Revenge of the Plants?!

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Nowadays if you walk into any health food store worth a damn, you will see all sorts of products with the word ‘activated’ on the packaging. You’ll also notice that they’re markedly more expensive than the non-activated versions of that product.

What on earth does ‘activated’ mean anyway?

Activation refers to a process of soaking a type of food in water for up to 24 hours, usually with an acidic agent and/or salt (preferably Himalayan sea salt). The soaking results in a process known as ‘sprouting’ or ‘germination’, which helps remove certain inflammatory compounds which are naturally found on the surface layers of plant foods such as wheat, rice, pulses, legumes, seeds, nuts and oats.

These compounds are known as antinutrients (the name says it all), and substances range from phytic acid, lectin, oxalates, salicylates, tannins and protease inhibitors. The function of these antinutrients is to protect these plants from being eaten by us and animals (Hi vegans :D). The plants secrete these substances with the intent to cause harm, to dissuade from coming back to consume them. How clever is that??

Make no mistake, while these substances won’t kill you, they can cause negative side effects to your health. All of the aforementioned antinutrients cause an immune reaction which can cause systemic inflammation, gut issues, low energy, allergic type symptoms such as rashes and spots, hair loss, poor mood and concentration…the list is endless really.

These antinutrients also disrupt nutrient absorption, which means while you’re working hard on trying to attain nutrients from all these plant based foods, you actually might be doing your health more harm than good.

We tend to assume plant based foods are more easily digestible, where in fact, they are not. At least not till they’re activated and/or cooked.

Phytic acid for example, which is usually found in wheat, oats, beans and lentils actually inhibits our body’s ability to absorb essential minerals like zinc, copper and magnesium which we need for cell function, energy production, detoxification and more.

Oxalates are found in foods like spinach and kale and a build up of this compound can destroy some of our body’s vital enzymes, limit nutrient absorption and worst of all, cause kidney stones. Not good.

Of course we’re all so well acquainted with gluten, the most famous antinutrient of them all. Gluten is found in all wheat based products and is an inflammatory protein. There have been numerous studies in the last 10 years linking many health symptoms and nutrient deficiencies to gluten, even in people who are not allergic or intolerant to gluten.

In addition to antinutrients, there still also remains the small issue of environmental pollution and heavy metals. I’ve written a post on how this gets into our food and affects our health, read more here.

Now, if you think I am saying that we shouldn’t be eating a predominantly plant based, you have got me all the way twisted. Vegetables and plant foods are genuinely some of the most powerful and nutrient dense foods we can put into our bodies. Prepared right, even individuals with food sensitivities can get their 10 a day veggie quota in (yes, that is the standard to aspire to). Activating the perpetrating foods can go a long way when it comes to getting rid of antinutrients as well as heavy metals. The benefit of doing this simply means less inflammation, immune responses, gut issues, more energy, better nutrient profile and much more!

Here’s my brief guide on how to deal with the main triggering foods:

When it comes to rice, legumes, nuts, seeds and oats, soak them (separately please) in a large bowl with lots of warm but not boiling water.

Add in a few capfuls of apple cider vinegar and/or 2-3 teaspoons of salt.

Leave to soak for a minimum of 2 hours, however you want to aim for a 8-24 hour window.

The longer you can leave them to soak, the more antinutrients and heavy metals you can expect to get rid of, which means less to no symptoms for you!

After soaking, it is important to rinse everything off thoroughly with cold water. I use a colander otherwise everything just ends up in the sink. Catastrophe.

If you’re dealing with oats, you can eat them raw, since they have now undergone a sprouting process and will be much easier on the gut.

For all the other foods, you will need to cook as normal.

For nuts and seeds, popping them on an oven tray and letting them oven roast on 180 celcius for approx 10 mins will give you a delicious snack. You can season the nuts before roasting with tabasco if you like them spicy like me!

As for your cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale and spinach…please, for the love of God and everyone who has to share space with you – cook your damn vegetables. Eating them raw is not going to end nor smell well.







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