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Can Quinoa Cause Cramps?

22 August 2016

This blog was inspired by something I just went through so I really want to pass on what I’ve learnt, in the hope that it may help others, maybe even you?

So we’ve all heard of this popular food that has been in the spotlight now for the past 10 or so years. It’s used to replace rice and other grains because it’s not actually a grain (it’s a seed) and it contains no gluten.

Quinoa is high in fibre, protein and many essential nutrients for good health but this may not always be the safer option, let me explain…

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You see, on the weekend, I went to have a colonic (as I’m detoxing) and stopped in at the local raw food, vegan restaurant to grab a healthy lunch.

The dish that I really wanted (some peanut and rice concoction) was all out and so being the impatient person that I am, I grabbed what was left in the fridge which was a salad with walnuts, orange and quinoa. It’s funny because as I was eating it I just remembered what happened to me the last few times I’d eaten quinoa and that was severe belly pain!

This time it didn’t hit me until I got home (because I was preoccupied buying myself some new bikinis). Boy oh BOY did it hit me!! I couldn’t even finish the delicious meal of fresh fish and veggies I’d prepared, I had to go lay down on the couch.

Knowing from past experiences with tummy pain I knew what needed to be done so I grabbed my trusty hot water bottle and lay there like a sack of potatoes (feeling quite sorry for myself). Luckily, I have a kind husband and he grabbed the coconut and peppermint oil and massaged my abdomen in a clock-wise circular direction which really helped to ease the pain by releasing gas that the food in question had caused and yes I too like everyone else fart LOL!

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Curious about this experience, I did some research on the internet to see if anyone else had similar reactions to eating this superfood. Turns out that many people have and so I thought I’d take to Facebook and ask the same question and what I realised is that I may have not been eating activated quinoa!

What is activated quinoa?

To activate just means to make the nutrients more available and digestible and to prevent any blocking of key vitamins and minerals that’s contained in the food. It is done by reducing the anti-nutrients in that particular plant food (such as phytic acid). The main reason why most nuts upset peoples tummy is because of the phytic acid.

When you soak and activate your favourite, not only do they taste better (especially if you sprinkle salt over them while they're drying out) but they are better for you.

This is the same for grains, seeds, and legumes.

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But How do You ‘Activate’ these Foods?

By soaking them. Soaking grains is a process that’s been taking place for centuries and it’s also known as ‘culturing’. This process helps to break down anti-nutrients and other components that are hard to digest and break down, but not only that, it also helps to release the essential nutrients and that’s the whole darn point of eating isn’t it?

Substances to Avoid and Why We Soak

Saponin (found in quinoa) is a soapy kind of substance that should be washed out of this superfood before cooking and that’s because it can be mildly toxic and may cause digestive upset and severe cramps (as I experienced recently!). Not fun!

Phytic Acid is an anti-nutrient found in grains, seeds, nuts and legumes and prevents your body from absorbing the nutrients contained. Consuming foods high in phytic acid can cause mineral deficiencies that lead to unhealthy bones and teeth. They can also block the absorption of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. This acid may cause the body to leech calcium, affect metabolism and also contribute to anaemia.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom because there’s a substance produced through activation that helps to break down the phytic acid and it’s called phytase.

So before I instruct you to activate quinoa I urge you to consider this practice and once you’ve been doing it a few times and see (and most importantly feel) the difference, you’ll more than likely want to keep doing it for the rest of your life.

How to Activate Quinoa Properly

  1. Take 200g organic quinoa (Organic always better option without a doubt) and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Put the rinsed seeds into a container and cover with pure filtered water (tap water is never ideal).
  3. Add in an acid to help with the breakdown of the insoluble fatty layer that quinoa contains (it’s a natural insect repellent). Use 2 tbsp of lemon juice if you can or ACV (apple cider vinegar) if you can’t get lemons.
  4. Give this a gentle stir and cover with a lid or some cling film.
  5. Leave out on the bench (not in the fridge) for 12-24 hours. 24 hours is the goal!
  6. Once you’ve rinsed it you’re ready to go.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve had any similar experiences with quinoa or other foods and if activated/soaking helped at all. Leave your comment below and let’s have a discussion.

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*Disclaimer: the information in this article is intended purely as information and not health advice. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure and one should always seek expert advice from their trusted health practitioner.

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