Essay

Weeds, anti-nutrients, and your flaws

By Duff McDuffee on June 10th, 2016 1

Weeds don’t exist. I mean the plants exist, you can see them in your lawn. The little yellow dandelions grow regardless of your desire for a perfectly green expanse. But whether a plant is a “weed” or not is a matter of opinion. A weed is simply something you’d prefer not to have growing where it is growing. But to the plant, it is quite happy to be growing there, just as you are quite happy to be living where you are living — a place that used to belong to other plants and animals until it was cleared for human use. And dandelions make a medicinal tea, or the leaves can be eaten as food. What counts as a weed is relative to the context.

Anti-nutrients don’t exist. I mean phytates and phytic acid exist certainly. And phytic acid does bind to minerals in the digestive tract. But most phytate is also destroyed in the stomach and small intestine. And phytic acid also functions as an antioxidant when it binds to minerals, perhaps even being responsible for the cardioprotective effects of whole grains and vegetables. Phytic acid fights cancer, prevents kidney stones, and reduces insulin sensitivity. Phytic acid also binds to heavy metals such as lead, helping them to be eliminated from the body. So is it a nutrient, or an anti-nutrient? Zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron all use the same transporter in the gut, and when the transporter is maxed out the rest gets excreted. So any of these vital nutrients could be considered a nutrient or an anti-nutrient, depending on the context.

Your flaws don’t exist. I mean yes, you have limitations, and those limitations are sometimes painful or even debilitating. But consider the woman who is “OCD” at home, organizing her personal bookshelf by the Dewey Decimal system. Perhaps she is a librarian or an engineer. Consider the man who is always seeing what could go wrong. Perhaps he is an insurance adjuster or a lawyer. In the right context, your “flaws” are strengths. It can be useful to learn how to “switch modes” when in a different context of course, but getting rid of these aspects of yourself is not useful, even if it were possible.

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