Religion and the one, true… fiber?

There are times when the Church comes under fire for claiming to be God’s true Church.

This came to mind recently when I was researching psyllium, the ground husks of plantain seeds (in this case, plantain, the flowering plant). I had bought some psyllium for a gluten-free bread recipe and was intrigued by uses indicated by the packaging.

Curious, I found NIH articles titled “Evidence-Based Approach to Fiber Supplements and Clinically Meaningful Health Benefits” Part 1 and Part 2.

Bottom line, psyllium is by far the only supplement that actually provably delivers benefits across the board:

  • reduces cholesterol
  • mitigates glycemic spikes
  • improves satiety
  • mitigates constipation
  • helps mitigate diarrhea
  • reduces irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • helps achieve weight loss 1

Here’s the summary chart from the second of the NIH reports, which makes it obvious that psyllium really is head and shoulders above other supplementary fiber sources (click on the chart to open the table in a separate window):

Now, if we were going to provide a “benefit” chart for religions, what would we list as the benefits we seek from religion? Several come to mind for me, but I’m interested to hear what you have to say.


  1. The NIH literature survey required two peer-reviewed studies to make a finding of unequivocal benefit, so only gave psyllium a +/- for this.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

7 thoughts on “Religion and the one, true… fiber?

  1. I disagree that psyllium is not fermented. It is known for producing gas when the microbes in the colon feed on it. Eat enough, and people will call you Vladimir Pootin’.

    The main selling point of Citrucel (methylcellulose) is that it does not produce excess gas like Metamucil (psyllium). I’ll take the chemically treated wood-pulp.

    But if that is not a consideration, here is a “bread” recipe, of oats, nuts, seeds, and psyllium:

    It’s more like a granola bar than bread. And it is delicious. But it has too much fiber for me. And it does cause you to socially isolate yourself so as not to… uhhh… be “socially offensive.”

  2. Interesting. I’ve been using straight psyllium and haven’t had any problem. I don’t know what else Metamucil puts in their product, but I know it isn’t straight psyllium.

    I mix up a 21 oz glass water bottle with a tablespoon of psyllium, then add a couple shots of drink flavoring (e.g., Mio), plus a packet of stevia sweetener. If I mix it up the night before I’ll be drinking it, the mineral taste I noticed the first time I tried it is gone by the time I drink it.

    As to fermentation, I’d be inclined to trust a NIH scientific paper over a personal anecdote for a branded product that includes other ingredients.

    I’ll definitely pass on the so-called gluten-free bread recipe, as I’ve already got a book full of recipes that don’t come out resembling a granola bar.

    Alas, I really was hoping people had opinions about what is important in a religion.

  3. Things I would look for in a religion are first meaning, purpose, and values. I also like identity, belonging, self-improvement, and social relationships. Meaning, purpose, and values give us duties which can be a source of direction, motivation, and fulfilment. Identity helps me see where I fit into everything and how I relate to the meaning, purpose, and values I have. Social relationships are huge, because they help me to see how other people apply religion to their circumstances and we can unite to better achieve our purpose and improve.

  4. My husband is foud of telling me that science is about how things work in our lives and religion is about the meaning of our lives.

    Things I was thinking as I looked at the fiber chart included:

    Does the religion have an empowering protology? That is, does the religion give me a sense of my individual journey before birth? This is one aspect where I feel most religions fail. Which is why when I type the word protology, auto-correct doesn’t even know the word (and tries to substitute proctologist).

    Does the religion give me a powerful connection with others? For a religion that explains a powerful protology, this should follow. But even in a religion that does not have a protology, does the god preached by that religion expect us to value others and hold us to account for how we value others and interact with them? A religion where caring about others is baked in gets a check mark.

    What is the reward the religion promises for a life well-lived? Is that reward tangible enough and powerful enough to give me tools to shape my reality? A powerful eschatology (how things end) will get a check. Here, however, it wouldn’t be so much a check mark as an essay, as the eschatology for each major branch of religion is unique.

    Can I, as an individual, access experiences that can let me touch the heart of the religion? Humans are highly imaginative, so we are able to convince ourselves of all manner of thing – something of a religious version of the IKEA effect – loving the thing we have selected or the thing we have helped create. But are there experiences aside from our own imaginings that we can access that reinforce the religion? Do the stories of co-religionists contain such experiences?

  5. What benefits should a religion provide?
    An antidote to the ills of life
    instead of alienation, connection and belonging
    instead of empty consumption, an opportunity to create
    instead of emptiness, meaning and purpose
    a coherent account of life – all the questions – who am I? Do I matter? Where did we come from and is there anything after this?
    a way to figure out hard questions that is better than barren ethical discussions and personal preferences
    a meaningful outlet for my best qualities and a way to get rid of my worst qualities
    I could think of more, probably. But that is my first attempt.

  6. – Communion with my Creator
    – Community with fellow believers
    – Commandments to circumscribe how to live after the manner of happiness
    – Covenants to bring me closer to Diety
    – Ordinances to symbolically teach me the deeper meanings of the covenants
    – A paradigm to give sense and purpose to existence and experience
    – Oracles, both living and written to teach and explain the paradigm
    – A methodology to find internal peace of concience and joy
    – Evidences that build faith that God is good and strengthen hope that he will be good to me.

  7. Following on approaches by Ninian Smart and Ian Barbour, I’ve come to see that the wine of religion, the essential content that makes wine bottles to contain them important are:
    (a) Responses to external impressions regarding:
    Order and creativity in the world
    The common mythic symbols and patterns underlying most religious traditions
    Key historical events that define separate traditions and bind individuals
    (b) The innermost experiences of the individual:
    Numinous awe and reverence
    Mystical union
    Moral obligation
    Reorientation and Reconciliation with respect to personal sin, guilt, and weakness,
    the existence of evil, suffering, and death, and tensions between science and faith.
    (c) Personal response in human action:
    Personal dialogue where you begin interpret external events as God speaking to you,
    and you answer through your own actions.
    Social and Ritual behavior

    It’s easy to demonstrate that these experiences are demonstrated, supported and encouraged within the LDS community. (I wrote an essay on that years back. The point is that this approach, focusing on the reality of the demonstrable presence of this wine provides a viable alternative to all-or-nothing thinking about LDS truth calms, which, I think, focus on the durability of one’s wine bottle, one’s paradigm.

    D&C 1 formally emphasizes the importance of covenants, additional ancient revelation, ongoing relevation and learning, ongoing repentence, moral behavior tied to symbolic ordinances and priesthood authority, and expressly denying exclusive truth, completed revelation, or present or exclusive virtues. Indeed I notice that the Biblical passages that contain the terms “true” and/or “living” refer to “tree of life”, “living waters” ,”true vine”, “living bread”, “truth and life”, “true way” “living way through the veil,” etcetera all have associations with the voice of warning to all people (Jer. 10:10), baptismal, sacrament, temple and priesthood and covenant, which match the themes of D&1 verse for verse, point for point, and also point to the things which do, in actual fact and practice distinguish the LDS community from other faith communities.

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