5.10.20 A Plant's Defense System

Did you know that plants are nutrient dense? Of course you did! Did you know that plants have anti-nutrients? And did you know that anti-nutrients can hurt us as humans? Yep, that’s right, plants have a defense system to do whatever it takes to reproduce and continue their breed, just like the animal kingdom. Ungerminated foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains have lectins, enzymes, and phytic acid that help protect them. In our bodies these can wreak havoc on our digestive system.

Phytic acid binds to important minerals while traveling our digestive tract. This means that they can not be absorbed into the body for building bones, the immune system, supporting muscles and all kinds of other functions that minerals do for us. They also can block certain enzymes from breaking down starches and proteins. Besides stressing the pancreas out (which is the organ that has to produce those enzymes), these undigested foods will injure our gut lining and can cause bacterial overgrowth.

Lectins can be especially harmful for people with autoimmune conditions, but the rest of us could use protection against them, or less exposure, as well. Lectins can penetrate the gut lining as well, decrease nutrient absorption, and cause general GI distress (Soaking and Sprouting Guide, NTA 2019). While our stomach acid breaks down many potentially dangerous compounds, lectins resist being broken down and enter our small intestines intact and ready to attack.

Do we need to eliminate these foods from our diets? For some with very stressed GI issues, immune compromise, or food sensitivities, they could very possibly benefit from avoiding these ungerminated foods for a time. The rest of us should by all means take advantage of these nutrient dense foods with the simple method of soaking and/or sprouting before consuming. Soaking, sprouting, and fermentation neutralizes most anti-nutrients and increases the availability of all the nutrients! It also helps predigest complex starches to assist our digestive systems!

How do you soak/sprout nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains? A quick internet search can give you specific times for whatever you are planning on cooking. The key is to look it up the day before you are going to be using it as some things are soaked 12 hours! Others are just 2 hours to 45 minutes or even 15 minutes! It is usually recommended to add a splash of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, or salt depending on what you’re soaking.

I personally feel like soaking my oats overnight has reduced stress on my small intestine. I thought I was going to have to give up my pre-run breakfast, but since soaking and rinsing them, I’ve had no discomfort! I know this takes some preparation and planning, but this simple hack can increase our nutrient intake and decrease the stress we put on our digestive system. We need all the help we can get to properly digest our food and get all the benefit we can from it as hundreds of actions and reactions in our bodies require the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that we must get from what we eat. If we continue to put those important nutrients in jeopardy and harm the area where we absorb them, our bodies are going to suffer. Please, just SOAK IT!

General Guidelines for Soaked Granola Bars

Plan which grains, seeds, and nuts you want to use and look up soaking times. Start with the longest ones and set timers for each one. I found it helpful to lay it all out and make a note. (Also, I don't think I will do so many different ones next time! Keep it simple!) Drain, rinse, drain. Now your base is ready.

I added cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt.

Make a paste of oil and sweetener. I did coconut oil, honey, black-strap molasses, and maple syrup. Start with just a bit as the base is already wet it doesn't need as much as you'd usually guess.

Mix well and press into a parchment lined casserole dish, bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool and cut into bars or squares. Refrigerate. (I didn't and they got moldy in a few days, oops!)

Some minced dried fruit would be great in here as well!

Please feel free to share this with friends and family. Vegans and vegetarians need to be especially aware of anti-nutrients as their intake levels are even higher than those of us who eat animal products!

I'd love for your to reply to this email with food and nutrition questions you have!