For 500 million years, plants like all living organism have fought for survival. And plants have millions of years of evolutionary advantage on us humans. Since they can’t fight or flee predators, they evolved other clever mechanisms to survive. Plants produce these antinutrients to defend themselves. In fact 99.99% of all pesticides in our diet are natural chemicals plants produce to deter predators.
They produce toxins to protect themselves from fungi, insects, animal predators and humans. There are tens of thousands of these natural pesticides. Every species of every plant contains its own set of toxins. Different parts of each plant toxin contain different toxins in different amounts. These chemicals attack predators in various ways. Some of these plant toxins break into cells and kill mitochondria, some use enzymes to interfere with metabolism, and some attack our DNA directly.
When we eat potatoes and carrots, we are eating roots of plants that grow underground. Crunching on celery and broccoli, we are eating stems of plants. A salad of spinach and kale is plant leaves. When we eat apples and berries we are eating fruit of these plants. And when we eat grains, nuts, or beans we are eating seeds – We are eating plant parts.
Grains are the seeds of grasses like wheat, corn, oats and rice. Nuts are the seeds of trees like walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans. And beans are the seeds of legumes like peas lentils, soybeans and chickpeas.
Antinutrients are found in:
Grains – Wheat leaks the most harmful of which are phytates, gluten and lectins: substances that can damage your digestive system and the rest of your body.
Nuts – Phytic acids - substances that bind essential minerals in the digestive tract making them less available in our bodies and take them out of the system, thus contributing to mineral deficiencies like osteroporosis.
Beans – Enzyme inhibitors (binds to chemicals to suppress its activity), endocrine disruptors (can decrease hormonal levels), saponins (reduce serum cholesterol by preventing reabsorption after it has been excreted in the bile), and tannins (they interact with protein molecules forming complexes that are insoluble in water making part of the dietetic protein indigestible)
2. Roots and Night Shade Vegetables
Glycoalkaloids – associated with poisoning, include bitter or burning sensation in the mouth, flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drowsiness, apathy, restlessness, shaking confusion, weakness and disturbed vision.
Glucosinolates – can inhibit the accumulation of iodide in the thyroid gland predisposing to goiter, prevents absorption of iodine.
Oxilates can bind to the mineral in the gut and prevents them to be absorbed - especially calcium. Oxylates are linked to kidney stones.
Phenolics, cyanogenic, glycosides, salicylate
A “healthy” spinach salad topped with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and cucumber has an arsenal of weapons. Some weapons like tannins are bitter. Others like phytates interfere with nutrient absorption aiming to malnourish predator. Similarly, enzyme inhibitors disrupt predators food processing. These anti-nutrients interfere with our ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, can damage our intestinal lining and trigger inflammatory responses in the body.
Anti-nutrients are often responsible for food sensitivities, allergies, digestive ailments and autoimmune diseases. They can cause symptoms such as headaches, joint pain and asthma.
Of all the various plant parts, the seeds are most likely to hurt human health.
There is a growing number of people in the world that have damaged gut flora making antinutrients – gluten in wheat and other cereals, zein in corn, secalin in rye, hordein in barley and avenin in oats - more damaging to a large portion of the population. The reason for this is that in a person with abnormal gut flora, grain proteins don’t digest properly and absorb in the form of peptides, which trigger chronic systemic inflammation, autoimmunity and food allergies and intolerances. Treatment of every chronic illness (from rheumatoid arthritis to cancer, from heart disease to mental illness) must begin by removing all grains from the diet and everything made from them. Traditional cultures have developed methods of food preparation to extract more nutrition from plants and to make them more digestible such as fermentation, malting, sprouting and cooking. Unfortunately, in our modern world, many of these methods have been forgotten and replaced with recipes that suit the food industry’s commercial agenda.
If you must eat seeds, there are a few ways to mitigate attack:
• Pressure cook
• Peel and deseed
• Sour leavening
Before cooking, all beans and pulses have to be presoaked in water for at least twelve hours to reduce the amounts of lectins and other harmful substances. After soaking, rinse well under running water. Once cooked they may be used in many recipes including bread and cakes. Avoid commercial flours made out of beans and pulses, as they have not been pre-soaked before grinding. Ferment wheat, rye, oats, and barley to remove gluten prior to cooking them to reduce the lectins. To ferment, soak the grains in water for several days adding spoonfuls of yogurt whey to the water. When the grain has fermented cook it in the usual way. Raw nuts may be soaked in water overnight with some salt before drying.
Traditionally, grains were always consumed with a good amount of natural fats: butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut or palm oil, goose fat, duck fat, pork fat, etc. Grains are a concentrated source of carbohydrates and unless digestion is slowed down by fats, these carbohydrates will absorb quickly in the form of sugars, raising blood sugar level too high with many damaging consequences.