In a nutshell: anti-nutrients are compounds that interrupt the absorption of nutrients.
Buying grain products like Ezekiel that come from a soaked and sprouted source is gaining popularity. Even now, at Whole Foods, consumers have the choice in a section of the store’s bulk section to choose from a variety of soaked and sprouted grains, nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans. But, why is this soaked and sprouted method of buying and consuming grains gaining so much popularity?
Because of our modern agriculture practices, natural foods like grains aren’t what they were 100 years ago. Many grains such as wheat are genetically modified and are grown in less nutrient-dense soils. Then, after being grown, these foods are exposed to other doses of harsh chemicals and processing techniques. But, because of the changes in modern agriculture, foods are higher than ever before in components such as gluten and something called anti-nutrients.
Anti-nutrients can be naturally occurring but can also be synthetic; they are compounds that interrupt or interfere with the body’s ability to properly and fully absorb nutrients. So, when we eat a food containing either natural or synthetic anti-nutrients, it causes the body to be less nourished, more depleted, and can disrupt and bother the digestive system, leading to inflammation and other digestive issues.
For this reason, the popularity of soaked and sprouted foods has increased, because when foods such as grains or nuts are soaked, certain anti-nutrients such as phytic acids are released into the water where they can be strained and rinsed off. From there, sprouting takes it a step further and actually works to pre-digest the food. Sprouted foods are often lower in starch, higher in nutrients, higher in enzyme activity, and higher in antioxidants. When a food has been soaked and sprouted, it becomes more nourishing, less inflammatory, and more easily digestible.
Anti-nutrients can occur naturally in some foods, which doesn’t necessarily make those food unhealthy, but it’s important to be aware of what the main anti-nutrients are and where they are found. Let’s take a look at some of the main anti-nutrients, where they are found, and how to best consume them.
Phytic Acid depletes iron, chromium, copper, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and vitamins B3 and D. It’s primarily found in wheat & grain products, oats, corn, beans, seeds, nuts, brown rice, soy products, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, figs, strawberries, and apples. It’s best to reduce phytates by eating grains, nuts, seeds, and beans that are soaked and sprouted
Oxalic Acid depletes magnesium, iron, and calcium and can be found in spinach, wheat, buckwheat, peanut butter, beets, Swiss chard, nuts, rhubarb, beans, potatoes, quinoa, celery, soy, okra, tomatoes, sesame seeds, and carrots. It’s best to reduce oxalates by cooking the vegetables high in oxalates rather than consuming them in a raw state
Lectins are very sticky protein molecules that coat the digestive tract, which makes it hard to digest and absorb all nutrients and are primarily found in rice, wheat, spelt, rye, barley, soy, beans, seeds, nuts, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and hot peppers. It’s best to reduce lectin intake by soaking, sprouting and fermenting grains, nuts, seeds, and beans and by cooking these high lectin foods
These deplete vitamins A, D, E, and K and are often found in soy, beans, grains, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables. It’s best to reduce trypsin inhibitor intake by cooking foods which are high in it.
Phosphoric Acid can deplete magnesium, calcium, iron, and manganese. It is primarily found in carbonated drinks (especially soda pop), and flavored waters. The best way to reduce or eliminate intake is to completely eliminate these foods from the diet
So, the message is while not all anti-nutrients can be avoided, nor are all anti-nutrient containing foods unhealthy, making sure to be aware of them, their sources, and how to best reduce intake is going to go a long way in helping your body digest well, maintain health, and be properly nourished.