Nuts are good for you, right?!? Well yes of course they are, BUT they may also be causing you digestive issues or promoting nutrient deficiencies! Ok, now you’re probably sitting there thinking, bloody hell is she fecking serious, is there anything I can eat in peace, or is everything bad for me! Sorry for stressing you out, but I promise you I have good reason for bringing up this subject. Let me explain.

So you know me, I’m all about a healthy gut. I totally get the Hippocrates statement “all disease begins in the gut”, and my focus whether working on my own diet or with clients is always on gut health. Sometimes we think we’re doing great by introducing lots of certain types of health foods into our diet, but they may be causing stress and irritation on the digestive system. Nuts can be one of these foods, depending on how much you are eating, how balanced the rest of your diet is and how healthy your digestive system was to begin with. Nuts are a great source of plant protein and healthy fats and they make a great snack or addition to a meal, but they are also high in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.

Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient, meaning it binds to minerals such as iron, zinc and manganese, making them less available to the body. Now phytic acid is not bad per say, it’s more about the amount we consume. A plant based diet while amazingly for good health can tend to be high in phytic acid. I myself would eat a high plant based diet, I eat lots of nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, and some grains, and all of these foods are high in phytic acids. Most of us can eat quite a lot of phytic acid without any negative effects. But it can cause issues for people that are nutrient deficient, because the limited minerals they do have can be bound up by the phytic acid and exported out of the body, leading them to become even more deficient in particular minerals.

Enzyme inhibitors are another ball game altogether. Let me break it down for you. Your body produces enzymes that help you digest the food you eat, they’re like miniature deconstruction workers. They basically break down your food into its smallest possible form for absorption into the bloodstream. Enzyme inhibitors prevents an enzyme from working effectively, therefore reducing their ability to breakdown food. If the food isn’t broken down properly then it can’t be absorbed into the bloodstream, all that undigested food sits in the gut and causes digestive irritation such as bloating, gas, indigestion  etc. This is why people that already have a sluggish or damaged digestive system may not react well to nuts.

Does this mean you have to stop eating nuts, absolutely not, you just need a different approach, and I’m going to share it with you right now. Soaking nuts in warm filtered water with some salt reduces the phytic acid and deactivates the enzyme inhibitors, easing the load on the digestive system and making the nutrients much more bioavailable. If you want to take it a step further you can dehydrate the nuts to return them to their former crispiness. Since I started soaking and dehydrating my nuts before eating them I’ve really notice a difference in my digestive system. I normally do large batches at a time, as there’s no point in using the dehydrator for a few handfuls of nuts. Once the nuts are dehydrated I store them in airtight jars in the cupboard.

These are the steps I follow for soaking and dehydrating nuts. I usually get a couple of bags (200g each) of unsalted, unroasted nuts, cover them in warm filtered water, add a tbsp of unrefined salt, give them a stir to help the salt dissolve and soak for 12 – 24 hours, (I soak almonds for 24 hours and all other nuts for 12 hours). Once soaked I rinse and drain them, then pop them in the dehydrator for 24+ hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator to dry out the nuts then I would advise soaking a small quantity, two or three days worth at a time. Because once the nuts are moist there is the danger that mould may grow on them the longer they sit around. Also nuts that are soaked but not dehydrated will change in texture, they will be softer, juicier and less crunchy. Always store soaked nuts in the fridge, they will last up to 3 days.

If you’ve never heard of a dehydrator and would like to know more just click here, there is a great range on this website, and it’s where I got mine.

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