If you are not allergic to nuts, they are a great addition to your daily diet. Just a small handful of nuts provides a great amount of protein, fibre, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals. Nuts pack a powerful nutrition punch! However for many people, nuts can leave you feeling sluggish, bloated and not so well.
Feeling sluggish and bloated is a sign that your digestive system is under load, and nuts can certainly do this for one main reason – an enzyme inhibitor. Enzymes are the little beasts that break down food in our digestive tract, and enzyme inhibitors are present in seeds and nuts to protect them being broken down prematurely when consumed by insects. Unfortunately, it also means that our digestion also has challenges digesting nuts because of the enzyme inhibitor – but problem solved if you can remove the enzyme inhibitor, and that’s where soaking and then dehydrating your nuts comes into play. When you soak your nuts for a certain amount of time the nut or seed begins to activate, and so the enzyme inhibitor is no longer needed. Digestion woe solved!
I think it is important to discuss phytic acid here also. Many sources will cite phytic acid is a reason to avoid nuts, and most notably the Paleo movement draws negativity to phytic acid because it cannot be broken down by our digestive system and it binds with minerals such as zinc and calcium so that we cannot absorb them. Whilst there are some scientific studies around this, the reality is that phytic acid, which is also found in seeds, potatoes, legumes and whole grains, is actually a positive nutrient which is important for our bodies. It is capable of lowering blood glucose and lipids, reducing calcification in our kidneys (kidney stones) and providing antioxidants (1). For this reason, I don’t believe that we should be activating nuts to get rid of phytic acid – that said, activating them removes most of the phytic acid anyway.
Back to activating nuts.
If you’ve looked in a health food store lately, you’ve possibly decided that activated nuts are outside your price bracket. Issue understood! You can activate your own. The only caveat here is, please use organic nuts and seeds when you activate your nuts – no point in consuming the systemic pesticides found in many nuts when you’re trying to do something positive for your health.
Schlemmer, U, Frølich, W, Prieto, RM, & Grases, F 2009, ‘Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis’, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol. 53 Suppl 2, pp. S330-S375. Available from: 10.1002/mnfr.200900099. [3 February 2018].