Since going grain free we have been consuming a lot of nuts and seeds and while we feel so much better for not eating grains I have been reading and discovered how we should be soaking (or activating) our nuts and seeds before consuming them.
Why? Read on….
All nuts, seeds, grains, legumes are essentially seeds for that particular plant and all contain the right nutrients and minerals to germinate and become a plant. But as all gardeners know conditions have to be right for the seed to grow and the nutrient which halts this until the right conditions is called Phytic Acid, a compound that inhibits Phytase an enzyme that is involved in the germination of the seed.
Phytic acid not only keeps seeds from sprouting — it also helps to protect them from predators. Its enzyme-inhibiting activity blocks digestive enzymes so that seeds stay intact as they pass through the digestive system of animals that eat them.
Phytic acid is considered an anti-nutrient because it binds to minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper and iron in the intestines, blocking their absorption and carrying them out of the body. Ruminants (cattle, bison, sheep, deer, etc.) are the only animals that possess phytase, which allows them to digest the phytic acid found in the cereal grasses they eat. In humans, consuming high levels of phytic acid — which often happens as part of a “healthy high-fiber diet”— can lead to digestive distress, mineral deficiencies and a whole host of associated maladies. Research has linked phytic acid consumption to anemia, bone loss, tooth decay, depression, compromised immunity and inflammation. – http://www.wakeup-world.com
So while we are trying to choose healthier options for ourselves and our families buying things like almond meal, flaxseed meal, Almond butter, peanut butter etc (already ground seeds and nuts) there is a pretty god chance these haven’t been soaked/sprouted so contain Phytic Acid (I am yet to find a pack of pre ground nuts/seeds that states they have been soaked).
Best bet is to get back to basics. Buy whole seeds and nuts and soak them then grind them yourself. Soaking is easy peasey, place nuts/seeds into a large container and cover with water, then add 1 Tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. For something different you could use buttermilk. Nuts and seeds only need to be soaked 2 – 12 hours (I do ours overnight) and if you are using grains they need a bit longer 12 – 24 hours (refer to Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions instructions and recipes for grains).
Soaking grains, beans, nuts and seeds unlocks theirs “life force” and activates phytase, which starts to break down phytic acid, while also freeing up vitamins, minerals and amino acids, making these nutrients more bioavailable. Fermenting grains (think sourdough bread) is another way to reduce phytic acid by essentially “pre-digesting” it.
Here is a sprouting chart that breaks it down a bit more:
*You will notice Rice is on there too, rice is all too often over looked as it isn’t as commonly used in cakes, biscuits and bread but yes we need to soak rice too.