By Geoff Rand

Prior to the industrialization of the Western world, food preparation was much different than it is today.  Among other differences, the agrarian culture would soak, and sometimes ferment, their nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes prior to consuming them.  They might not have understood the science, but they knew that these foods needed preparation in order to be digested properly.

Sadly, we have somehow moved away from these practices, and now attempt to consume these foods without preparation.  Maybe this is why we have seen an increase in gluten allergies and conditions like leaky gut and other digestive issues.  Perhaps the grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds aren’t really bad for us; it’s just the lack of preparation we are doing prior to consuming them that is causing all these maladies.

So what causes this adverse reaction when we consume nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes?  Phytic acid. 

Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that is essentially the stored phosphorus in plants, and this is not digestible by humans because we lack the enzyme needed to break it down.  Worse still, phytic acid actually robs the body of magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron because it binds to them, preventing absorption of these nutrients.  The food may be rich in all sorts of good stuff, but without neutralizing the phytic acid, you’ll never be able to digest and absorb it.

The way around phytic acid’s force field is to soak before consuming these foods.  As an example, here is how you should be preparing nuts and seeds.  For more info on soaking nuts and seeds and the complete instructions for most grains and legumes, check out this link.

Nuts and Seeds

Place 4 cups of raw, shelled nuts into a large mixing bowl.  Cover with water and stir in 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  Soak as prescribed (see specific times for nuts below).  Drain and then place in a dehydrator, or spread the nuts on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dehydrate them under 150° 12 to 24 hours.

Almonds:  7-8 hours                         Pistachios:  4 hours

Brazil Nuts:  4-6 hours                     Pumpkin seeds:  7-8 hours

Cashews:  3-6 hours                         Sesame seeds:  7-8 hours

Flaxseeds:  7-8 hours                       Sunflower seeds:  4 hours

Hazelnuts:  7-8 hours                       Walnuts:  6 hours

Macadamia Nuts:  6-7 hours            Pine nuts:  7hours

Pecans:  7 hours

As you can see, it’s not a quick process, but if you have been noticing that your body is adversely reacting to ingestion of any of these foods, soaking might be a way to put them back on the menu.