab and adequately chew, such as lightly steamed veggie sticks, milk cheese, avocado chunks, pieces of banana

Cod Liver Oil– increase to 1/2 teaspoon high vitamin or 1 teaspoon regular dose

 

Over 1 Year

Grains and legumes– properly soaked and cooked

Should be the last food given to babies. This food category has the most potential for causing digestive disturbances or allergies. Babies do not produce the needed enzymes to handle cereals, especially gluten-containing grains like wheat, before the age of one year. Even then, it is a common traditional practice to soak the grains. This process jump-starts the enzymatic activity in the food and begins breaking down some of the harder-to-digest components.) The easiest grains to digest are those without gluten like brown rice. When grains are introduced they should be soaked for at least 24 hours and cooked with plenty of water for a long time. This will make a slightly sour, very thin porridge that can be mixed with other foods.

Nut Butters (peanut, almond, etc…)

Leafy green vegetables– cooked, with butter

Raw salad vegetables– cucumber, tomatoes, etc.

Citrus fruits– fresh, organic

Whole egg– cooked

Further reading resources:

Real Food for Mother and Baby

Wise Traditions Healthy Baby Issue

Nourishing Traditions

[photo credit]