In my studies of biochemistry many years ago, I wondered why the eating of meat should be consumed generally in times of winter, cold or famine.
The following is what has been discovered by biochemists more than 100 years after the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants, 89:12-13:
"Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."
Eating in times of winter or cold
The calories per gram, referring to the three basic foods, are what we see on cereal boxes and other food packaging today.
Calories per gram:
Fats — 9
Carbohydrates — 4
Protein — 4
These are values produced when the substance is burned in a bomb calorimeter, a metal container used to determine total calories by measuring the heat of chemical reactions.
However, the pattern of chemical change in a living cell is distinctive and different from anything encountered in non-living organisms.
In living organisms, the calories per gram differs. The percent of heat production per gram is over and beyond the basal needs of the body.
Fats — 4 percent
Carbohydrates — 6 percent
Protein — 30 percent
The ingestion of protein into our body causes the greatest increase in heat production. The metabolism — or chemical burning — is termed "specific dynamic action," SDA.
Thus, biochemists of today state that the ingestion of 100 calories of protein leads to 30 calories of extra heat over and above the basal level, or the needs of the body, which is 70. This is wasted heat, which the body tries to get rid of by doing such things as sweating, etc.
Our conclusion would be: The so-called 'wasted heat' would keep a human body warmer in times of cold or winter; therefore, increased consumption of protein (meat) would be desirable and useful, in cold weather.
Eating in times of famine
If a body only has a carbohydrate to consume, and requires a fat, it can convert the carbohydrate into a fat. Likewise if it has a fat and needs a carbohydrate, it can convert the fat into a carbohydrate. Neither of the two can be converted into a protein, unless ammonia is furnished.
If a person only has a protein to eat, the body can convert the protein into either a carbohydrate or a fat, according to the need.
Therefore, in times of starvation or famine, protein is the desired food to consume, thereby giving you all three types of food: protein, carbohydrate and fat.
In addition, we should know that excessive consumption of meat causes unneeded stress on the human body.
In latter stages of starvation, large amounts of tissue protein are burned away, causing the need of eating more meat in times of famine.
Time after time we see the added wisdom given to the Prophet Joseph through divine revelation. He was a man ahead of his time.
Surely, "facts are stubborn things," Joseph is quoted as saying in "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith."
It will be as it ever has been; the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence in experiments, as they did Moses and Elijah.
Therefore, the biochemists of today support what a prophet stated in 1833.
"It is my opinion that all the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, will remain in the realm of faith," Elder Neil A. Maxwell said in his book "Plain and Precious Things." "Science will not be able to prove or disprove holy writ. However, enough plausible evidence will come forth to prevent scoffers from having a field day, but not enough to remove the requirements of faith."
I believe this new evidence from biochemistry is a good example of plausible evidence.
Elder Ted E. Brewerton is a former member of the First Quorum of Seventy and now enjoys emeritus status.