4 Reasons Why You Should Soak Nuts, Seeds, and GrainsLuke Coutinho
How many of you grew up being told by your mothers and grandmothers to always soak nuts, seeds, and grains before consuming them? Our ancestors passed this practice down to us. Many continue to do this to date without questioning the science behind it. Have you ever wondered why it matters?
Soaking works as a precursor to germination or sprouting. When you do this, you enhance the health benefits of nuts, seeds, and grains. In the process, you also improve the absorption of several vitamins and nutrients in your body.
Most of us today google superfoods and start eating them without realizing how certain foods work better in synergies when combined or soaked.
Here are 4 reasons why you should soak nuts, seeds, and grains.
Reduces phytic acids that act like anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors
Nuts, seeds, and grains are all products of nature. When these are not exposed to water and moisture to sprout or germinate, it is crucial to preserve their raw and dry form. They also need to be protected against insects, birds, and rodents.
One of the survival and defense mechanisms nature uses to do it is covering them with phytic acid, also known as phytates. If you have ever consumed unsoaked nuts, seeds, or grains, chances are you have experienced that they taste bitter. It is due to the presence of phytic acid.
When you consume nuts, seeds, and grains without soaking them in the dry form, these phytates can enter your system. They act as anti-nutrients and block nutrient absorption in your bloodstream. This phytic acid binds with minerals like copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium and does not allow their absorption into your small intestine and bloodstream. Eating nuts the wrong way may lead to trace mineral and bone deficiencies in the long run.
The phytic acid also acts as an enzyme inhibitor. What does this mean? It affects the production of enzymes.
There are two kinds of enzymes:
- Digestive enzymes break down food in the human body and enhance its absorption
- Metabolic enzymes work with the biology of the human body
When you eat unsoaked nuts, seeds, and grains, enzyme inhibitors enter your system. These bind to certain minerals and vitamins, interfere with the enzymatic reactions in your body and impair digestion. It can make nuts, seeds, and grains heavy for our digestive systems. Soaking can help you break away those enzyme inhibitors and make these foods easier for your stomach to digest.
Many people with bloating, acidity, gas, and pancreatic issues struggle with fewer digestive enzymes. But when they are put onto digestive enzymes supplements or natural foods rich in them, they begin to break down food more effectively.
Soaking your nuts is also considered to help boost the production of enzymes and benefit your gut microbiome. Remember, it is not about what you eat but how you eat it, how your body breaks it down and absorbs it.
How to get rid of the phytic acid?
All you need to do is soak your nuts, seeds, and grains in lukewarm water for at least seven to eight hours or overnight.
Reduces tannins that block the absorption of iron
Nuts and seeds are also naturally covered with tannins. Tannins are not bad for you. They are a class of polyphenols. We all know that polyphenols are a rich source of antioxidants. You find tannins in coffee, black tea, green tea, and dark chocolate too! But, when consumed the wrong way, tannins can block iron absorption. Therefore, eating unsoaked seeds or nuts can cause the tannins you ingest to block iron absorption into your system. So, soak your nuts and seeds. Research shows that the first 2 to 4 hours of soaking can significantly reduce tannin levels.
Improves protein absorption
Today, everyone is on protein shakes and bars. But most don’t even have the right amount of enzymes or stomach acid to break this protein down into amino acids to be absorbed into the human body. You get the right amount of stomach acid or digestive enzymes by eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. When you do not consume these the right way, you block the absorption of protein and end up feeling bloated and not utilizing the protein you consume.
Nuts contain class protein for the growth of your muscles, the building blocks of your cells, your hair, your skin, and everything else. Soaking nuts and seeds break the protein down so that it can be assimilated better by your body.
Soaking certain grains also helps break down very tough gluten. We recommend 6 to 8 hours of soaking for grains and legumes. It could also be 12 hours in warm water with a little salt.
Improves absorption of B-vitamins
Soaking nuts, seeds, and grains also increase the absorption of B-vitamins, especially vitamin B12 which plays a role in energy production, carbohydrate metabolism, maintaining gut health, producing RBCs, nerve health, brain health, memory, memory regulation, and so on.
Are there exceptions to the rule?
Now, we often get asked: What about seeds like flax or chia? Flax and chia seeds gel when soaked and are very difficult to work with because they attain a gel-like consistency. But we encourage you to soak and add them to any recipe or smoothie. If you do not want to do this, you can roast them lightly before consuming them.
It is time to go back to our roots and learn from the wisdom of our ancestors by decoding the science behind it.
Soak your grains, seeds, and nuts for at least 6 to 7 hours. If you live in hot locations and do not have air conditioners, even soaking them for 3 to 4 hours can help. Want to take this to the next level? Change the water every 12 hours and allow the nuts, seeds, and grains to germinate/sprout for an additional nutritional boost.
Also, don’t forget that nuts, seeds, and grains are stored in large warehouses, often on floors. It can expose them to rodents in unhygienic conditions. To avoid this dirt and toxins from entering our system, it is always a good idea to rinse and soak your nuts, seeds, and grains. So, make better choices.
You spend a lot of money on nuts, seeds, and grains. Get maximum benefits by soaking and eating them the right way.
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