Sally-Ann Creed Launches Activated Nuts and Seeds
Nutritional Therapist, Author, Researcher and Speaker, Sally-Ann Creed, has developed a range of activated nuts and seeds for the South African market – almonds, Brazil and pecan nuts as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds. They are currently available at selected Dis-Chem stores in the Western Cape, and will soon be rolling out to stores countrywide.
Activated nuts and seeds, the term used in the food and health industry, particularly in whole food and Paleo circles, describes the soaking and dehydrating technique to remove the phytates, anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors from nuts and seeds. The products also taste lighter, crispier, are easier to digest and are significantly more nutritious. Often these inhibitory factors cause extreme digestive distress and intolerance in some individuals; in others it is merely a feeling of considerable discomfort such as bloating and lethargy.
The anti-nutrients bind nutrients preventing absorption of extremely important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, manganese and many others. By activating nuts and seeds, the enzyme inhibitors are neutralised, thereby preventing uncomfortable side effects. Beneficial enzymes are retained if the drying process is undertaken at less than 50 degrees C, which then make these nutrients and healthy fats bioavailable to the body instead of binding them.
Minerals are all-important to good health. Zinc & magnesium are responsible for over 300 important enzymatic processes in the body including immunity – constant binding of these minerals may lead to a host of deficiency symptoms, which could significantly impact good health. Iron is bound by phytic acid, needed to make red blood cells. Soaking and dehydrating raw nuts and seeds also creates an end result similar to roasted nuts, but without the added vegetable oils or high temperature roasting that can damage the nutrients and enzymes in these foods.
Comments Sally-Ann, “Large amounts of nuts and seeds put huge pressure on the digestive system as they are difficult to digest but activation makes this process easier as your own enzymes are not overworked.
Once people taste activated nuts and seeds, the lightness and crunch they offer and the superior taste, they generally find it difficult to return to ordinary raw or roasted nuts. Roasted nuts unfortunately are either dry roasted at high temperatures destroying the beneficial and vital nutrition they provide, or they are deep fried in very toxic oil. For this reason raw nuts have always been the safer option. However the enzyme inhibitors often make them something many people cannot eat – activating removes that obstacle. Activation also removes the possibility of rancidity as nuts and seeds don’t last long on the shelf before they become rancid; activation naturally extends shelf life and superior taste, protecting both taste and nutritional benefit.”
Why Activate? To neutralise phytic acid, to remove or reduce tannins, to neutralise the enzyme inhibitors, to encourage the production of beneficial enzymes, to increase the amounts of bioavailable vitamins (especially B vitamins), to improve digestion, to make the proteins more readily available for absorption, and to prevent mineral deficiencies which may lead to bone loss.
Activated nuts and seeds are the ideal addition to yogurt or fruit; they won’t bloat or cause any sort of digestive distress. Vegans may rely on nuts especially as a key source of protein, however they need a fair amount to get enough protein, which means they may eat a lot more than the average person. The activated nuts allow them to eat more than they normally would without the side effects and possible damage to the digestive tract. These nuts and seeds can be made into flour replacements for breads, pizzas and almost anything one would use flour for.
With the growing low-carb and Paleo movement around the world, fewer people eat grains or legumes; nuts and seeds are the natural go-to as a flour replacement for baking and coatings.
Bloating is the least of the problems associated with unactivated nuts and seeds – there is also the potential for damage to the lining of the digestive tract. Enzyme inhibitors block the function of enzymes – drugs are in fact enzyme inhibitors. In short, an enzyme inhibitor will prevent natural molecules in the body working the way they should.
Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, chromium, manganese and especially zinc in the intestinal tract to block absorption. Bound minerals usually can’t be absorbed in the intestine, so too many bound minerals may lead to mineral deficiencies, which can lead to many health issues. This is why a diet high in unactivated nuts and seeds could lead to serious mineral deficiencies possibly including bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed brans often improves colon transit time initially, but may ultimately lead to irritable bowel syndrome and in the long term, many other adverse effects including nutritional deficiencies.
Phytic acid and protease inhibitors, lectins etc cause bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, extreme sluggishness or digestive distress. Animals and birds have phytase to neutralise the phytates and facilitate digestion, human beings do not. Therefore activation is recommended.
Gluten-intolerant, activated nut flours are excellent for digestion. Many people struggle with the new nut and seed flours, they oxidise very quickly and often taste ‘off’ – plus they are still full of the enzyme inhibitors, which could present digestive difficulties.
Phytic acid is biologically necessary for the seed, as it helps safeguard the nut or seed until proper growing conditions are present and germination can occur. These enzyme inhibitors prevent the seed from sprouting prematurely, but can cause potential problems in humans by binding to nutrients in the body and contributing to nutrient deficiencies and digestive system irritation.
Seeds and nuts store phosphorus as phytic acid and it becomes a phytate when it binds to a mineral. In the body, this process can stop nutrients from being absorbed in the digestive system and reduce the digestibility of these foods. Activating them increases their digestibility and makes the valuable fats available to us. They also just taste so MUCH better!
The human digestive tract struggles to extract the minerals from uncooked nuts and seeds. Soaking releases the nutritional inhibitors including phytates, tannins, and goitrogens, which bind the minerals, thus making these nutrients easier for the body to extract and utilise for maximum digestibility.
Another important problem with nuts and seeds is that they also contain additional enzyme inhibitors which can block the action of trypsin and other protein digesting enzymes. This can produce serious gastric distress, with reduced protein digestion causing chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. Therefore activation increases the amount of minerals, vitamins (especially B Vitamins) and protein readily available for absorption. Remember it’s not what you eat, it’s what you digest and absorb that is important.
Without proper digestion there can be no such thing as good nutrition and health – everything hinges on the ability to digest your food properly. If you don’t take the time now for proper digestion, then later in life you may find yourself dealing with an array of digestive problems.
Activating through History
For thousands of years tribal/indigenous people have known that they need to soak their nuts and seeds before eating them. They probably didn’t realise that they were activating them, but they clearly felt the benefits of doing so. The Aborigines are well known for this practice; they have activated their nuts and seeds for centuries. This is probably why Australia has the most widely available supply of these products and is keenly aware of their benefits in this form. Almost all nuts and seeds I found in Australian stores were activated. Clearly these people realised a long time ago that they would enjoy greater digestibility, nutrition and benefit without any digestive distress by activating their nuts. Different varieties of nuts and seeds all have different soaking and drying times.
Nuts are the seeds from nut trees (not peanuts, which are related to peas, not nuts, and are ground nuts). When you soak nuts and seeds in water, two phenomena occur: leaching of protease inhibitors (molecules which inhibit digestion) into the water and activating of the germination process, so the amount of starch and fibre reduces, while the protein and vitamin content is raised. For this reason germinating seeds and nuts make them easier to digest than dry, raw nuts. Roasted nuts are no longer ‘alive’ and will not activate.
The problem with home germination or that which is not done in a proper facility is that they may not be fully dried, and thus pose a problem regarding fungi and moulds, which are destructive and can be very dangerous to the body. The water used needs to be pure, and one needs to trust the source to avoid any complications.
By Sally-Ann Creed