Sunday, March 20, 2011

Anti-Nutrients: A Dirty Little Secret

All seeds (I'm grouping grains, legumes, seeds and nuts together here) share something in common. Something that is usually left out when you hear about what an important source of energy, protein and nutrients they are. What you may not have heard is that they all contain anti-nutrients as well.

If the word anti-nutrient sounds ominous, that's because it is. Anti-nutrients are substances, that when consumed, absorb and bind to nutrients in our body and can lead to nutritional deficiencies, organ stress, inflammation, gastrointestinal difficulties, among other things. Essentially, anti-nutrients are toxins and can become a heavy burden for our immune systems.

So, why do seeds contain anti-nutrients? For survival. They are a plant's defense mechanism and are designed to do damage to whatever tries to eat them: bacteria, fungi, pests, animals, and humans alike.

Traditional preparation methods, such as soaking and fermentation, have been shown to reduce the levels of anti-nutrients in these foods, but not all. However, the food we are buying from the supermarket is not being prepared in such a way as to minimize anti-nutrients. Health Canada recommends that the average person consume 6-8 servings of grains daily. Nuts, seeds and legumes have not even been factored into that equation. That's a hefty dose of anti-nutrients for your body to deal with on a daily basis!

The good news is this: a growing number of people are becoming aware of the copious amounts of anti-nutrients in their diet and are opting for a different way of eating. They are choosing to prepare their grains, legumes, nuts and seeds more traditionally, reduce the amount they consuming or are removing them from their diets altogether.

I will be talking about many of the different kinds of anti-nutrients in upcoming posts, so stay tuned.

The New Evolution Diet, by Arthur De Vany
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

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