Health benefits of raw oats

¦ My elderly aunt puts 4 dessertspoonfuls of porridge oats and some milk into a dish and eats it.

She says raw oats have all the goodness of cooked oats. Is she right? I hope she is, it would save me a lot of time in the morning when rushing to work.

>> Your aunt is quite right — in fact many people argue that raw oats have even more health benefits than cooked oats.

During the early 1900s, Dr Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss pioneer in nutrition, developed a simple raw oat-based muesli to be taken at the beginning of each meal for improving health and digestion.

Oats (avena sativa) have been linked with reducing cholesterol levels, balancing blood sugar, helping to lower blood pressure, encouraging regular bowel movements, providing a valuable source of carbohydrates for athletic performance, promoting nerve health, assisting with weight management, and even as an important food for longevity.

Oats have a higher concentration of well-balanced protein than other commonly used cereals due to having such an impressive amino acid profile, plus they contain essential fatty acids and phytonutrients which help to protect the body against chronic disease and maintain general health and wellbeing.

Oats are a good source of most vitamins and minerals, and beta glucan — crucial in infection management and faster wound healing.

Try this simple Dr Bircher-Benner muesli recipe:

1 tablespoon rolled oats

2 tablespoons water or milk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 large unpeeled apple, grated

Optional extras: pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger

2 tablespoons of chopped almonds

1 tablespoon of dried fruit

1 tablespoon of yoghurt 1 teaspoon of honey

Soak the oats in the milk or water for at least 30 minutes (Dr Bircher recommended soaking overnight), then add the other ingredients, stir together and enjoy.

¦ For some time I have been getting cramps at night in my legs. They are particularly bad during cold weather.

I often have to get out of bed, as my legs stiffen up and get painful. Of late, I have been getting cramps in my hands and the joints get locked.

I am 85 years and in fairly good shape for my age. I also suffer from fatigue. I have a good appetite. I feel the cold a lot in winter.

>> Cramping of the legs at night can be an issue as we age due to weakening circulation and nerve health, however it can happen to people of all ages.

There is some research suggesting that a deficiency in potassium is to blame, and in fact there are a number of people who swear by eating potassium-rich foods at each meal to eliminate night cramping.

Bananas, apricots, nectarines, dates, grapes, raisins, oranges, grapefruit, beans, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, pork, lamb, and saltwater fish are all rich in potassium.

The other tried-and-true remedy, which my 84-year-old grandmother swears by, is the tissue salt combination called Mag Phos.

This is an important cell salt for muscular tissue, and helps with smooth and coherent muscular action. A deficiency in Mag Phos leads to the contraction of nerve fibres, which causes cramps and spasms.

You can find New Era’s Mag Phos in most health stores, and some pharmacies for around €5 for 450 soluble tablets. Tissue salts can be taken both as a preventative remedy, and to help with the onset of the cramps.

For prevention, take four tablets three times daily. If you wake up with your legs or hands cramping, take four tablets every half hour until the cramps are gone.

Keeping hydrated is important in managing muscular cramps, so make sure that you are getting enough water.

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