Tuesday, November 21, 2017

More soup for you! And you, too! Soup for everyone!

I just wrote a long comment on Joanne Jacob's blog, where she posted recently about charter schools not being able to close the gender gap that is leaving more and more boys out in the cold educationally. In it, I call for a rebirth of soup popularity. It's almost winter; surely that's not too controversial a call! Below is what I wrote in the comment:

Boys are more fragile when it comes to ADHD and autism (which look similar on brain scans - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160727110911.htm). A girl may have ADHD and still get acceptable grades because spaciness alone doesn't usually create a discipline issue, while boys' higher physical energy combined with ADHD does create discipline issues and greatly disrupts their classrooms and their own educational paths. No charter is going to solve ADHD and autism just with a different school culture.

We need to find a way to ameliorate and/or prevent ADHD and autism. I might have mentioned this before, but I think a possible key is easily absorbable glycine betaine in the diet. Glycine betaine is an osmoprotectant (i.e., it protects cell walls from perturbation by dissociated aqueous NaCl) which can nevertheless be easily boiled out of plant cells. Those regions where they frequently consume the water in which glycine betaine-containing food was boiled (i.e., cuisines including barszcz, palak/spinach, and beverages/soups made with wheat and rye) are experiencing much lower burdens of autism (e.g., Poland with 1/40th the autism of the USA). 

I've been testing glycine betaine (AKA trimethylglycine) with my own Aspie child by putting it in our family milk and increasing intake of pasta cooking water and palak paneer. Glycine betaine is an inexpensive supplement because it's a byproduct of making beet sugar, and beets are one of the best vegetable sources of glycine betaine. Spinach and amaranth are two other good vegetable sources. Wheat and rye are also good grain sources of glycine betaine in the European-style diet. Glycine betaine's value lies in its role in supporting the function of the enzyme betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase, which catalyzes transformation of homocysteine to methionine, important because the next molecule, SAM-e, is used for carrying out DNA methylation. My Aspie child's emotions are stable now; the last time she had a big meltdown was when she'd been traveling and hadn't had supplemental glycine betaine for a while.

If I had a charter school, I'd add beet/rye/spinach soups to the lunch menu and see what happens. If I ran a regular public school, I'd do the same. We should learn from the Poles. The drive for convenience that has us draining away our cooking water in the West appears to be a big waste of easily-utilized, important nutrients. It's time for a soup renaissance.

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