Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Restless legs, phytates, and the industrial age

Plants protect their seeds (their babies) from being digested (killed) by making them toxic with phytates (phytic acid), enzyme inhibitors, etc.  Some animals thwart these protections with multiple stomachs, etc.  Humans have for thousands of years thwarted these protections with elaborate food preparation schemes called recipes.  Who needs four stomachs when you have the mind of a scientist?
In the industrial age, caretaker cooks were replaced by food production corporations that arose with the prime directive of delivering maximum profits to remote and disinterested shareholders.  These corporations gradually economized by discarding elements of food production schemes that seemed to them to be unnecessary.  Eventually, entire populations of humans were eating seeds that had their protections largely in place, which resulted in the emergence of nutrition problems that had been solved long before.

The main elements of traditional food preparation schemes were simple.  Just fool the seeds into getting ready to sprout before you eat them, then cook them.  This was generally accomplished by soaking large batches of seeds whole or ground in a slightly acid solution at scalding temperatures (40 C or 125 F) for a couple of hours, or some variation with lower temperature and increased time and acidity, before cooking them.

But without the traditional schemes, food preparation of seeds amounts to eating them raw or with several minutes of sudden cooking.  This leaves intact the protections that plants intended to interfere with our nutrition.  And suddenly we find ourselves with mineral deficiencies and digestive troubles.

One night as I lay in bed my legs felt a creeping, tingling sensation that urgently seemed to insist that I move them.  Once I moved them, the feeling was relieved.  But not a minute later, the creeping, tickling feeling returned.  I told myself I could ignore the demand for movement.  I could keep my legs still.  I thought I would burst.  But the feeling subsided without my having moved my legs.  Then it returned.  Eventually I got out of bed, walked to the bathroom or the kitchen, and lay down again.  This helped, and I was able to sleep peacefully.

Then it happened again on another night.  And another.  And another.  Years passed, and I lay again in battle with the restless feeling in my legs when the thought occurred to me to Google "restless legs deficiency".  To my delight, I found that mineral deficiency is implicated in restless leg syndrome.  I recalled warnings my father had given me a few years previous about phytates in my oats.  And I began my education into the devious defenses of seeds against predation and destruction and the devious cooking schemes of humans to render seeds defenseless and extract from them their precious life force.

I learned that Quaker Oats used to include a period of soaking in the preparation instructions for their oatmeal.  I learned that the stripping of phytates in bran and germ is one reason that white rice is hypoallergenic and that white flour is easier to digest and thrive (get large) on than whole grain flour (modern wheat is a subject for an entire other discussion).

I never recorded carefully the incidence of my restless legs.  So I cannot faithfully report a reduction resulting from my improved food preparation methods.  But I have begun to take every opportunity possible to soak seeds in the best way convenient before eating them.  I soak my pinto beans a few days.  I soak my oatmeal 1 day at room temperature (any more produces parmesan cheese smell) or just below scalding temperature (yogurt temperature, 38 C or 118 F) with a bit of yogurt.  And I am only beginning to experiment.  I will be increasing the size of my batches for my convenience.  I will be experimenting with soaking rice and nuts and with letting batters and doughs sit longer.

I have noted improved flavor and appearance and reduced gas from my pinto beans and my oats.

Cooking is no trivial pursuit.  We are fools to think we can discard traditional preparation schemes and leave our nourishment to remote factories who are beholden to further remote owners.  We can and will demand and pay for real nourishing food.


David Wimble said...

Inflammation is believed to be a key factor when it comes to Restless Legs Syndrome.

Results of a scientific study were published in the January 14, 2012 issue of "Sleep Medicine Review Journal" that supports this theory. You can read that study here: http://www.rlcure.com/rls_study.pdf

You can view the results of other related scientific studies and learn about some helpful solutions at this RLS information website:

A blog for RLS sufferers with helpful tips can be found here:

The solution is a combination of a proper anti-inflammatory diet as well as introducing natural supplements and key vitamins & minerals into your daily life.

Thomas Gail Haws said...

Thanks, David. It took me a while to approve your comment because it looked a bit spammy. But having visited your web site, I appreciate your dropping in.