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Five Things to Know About the Word of Wisdom


You may know that Mormons don’t drink alcohol or smoke. But do you know why? God revealed a law of health which brings blessings to those who follow what Mormons call the Word of Wisdom.

Here are five things you should know about the Word of Wisdom.

1. The Word of Wisdom Isn’t Just a List of Don’ts

Some people think the Word of Wisdom is just a list of things you shouldn’t eat or drink. While this is true to an extent, it is also a plan for a healthy diet. The Word of Wisdom specifically encourages you to eat fruits, vegetables, grains, and wholesome herbs.

Those who follow God’s counsel in the Word of Wisdom are promised that they’ll receive health, that they’ll find wisdom, and that they’ll “run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:18–20).

2. Word of Wisdom Doctrines Have Been Scientifically Validated

When the Word of Wisdom was revealed in 1833, the world lacked scientific data about the effects of alcohol, tobacco, and even fasting.

But today, the health code described in the Word of Wisdom is widely accepted. Science has proven many adverse effects of drinking alcohol, smoking, and chewing tobacco, including diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, lung cancer, throat cancer, and mouth cancer. Studies also show that intermittent fasting can help reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular disease and help you lose weight. 

3. People Who Live by the Word of Wisdom Tend to Live Longer

From 1980 to 2004, the University of California–Los Angeles conducted a study of California Mormons who followed the health guidelines in the Word of Wisdom. Results of the 25-year study showed the Mormon lifestyle was associated with lower death rates and increased life expectancy.

4. The Word of Wisdom and Caffeinated Soda

The Word of Wisdom does say people shouldn’t drink wine, strong drinks, and hot drinks. Mormons officially define hot drinks as coffee and tea. The Word of Wisdom does not explicitly mention caffeine, nor does it give specific reason why coffee and tea should not be consumed. The Mormon church does counsel members to avoid substances that can be harmful or addictive; some members choose to apply this advice to food or drink containing caffeine.

5. The Word of Wisdom Came as an Answer to a Problem

In December 1832, God commanded Joseph Smith, the first President of the Mormon Church, to form the School of the Prophets, a school where Mormon leaders were taught and prepared to serve members of the Mormon Church.

These leaders began meeting in January 1833. Many of these men chewed tobacco or smoked pipes at their meetings. Joseph Smith disliked teaching in a cloud of tobacco smoke, while his wife, Emma, disliked cleaning up the messy floors after each meeting.

After Emma expressed her concerns to Joseph, he began praying and asking God how to handle this problem. Then, about a month after the school started, on February 27, 1833, God revealed the Word of Wisdom to Joseph (D&C 89).