Phytic acid is a popular anti-nutrient that interferes with mineral absorption in your gut by locking a high percentage of phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. For example, 80% of the phosphorous found in pumpkin seeds and 80% of the zinc found in chickpeas is blocked by phytate. Same goes for magnesium-rich foods.
Phytic acid interferes with calcium and iron absorption, which increases risk of anemia (caused by iron deficiency), tooth decay, and bone loss. Also inhibits the essential digestive enzymes called amylase (breaks down starch), trypsin and pepsin (both break down protein).
We reap what we sow, every choice we make is a seed.
These harmful substances are nature’s way of storing genetic plant material until it has a chance to grow into a plant. This way they can remain potent for 1,000’s of years. With the right conditions – fertile soil, water, sunlight – all grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds have the potential to grow into sturdy plants.
Mineral & Bone Loss
Un-soaked, un-germinated grains, beans, nuts, and seeds present a real problem because enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid* bind to proteins and key minerals in our digestive tract. Once bound, proper absorption of vital nutrients – especially calcium, copper, iron, zinc – is blocked and unable to be assimilated.
When ingested, phytic acid and inhibitors prevent the body’s own enzymes from working properly and prohibit proper absorption of nutrients and minerals.
Consumed on a regular basis, un-soaked and un-germinated grains, beans, nuts, and seeds irritate digestion; leading to various health issues (i.e. leaky gut, IBS, food intolerances). If you have weak digestion and/or on Body Ecology Diet or GAPS to heal, start soaking!
Soak, Sprout, Cook
Enzyme inhibitors and toxic substances can be minimized/eliminated in as little 8-24 hrs. This is done by soaking in warm water with an acid, like yogurt, whey, or lemon juice. This simple step mimics Nature’s germination process, fooling seed to sprout and activate its enzymes.
Once you soak these foods, they’re full of good enzymes that increase the bio-availability of vitamins and allow their valuable nutrients to be better absorbed into us. They’re now alive and enzyme-rich foods with higher amounts of calcium, iron, and zinc. For ex. vitamin A content doubles, B vitamins increase 5–10x, and vitamin C increases.
Properly Prepared = More Calcium, Iron, & Zinc
Our modern way of preparing these foods often overlooks this soaking and germinating step. Yet traditional civilizations practiced it for 1,000s of years in various forms. You can easily take steps to minimize and eliminate harmful inhibitors/toxins in nuts/seeds, beans, and grains.
If you travel or eat out and come across un-soaked grain, beans, nuts then here are two tricks to prevent nutrient loss they can cause:
- Vitamin C food (leafy greens, citrus fruits) counteract phytates and increase iron absorption.
- Vitamin A food (sweet potatoes, berries) improves iron absorption.
*Phytic acid is in all grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and requires an acidified liquid to encourage the activity of phytase; an enzyme that is capable of breaking down/neutralizing phytic acid.
Axe, J. (2017). 10 Antinutrients to Get Out of Your Diet & Life.
Fallon, S. (2001). Nourishing Traditions. Washington, DC: New Trends Publishing, Inc.
Fallon, S. and Enig, M. (2000). Be Kind To Your Grains…And Your Grains Will Be Kind To You. The Weston A. Price Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/be-kind-to-your-grains
Nagel, R. (2010). Living with Phytic Acid. The Weston A. Price Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/1893-living-with-phytic-acid.html
Nourished Kitchen. (2009). Sprouted Grain: Benefits, Preparation and Recipes. Retrieved fromhttp://nourishedkitchen.com/sprouted-grain/
Passionate Homemaking (2008). Soaking Methods for the Dairy Intolerant. Retrieved from