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What are Phytates?

Phytates, also known as phytic acid, are naturally occurring compounds found in plant-based foods. They are a storage form of phosphorus in plants and are particularly concentrated in seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes.

Anti-nutrients are compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the body. Phytates are considered anti-nutrients because they can bind to minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, forming insoluble complexes that are not easily absorbed by the body. This can potentially lead to mineral deficiencies if these foods are a significant part of one’s diet.

Foods with high levels of phytates include:

  1. Whole grains: Such as wheat, oats, barley, and rice.
  2. Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans.
  3. Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.

Reducing phytate levels in food can help improve mineral absorption.

Some methods to reduce phytates include:

  1. Soaking: Soaking grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds in water for several hours or overnight can help reduce phytate levels. Discarding the soaking water before cooking or consuming can further decrease phytate content.
  2. Sprouting: Sprouting seeds, grains, and legumes can reduce phytate levels as well as increase the availability of certain nutrients.
  3. Fermentation: Fermenting foods like sourdough bread, tempeh, miso, and fermented vegetables can break down phytates and enhance nutrient absorption.
  4. Cooking: Cooking can also reduce phytate levels in food, although the extent of reduction may vary depending on factors such as cooking time and temperature.

By employing these methods, you can mitigate the anti-nutrient effects of phytates and enhance the nutritional quality of plant-based foods in your diet.

What do Phytates do for you?

Phytates

  • Similarly to lectins, phytates are naturally produced by plants and are in fact the storage form of phosphorus in the seed.
  • When the plant grows, the phytates release the phosphorus nourishing the plant’s growth.

What do phytates do?

  • Phytic acid prevents the absorption of specific minerals in our gut, and reduces the digestibility of proteins in our diet.
  • When phytic acid binds to a mineral it is called phytate.
  • Phytates aren’t digested when we eat them because we lack the enzyme phytase that breaks it down.
  • Phytic acid binds to calcium, iron and zinc when ingested, forming complexes that can’t actually be absorbed and used by the body, contributing to nutrient deficiencies.

Where are phytates found?

Foods containing phytates include beans, seeds, nuts, grains & legumes while some roots and tubers contain some too.

Phytate content varies, but it is particularly higher in raw, unsprouted seeds.

High amounts of phytic acid is found in:Look out for these plants With phytates

  • Rice bran
  • Linseeds, sunflower & sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat bran & germ
  • Almonds, brazil nuts
  • Beans

The amount of phytic acid varies in these foods.

For example, the content in almonds can vary by up to 20-fold.

In contrast to its negative effects, phytic acid also has a beneficial impact on our health in some cases.

It is well known to have antioxidant properties, reducing oxidative stress in the body.

Phytates are also known to be preventative for cardiovascular disease, kidney stones and insulin resistance.

Another benefit phytic acid provides is its ability to bind to heavy metals in the gut or in the plants themselves, preventing toxic metals from being absorbed and lowering the risk of heavy metal toxicity.

So they’re not to be avoided completely, but their timing and amount should be carefully monitored.

Symptoms

There are no particular symptoms associated with phytates, however the fact that they reduce the bioavailability of nutrients and minerals suggests that they could be having profound effects on our health. Being deficient in iron for example, can cause a host of negative health effects.

Treatment

  1. If you think you may be negatively affected by phytates, the best option is to focus on avoiding them in your diet.
  2. You can use methods such as heating, sprouting, soaking and fermenting foods to reduce the phytate content. Although this isn’t always completely effective.
  3. Some research has shown that vitamin C can counteract the effects of phytates with just 50mg of vitamin C being able to counteract a phytate rich meal.
  4. Additionally, animal protein appears to improve zinc, copper and iron absorption.
  5. If you’re following a plant-based diet, or frequently consume raw nuts and seeds, you may not be getting all the nutrients you need because of high amounts of phytates in your diet.
  6. Take extra steps to prepare your food by soaking, sprouting and cooking foods that are rich in phytates to minimize your consumption of them. You’ll find more guidance on this below.

Zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron are all essential minerals that play vital roles in the human body:

  1. Zinc: Zinc is involved in numerous physiological processes, including:

    • Immune function: Zinc is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system, including immune cell development and function.
    • Growth and development: Zinc is crucial for normal growth and development during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.
    • Wound healing: Zinc is necessary for the synthesis of proteins and DNA, which are essential for wound healing.
    • Sense of taste and smell: Zinc is involved in the perception of taste and smell.
    • Enzyme function: Zinc is a cofactor for numerous enzymes involved in various metabolic pathways.
  2. Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including:

    • Energy production: Magnesium is required for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of cells.
    • Muscle function: Magnesium is essential for muscle contraction and relaxation.
    • Nervous system function: Magnesium plays a role in neurotransmitter release and neuromuscular transmission.
    • Bone health: Magnesium is involved in bone formation and maintenance.
  3. Calcium: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is primarily known for its role in:

    • Bone and teeth health: Calcium is a major component of bones and teeth, providing structural support and strength.
    • Muscle function: Calcium is essential for muscle contraction, including the heart muscle.
    • Nerve transmission: Calcium plays a role in nerve impulse transmission.
    • Blood clotting: Calcium is necessary for the formation of blood clots, which is crucial for wound healing and preventing excessive bleeding.
  4. Iron: Iron is essential for various physiological processes, including:

    • Oxygen transport: Iron is a component of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body.
    • Energy metabolism: Iron is involved in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of cells.
    • Immune function: Iron is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system.
    • Cognitive function: Iron is important for cognitive development and function.

Overall, these minerals are critical for maintaining overall health and well-being, and deficiencies in any of them can lead to various health problems.

Testing for phytate sensitivity typically involves an elimination diet followed by reintroduction to gauge individual reactions.

Here’s a general process:

  1. Elimination Diet:
    1. Remove foods high in phytates from your diet for a period of time (usually 2-4 weeks).
    2. Common high-phytate foods include grains (especially whole grains), legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  2. Monitor Symptoms:
    1. Keep track of any symptoms you experience during the elimination phase.
    2. These could include digestive issues like bloating, gas, or changes in bowel habits, as well as other symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, or skin problems.
  3. Reintroduction:
    1. Gradually reintroduce high-phytate foods, one at a time, and observe how your body reacts.
    2. Start with small portions and pay attention to any return or exacerbation of symptoms.
  4. Correlation with Blood Markers (optional):
    1. While there isn’t a specific blood test for phytate sensitivity, some markers could indirectly correlate with its effects.
    2. For example, levels of certain minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium may be influenced by phytate consumption.
    3. However, these markers can be affected by various factors beyond phytates alone, so any correlations should be interpreted cautiously.

High-phytate foods include:

  • Whole grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and rice.
  • Legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans.
  • Nuts and seeds including almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.

As for blood chemistry markers, while there’s no direct test for phytate sensitivity, some markers that might be influenced by phytate consumption include:

  • Iron levels:

    • Phytates can bind to iron, potentially reducing its absorption.

    • Low iron levels (anemia) may indicate impaired absorption due to phytates.

  • Zinc levels:

    • Phytates can also bind to zinc, which may affect its absorption.

    • Low zinc levels might suggest interference from phytates.

  • Calcium levels:

    • Phytates could potentially affect calcium absorption, although the evidence is less clear compared to iron and zinc.

Remember, individual responses to phytates can vary greatly, so it’s essential to pay attention to your body’s signals and consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your diet or nutrient status.

Tips to Avoiding Antinutrients

Diet Changes

Antinutrients come from food, and so the best way to address the problem is to adjust your diet.

Diets that aim to remove or reduce antinutrients include:

  • The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)
  • Paleo/Primal Diet
  • Whole30
  • Carnivore Diet
  • Ketogenic Diet

While these diets are slightly different in terms of their macronutrient ratios (you can find out more about the exact ratios in this post), they all have a few things in common.

  • They’re whole-foods based, which means they focus on unprocessed, natural foods and avoid processed foods.
  • They limit sugar intake.
  • Foods rich in antinutrients like grains, legumes, nuts & seeds and some fruits and vegetables are either completely eliminated or reduced due to their potential negative health effects.

If you’re looking for a one-word, straight-forward answer saying ‘do this’, you’re not going to find it. All of the diets mentioned above can be tailored to meet your specific needs, depending on which antinutrients you are sensitive to.

Use these diets as a template from which you adjust and tweak based on your personal preferences.

Conduct an experiment on yourself and begin by eliminating certain foods for at least 30 days and record how you feel when reintroducing these foods back in. For example, you may find that you tolerate dairy particularly well but nightshades wreak havoc on your joints. In this case, you could adopt a ketogenic diet that includes dairy but excludes nightshades. There is no one size fits all approach to finding the right diet for you!

How To Reduce Antinutrient Content In Foods?

While a diet that eliminates plant foods completely sounds a little extreme, there are many people adopting the infamous ‘carnivore diet’ and seeing many benefits. But maybe you don’t have to go to that extreme, and you still can enjoy your favorite plant foods by using a few cooking techniques.

There are ways to reduce and sometimes completely eliminate the antinutrient content in foods and they’re nothing new; they’ve been culinary practices for many centuries, we’ve just forgotten about them. They’re simple to do but do require some time and effort to carry out, but you will thank yourself later. Here are some ways to reduce your antinutrient exposure:

Soaking: allowing some grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and even some vegetables to soak in water over night has been shown to reduce the level of antinutrients they contain. Antinutrients are often found in the skin of the food and are water soluble, so they dissolve when soaked. The efficacy may depend on the type of bean/legume etc. but one study showed a 8-16 hour soak reduced lectin content in peas by 38-50%! Soaking can also decrease oxalates in leafy green vegetables.

How? Rinse the beans/legumes/seeds. Place them in a bowl and add enough water to cover them. Soak for 8-24 hours (the time depends on the food). Rinse and add fresh water every 6 hours if possible.

Sprouting: This simply means taking the plant to a period in its life cycle called germination; when it starts to grow from the seed. It can take up to a few days and makes the nutrients in plants more bioavailable – meaning we can absorb them better in our gut. When the seed gets ready to grow, certain antinutrients are deactivated. Phytates have been shown to be reduced by 37-81% in various grains, beans and legumes. You can do this with most seeds, nuts, beans, legumes and some grains and detailed explanations can be found on various websites.

How? Carry out the soaking process described above. After rinsing thoroughly, place them in a glass jar or sprouting vessel, away from direct sunlight. Rinse once every 8-12 hours until you see sprouts appearing.

Fermentation: In this process, natural bacteria and yeast begin to digest the carbs in foods. This degrades the antinutrients in plants. Cheese, bread, wine, beer and kimchi are examples of fermented foods. Fermenting kidney beans for 48 hours reduced phytates by 88%.

How? Make bread using a traditional sourdough starter culture, or you can soak any grains/beans/legumes as described above and leave at room temperature to start fermenting. Once again, follow guides online for specific instructions.

Boiling: The high temperatures are effective for destroying many antinutrients. Phytates are the most heat resistant of the antinutrients, but oxalates, lectins and tannins are reduced significantly.

How? The length of time will depend on the antinutrient type and the food, but longer boiling times are more effective. Simply boil the food and rinse afterwards.

Peeling & Deseeding – Remove the skins and seeds of fruit and vegetables.

Go Refined – It sounds counterintuitive, but refined grains contain less lectins because the outer coat of the grain is removed. For example, white rice has far less antinutrients than brown rice, and the same applies for white flour versus whole wheat flour. Bear in mind, this is only if you really can’t avoid grains altogether, because refined grains are stripped of their nutrients!

A combination of the above methods is most effective for degrading antinutrients and making the nutrients in plants more bioavailable. It is a good idea to make some of these techniques habits in the kitchen as they may help to take your health to the next level!

It is important to note that not all antinutrients are bad or detrimental to our health. We know that plants contain some chemicals such as polyphenols that are beneficial to our health and actually make our cells function better. For example, some lectins can actually provide immune benefits and reduce inflammation, but usually in small amounts and only specific types. While lectins are known to bind to carbohydrates and cause damage, some don’t possess this property, making them safe to consume.

The problem really occurs when antinutrient-rich foods are eaten in large amounts, regularly, as their harmful effects eventually result in noticeable negative side-effects. The key lies in understanding which plant-based foods to avoid and which ones to consume, how to prepare them and to identify whether you have a sensitivity to them or not.

Alternative to plants

We’ve evolved to eat a wide variety of foods. Both animal-based and plant-based. The media selectively pushes the ‘plant forward’ mindset and due to several decades of believing that red meat and animal products like dairy and eggs are the cause of heart disease, obesity and other metabolic disorders, many people are still afraid to eat these foods.

Animal-based foods do contain higher amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol – but this isn’t a problem! Meat and eggs are actually healthy foods that we can thrive on. Firstly, they are very nutrient dense and are a major source of all the macro- and micronutrients, vitamins, minerals we need in a more bioavailable form as they don’t contain any of the antinutrients we have mentioned above that prevent us from absorbing and using the precious nutrients they provide.

Secondly, scientists have uncovered the truth about red meat and saturated fats and cholesterol in particular, and proved that they aren’t in fact detrimental to our health. (It’s other lifestyle factors as well as the quality of the food – whether it is grass-fed or grain-fed, for example – that are important.)

Gram for gram, every micronutrient, except for vitamin C, in red meat far exceeds that in carrots and apples. When looking at organ meats, the micronutrient content is even greater, including for vitamin C.

Let’s take a look at some of the micronutrients contained in some animal-based foods:
Beef – high in iron, creatine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), selenium, vitamin B12
Salmon – high in iodine, omega 3’s, vitamin B6, D & E, potassium
Eggs – high in biotin, choline, folate, vitamin B5, vitamin K2
Butter – high in butyrate, calcium, vitamin A, E & K2
Liver – high in vitamin A, E, K, all the B vitamins, copper, zinc, selenium & iron

How does GoodPhyte work?

It uses phytase to counteract the anti-nutrient phytate.

Phytate is present on ALL grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. Think of it like a self-protective coating that plants use to stop their seeds from being eaten before they have a chance to sprout. Phytate can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable, can impair your use of amino acids and protein, and, even more importantly, block you from absorbing important nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium. While ruminants like cattle, sheep, and deer have stomachs that can deplete phytate, we humans with only one stomach, need some extra help. Phytase — the key ingredient in GoodPhyte — is the enzyme which breaks down phytate, giving you access to those nutrients.

You’re doing all the right things, but you still don’t feel right — blame phytate

Even though we try hard to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep, feeling depleted, exhausted and bloated is a daily reality for many. No matter what we do, we still don’t feel good. That’s because the phytate in our diet is causing digestive discomfort, and it’s also preventing us from absorbing the nutrients from our food or our vitamin supplements — hence the low energy. Without the ability to absorb zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and amino acids, our everyday health can be severely impacted.

There are two ways to dissolve phytate:

Soak, sprout, slow-cook, or ferment your food ahead of time. This can remove 50%-70% of phytate from your food. It’s a great option, but can be challenging with a busy schedule and it still doesn’t counteract all the phytate.

Take 1-3 GoodPhyte capsules per day to counteract all the phytate in your food. Everyone’s dose is different and depends on your diet. Vegans typically need 3-4 capsules of phytase per day, whereas omnivores may only need 1-2.

What makes our digestive enzyme different?

Why choose GoodPhyte over another supplement?

GoodPhyte is different from other enzymes and supplements but you don’t have to choose, as it actually makes all other vitamin supplements more effective:

Phytase allows other vitamin supplements to reach their full potential in the body, while also making minerals in food more bioavailable.

We aren’t competing with other supplements, we’re supporting them. Keep taking your other supplements and vitamins as your health practitioner recommended. See how your energy levels, sleep levels, and stomach health improves with time.

Even for people who don’t (or can’t) take vitamins or supplements, our phytase enzyme gives you full access to the nutrients naturally present in your food. It also allows you to access the endogenous (meaning inside the body) pool of zinc. Zinc is known to be a critical piece of a strong immune system.

Why take a digestive enzyme?

Digestion takes up to 70% of your energy 
in a day.

That’s a lot, and it’s important to make sure your body is working as efficiently as it can. Enzymes are the catalysts for every reaction in your body, and are present in freshly picked raw vegetables and fresh meat. Our gut bacteria also produce some enzymes. Many of us eat large amounts of cooked food, previously frozen food, and not enough raw foods. And even when we do eat the ‘right’ things like pulses and lentils, the presence of phytate can hinder digestion. That means we’re not getting the micronutrients we need. Our bodies need a low-stress environment to work well and they also need access to nutrients in our foods to be our best and healthiest selves.

Goodphyte IB Defense is a digestive enzyme and probiotic combination designed to give you access to the micronutrients otherwise bound in food by the anti-nutrient Phytate.  These micronutrients – zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium, are all critical to your health, gut health, well being and immune system.  Customers who use our products have noticed more energy, better relaxation and rest, better and more regular bowel movements and better recovery from workouts.

This new product was specifically designed for anyone with digestive issues or in need of digestive support, or alleviation of symptoms associated with IBD or IBS.  With the addition of a probiotic to our already great phytase enzyme, this product now:

  • Promotes Gut health
  • Supports Digestive health
  • Promotes healthy bowel movements
  • Supports relief from digestive discomfort
  • Promotes immune health
  • Supports immune system modulation
  • Promotes healthy microflora balance

SAVE on GoodPhyte with our code lowcarbathlete and find out yourself if it helps you!

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