When nutrients aren't good...

Wellbeing

When nutrients aren't good...
Heard of anti-nutrients? They are natural compounds (some are synthetic) found in food ingredients which interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals; some hamper starch and protein metabolism, impeding the functioning of gut enzymes.

Anti-nutrients are found in good measure in the skin of seeds, legumes, pulses, and cereals. Most common among them are saponins, lectins, oxalates and phytates. Binding themselves to the vitamins and mineral compounds, they are present as a defence mechanism for the baby plant against pests and predators. 

While their traces is not a major concern for many, anti-nutrients can cause digestive distress, allergies, and in severe cases, intolerances, especially for malnourished and allergy-prone individuals. Some common symptoms experienced are bloating, nausea, and food poisoning. Some anti-nutrients like flavonoids and polyphenols, when consumed in moderation, can actually be beneficial to us for their anti-oxidant properties. Phytates inhibit the starch and protein metabolism. Another common anti-nutrient is gluten. This plant protein is difficult to digest and in sensitive individuals it can lead to autoimmune diseases like irritable bowel syndrome.

So how do we overcome this difficulty? Thankfully, these inhibiting elements can be drastically reduced by simple processes. Soaking and sprouting of legumes and cereals washes away a major portion of anti-nutrient compounds.  Another tried and tested method is the fermenting of foods. This not only eliminates the anti-nutrient effect, but also adds probiotics for better nutrient absorption.

Another way to counteract the effect of anti-nutrients is to use plenty of vitamin A and C rich foods like green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, citrus foods and berries. All these nullify the negative impacts and aid in the absorption of essential minerals.

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