Lesson 39: Preventing Disease

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 149–52


Each young woman will understand some ways to prevent disease.


Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Adapt this lesson to the needs of the young women in your area. If you have class members with special health problems, be careful that this lesson is helpful, not discouraging, to them.

Suggested Lesson Development


Teacher presentation

Explain that one reason we came to earth was to gain physical bodies. President Brigham Young declared, “Our mortal bodies are all important to us; without them we never can be glorified in the eternities that will be” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 56).

Explain that our bodies will be perfect when they are resurrected (see Alma 11:42–44). But in this life they suffer from disease, pain, and injury. Some are temporarily disabled. Others are handicapped for life. But whatever their condition, our bodies are important to us, for they help us progress toward perfection.

We are spiritual and physical beings, and we cannot reach our full potential without both a spirit and a body. A spirit cannot be exalted unless it is joined with a body (see D&C 93:33–34).

Good Health Practices Are Important in Preventing Disease

Ask the young women to think about why it is important to know how to prevent illness while you tell the following story.


Marta Molina was only eight months old when she became very sick. This lovely little girl became so ill that she lost much weight in a short period of time. Her mouth was dry, her eyes lost their sparkle, and the soft spot on the top of her head became sunken. Not knowing what to do, the family followed primitive local customs to help her get better, but these customs were medically unsound.

Marta Molina, like many people in the world, got sick for reasons her family did not understand. Consequently, they did not understand how to prevent the illness nor how to cure it.


  • Why is it important to know what causes illness and how to prevent health problems?

Discuss the following information:

Many years ago, people did not know what caused illness. Some believed disease came because they failed to make proper sacrifices. Others thought it was caused by spells cast by enemies. In recent times scientists and physicians have learned what causes most health problems. Much knowledge has been gained since the gospel was restored to the world in 1830. As the Spirit of the Lord has been poured out upon the earth, many new discoveries have been made to help us maintain good health.

Today we know that most diseases are caused by microorganisms that live all around us. They are so small that the eye cannot see them. Some are carried through the air; others pass from one person to another; still others pass from animals and insects to people. They can cause many kinds of diseases when they enter our bodies. If we want to eliminate disease, therefore, we must not come in contact with the microorganisms that cause the disease or illness.

Chalkboard discussion

Discuss ways to prevent the spread of disease-causing microorganisms and reasons why each way is important. List these ideas on the chalkboard. (You might want to discuss diseases common to your area.)

  1. 1.

    Clean the house regularly, especially places where disease-causing microorganisms could live, such as warm, moist, dark, and sticky areas.

  2. 2.

    Protect food by keeping it properly covered. Where possible, refrigerate perishable foods.

  3. 3.

    Wash foods carefully.

  4. 4.

    Wash hands before eating, when handling food, and after using the toilet.

  5. 5.

    Brush teeth after each meal to help prevent decay and other dental problems.

  6. 6.

    Always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.

  7. 7.

    Wear shoes, sandals, or foot coverings so feet won’t pick up germs from the ground.

  8. 8.

    Eat properly and get enough rest. Germs are less able to infect a healthy body.

  9. 9.

    Make sure that water, milk, and other foods are safe to eat.

  10. 10.

    Protect against some diseases by being immunized. In most parts of the world, people can receive immunizations at a health clinic or from a physician.

  11. 11.

    Obey the law of chastity.

We Benefit from Good Health Practices


President David O. McKay said:

“The healthy man, who takes care of his physical being, has strength and vitality; his temple is a fit place for his spirit to reside.

“… Bodily ailments deprive us of the full exercise of our faculties and privileges and sometimes of life itself. It is necessary, therefore, to care for our physical bodies and to observe the laws of physical health and happiness” (“The ‘Whole’ Man,” Improvement Era, Apr. 1952, p. 221).


  • What benefits do you receive from being healthy and free from disease? Some responses might be that we enjoy life more when we feel good, we have more energy for schoolwork and recreational activities, and we learn more easily when we are alert and healthy.


Explain that in addition to these obvious benefits, there are some other advantages to preventing disease and following good health practices. List these on the chalkboard and discuss each one.

  1. 1.

    We are more capable of serving our family, our friends, and our Father in Heaven.

    • Why can we be more willing to serve if we are in a healthy condition?

  2. 2.

    We are better leaders.

    • Why is it important for leaders to have good health?

  3. 3.

    We have a better self-concept.

    • What does feeling good have to do with love for oneself and others?

  4. 4.

    We can better care for ourselves.

    • What happens to our everyday responsibilities when we are ill?

Explain that we are here to bring about our salvation and the salvation of others. To do this, we need healthy bodies and minds. Many resources have been provided to help us cure or prevent disease. The Lord expects us to use the resources available to us.


Joseph Smith taught that ‘it is the will of God that man should repent and serve him in health, and in the strength and power of his mind, in order to secure his blessings.’ (Teachings, p. 197.) Ordinarily a healthy, vigorous person is in a far better position to work out his own salvation and to be an effective instrument in rolling forth the great purposes of Deity” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], p. 346).



Sister Barbara B. Smith, a General President of the Relief Society, has said, “The state of our health affects every facet of our life—our feeling of personal well-being, our approach to work, our social interactions—even our service to the Lord” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 77).

Remind the young women that their bodies are a great blessing from the Lord and a necessary part of their progress toward exaltation. They should take the best possible care of their bodies.

Lesson Applications

  1. 1.

    Suggest that each young woman review the chalkboard list of ways to control disease and identify any health practice in which she needs to improve. Suggest that she then work toward making this practice a part of her life.

  2. 2.

    With the approval of your priesthood adviser, you may want to invite a health specialist (nurse, doctor, or medical assistant) to meet with the young women on a weekday and discuss how disease-carrying microorganisms spread, how the microorganisms react in our bodies, and how we can keep them from spreading.