We get it. You are a busy person trying to swiftly get in and out of the kitchen and looking for quick and healthy recipes. And you figured out that soaking the grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and beans can be skipped and you can still cook them. They may take a little bit more time to cook, but that’s okay considering the hassle of overnight soaking and pre-planning your meals.
But do you know that there are many antinutrients in these foods that inhibit mineral/vitamin absorption and proper digestion of food? These antinutrients include enzyme inhibitors, tannins, lectins, phytic acid, oligosaccharides, gluten and related hard-to-digest proteins. An excess of these antinutrients in your body can lead to bone loss, tooth decay, lowered metabolism, inflammation, allergies, and anemia. Maybe your mom or your grandma does not know about it, but your ancestors had some intuitive knowledge about it.
Seeds germinate with proper warmth, moisture, and acidity. Mother Nature has put this weapon of antinutrients to protect these seeds from insects, predators, virus, bacteria, fungi, and mold. These antinutrients are released when these seeds germinate at the right time when there is enough moisture, acidity and warmth. So if you don’t soak or ferment, then you are going to get those anti-nutrients in your body that are going to bind with your enzymes and minerals and create havoc in your system.
When I made a change to healthy lifestyle seven years ago, I changed everything. The foods that I eat, the products that I apply on my skin, the medicines I take, the perfumes and room fresheners that I inhale but something strange happened to me at that time. Even though I was losing weight and feeling happy about the overall change, my seasonal allergies went haywire, and my acne worsened. I thought I was going through a detox where my body was trying to eliminate all the gunk I accumulated over the years through my skin and respiratory system. Eventually, I found out that I am allergic to wheat, almonds, and chocolate with the help of keeping a food diary. As soon as I avoided/reduced these foods, things got better. After understanding the adverse effects of these antinutrients that are especially high in whole wheat, almonds, and cacoa, I got the inkling that these foods may have flared me up. Now that I have started soaking them or using sprouted flours and grains from my pantry on unprepared days, I see a huge difference in my skin and digestive health.
So now is a good time to go back to your roots. Soak those brown rice, quinoa, beans, legumes and nuts in warm water. Phytase, a natural enzyme found in these foods need to be activated to enhance absorption, and the best way to do it is soaking in an acidic medium. You can add a spoon of lemon or vinegar for that. Sprouting and fermenting also helps beneficial enzymes to be activated. Soaking also increases the vitamin content, especially B vitamins. It also breaks down gluten for easy absorption and makes protein readily available for absorption.Now I bet you are getting some clues of why autoimmune disorders and digestive disorders are on the rise these days.
Soaking beans with a piece of kombu and removing the foam while boiling helps to eliminate the gas issues you complain about. If Kombu sounds foreign to you, try soaking and boiling a cinnamon stick along with legumes
|Type||Hours to soak||Medium|
|Whole grain flour||12-24 hrs||warm water in acidic medium|
|Whole grains||18-24 hrs||same as above|
|Legumes||12-36 hrs||Hot water. Add kombu to reduce gas.|
|Nuts||7-18 hrs||Warm salt water|
|Seeds||6 hrs||Warm salt water|
|For every 1 cup use one tsp lemon or vinegar|
Some other facts to consider if you are getting serious about soaking:
1. The antinutrient phytic acid is higher in foods grown using modern high phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost.
2. People with healthy gut microflora can adjust to a diet high in phytic acid. So start taking a good probiotic or fermented foods.
3. Fresh flour has a higher level of beneficial enzyme phytase to neutralize the phytic acid than old flour. Some people grind their grains at home for this reason, but I am not going in there as I understand your busy schedule.
4. Wheat and rye have higher levels of phytase, while oats, brown rice, corn, and millet have less of this good guy. So adding some rye flour while soaking to these phytase low grains will help activate phytase
5. Sourdough breads are low in phytic acid, so they are good to be added to your diet if you are a bread person.
6. If you eat a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, healthy fats and lacto fermented foods you would do fine with less damaging effects of these antinutrients.
7. Stone ground flours are better as they have more phytase than commercial ground flours due to high heating.
Sources and Additional Reading:
Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. January 1, 2000, Be Kind to Your Grains…And Your Grains Will Be Kind To You
Ramiel Nagel, March 26, 2010, Living with Phytic Acid