Anti-nutrients are natural compounds found in a variety of foods that interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. These include:
Lectins are a type of protein that are found in beans, nuts, grains and nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant).
Lectins can damage the intestinal lining. When lectins affect the gut wall, it may also cause a broader immune system response as the body’s defenses move in to attack the invaders. Symptoms can include skin rashes, joint pain and general inflammation.
Luckily, you do not need to avoid all foods that contain lectins because many of them (like almonds) are nutritious.
Soaking, fermenting, sprouting and cooking will decrease lectins and free up the good nutrients.
Sprouting seeds, grains or beans decreases the lectin content. Generally, the longer the duration of sprouting, the more lectins are deactivated.
Soaking and cooking – Soak beans and legumes for at least 12 hours and change the water often. Drain and rinse again before cooking. Adding baking soda to the soaking water may help neutralise the lectins further.
Fermenting – Fermentation allows beneficial bacteria to digest and convert many of the harmful substances.
Phytates bind with nutrients such as zinc, iron and magnesium, inhibiting absorption and can raise the risk of iron and zinc deficiency.
Grains, nuts, legumes and seeds are high in phytates.
Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to significantly reduce the phytate content of foods.
Oxalic acid are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants and animals. Oxalic acid binds with minerals such as calcium and magnesium which form a salt known as an oxalate and when bound, renders these minerals useless to the body.
Oxalates can become problematic if they overaccumulate inside our body. The key site for problems with overaccumulation is our kidneys.
Symptoms of high oxalates retention in the body are:
Foods high in oxalates:
Fortunately, high oxalate foods are tolerated by most people who are not at special risk of kidney stone formation, as long we don’t excessively consume them over long periods.
Anti-nutrients can significantly reduce the nutritional value of many plant foods. However, unless a qualified doctor has diagnosed you with a medical condition that warrants limiting your intake of foods that are high in anti-nutrients, there is absolutely no health benefit to avoiding these foods because many of them are nutritious.
A better solution is to neutralised the anti-nutrients with a few simple methods such as heating, boiling, soaking, sprouting and fermenting. By combining different methods, many anti-nutrients can be degraded which allows you to enjoy these highly nutritious foods.