Do you need to be concerned with anti-nutrients? The answer is, “it depends.” The problem may not have to do with the foods themselves, but rather your specific vulnerabilities. Let’s simplify and give real solutions to minimizing the effects of them.
What are Anti-nutrients?
Anti-nutrients are compounds found in plant foods like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and various fruits and vegetables that prevent absorption of nutrition. This happens when these anti-nutrients bind to other nutrients.
Nature has a reason for anti-nutrients. They repel insects and even animals, so seeds can reproduce.
Humans can get ill-effects from these foods containing these compounds. But guess what? These anti-nutrients are also phyto-nutrients that have cancer fighting potential among other benefits. Don’t toss these plant foods just yet.
Here are some of the common anti-nutrients known today:
- Lectins – found in wheat, legumes, tomatoes, peanuts, soy, rice, potatoes, binding to carbohydrates preventing nutrition absorption. Often causes gas, bloating, and indigestion.
- Saponins – found in legumes (creating the foaming characteristic) among other foods affecting the gut lining which may cause leaky gut and autoimmune disorders.
- Tannins – found in tea. An enzyme inhibitor that may cause protein deficiency.
- Phytates – found in grains and legumes, reducing iron absorption among other nutrients. Vitamin C can counteract phytates.
- Oxalates – found in raw spinach, chard, kale, nuts, seeds, chocolate, caffeine and blueberries affecting those vulnerable to calcium/oxalate kidney stones, gallbladder and digestive issues. Prevents absorption of fatty acids, calcium, among other nutrients.
- Gluten – protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, hinders enzymes causing digestive challenges like leaky gut.
- Solanine – found in nightshade vegetables like peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.
- Isoflavones – found in soybeans that may cause digestive and hormonal issues.
It’s Not Me, It’s You
Nature does a pretty darn good job creating perfect plant foods – ones that repel bugs (to a point), yet offer amazing nutrition and disease-fighting properties. So why all the fuss with these amazing health foods?
Turns out, it’s not the food that is the problem. It’s us. Our bodies may not be in perfect shape to handle these perfect foods. After the introduction of convenience foods i.e. junk foods, overly processed, added chemicals and toxins, fast food and the crazy amount of sugar in our foods today, our bodies have changed, period.
To over-simplify, digestive health is suffering causing loads of other issues including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, neurological diseases, and more.
Do Anti-nutrients Affect Me Personally?
You know your body and your vulnerabilities better than anyone. And understanding your body will guide you to determine if you need to limit some of these foods.
For example, if you happen to suffer from calcium/oxalate kidney stones, it may be wise for you to watch your intake of foods containing oxalates.
If you have inflammation and joint pain, it may be wise to test your body for nightshade vegetables.
If you suffer from calcium deficiency, you may want to watch oxalate consumption and add calcium and magnesium citrate with meals to bind excess oxalates.
If you suffer from anemia, it may be wise to watch intake of phytates (grains and beans) and be sure to soak and pressure cook beans to reduce the effects of them.
And most importantly, if you suffer from any health issues, focus on cleaning, healing, and supporting your gut for the best chance of reclaiming health and vitality. And when you do so, you won’t need to worry about anti-nutrients because your body knows how to handle these “perfect” foods.
Reduce Effects of Anti-nutrients
You can certainly watch your intake of anti-nutrients but that also prevents you from getting all the amazing properties of these foods. Instead, limit intake for those anti-nutrients that may be negatively impacting you today. Here are some other tips to consider:
- Soaking, sprouting, and even fermenting nuts, seeds, grains will greatly reduce anti-nutrient effect AND boost the nutrition bioavailability of these foods.
- Cooking foods also may reduce anti-nutrients effects.
- Focus on digestive health to prevent negative impact of these anti-nutrients.
- Gene testing can determine what you may be susceptible to.
- Consider avoiding concentrated amounts of these anti-nutrients. For example, juicing raw spinach or kale (which uses massive amounts of these raw foods) will give your body concentrated amounts of anti-nutrients. Your body may or may not find it challenging to process. Smoothies may be a better choice.
I hope this simplifies anti-nutrients for you. I encourage you to investigate those that may be of concern for you personally. Feel free to ask questions, give feedback and personal experience in the comments below.
To your abundant health….
Author, teacher, speaker, Linda J. Curry is passionate about educating the importance of food on our overall health bringing empowerment and good health to those willing to learn. Linda’s motto, “Attaining health one bite at a time,” is achieved through simplifying nutrition and healthy food preparation without sacrificing taste. Ask about personal plant-based cooking instruction and health consultations.