If you have been around the paleo community or keto community for the last 20 years, you have probably been schooled on the horror of consuming phytic acid-rich foods. What is phytic acid anyways?
Phytic acid is essentially the storage form of phosphorus in the plant.
Phytic acid is found in abundance in grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts.
There is also a small amount in roots and tubers like sweet potatoes and cassava.
Reducing Phytic Acid Intake
I often wonder if people or experts are doing this intentionally to gather attention because fear sells or perhaps it is because we live in this western model that trains us not to see things holistically. Either way, for the health of our families, we need to revisit our understanding of phytic acid.
You sit down to a meal with oats, almonds, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, beans, you name it, how much phytic acid are you consuming? Well that depends, did you soak, sprout, ferment, or cook the food? If so, then you have significantly reduced the phytic acid in your food.
Phytic acid is often demonized as an anti-nutrient that we must destroy so that we don’t become deficient in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. Now in a single meal, as the amount of phytate decreases, the amount of available minerals increases.
When might you want to pay special attention to the amount of phytic acid you’re consuming?
- If you’re a vegan or vegetarian
- If you’re eating a lot of soy products
- If you’re anemic
- If you’re getting sick all of the time
- If you’re not getting enough zinc
If you’re concerned about iron, calcium or zinc you could always eat foods or supplements at another time during the day and in so doing bypass the phytic acid issue. I would also recommend sprouting, soaking, fermenting, or cooking your grains, nuts, seeds, potatoes, beans to increase their digestibility but I wouldn’t stress about completely clearing phytic acid from your meals.
Sprouting alone has shown to increase bioavailability of minerals in many grains from 40%-98% depending on the grain.
How about we focus on the anti-cancer and anti-obesity effects of phytic acid rather than the mineral depletion effects?
Another contested hot topic in the nutrition world is lectins. Lectins can be problematic for individuals with autoimmune disease, eczema, or inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Find out whether lectins should be a part of your diet in this post.