“Nourished by the Good Word of God”
by Brittany Cromar
For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire? (Jacob 6:7)
Recently, my husband was asked to teach Gospel Doctrine as a substitute. The lesson was on the vision of the Tree of Life. As he was working on preparing his lesson, he and I talked about the vision. I mentioned that I had read some interesting ideas about the background of the symbolism of the tree in an article from the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. My husband asked if I had ever thought about why the rod is made of iron. I said I had never given it much thought. I said I knew iron was a strong metal.
“Why is iron important to you?” he asked. His point dawned on me suddenly.
During my recent pregnancy, I dealt with iron-deficiency anemia. A small drop in iron level is normal in pregnancy because of the increase in blood volume. However, mine dropped more than it is supposed to, and I experienced some anemic symptons-mild pica (dishwaser detergent and bleach smelled really good to me) and fatigue. I was so tired all the time. I felt like I couldn’t get through the day without a nap, every day. I asked my midwives to check my iron levels when I did my glucose test. The result came back low. I started taking a liquid iron supplement and noticed improvement in my energy levels fairly quickly. If I missed a few doses because I ran out and didn’t make it to the store for a few days, I noticed the fatigue beginning to return. That iron supplement became my lifeline for energy during pregnancy. Iron is not just a strong metal, it is also a strength-giving nutrient.
Iron in the body is essential for life. It carries oxygen to our tissues and gives us energy. If we don’t get enough of it, we are weakened. In the vision of the Tree of Life, the iron rod is interpreted to mean the word of God, or the scriptures and words of the prophets. Like iron gives us physical strength, study of the word of God gives us spiritual strength. President Benson speaks about the strength we get from daily scripture study in his well-known quote about the Book of Mormon.
“There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (see D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.” (Ezra Taft Benson,Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).
After this conversation, I started thinking about the other supplements I took during my pregnancy. My midwives did not recommend a typical prenatal vitamin. They recommended that I try to get as much of my nutrition from food as possible, and to possibly take a whole-food based multivitamin to make up for anything I may miss in my diet. They did recommend all pregnant women supplement a few specific nutrients which are often deficient in the typical American diet, including vitamin D, omega 3 oils and magnesium as they have a large number of benefits. In fact, you can have a look here if you find yourself asking “what is magnesium good for” to see why taking this supplement is so good for your body. I digress a little, but I quickly realized that all of these nourishing nutrients were mentioned somewhere in the scriptures, and by examining the scriptures in the context of how the nutrients were important, I came to understand those scriptures better.
Omega 3 oils are essential for healthy brain and eye development in the growing baby. The most common source of these oils in a diet is fish. Many people do not eat large amounts of fish, and some fish is not safe due to high levels of mercury found in large fish. Instead, we can get these fats from a fish oil or krill oil supplement. Peter and Andrew were fishermen, and when Jesus called them to be apostles he said,
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)
People who come into Christ’s church are compared to fish. Just as fish oil is necessary to a healthy pregnancy diet for large brains and sharp eyes, converts are necessary to grow the church and make it better with their skills.
Lani has written a lot about the importance of magnesium in pregnancy and beyond. There are many health problems associated with low magnesium, including some pregnancy complications. Magnesium deficiency can be caused by a diet too high in processed carbohydrates and low in seeds and green leafy vegetables and by low levels of magnesium in some water supplies. Most Americans are also magnesium deficient. One really good way to increase magnesium levels is through swimming in the ocean or in a bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfide) and absorbing it through your skin. Salt water is a source of magnesium, and in the Sermon on the Mount, the Saviour compared his disciples to salt.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.(Matthew 5:13)
As I understand it, salt only loses savor through contamination, and so this scripture emphasizes the need for Christ’s followers to be pure. Magnesium is a vital nutrient to the body, much like the purity of the followers of Christ is vital to the Earth.
This article reports the findings of a recent study showing lower rates of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and infection in pregnant women supplemented with higher doses of vitamin D. We also know that vitamin D is necessary for bone health. It also appears be important for immune system function. Deficiency is also linked with depression. I suffered from vitamin D deficiency and also with depression when I was pregnant. I began taking vitamin D at my midwife’s advice, but didn’t realize until later in the pregnancy that I needed to take a much higher dose to raise my levels and I felt much better after I starting taking more. The natural, and many believe the best way to get vitamin D in the body is to trigger the body to produce it through sunlight exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is common because we spend so little time in the sun. The scriptures often compare light with spiritual truth.
Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son-He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. (D&C 88:5-7)
Just as we need the light from the sun to feel happy and be healthy, we also need the happiness that truth and the light of Christ brings into our lives. Sisters, may you also be nourished, both physically and spiritually, in your pregnancies and beyond.