Phytic Acid: Who Should be the Most Concerned, The Most Important Dietary Change, Decreasing Phytic Acid’s Effect


So far in this series, we’ve discussed whether soaking, fermenting and sprouting was a traditional practice, phytic acid in grains and legumes, phytic acid in nuts, seeds, coconut and cocoa, reducing phytic acid in grains and legumes (which showed that many of the traditional methods reduced phytic acid and other anti-nutrients), and the digestibility of soaked grains and legumes. This project turned into a much larger project than I originally anticipated!

While there are still many things that I would love to learn, more studies I would like to delve into and more to discuss, I think it’s time to return to the joy of sharing recipes, which I will be doing next week! I will definitely revisit this topic as I get new information or have new soaking methods in practice that I want to share, but I will bring this blog back to it’s normal function again. Meanwhile, I wanted to make a few “concluding” remarks about what has been shared so far in this series.

Who should be most concerned with this research?

I’ve thought of a few groups of people who should care the most (in my mind) about this series. It’s not that this series wasn’t important for all of us, but these are the people who would be most affected by it.

Those Who Eat a High Grain and Legume Diet

Whether you eat a lot of grains and legumes because of a tight budget, or are a vegan or vegetarian, it’s most important for you to properly prepare your grains and legumes since they play such a large part of your diet. If you only eat grains and legumes once in a while, obviously this series isn’t as vital to you and your health. In fact, the majority of the studies I looked at were aimed at helping the poor  in other countries who no longer have access to much animal foods or other higher nutrient foods, or, ironically, animal feed (since animals are fed such a high grain diet in our country now).  This is a most important topic for those who depend a lot on grains and legumes in their daily diet.

Those who have signs of mineral deficiencies

If you have signs of mineral deficiencies (including teeth issues), then you might want to consider very carefully preparing any of the grains and legumes that you eat so that you get the highest amount of minerals from them as you can. My understanding is that phytates only affect the mineral absorption of the food they are contained in, so read below how to better improve your mineral content regardless of phytates.

Those with a Delicate Digestion

Even if you don’t eat a high legume or grain diet, you may find that improperly prepared grains and legume bother you. If this is you, then obviously you should listen to your body and carefully prepare them. Also keep in mind that many young children have delicate digestions and so will benefit from proper preparation. Elderly people also come to mind as those who generally would need more care. If you, like me, have had multiple doses of antibiotics which upset your gut, then you may also find yourself more sensitive.

Don’t let all of the information and gaps of information confuse or frustrate you

I know that the mass amount of information as well as the gaps of information can both frustrate and overwhelm. Don’t let it. Sure, there is some information gaps and I can’t wait to get more of my questions answered and to hone up my soaking techniques, but even soaking imperfectly (not always at a very warm temperature, for example) has had good results for my family. I am not going to worry myself into a frenzy about whether or not I am doing everything 100% the best of the best way. And that’s partly because I try to……

Remember the most important thing: Nutrient Dense Foods

For a healthy diet, the most important thing to do is eat high quality, nutrient dense foods such as  foods high in natural vitamin A and D and K2 and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. If you concentrate on nutrient dense foods, then you will help make up for any minerals phytates are keeping from you. Foods such as high quality milk, homemade chicken broth, grass fed butter, high quality seafood, dark greens, nutritious eggs etc. When Dr. Price helped children with teeth decay improve, his method was adding in as many nutrient dense foods as he could to their diet. It wasn’t centered on soaking grains (though he strongly emphasized freshly ground whole wheat flour which he didn’t realize at the time was high in phytase), it was centered on teeth and body building nutrient dense foods.

I also thought that this update on phytic acid by Rami Nagel was helpful in the Wise Traditions Journal Summer 2010.

“The article on phytic acid (Spring, 2010) was written in response to reports of dental decay, especially in children, even though the family was following the principles of traditional diets. Phytates become a problem when grains make up a large portion of the diet and calcium, vitamin C and fat-soluable vitamins, specifically fat-soluable vitamin D, are low. In the diet advocated by WAPF, occasional higher phytate meals will not cause any noticeable health effects for people in good health. Significantly more care is needed with whole grains when the diet is low in fat-soluable vitamins and in diets were two or more meals per day rely significantly on grains as a food source. Vitamin C reduce the iron and perhaps other mineral losses from phytic acid. Vitamin D can mitigate the harmful effects on phytates. Calcium (think raw milk, raw cheese, yogurt and kefir) balances out the negative effects on phytates. The best indicator of whether dietary phytic acid is causing problems can be seen in the dental health of the family. If dental decay is a recurrent problem, then more care with grain preparation and higher levels of animal foods will be needed.”

I thought that very helpful and encouraging. If we eat a diet high in calcium and other important minerals and vitamins, we don’t have to be paranoid about whether we’ve soaked our grains perfectly. Just two notes about the quote. One, if you or your child have teeth issue, it’s a complex and sometimes very hard to fix issue. I don’t want to simplify the solution. Secondly, I grew up with very good teeth (no cavities until mid-twenties) despite an imperfect diet growing up. But as mothers and fathers we want to keep our stores up high so that we have a lot to give our children (especially as pregnant and nursing mothers), so even if you don’t have teeth problems, don’t let your lack of issues give you a free ride in nutrition! Instead keep up your excellent health through good food!

A Few Ways to Decrease Phytic Acid’s Effects

Cook grains and legumes in homemade chicken broth. They will taste wonderful, and have a much higher mineral content.

Make soups with homemade broth! I LOVE soups in the fall and winter time. My favorite comfort food. If you make them with homemade broth you will also be getting a lot of good for you minerals.I would love to have soup every single day for at least one meal. This is especially important if you don’t tolerate dairy.

Serve your hot rice and other whole grains with a nice pat of pastured butter for vitamin A, D and K2 and then take a dose of cod liver oil after the meal (for more vitamin content).

If you tolerate cheese, eat high mineral, pastured dairy products throughout the day for a great source of both calcium and phosphorus.

Liver and fish eggs are both super high in nutrients as well. Try to incorporate them into your diet, even if only once a month.

I would also say that not eating refined sugar and many natural sugars is also vital to your health and important for proper mineral absorption.

Those are a few of my ideas (and I would love to hear yours as well). In the end, I think that yes, soaking, fermenting and sprouting grains is important. But even more important is concentrating on eating high quality, nutrient dense foods. I will personally continue to experiment with soaking and fermenting in my own kitchen, while at the same time, not make it a stress issue. I have a new baby coming soon (I am 33 weeks pregnant today!) and after she comes, I want to concentrate on eating highly nutritious food and not worrying about whether I should sprout for 6 days, then ferment and then cook a certain grain. So that’s where I am at.

I would love to hear your comments too! Especially in regard to how to better your own personal nutrient dense food levels.

KimiHarris

I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Comments

  1. says

    I love all this– and although sometimes I get in a great routine of sprouting, soaking, and such I tend to let life get to me and begin to fail. I would love to know your (an others) routines. To see if there is a better method for me to stay on top of things. Thank you so much for going over this topic– it is one I believe in and since reading your findings I have been able to express to others why I do what I do more easily. Thanks for everything!!!

  2. Anna says

    I have followed your series with interest, because I try hard to serve a variety of whole grains to my family with a minimum of meat (I’d say animal products, but we have chickens for eggs, and LOVE cheese). Thank you for all the hard work. It would be great for the nerds among us if you could post a bibliography of all the sources you’ve found in your research.

    Also, I’ve been wondering if the “quick soak” method of soaking beans (heat to boiling, turn off heat and let sit) works for grains & legumes — this is my usual method for preparing millet, oat groats and all beans, and I usually let them sit overnight instead of just an hour. I tried adding a tablespoon of yogurt whey the last time I soaked millet, and the grains were not as soft after 9 hours as they usually are. I’m wondering about the science of absorption when adding an acid to the water. Any info on that?

    • says

      Hi Anna,
      I am new to much of the things discussed on this site including soaking grains/beans. I’ve only been changing the way I do things for the last two months. Although I am no expert, I will give you my experience with soaking beans. We too always used the “quick soak” method of soaking beans, but last weekend I decided to make a large batch. On Saturday morning I rinsed my beans and placed them in a large container with a lid. I covered the beans with about 8 cups of filtered water and proceeded to add 2 Tablespoons (*per 2 cups of water so a total of 8 T.) of whey from homemade yogurt to the beans. I covered them and allowed them to soak until mid day Sunday and they absorbed nearly all the water I had placed them in, which I found to be very noticeable in this preparation, I don’t recall that when I’ve made beans using the quick soak method.
      I rinsed the beans and placed them in the pot and covered again with filtered water and my regular seasonings, onion, garlic, diced jalepeno and allowed them to simmer all afternoon. I was always told by my grandmother to wait until the end to salt dry beans, salting too early in the cooking process for some reason makes them take longer to cook. Anyway, the results were- 1. they were awesome, we ate the beans with tomato, raw onion and avocado on top for dinner that night (later in the week, I processed in food processor and made bean burritos) but 2. we realized that these beans did not cause us to have the normal bloating and gas as beans prepared the other way have. So my conclusion is that soaking with acid for a longer period of time does promote easier digestion. Now, as for millet, I would grind the grain first and soak the flour, I have not tried millet as of yet as a whole grain dish. Hope this helps some.

  3. Kaleb says

    Thanks for delving so deeply into this topic recently. I would just like to contribute a few points that I think are worth mentioning:
    1) I think it’s worth mentioning that, despite soaking/fermenting, in all the groups Dr. Price studied those groups who were most reliant on grains for sustenance consistently had the highest rates of tooth decay.
    2) As you said, Weston Price had great success treating children with one meal a day, fortified with CLO, high-vitamin butter oil, and stock, all the while using whole grain wheat that hadn’t been soaked. I think the point that the whole wheat was freshly ground cannot be overemphasized, as pre-ground whole wheat flour is arguably no better for the body than enriched white flour, soaked or not, on account of the oxidized Vitamin E.
    3) Another point that I think we should all take into consideration is soil depletion. The exhaustion of the topsoil was already a rampant problem by the 1930′s, and is even that much worse today. The foods grown today have far less minerals than they did 100 years ago, so I think it’s even more important than ever to focus on getting those nutrient dense whole foods.
    -My little tip, especially since I don’t tolerate dairy: canned fish (with the bones)! And talk about quick & easy…
    Thanks again

  4. Stephanie L says

    Thank you for all your great information!!
    I second the canned fish with bones, as we also can’t tolerate dairy, even ghee:(
    Another routine I have embraced is making nourishing herbal infusions each night, primarily stinging nettle, red raspberry leaf, comfrey leaf, or red clover flowers. I make nettle or raspberry leaf most often being that I have either been pregnant or nursing for the last 5 years and they are high in calcium and many other minerals. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in energy and my teeth and gums after adding them to my diet. To make add one ounce dry herb to a quart mason jar, fill with boiling water, cap, refridgerate overnight(8 hrs), strain in the morning(squeeze liquid out of herb). This comes from Susun Weed(amazing herbalist).

  5. says

    Hi Kimi,

    love your site! i just started training to become a home economics teacher and one of my assignments requires me to start a ‘home economics blog’. Would you mind if I added your blog to my blogroll?

    cheers,
    xiuping

  6. Jean says

    Thanks for another great post! There are days when my husband just wants to eat white rice (we are asian and have both grown up eating it). I’ve noticed that growing up I ate white rice but we had a lot of seaweed soup, seaweed salad, stir-fried dishes with tiny dried anchovies. Lots of calcium and other minerals here and that’s why I think my parents have done okay in terms of health despite the fact that they’ve eaten white rice their whole lives. Now I am starting to incorporate lots of seaweed into my meal planning, and plenty of those yummy tiny anchovies. Though I’m Chinese, I like to make some Korean dishes (recipes from this site have been tasty so far: http://www.maangchi.com/). And of course the Kim-chi (I just buy from the store) is a great probiotic food that complements the meals. All of these practices I think help to make up for whatever is lacking in the white rice, though I am slowly incorporating the soaked brown rice more often and waiting for my family to acquire a taste for it (very hard if you’ve grown up on the staple white rice!) I am looking to make a congee (Chinese porridge) from brown rice soon…hoping that turns out okay.

    • Dani says

      Jean, white rice has been a tough issue to tackle in my family! I am a stepmom to girls who were tweens (and are now teenagers!) when my hubby and I met and married, and their Mom seem to think Wonder bread and instant rice are just fine–so imagine my frustration with wanting them to eat healthy, but even just getting them to EAT what we have sometimes (because, and I’m not sorry about it, I am GOING to make HEALTHY choices!).

      So, I decided to be sneaky about making the switch, and doing so gradually. It’s doubly-hard, because they’re still getting the minute rice at their Mom’s, every other week. Anyway, the switch to “real” rice from the instant went okay, and so I started mixing in some brown rice with the white, gradually increasing the amounts. I also did lots of “rice mash” dishes that had lots of sauteed veggies in them, where the rice itself was more of a filler than anything, using all brown rice, but having lots of saucy veggies and using nutritional yeast to mask over the brown rice. One thing to remember when adding brown rice to white: it takes a lot longer to cook. I simply made a batch of (soaked/sprouted) brown rice, and would add that (already-cooked) into my batch of white rice. In the beginning, I had to do it in very small doses, and I actually made a batch and then froze it into ice cube containers. Another great way to help them “make the switch” is to, as has been key in some of this series, is to cook rice in a nourishing broth. Immediately, the rice will no longer be white, even further hiding the fact that you’ve snuck some brown rice in. Before you know it, your tastebuds–and your family’s!–won’t know the difference!

      (Side bar: another way I like to be sneaky is to chop a little liver into every dish that has ground beef in it–spaghetti sauce, meatballs, etc. I also make a shepherd’s pie where I chop into very fine pieces broccoli, cauliflower, and all the other veggies the kids don’t like. Being sneaky keeps ‘em healthy!)

      The kids are completely fine with brown rice now–we just had rice for dinner last night, and not ONE comment about how the brown rice; it’s like they didn’t even notice it! Also, tying onto what Michele said about noticing a difference when she soaks her beans, I have noticed when I really am good about soaking/sprouting my grains/flour/beans/etc., that I have almost NO menstrual cramps, and no PMS, either! Now, how does THAT strike everyone? (It sure struck my husband, because I have had some serious crankiness when I’m not watching my grains!)

  7. Catherine says

    WOW!! Thanks for all of this. I do not eat a lot of grains but with cold weather upon us I am sure I will start. For the past 6 months I have been on a cleanse with an acupuncturist. I have serious digestive problems and have learned a great deal about hot and cold foods, fermenting, soaking etc. Right now I only soak nuts to get all of the icky stuff off that I never knew was on there. I have no problem digesting nuts. I also am gluten and dairy intolerant. Thanks to Jean for the Koren recipe website. I would love to use more sea vegetables but haven’t found any that didn’t taste so fishy.
    I love your site and thank you again for delving into this topic.

  8. kirsten says

    kimi, i can’t thank you enough for all the work and care you put into your blog. it is a blessing in my life! i feel the same as you. good food can only bring health, if it is made joyfully and not laden with negative energy and feelings.

  9. William says

    So things like cheese and yogurt reduce the negative effects of phytic acids? But calcium also interferes with iron absorption. While in the first place you want to reduce the phytic acid so you can absorp iron (and other minerals) better. I’m really confused by this

  10. Crystal Saldana says

    Great info. Very helpful. I soaked white rice for 48 hrs, adding vinegar and rinsing well before cooking. The rice cooked super quickly and was easy on the belly. I ofcourse added tons of Kerry’s Gold Butter and even shredded a little cabbage in there for extra nutrients.
    I believe Ramiel Nagel recommends adding Vitamin C rich foods when consuming grains too. My little 3 and 1/2 yr old angel didnt even know she was eating cabbage:)

    We are on the protocols in the book to fix a couple of sugar but areas in her mouth so we are looovving raw milk, cheese and butters right now. I will definitely be soaking my rice IF and when we partake. For now we are consuming much fewer grains and more proteins. I do want to learn more about fermenting sweet potatoes and making sour rice…

    Blessings
    Crystal

Trackbacks

  1. [...] other uses. You can cook your grains and legumes in it for extra nutrition and taste (which helps improve mineral absorption if you are concerned about phytic acid’s impact). You can flavor stir fry’s, chicken pot pie, taco filling and many other dishes with it. [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>