So you went on a health kick and started eating more nuts. You pack almonds as a mid-morning snack, you slather almond butter on apple slices, and you top your salads with chopped walnuts. You did all of this to make better food choices, but instead of feeling better, you feel bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable after eating. What’s the deal?
You’re wondering why eating some nuts can upset your stomach. The kind of feeling that causes pain and or uncomfortable bloating. We’ll I have the answer for you!!
This is something I have actually been exploring for a few years now, after noticing that I don’t actually digest nuts so easily. I would get bloated, gassy, and felt uncomfortable after eating them. So, I wanted to know what was going on. This is what I found!
There are some compounds naturally present in all grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. This compound prevents them from germinating or sprouting before they’re ready, or before they’re in ideal conditions.
This compound is called Phytate or Phytatic Acid. Phytate is like a magnet for minerals, binding them up until the seed has started to germinate. It holds onto minerals to prevent the grain, nut, seed, or legume from fueling the enzyme that would naturally let the seed germinate and grow into a new plant. We’re talking important minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.
Unlike humans, if an animal eats the nut, it could pass through the digestive system unharmed and possibly have a chance to sprout and grow a whole new plant. SO cool right?!
Unfortunately, humans don’t have this enzyme that animals do to break down Phytate. Therefore, we get a nut or seed moving through our system that our organs can’t digest very easily. This is why we have an uncomfortable feeling afterward.
Thankfully, there is a way around it!! This is something a lot of Eastern cultures have been practicing for thousands of years and have uncovered this without knowing the science behind it.
Soaking, sprouting or fermenting naturally break down the Phytate acid, letting those minerals release, actually tracking the seed, so it lets down its defenses.
What’s cool about it is that traditional cultures (and even some animals) figured this out long ago. It’s not just nuts and seeds, but also grains and legumes that are subject to special preparation.
- Ever notice how squirrels will gather seeds and bury them for later?
- What about how acorns were soaked by Native Americans before being consumed?
- Or how the Scottish would soak their oats overnight before cooking and save leftovers in a wooden “porridge drawer” in the kitchen, which would ferment and be eaten over the course of the week?
Another huge benefit to doing the prep work of soaking the nuts is because the enzyme inhibitors are now in the water!! You have no clue what enzyme inhibitors are? Right, I left that out. Why they are SO great is because they allow fast absorption of all the fantastic vitamins and minerals – cutting out the middleman.
It is so important to soak the almonds because when we don’t do a pre-soak, about 10-15% of the calories in nuts aren’t absorbed. Like the osmosis experiments, you performed in Biology Class with the cell membrane and dye.
(The almonds in the photo have been soaking in COLD water for 48 hours.)
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, the nuts aren’t going to be crunchy or crispy anymore. This is true. To solve this, after you soak the nuts for 8-48 hours, you want to put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at the lowest temperature for 12-24 hours. If you have a dehydrator, use that but if you don’t the oven is all yours!
After soaking them and drying them out again in the oven – you are guaranteed a delicious, crispier nut than ever before! Plus, more nutritious. 🙂
**If you’ve tried the whole soaking-and-dehydrating-nuts thing and you’re STILL having issues like bloating, gas, and indigestion from eating nuts, it’s a good idea to get tested for food sensitivities.
Well there ya have it! Let me know your thoughts! I would love to hear if the pre-soaking worked for you! If you have questions or want to share your experiences, I love hearing them!
Peace & Plants
Hannah the Vegan