Just like humans, plants, and particularly grains, legumes, nuts and seeds , have evolved a number of adaptations to survive and thrive in the face of threats in their environment. One of their most powerful lines of defense are anti-nutrients, which include phytic acid, saponins, lectins and other enzyme inhibitors. These anti-nutrients protect seeds against premature germination and help ward off predators.
Risks associated with anti-nutrients
When we consume these types of plants in their raw state, we also consume these anti-nutrients. And although some studies indicate that they have certain beneficial properties for the body, when consumed regularly and in large quantities as in the modern diet, they can become problematic:
- They bind to minerals in the intestinal tract, preventing their absorption, resulting in deficiencies, bone loss, irritable bowel syndrome, and in some cases, neurological damage.
- They also act as an enzyme inhibitor blocking the production of amylase, trypsin and pepsin, which are essential for the correct breakdown and digestion of starch and proteins. However, poorly digested foods are likely to weaken our intestinal walls and promote bacterial proliferation.
- Finally, lectins (including gluten) are proteins that have the ability to survive human digestion and irritate the digestive walls leading, among other things, to intestinal hyperpermeability, chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
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The solution: a return to ancestral preparation techniques ;)
The harmful effects of consuming these anti-nutrients have led many people to eliminate grains, legumes, nuts and seeds from their diet. But if this can prove useful and therapeutic at first, it is important to reintroduce them afterwards to benefit from a sufficient intake of prebiotic fibers (good for our small intestinal bacteria). And to do it right, the wisdom of our ancestors reveals forgotten preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting, and fermentation that neutralize most anti-nutrients, increase the bioavailability of beneficial nutrients, and improve the digestibility of this type of food. 'food.
In practice :
- Soaking : immerse whole grains, legumes or nuts in water for a few hours (it is best to do this the evening before and let them soak overnight, but if you only have two hours to spare, that's already good too), before rinsing them carefully and cooking them normally or consuming them.
- Germination (mainly done for seeds): once soaked and rinsed, you can leave them in the open air in a container for a few hours. A small germ appears very quickly. The seeds are then ready to be used, to their full nutritional potential! Eat them quickly and store them in the refrigerator.