What's Wrong With Nuts, Seeds & Grains?
“Tree nuts are one of the most allergenic foods, with true allergies estimated at about 1% of the total population and nut intolerances affecting 20 – 50% of us. People with autoimmune disease are more likely to test positive [for nut and seed intolerance than the average person]”
- Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (The Paleo Mom)
Nuts, seeds and grains all contain concentrated amounts of phytates. Phytates are anti-nutrients that bind to beneficial minerals found in these foods – calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc – and renders them useless, as they can no longer be absorbed by the gut. As a result, these foods in excess can contribute to mineral deficiencies, which can sometimes be the root cause of many chronic illnesses. In addition to blocking essential mineral absorption, phytates impact digestion by limiting the activity of digestive enzymes. This means food doesn’t get processed properly which negatively affects the gut barrier and gut microbiota, triggering leaky gut syndrome.
Lectins are another anti-nutrient found in these foods that can cause digestive troubles. This protein not only inhibits digestion and absorption of nutrients, but it avoids being digested itself. Therefore, it hangs around and sticks to your intestinal wall, resulting in intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut).
While nuts, seeds and grains do contain essential Omega-6 fatty acids, in excess, these polyunsaturated fats can actually trigger pro-inflammatory chemicals. Omega-6 fatty acids are everywhere in the diet - grain-fed meat, vegetable oils, processed foods, soy, corn, nuts, seeds – so most of us already have a surplus. In addition, omega-6 fatty acids are delicate and easily oxidize during processing, meaning they turn into free radicals that damage your body and DNA. Free radicals promote chronic inflammation, which is the foundation of just about every chronic disease.
Overall, nuts and seeds in moderation aren’t the worst thing for you, but grain-free granolas tend to be all nuts and seeds, often leading to overconsumption. Nuts and seeds should be avoided by people with true allergies, sensitivities and ideally autoimmune disease (at least in the beginning while following a gut-healing protocol). Grains should also be avoided to decrease chronic inflammation, heal leaky gut and balance blood sugar.