Moderation, gut population, preparation, nutrientation
Yeah ok - so I made up that last word :)
Consuming phytate has both beneficial and harmful effects on the body, and as with most things, balance is the key. However, high-phytate foods have become a staple, not only in developing countries, where cost is the driving factor, but also in the developed ones, which choose to put grains at the bottom of the food pyramid. A moderate intake of phytate from occasional higher phytate whole foods is not a problem for anyone in good health on a traditional, balanced diet, which includes animal fats containing natural vitamin A and D (which mitigate effects of phytic acid), and a little fruit.
It is important to note that healthy gut microbiota will degrade some of your dietary phytate, actually increasing phytase enzyme production when you consume higher levels of phytate! Phytase enzymes degrade phytate, but at best, only about half of the intestinal dietary phytate is broken down. (Schlemmer et al 2009). This may be because phytate has both negative and positive roles to play in the body. We probably don't need to go overboard with food preparation methods to reduce phytates unless our diet is "loaded" with them.
SSchlemmer, U., FrÃ¸lich, W., Prieto, R.F. and Grases, F. (2009) Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Mol Nutr Food Res 53, S330-S375.
However, If high phytate foods comprise the main food source of two or more meals per day (usually true of today's typical Western diet or a vegetarian diet), then to avoid a mineral deficiency or malabsorption of protein and carbohydrates, you should:
• In particular, think about removing or minimizing wheat from your diet. Wheat has its own set of problems aside from phytate;
Gut microflora produce phytase enzymes to degrade phytate
• Supplement a good probiotic supplement. Improve the health of the microbiome encouraging production of phytase enzymes by beneficial bacteria and also provide lactic-acid producing Lactobacilli, which create a lower pH environment more conducive to phytase activity. Look for a quality supplement with a minimum 30 billion CFU/day including multiple acid-resistant species/strains to survive the journey through the stomach acid.
• Consume fermented products. Traditionally made sauerkraut, kimchi, good probiotic-rich yogurt and kefir.
• Consume fiber-rich prebiotics to feed the probiotics. Includes tubers, rutabagas, parsnips, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, stevia, radicchio, chicory and Belgian endive;
• Don't take antibiotics. Unless of course it is absolutely necessary; also don't eat inorganic chicken, beef, or pork, since in the U.S., antibiotics are used to make the sources of these meats fatter and larger.
Appropriate preparation of whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes has the following benefits:
(a) Makes their chelated minerals bioavailable;
(b) Prevents their phytic acid from leaching digested minerals from the GI tract;
(c) Mitigates phytic acid's ability to reduce protein and starch digesting enzymes;
(d) Removes other antinutrients, such as lectins and protease inhibitors
Several traditional household food preparation methods can be used to enhance the bioavailability of nutrients in high phytate content foods:
• Heat treatment (cooking/roasting until heat destroys phytase enzymes)
• Mechanical processing (E.g. grinding)
• Soaking (partial germination), Germination (sprouting), Fermentation (souring) - to activate naturally present (or added) phytase enzymes to break down the phytic acid.
• Vitamins A and D from animal fat (lard, grass-fed butter and cream, fish liver oil, organ meats). Aid absorption of vitamins and minerals contained in grains (calcium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins, etc.) and any others you have eaten
• Beta-carotene in your daily diet to counteract phytic acid's reduction of iron absorption. Found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
• Consume vitamin C with phytate-rich meals. Counters iron loss
• Obtain absorbable calcium. From raw milk, raw cheese, yogurt, kefir, bone broths, supplements;
• Obtain vitamin D - Get out in the sun, consume animal fats or supplement vitamin D. Shown to mitigate mineral-blocking effects of phytic acid
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