EPISODE 36
Safe to Eat Raw Sprouted Legumes?

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Mari asks:

I’m a yoga teacher. Recently, the football coach asked me to do a yoga class for the football team who continues to weight lift through the winter with him. Apparently, some of the boys want to come to yoga after the weight lifting. I have never taught a class to a large group of football players. I want to make the class something that will be meaningful to them. What do you suggest?

Great question, Mari. The first thing is if they want to come after lifting weights, that is the correct time to come. It would be a mistake to do a deep stretching class before you lift weights. From a nervous system perspective, it puts your body in a very different state. When you do deep stretching, it puts you in a relaxation state. When you do lifting, you need full muscle engagement awareness. So coming to stretch right after lifting is great. It’s a perfect thing.

The thing to remember about footballers, about runners, about tennis players, about any other sports who come to yoga, they generally come to yoga because they’re looking for flexibility benefits. Somebody on the football team is going to be much, much stronger physically than most yoga students. They’re going to have more muscle mass, they can lift more weights. Whether that’s good or bad is not what we’re talking about here, but they’re not going to be coming to yoga looking for strength. They have their own system for strength.

What that means is, they’re coming for flexibility. For whatever reasons, yoga teachers sometimes have their own preconceived notions of what yoga class should or should not be about. The important thing to remember is that it’s about whatever your students want it to be about. So in this case, if they’re football players and they’re coming, what they want to do is prevent injury, increase range of motion, increase speed and agility. And so for the most part, if you focus on deep stretching exercise, they’re going to get the most benefits.

Now, if you teach a really physically challenging power yoga Vinyasa class, they’re probably really going to love that, too, but they’re probably never going to love that as much as they love their other physical training. Meaning, no matter how much they love the yoga class, they’re going to prefer to do wind sprints or they’re going to prefer to do drills or they’re going to prefer to do whatever they do in their football practices because that’s their thing.

So the best way you can serve them is usually helping them with their flexibility specifically, teaching a gravity yoga series or a gravity yoga-style series is really important. The key thing to remember is you’ve got to set this up so they know what they’re getting into and why they’re doing it. The good thing is, people with an athletic background, they tend to progress in yoga very quickly, not because of their athleticism, but because they understand and appreciate the importance of commitment to practice. So I hope that’s helpful, Mari. Keep us posted, let us know how it goes.

Rui asks:

I would like to make a question about a variation of Reverse Warrior. Is it improper to bend sideways, looking at the foot of the straightened leg?

In recent years, like in the past 15 years, people have gotten really creative with traditional sun salutations Vinyasa practices in yoga classes. If you don’t know what that term is, it’s just a way of flowing through yoga practices, a flowing power Vinyasa, Ashtanga Vinyasa style.

And a Reverse Warrior is a traditional Warrior pose, everybody’s seen it, it’s a deep lunge with your hands above your head in a prayer. So your front leg is bent, your back leg is straight. Some people do something called a Reverse Warrior, where you take your back hand down the back leg and you kind of do a backbend in the Warrior pose. And you’ll see this coming out of the west coast of the United States. A lot of freeform Vinyasa teachers teach this style.

Is it improper to bend sideways and look at your foot with a straightened leg? I can’t really say yes or no, Rui. What I can tell you is that a lot of teachers actually don’t like teaching these Reverse Warriors, because a lot of people jam their lower back. I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other, but I will tell you it’s easy to jam your lower back, because you’re doing an asymmetrical twist while you’re doing a back bend, usually at the beginning of your practice. So I’m not a huge fan of Reverse Warriors as warm-up, but then again lots of people teach it and it’s not a big deal.

So, is it improper? I don’t know if it’s improper. Is it perhaps a way you can jam your lower back in the beginning of your practice? Maybe. So use your best judgment, talk with your teacher.

Upon reaching my limit in this variation of Reverse Warrior, would it place too much strain on my lower back if I straighten out the bent leg? Or is it unadvised or improper to straighten out the forward leg?

Again, this is kind of a strange pose you’re getting into here. I don’t like the idea of that. Again, I’m not going to say it’s good or bad, but I wouldn’t teach or practice that pose. If you’re looking to work on your backbends, I would do it in a lunge, so in a Crescent Lunge pose, where you have a symmetrical curve in your lower back as opposed to that twist and the backbend, that’s the position I don’t like. But again, work with your teacher on that one and use your best judgment.

Pene asks:

I have only one functioning kidney, high uric acid and now I have gout. (Gout is a condition with your kidneys with uric acid.) I am also menopausal. I have been unable to do much yoga, as I tore the tendons in both forearms a year ago and they are still weak. I was looking for dietary and supplement help. I have ordered the Liquid Energy B, Yoga Water-E and YOGABODY Stretch. I understand meat is bad for my condition and dairy is good. Do you have any further thoughts?

What they’re referring to here is meat is bad for gout traditionally, because it increases uric acid. That doesn’t necessarily mean meat will be bad forever, but in the short term, most doctors will recommend people with gout, people with high uric acid, reduce their meat.

The reason dairy is recommended, I think, because of its calcium levels. I don’t know that that’s great advice. I wouldn’t recommend something that’s inflammatory like dairy. But I’m not an expert in gout, so for sure check with your doctor.

In terms of using supplements, for sure something like YOGABODY Stretch or anything with methylsulfonylmethane is really great for healing of connective tissues, so that can be very, very helpful. The key thing here though, that’s a pretty massive injury, so whether you’re working with a physio or a doctor, make sure you follow their advice, and the gout is kind of a separate issue.

Erin asks:

Over the years, I have been told by some yoga instructors that you shouldn’t do inverted poses and your hips should never go higher than you heart when you are menstruating. What are your thoughts on this?

Yoga Asana, as we know it, the practice of yoga poses, physical yoga poses, it was developed and created by men, typically old men in India. So I don’t know your opinion on this, but in terms of my opinion, men don’t know a whole lot about women’s’ bodies, even the smartest ones. And so, my opinion is I’d trust an untrained woman over trusting a male yoga teacher telling men not to go upside down when you’re menstruating. This is something that’s been taught in a lot of different traditions. If you look at the history of menstruation, women are outcasted from societies in travel communities and all kinds of crazy stuff.

To me, this is reminiscent of that. I don’t like it, but again, I’m not a woman, so I don’t know. If you feel lousy and it’s not good for you then don’t do it, but from a physiological standpoint, I’ve done the research and there’s no reason why you couldn’t do an inverted pose, like a headstand, or a forward bend, like you said, when your hips are higher than your heart.

Again, I think this is something ridiculous that some old men made up in India, when yoga was first established, and it’s not just India it’s all over the world, where there’s all sorts of negative stigmas attached to menstruation. But, if you feel bad, if you feel sick, it’s not a good idea to do any yoga probably, or do some kind of gentler practice. At the end of the day, it’s your body so you’ve got to make a decision, but I’d recommend not listening to old men about a woman’s body, because they probably don’t know.

Beata asks:

Do you know if it is safe to eat raw legumes sprouts? I don’t worry about Ecoli. My concern is about phytic acid, which is reduced from soaking only partially.

Good question. Legume sprouts would be things like soybeans you can sprout, you can sprout lentils, you can sprout garbanzos, also called chickpeas. Is it safe to eat them? Yes, it is safe. They’re fantastically rich in amino acids, and they’re also really rich in minerals. As soon as you take a seed and you sprout it, it’s bioavailable mineral content just goes through the roof.

The reason Beata mentions ecoli is because sprouts purchased from grocery stores often have problems with bacteria and molds and things like that. That’s why a lot of people will buy sprouts, put them in their salad and feel like they have a stomachache. If you grow sprouts yourself, which I do in my kitchen every day, I have six tray of sprouts growing right now, they are very, very safe and you don’t have any concerns about molds or bacteria that would come from a grocery store, where your sprouts are in the same vicinity as other dodgy things like raw chicken and eggs and seafood and just handling of workers and things like that.

So phytic acid is something that’s referred to as an anti-nutrient, and you find it in some grains and some beans, and it gets reduced by soaking, it also gets reduced by cooking. And so, a lot of people who bash on vegetarianism, they get caught up on these anti-nutrients, these so-called anti-nutrients, in things like grains and beans and other raw plant foods. And the big thing is, I’ve never met somebody who had vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies from too much phytic acid or too much oxalic acid from spinach or anything like that.

So, I don’t think there’s any reason to be concerned. Now, I think everybody should be concerned about their vitamin and mineral levels. Everybody should be doing regular blood testing and getting checked up by the doctor, because we live in a different world and we live in a world where even the best foods are not as wild or natural as I wish they were and as everybody wishes they were.

But to not eat sprouted legumes because of phytic acid, to me, it’s not a concern. A lot of these things, too, I tend to think there’s a reason for that. Why would nature put oxalic acid in spinach, which helps to pull out some of the calcium that’s in the spinach? Well, part of the reason that it would do that, part of the reason it would pull out the iron rather, is because perhaps you don’t need that much. I’m not sure. We don’t really know, but I tend to think of nature as very intelligent and not random, and so to me I think it’s more of a question than there is an answer to that.

So in terms of phytic acid and oxalic acid and these other so-called anti-nutrients in foods, I’m not sure they’re anti-nutrients. I think maybe they’re there to balance us out. Perhaps if you’re eating a whole lot of plants, maybe you’d end up with too many minerals or too many vitamins, but again, we don’t really know. But I’ve never seen anybody with problems. I wouldn’t worry about it. But for sure, make sure you’re getting your blood tested regularly, at least once every year or two, and getting full profile in terms of getting a full grasp on how your health is doing. That’s everything from your blood sugar levels to a hormone profile to vitamin and minerals, which are much more tricky to test for, but there are ways to test for them.

Kind of a roundabout answer. The more important thing about eating legumes, the challenge with them is legumes are quite starchy, and especially something like a chickpea or a lentil. When it’s sprouted, a lot of people can’t digest that very well and you get an upset stomach, and digestive challenges are much, much more concerning than something like phytic acid. So a digestive challenge is going to impair your ability to absorb nutrients much, much more than any of these so-called anti-nutrients. So I’d be more concerned about that.

Now certain things are much more digestible than others. For example, a sprouted soybean is very, very easy to digest. A sprouted chickpea is still pretty challenging. So you might want to think about sprouting and then lightly cooking some of those legumes.

Legumes are kind of a funny food. They have a really, really interesting nutritional profile, in that they have a lot of protein and minerals and they’re relatively nutrient-dense, for stuff in the plant kingdom. They have some challenges to them, which they generally take quite a bit of preparation, whether it’s sprouting or soaking, rinsing, boiling heavily, and the other challenge is they can be quite starchy if people are dealing with blood sugar issues.

So I think I’ve gone on enough of a rant about legumes. We’ll talk about it more in the future. It’s a great question. Maybe we’ll talk more about phytic acid and oxalic acid in future episodes as well.

Helen asks:

I am doing weight lifting, so I wonder if the YOGABODY Stretch will have a negative impact on that?

Helen, no, it will not. No, it doesn’t. YOGABODY Stretch is a good nutritional supplement for the health, strength, recovery of your body’s connective tissues. That doesn’t in any way impact your weight lifting. If anything, it might decrease your recovery time and help you to feel strong and limber.

Emelina asks:

I have read some info about a way of eating and blood types. (This is an eat right for your blood type diet, it’s a book called “Eat Right for Your Genotype.”) I am a vegetarian and blood type O blood, which means I should be carnivorous. (This is according to this book.) It’s not in my plans to change, but I would like to hear your recommendations for it.

Okay, so the first thing, Emelina, is this book was written by a naturopath. Naturopaths are not medical doctors, they are not biologists. It’s a very different training. Some naturopaths are incredibly, incredibly well trained and smart, others I would say less so. This particular gentleman is very, very bright. This book is very, very interesting, as is his newer book, “Eat Right for Your Genotype,” but there is absolutely no science to back it up. The book has been debunked 1,000 time until Friday.

That said, there are some pretty interesting associations. What happens in the health world, is a lot of people find associations and they think of them as causation. So because a lot of vegetarians tend to be type A blood types, they think you have to be a blood type A to be a vegetarian. So it’s associated, but not cause.

And so there’s an interesting associations. If you’re a food geek like me, it’s worth reading, just to have a look, but if you’re really looking at this from a medical perspective, from a biology perspective, the book is considered a joke, in terms of the actual science behind it. I’m not a medical doctor, I’m not a biologist, I don’t understand on that kind of level, but the reviews I’ve read from people who do, they consider it a joke.

That said, I wouldn’t write it off as a complete joke. There are some interesting things. Again, I think he’s a smart guy, I think he’s a smart author, I just think he’s making a stretch and we’re always looking for a solution where we can just peg people into one category or another, and I don’t think it works that well. I know vegetarians who are all different blood types, and I know people who are type A blood type and they can’t be successful on a vegetarian diet. So I don’t think we can really pin things down that way.

Nicki asks:

Whenever I invert over the seat of a chair or the trapeze at the gym, as I start to come up, I get lightheaded. I want to buy the yoga trapeze for my house, but I’m afraid of being dizzy. Is there a way to lower oneself to the ground without coming back up, so I can avoid lifting my head? Can you explain how to help me overcome this?

Nicki, I don’t really know why, but it goes away. It just starts going away. I remember in my first yoga class, just doing a forward bend, when I would come up, I’d be very, very dizzy, to the point where I’d have to separate my feet, bend my knees and put my hands on my knees, and it just goes away. I don’t know what happens. Does your body’s circulation get more efficient? I don’t know. I don’t know what happens, but something happens and it starts to go away.

Proof of this is if you just watch Olympic gymnasts and they’re doing crazy flips all over the place and they just land on their feet and walk away, without being dizzy, whereas most of us would be spinning and circles and probably vomiting from nausea. So the key thing is, there’s not a real safe way to lower yourself down onto your head. I wouldn’t recommend that. I would just say, stick with it, just take your time, go real slow. When you get dizzy or you get lightheaded, just stop and allow yourself to be lightheaded, take a moment, and I think you’ll find that the sensation and experience of that will pass very quickly.