How Soaking Nuts Helped My Digestion (Learn in 3 Simple Steps)

By Marillyn Beard, Contributing Writer

We all know how healthy nuts and seeds can be, but I used to cringe at them growing up. I wasn’t fond of the waxy, slightly bitter taste or the bland texture. My parents often put out a bowl of trail mix… I would always eat the M&M’s and dried fruits instead of the nuts. When I did force myself to eat a handful or two, I didn’t like how I felt afterwards… my stomach would sometimes feel heavy & aching. My head would hurt. My mouth sometimes felt funny and I often got tired & cranky.

I was told these guys were supposed to be healthy and a great source of energy for those who were active in sports!! Not so for me. I thought it was because I’m more of a “carb” person and couldn’t handle a lot of protein.

Fast forward to several years later, through research I learned that I was basically experiencing mild nut/seed allergies and that my body was telling me my digestive system was under a lot of stress trying to digest them.

Now, I can digest and throughly enjoy nuts with no problems! Allow me to share with you, as part of our 21 steps to a nourishing  diet series, what I learned about nuts & seeds and touch on three of the ten reasons why properly preparing them is vital.

KNOW YOUR NUTS AND SEEDS

Did you know that raw nuts and seeds have defense mechanisms made up of enzyme inhibitors, toxic substances (tannic acid & goitrogens) and phytic acid?

Yep, these natural components are there for their protection. Nature doesn’t want the seed to germinate prematurely or predators to consume them to the point where they become extinct. It is amazing how God designed nuts & seeds to have these defense mechanisms so they can continue to bring forth new plants for many, many years! Those natural components can be removed naturally only when there is enough moisture to sustain a new plant after the nut or seed germinates.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT PHYTIC ACID, GOITROGENS & ENZYME INHIBITORS?

The biggest defense mechanism in nuts & seeds is the phytic acid. Every nut & seed have different levels of phytic acid with almonds, brazil nuts and sesame seeds having the highest percentage. When something that contains phytic acid is eaten, the acid binds itself to minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, manganese and chromium in the gut, which prevents the digestive system’s ability to break the nut or seed or grain down properly (that’s why, often, when you eat nuts or seeds… you see undigested bits in your stool the very next day!).

If you struggle with anemia, low zinc levels, osteoporosis and other illness related to low mineral absorption… you should not be eating unsoaked nuts, especially walnuts, almonds & peanuts.

Recently, my grandfather was admitted into the hospital for extremely low hemoglobin. One habit my grandfather has, that I believe is one of the causes of his low hemoglobin & other health issues, is he eats several handfuls of raw/roasted nuts & seeds every day and has done so for years. He believes they are good sources of protein and energy, but they are really causing him more health issues and stealing away his lifespan & energy. For him and everyone else, soaking will help break down the phytic acid and increase the nutritional value without taking away vital nutrients needed for him to be healthy in his old age.

Even though phytic acid is the big, bad guy in nuts and seeds… goitrogens & enzyme inhibitors should not be overlooked either.

Goitrogens is are known to suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake, which can cause a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid), slow down the thyroid, hypothyroidism and other autoimmune thread disorders. Soaking helps reduces goitrogens and actually increases the necessary minerals needed for a healthy thyroid!

Enzyme inhibitors neutralizes vital enzymes that your body naturally produces and can lead to many illnesses that results of an unhealthy, enzyme-depleted gut. Signs that your body is lacking enzymes are bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, irritable bowels and gas. A lack of just one enzyme in the body can lead to many problems and you will only live as long as your body has enzymes… which is why it is important to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors to keep them from decreasing your body of its natural enzymes. Soaking increases the natural enzymes within the nuts & seeds, helps provide greater absorption of the its’ nutrients and increases digestibility.

Basically, when you eat raw nuts or seeds or grains that have not be properly prepared… those “healthy” morsels are actually robbing you of vital minerals, vitamins and enzymes needed to sustain a healthy body!

I feel we should respect those defense mechanism by properly soaking nuts and seeds before consuming them.

How to soak nuts and seeds for better digestion HOW TO PROPERLY PREPARE NUTS & SEEDS IN 3 SIMPLE STEPS

All you need to do is mimic nature’s germination system and give those nuts & seeds a good soak to deactivate the phytic acid, giotrogens and enzyme inhibitors!

You can make sure those natural components get properly minimized or eliminated by following these 3 simple steps:

1. Add your nuts/seeds to a glass jar or bowl and mix warm water & sea salt (make sure there’s enough water to cover the nuts completely). Soak them for the time required.

2. When done soaking, drain out the soak water and thoroughly rinse the nuts.

3. You can do one of two things: refrigerate the soaked nuts and consume within 24 hours OR dry in a dehydrator (or in oven set on the lowest temperature). Store in an airtight container.

Important note: The soak water should always be discarded and never used as water in a recipe or given to your animals.

HOW SOAKING WORKED FOR ME

Soaking & dehydrating nuts and seeds was one of the first things I learned to do after reading Nourishing Traditions and we decided to start up the path of preparing our food more traditionally to improve our overall health. I wanted to see if it would really make a difference and if I could tolerate nuts after being soaked & dehydrated. Honestly, I was a little skeptical.

It was my very first bite that won me over.

My first bite of an almond right out of the dehydrator was deliciously sweet & crunchy. I grabbed another and another and another and soon I was sitting at my kitchen table with a bowlful of warm, sweet, crunchy almonds. After indulging, I got nervous that I was going to have my usual reactions even though I normally start feeling them almost right away.

10 minutes passed… nothing.

20 minutes passed… felt great.

30 minutes passed… felt great and energetic.

An 1 hour passed and I still felt great! I was thrilled!

Of course, I ordered some walnuts and pecans to try next. These were my least favorite nuts, but after taking them through the 3 simple steps… I was won over by their wonderful buttery taste and crunchy texture. That is one of the many reasons why I am still faithfully soaking and dehydrating our nuts and seeds over 7 years later! It has become a normal routine where I would buy nuts & seeds in bulk once a month and follow my 3 simple steps. All that prep takes me less than 10 minutes!

I can say that it has made a difference to our overall health and my kids do not like to eat nuts or seeds that have not be properly prepared. They know the difference between raw & un-soaked nuts to raw & soaked nuts by their flavor, texture and how they feel after eating them. 

Think you are ready to take on the easy challenge of soaking your nuts and seeds?? Your gut will profusely thank you if you did!

Soaking Nuts & Seeds in 3 Simple Steps
 
Author:
 
All you need to do is mimic nature's germination system and give those nuts & seeds a good soak to deactivate the phytic acid, giotrogens and enzyme inhibitors!
Ingredients
  • Nuts and seeds of your choice
  • Warm water
  • Sea Salt (I use at least 1 Tbsp per 2 Lbs of nuts/seeds)
Instructions
  1. Add your nuts or seeds to a glass jar or bowl and mix in warm water & sea salt (make sure there's enough water to cover the nuts completely). Soak them for the time required.
  2. When done soaking, drain out the soak water and thoroughly rinse the nuts.
  3. You can do one of two things: refrigerate the soaked nuts and consume within 24 hours OR dry in a dehydrator (or in oven set on the lowest temperature). Store in an airtight container.

10 RECIPES USING SOAKED NUTS & SEEDS

Cherries & Sunshine Trail Mix (grain-free)

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cookies (grain-free)

Honey Almond Dream w/ Blackberry Sauce

Spicy Ginger Snaps (grain-free)

 Grain-free Apple Elderberry Crumble Cake

 Almond Cookies (Made with whole, soaked and dehydrated almonds)

Almond Thumb Print Cookies 

Almond Orange Cookies 

Apple Cinnamon Nut Granola (Grain-free)

Lemon Curd Bars (Grain-free) 

references:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity by Dr. Edward Howell

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=250

http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid

http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcls-txt/t-prtcl-044.htm

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/cell2.htm

http://www.ajcn.org/content/47/2/270.full.pdf

Marillyn Beard

Marillyn Beard is a deaf missionary wife & mama living on a farm in Honduras with her wonderful husband and 4 beautiful kids.  Together they are heading up a ministry called Rancho Oasis for Youth. Marillyn takes care of her family naturally by using herbs, homeopathy, essential oils and a wholesome diet. She loves to bake wholesome treats, whip up homemade ice cream, experiment with lacto-ferments, work in the garden and care for the farm animals with her family. Between washing diapers, cooking, and caring for her family she shares her interesting & noisy life at Just Making Noise.

Comments

  1. Julie says

    Unfortunately, even soaked nuts don’t always agree with me, but then I don’t have a gallbladder so that could make the difference.

      • says

        Also, phytase, which is needed to reduce phytic acid levels, is heat sensitive, so nuts that aren’t raw won’t contain it, rendering the soaking process ineffective for phytic acid reduction. So I would definitely say use raw nuts!

    • says

      Hello Cindy! Yes, nuts need to be raw because of what Kimi already shared with you, but I also wanted to add in that I experimented one time several years back to see what happens if you try to soak roasted nuts… basically, the nuts got really mushy and smelled pretty gross after being soaked overnight. That told me that there were no live enzymes in the nuts because it was cooked.

      Hope that brought more understanding to why nuts need to be raw to soak properly!

  2. says

    I’ve been meaning to get back to soaking sunflower seeds for weeks, and after reading this post I finally started some. I’ll probably take mine all the way to the small sprout stage for eating on salads.

    Anyone have any other ideas for using soaked/sprouted sunflower seeds that don’t involve dehydrating and baking with them? I know if a process has too many steps I just won’t keep up with it.

    • says

      Hello Liz, I can’t really answer your question because I always make my nut butters after soaking AND dehydrating my nuts. I would thing you could do it, but it will have a different texture and probably a shorter shelf life in the fridge because of the moisture. The moisture can affect the final results, but you won’t know until you try it!

      Let me know if you do and what you think, Liz!

      • says

        I thought I’d chime in for a moment as well, I was just talking with a friend about this yesterday. A few years ago I tried to make peanut butter from peanuts that had been soaked but not dehydrated and it did not turn out well. It was a watery, gloppy mess that I ended up having to toss. I think part of it might be due to the fact that water and oils don’t mix. I would assume this would be true with other nuts as well.

  3. Jacky says

    I didn’t see where it told how long to soak the different nuts . I use a lot of raw almonds and also walnuts… If I have already dried my walnuts in the oven can I still soak them or will they become mushy? thank you so much for this post. Anxious to try as soon as I find out how long to soak them… Thanks

  4. Lora says

    Like Jacky, in the last comment, I, too, am wondering how long to soak the various nuts. Also, I have heard in the past that the water needs to contain some acidic substances, like kefir, kombucha, vinegar, etc, to effectively break down the phytic acid. Do you know anything about that practice? Thank you.

    • says

      Hello Lora, there is a link for you to click on in step #1 at the end… ‘soak them for the time required’, but I will post the link here for you too: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/07/soaking-nuts.html

      With nuts and seeds… it is salt that is used to help activate the enzymes to break down the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. During the soaking process, the natural components are released into the water… which is why rinsing the nuts is important to completely remove them. When you click on the link… the article will talk about why using salt instead of an acid substance is used to soak the nuts and seeds.

      Enjoy!

  5. Amber says

    Thanks for such wonderful information, Marillyn! This may seem like a silly question, but I was wondering… when you buy raw sliced almonds or even almond meal, should you be doing the same thing? Is it even possible?

    • says

      Hello Amber, Thank you! Its not a silly question…

      I buy sliced almonds and am able to soak and dehydrate them with great success. They are wonderfully crunchy and great in oatmeal and other things.

      With the almond meal, I think it is best to buy whole almonds, soak & dehydrate them and then give them a whirl in the food processor or blender. I have made my own almond meal using soaked & dehydrated almonds… again with great success. It really isn’t that hard. But if you are wanting almond flour… then you will need to peel off the skin after soaking the almonds and then dry them. You will have to carefully process them to a flour so they don’t turn to butter :D

    • says

      Hello Beverly, you will need to set your oven at the lowest temperature and let them dry out until dry and crunchy. I can’t tell you how long that will be because the oven is a different set up without the dry air blowing like in a dehydrator. I would soak the nuts overnight and then put it in the oven first thing in the morning, then check it every hour or so (stir the nuts too) until they are done so you know exactly when they will be done in your oven.

  6. mel says

    hi there, I found the link for how long to soak the nuts for but didn’t see any info on seeds, I use chia and hemp seeds alot and was wondering if they needed to be soaked and if so for how long, also how much salt do you usually add to the water??

    • says

      Hello Mel, I did some research and found that they don’t need to be soaked. Besides, the chai seeds turn to gel when soaked in water and I don’t think they would dry well ;)

      With the salt, I usually use 1-2 Tbsp for every 2-3 lbs of nuts and seeds for soaking.

      Really, to make things easy for me… I just simply soak my nuts and seeds overnight and dry them sometime the next day. I have left my nuts and seeds in water for 24 hours before and they were fine. Just need to be sure to rinse very well.

    • says

      Hello Mel, I did some research and found that they don’t need to be soaked. Besides, the chai seeds turn to gel when soaked in water and I don’t think they would dry well ;)

      With the salt, I usually use 1-2 Tbsp for every 2-3 lbs of nuts and seeds for soaking. The only nut I don’t soak for that long is cashews… they should only be soaked for 2-4 hours.

      Really, to make things easy for me… I just simply soak my nuts and seeds overnight and dry them sometime the next day. I have left my nuts and seeds in water for 24 hours before and they were fine. Just need to be sure to rinse very well.

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