Many folks are embracing a grain free lifestyle these days and it’s not just trendy. All plants, grains included, are programmed with species protective mechanisms so that animals and humans do not eat them into extinction. Animals also have species protective mechanisms like, running away, swimming away, and defending themselves and their young. Since plants can’t do that, they have a tiny amount of toxins in them. The more you eat of one type of plant, the more of that toxin that gets built up in your body. (Here’s another reason for eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and for following a seasonal model of eating.)
Further, the seeds of the plant (i.e. the plant’s baby) often have the highest concentration of the those toxins in order to protect the next generation of plants. When we eat grains, we are eating the seeds of the plant. Those toxins are called antinutrients. They are substances that “steal” nutrients from the body and irritate the gut, cause inflammation in the body, and cause nutrient deficiency. Some examples are: phytates, lectins, saponins, and oxalates.
- deplete magnesium and zinc and inhibit their absorption
- are found in unsoaked grains, legumes, and seeds
- good gut flora helps to aid in mineral absorption and minimize the impact of phytates
- are better tolerated when consumed with fermented foods and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) a type of fiber the body can’t digest and that feeds the good gut bacteria
- deplete magnesium and zinc and inhibit their absorption
- good gut flora help to aid in mineral absorption and minimize the impact of oxalates
- are found in greens like spinach, beet greens, chard, purslane, and parsley
- impact the bioavailability of zinc
- contribute to kidney stones
- are sugar binding substances that can lead to poor digestion
- humans have trouble digesting them and thus can develop antibodies
- can cause flatulence
- can damage the gut (leaky gut)
- are found in grains, legumes, dairy products
- are phytochemicals that are found in food (plant glycosides)
- break down the gut lining
- produce a soap like residue and lather
- are found in quinoa, root beer, beans, potato skins, peanuts, and soy
So how does one avoid antinutrients?
- A grain-free lifestyle is one option. Eating less grains or eliminating them altogether is one option.
- Opting for white rice instead of brown rice will lower the exposure to antinutrients. White rice has the bran and germ removed, which also removes the antinutrients, making it more digestible for many folks. While brown rice certainly has more nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, those are of no use to you if you are having trouble digesting and absorbing them because of the antinutrients.
- Soaking and sprouting your seeds, legumes, and grains is another great way to reduce the exposure to antinutrients and help to make the nutrients more bioavailable to the body (aka easy to absorb). Here is a great article on how to soak and sprout.
- If you’re looking for a shortcut, there are a few brands that sell soaked and sprouted products:
Go Raw sells snacks make of soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds. They are also a small local company that uses real food ingredients and not much sugar!
truRoots sells a line of grain medleys that have been soaked and sprouted and are convenient and ready to use at home.
So, what are your thoughts on going grain-free and antinutrients? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
After reading Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter, when Brain Maker came out, I knew that I would have to read it too. At Paleo F(x) this year, Dr. Perlmutter was the keynote speaker, promptly reminding me that I needed to read his book.
As a nutrition consultant, gut health is one of my main passions, because as Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” A neurologist by trade, Dr. Perlmutter goes even further to discuss the links between an unhealthy gut and Autism, ADHD, allergies skin issues, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, inflammation, and many, many, more.
Out of the trillions of cells that are housed in your sack of skin that we call a body, 90% of them are bacteria. You read that correctly; you are 90% bacteria. Now don’t freak out. Without all of that bacteria, you literally wouldn’t be living. Dr. Perlmutter helps us to get acquainted with those bacteria and help us see just why we need all of those friendly little buggars. He then helps us to know what factors can throw our delicate ecosystem off balance. Some of those factors include: antibiotics, nsaid use, oral contraceptives, the chemical laden agri-business food system, among others.
Dr. Perlmutter gives action steps to help preserve and maintain a thriving colony of gut bacteria. The book is also equipped with recipes that include probiotics and help to maintain the gut colony. This book is highly recommend for those interested in improving their gut health or just like to nerd out on science and healthy living.
It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes. I’ve never liked them. In fact, I’m the black sheep of the family in regards to my dislike of tomatoes. With that being said, I believe that one day I will love raw tomatoes [growth mindset]. I do like cooked tomatoes of all kinds (except ketchup, yuck!). I am starting to like heirloom tomatoes in a caprese salad. I think the reason I don’t really like tomatoes is because of their strong flavor – it totally changes the taste of a burger, sandwich, or salad. Jennifer Tyler Lee and I are kindred spirits in this way. 🙂 The other fact that helps me feel justified in not liking raw tomatoes is that unless it’s summer, tomatoes are either grown in greenhouses or internationally, or are grown in Florida (Florida’s “soil” is actually just sand and is void of nutrients). So unless they are garden tomatoes or farmer’s market tomatoes, they are often mealy and are picked when green. The book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit is fascinating. Highly recommended! Anywho… Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato pops! I recently made a cherry tomato chutney at a Sur la Table cooking class – it was delicious!
- They are technically a fruit!
- Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family (along with potatoes, eggplant, peppers- all kinds, and some spices). Nightshades are known to be inflammatory. Nightshades are commonly removed during a 5-R Protocol to determine food intolerances.
- There are over a THOUSAND different types of tomatoes and can be a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Native to South America.
- The leaves of the tomato are toxic. It was long believed that tomatoes were poisonous because they belong to the nightshade family which houses other poisonous plants (poisonous nightshade and black henbane).
- Great source of vitamins B6, C, and K, carotenes (especially lycopene), beta-carotene, biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin, and fiber.
- Lycopene content is FIVE times greater in cooked tomatoes because cooking causes the cell walls to burst and “free” the lycopene. Also, the redder and riper the tomato, the more lycopene content.
- Lycopene in particular has been shown to protect against cancers of the breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate. Additionally, it has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
- Highest levels of vitamin C can be obtained from raw tomatoes.
- Fully ripe tomatoes cannot be shipped long distances. Therefore they are picked when underripe and then gassed with ethylene. You probably know what I’m going to say here….buy them at a local farmer’s market, CSA, or grown your own!
- Cherry tomatoes have more lycopene per ounce and are sweeter and more flavorful than their larger counterparts. Smaller is better!
From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipesby Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Healthby Jo Robinson, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planetby Tonia Reinhard, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planetby Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
I just finished Dr. Josh Axe’s book, Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It. This was a fascinating read for nutrition nerds like myself, but also for anyone that would like to improve their digestive function. Axe takes an in depth look into the factors in modern life that have caused the perfect conditions for leaky gut syndrome to proliferate.
“Leaky gut is at ground zero of many of this country’s most confounding health crises” (Axe, 2016, p.10). Axe argues that leaky gut leads to systemic inflammation and inflammation is at the root of all of our Western diseases.
Eat Dirt is filled with a mixture interesting anecdotal testimonials and cutting edge science. Axe goes over the various types of gut issues and explores the options for how to heal the gut. A comprehensive discussion of the various types of probiotic strains and how ensure that you’re getting enough probiotics to sustain a thriving colony in your gut. Axe includes dietary and lifestyle factors that help to bring the body back into balance.
This book gets 5 out of 5 strawberries! A must read!