- Do nuts make you fart?
- Yes. Nuts contain antinutrients such as phytates and tannins that affect the digestions of humans. They reduce the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. This is part of the seed’s survival skill to refrain enzymatic reactions until it reaches an environment that is safe to grow. However, unlike humans, some animals such as birds and rats are equipped with the enzyme phytase that helps digest phytates. So how do nuts cause flatulence (or what we refer as farting/passing gas)? In humans, partially digested food is transported to the colon and converted by bacteria into hydrogen and carbon dioxide gasses. One of the ways our bodies remove these gasses is through flatulence.
- There are a few ways to improve the digestion of nuts to reduce flatulence:
- a. Soaking Antinutrients such as phytates and tannins are found on the outer skin of nuts. Due to their water-soluble properties, antinutrients can be dissolved through soaking nuts in warm water and salt. This method is also used alongside other methods such as germination and fermentation. Soaking tricks the nut into thinking it is time for germination, a process in which phytate is broken down. These steps for soaking nuts are adapted from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig. (https://www.radiantlifecatalog.com/product/nourishing-traditions/books):
1. Measure 4 cups of raw nuts
2. Add 1 tablespoon of salt
3. Add water enough to cover/submerge nuts
4. Soak nuts for about 7 hours
5. Rinse nuts or drain off water
6. Spread out nuts in a single layer on a rack to prepare for dehydration
7. Dehydrate nuts at low temperature of ~150-200°F in oven for 12-24 hours or until nuts are crispy.
Fermentation is a method used to preserve food. It increases the bioavailability of anti-nutrients and provides an optimum pH environment for the enzymatic degradation of anti-nutrients. According to research, 88.3% phytates were removed after 72 hours of fermentation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/). Fermenting can be done by adding 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, plain kefir, or buttermilk. (recipe retrieved from Big Oven).
Heating nuts in boiling water can degrade anti-nutrients such as tannins that are present in nuts. Cooking time varies depending on the type of nut you boil but the theory is that the longer time the nuts are boiled, the more anti nutrients are removed.
Although nuts may cause flatulence, according to the University of Michigan, they are considered foods that produce a normal amount of gas and they shouldn’t be avoided. Nuts are nutrient dense and high-fiber foods that help with bowel movements and contain high amounts of protein and fat. Nuts such as pecans have high levels of antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Mayo Clinic suggests a daily serving of 1.5 ounces of nuts (~15 pecan halves). However, if you think you may be experiencing abnormal or excessive flatulence, you should consult your doctor as it could a sign of other problems.
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