IT MAKES SENSE!
Are activated nuts and seeds really better for you? For me they are! I have a very sensitive stomach and a few months ago I started to notice how bloated I would be just thirty minutes after I snacked on a handful of nuts. I was so confused. I thought nuts were anti-inflammatory and had super healing powers? I needed some answers.
There are many different opinions on this subject, so I turned to scholarly, evidence-based articles for this one. I read lots about phytic acid, nutrient absorption and getting back to our traditional way of preparing food. It was fascinating and my questions were answered. Nuts do have super-powers, but in order for your body to absorb the nutrients properly, they need to be activated!
This made complete sense. Here I thought eating "raw" nuts was the healthiest option. Turns out, the amount of phytic acid in raw nuts blocks the nutrient-absorbing process, making it very difficult for your body to break them down. I even tested this to see if it was true, and...it's 100% true! I ate a huge handful of raw pumpkin seeds...within 30 minutes I was extremely bloated and hunched over because of the pain I was in. I did not digest them properly either. Lol. If I knew it was going to be that bad, I wouldn't have done it!
THE ACTIVATION PROCESS
Activating nuts is a two-step process consisting of soaking and dehydrating. Soaking the nuts/seeds in salt water breaks down the enzyme inhibitors present in the nuts. Side note: the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are present in the nuts to keep them from sprouting prematurely and even acts natures form of pesticides. When we eat, our pancreas and stomach produce enzymes to help break down and digest our food. Ingesting phytic acid and certain enzyme inhibitors decreases the efficiency of our digestive enzymes and drastically slows down the digestion process(1). The CRAZIEST part is that our bodies have a very hard time absorbing the nutrients from unsprouted nuts. Meaning, all the nuts and nut butters I have consumed over the past 5 years, thinking they were nutrient-dense and good for me, have actually caused damage to my gut!
Before I scare you away from eating any form of phytic acid, I need to add that phytates (a salt or ester of phytic acid,1) also have some positive health benefits. Actually, many plant-based foods, veggies included, contain phytates! The soaking, sprouting and preperation process doesn't completely destroy the phytic acid, it simply lowers the amount were ingesting. In doing so, were receiving just the right amount of phytates without overdoing it and causing harm to our digestive systems.
You can actually eat the sprouted nuts after the soaking process, but the new texture of the nut it a bit unappetizing. Dehydrating the nuts restores their delicious and irresistible crunch! I even add some cinnamon and raw honey to the nuts before tossing them in the oven.
There are many mysteries when it comes to gut health and everyone's experience is different. For me, eating raw nuts triggers bloating and digestive issues, for others, their insides are completely fine. If you have a sensitive digestive system, start paying closer attention to your food preparation and how your body is reacting to what your ingesting.
ACTIVATED WALNUTS A-LA MARGARET
3 cups of raw walnuts
Soak overnight (12-14 hrs in salt water and a dash of apple cider vinegar)
Rinse thoroughly, strain, pat dry
Stir in 1T cinnamon, pinch of salt, 1 T raw honey
Dehydrate in oven at lowest temperature possible (170 is as low as my oven goes) for 10 hours or until nuts are fully dry
Store in an air-tight glass container.