On “Anti Nutrients”…

While the term “anti-nutrient” sounds like a science fiction concept, there are in fact a large number of elements in common foods that either neutralize or counter-act absorption of some of our better known nutrients, functioning as enzyme inhibitors (of proteases, lipases, and amylases), competitive inhibitors, chelators, or gastrointestinal irritants. Phytates, lectins, glutens, flavonoids, glucosinolates, oxalates, interfere with their absorption, or even contribute to nutrient losses.  Wikipedia provides a brief overview here.  So if you are wondering why you can’t get your iron stores up, or why you may have low stores of calcium or magnesium, or iodine, think of anti-nutrients that may be pervasive in your diet.

What is troubling is just how common these are, and especially in which foods they are commonest.  Natural, unprocessed foods, which would normally be thought of as healthy and a great source of a number of nutrients, are among the worst offenders as having high concentrations of anti-nutrients.  Nuts, whole grains, beans, and seeds….all good foods, yet high in phytates and other anti-nutrients.

So for your reading pleasure: Try a few good links,especially here, but also here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Or copy these links:

http://www.themindfulfoodie.com/2012/08/23/why-the-modern-way-of-eating-nuts-grains-legumes-isnt-safe-how-to-make-activated-nuts/

http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid

http://chriskresser.com/another-reason-you-shouldnt-go-nuts-on-nuts

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/nuts-and-phytic-acid/#axzz244DesOKs

http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/be-kind-to-your-grains

http://naturalbias.com/a-hidden-danger-with-nuts-grains-and-seeds/?LS-2659

http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2010/09/phytic-acid-in-nuts-seeds-cocoa-and-coconut.html

 

While most of us tolerate small amounts of these antinutrients (celiacs are an exception), larger amounts of raw foods regularly in the diet may pose problems for proper digestion of some important nutrients.  In many cases fermentation, cooking, soaking and malting can reduce the effect of these anti-nutrients.

Have a hard look at your diet.  If you habitually eat large amounts of unprocessed nuts, seeds, grains or some vegetables, you may be contributing to a chronic malabsorption of an essential metabolite, often a mineral such as iodine, zinc, potassium, calcium, iron, or magnesium.  And the consequence of that may be many health problems, some of which are hard to diagnose:  frequent illness, generalized fatigue, weakness, osteoporosis, arrhythmia, goiter, maldigestive symptoms, and the like.