There's been a rather peculiar phenomenon sweeping the health food world in recent years. To an outsider, it might appear as we've completely lost the plot. And, we aren't talking about the golden milk lattes, green smoothies, or bulletproof coffees. More amusingly, this trend requires one to "activate" their nuts and seeds. While it may sound like a pre-gym warm-up, like activating your glutes prior to some deadlifts
, I can assure you, this is not what we are talking about here. In fact, it's a trend worth noticing because there's some solid science backing it up.
What's Wrong With Nuts & Seeds In The First Place?
Well, in truth, nothing is inherently wrong
with them. Unless you have a severe allergy to nuts or seeds or rely on them as your main sustenance, you're probably fine. There are, however, many people who have autoimmune conditions or food intolerances where nuts and seeds can actually aggravate their digestive system. For the rest of us, the occasional nutty snack isn't such a bad thing. Nuts and seeds, like grains and legumes, contain phytic acid.
Again, phytic acid isn't inherently bad
. It may even have some anti-cancer potential (source
) and help to reduce kidney stones by inhibiting calcium crystallization (source
). But as humans, we don't produce
enough of the phytase
enzyme to effectively break down phytic acid (unlike ruminant animals). In human bodies, phytic acid actually binds to certain nutrients, like zinc, iron, and magnesium. This is why anyone eating a mostly grain-, legumes, or nut-based diet, may find themselves with some nutrient deficiencies. That is unless these foods have been prepared properly
. Let's dig a bit deeper into what this means.
What Does It Mean To Activate One's Nuts & Seeds?
Now all jokes aside, this is a serious business according to nature. Unlike animals, plants can't simply run away or bare some wicked-looking teeth and growl to scare off impending danger. Plants are a lot stealthier than that.
They have natural defense mechanisms (like phytic acid) to protect themselves, often allowing them to pass undigested through the digestive tracts of certain animals. Yep — they often get eaten, pooped out, spread far and wide, and then left to grow and flourish. Genius really. ;) Phytic acid found in nuts and seeds is a plant's means for storing phosphorous. This nutrient is fundamental to helping the nut/seed initially grow. Think of it from a purely biological point of view. Naturally, a little seed already contains everything it needs to grow. It just needs the right environmental circumstances to arise for it to get the go-ahead to sprout. Through this process, the little nut also lets down its guard and releases these nutrients. We can imitate this scenario when preparing nuts and seeds to get the most nutritionally out of them and to reduce these anti-nutrients. If you do consume large amounts of grains, legumes, nuts or seeds, then you may want to consider employing some traditional techniques in food preparation including soaking, fermenting, sprouting or using an acidic medium (source
) to "activate" these foods and make their nutrition available to your body.
How To Activate Nuts & Seeds
For nuts and seeds, we use the process of soaking in order to "activate" the nut/seed. Basically, the nuts/seeds are soaked in water to reduce the phytic acid. Then, they're dried at a very low temperature, such as in a dehydrator, to crisp the nuts/seeds back up and keep them raw and full of enzymes. Get the full tutorial here — how to soak and dehydrate nuts
and similarly, how to activate seeds.
Want the benefits of activated nuts and seeds, but don't have the time to do it yourself? No worries! Wildly Organic does all the work for you! We have a wide range of activated nuts and seeds
, including Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pumpkin seeds!
Do you activate your nuts and seeds? Or would you prefer to buy them already activated?