We all want to be our best healthy selves and in our efforts we are constantly trying to find ways to to be healthier, like taking up the latest diet trends, or latching onto the latest proclaimed superfood.
If you're familiar with these trends, you have probably heard of diet terms like, 'paleo', 'clean-eating' and 'raw-vegan', - or trendy superfoods like kale, acai, goji berries and chia seeds.
One of the latest diet trends is eating activated foods, such as nuts, seeds and grains. The activation process is basically soaking ingredients in water and drying them. But is this really necessary, and are there any proven health benefits? In this OneHowTo article we will explain how and why people activate foods and look at whether activated foods are actually better for us.
Where Does Activating Food Come From?
Throughout history, traditional cultures all over the world have only eaten grains, nuts and seeds that were properly prepared. Australia's indigenous peoples have activated nuts and seeds for thousands of years, soaking them in dilly baskets before drying them and using them for flours. Similarly, Europeans have been soaking grains for porridge and have made slow rise breads from fermented starters.
How to Activate Foods
You can activate nuts, seeds, oats, rice and bran. The activation process involves soaking these raw ingredients for up to 24 hours in warm salted water. Here are the steps:
- Fill a large bowl with water
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt for every cup of nuts, grains or legumes that you want to activate
- Stir the water so the salt is fully dissolved
- Add your chosen activated food (nuts, grains, legumes) into the water so they are fully submerged
- Soak for 7 - 12 hours
- Strain and rinse under water before spreading them out evenly on a baking tray to dry
- Dry in an oven at the lowest possible temperature (no more than 65C) for between 12-24 hours.
For each cup of nuts, grains or legumes that you soak, add one teaspoon of salt
What is the Benefit of Activating Foods?
Activated nuts, seeds and grains are easier to digest. These ingredients all contain phytic acid which, when consumed by humans, blocks the absorption of minerals by binding to them. This can have an effect on the digestion of certain essential minerals like iron, which we need to make red blood cells, and zinc which is crucial for immune health. Phytic acid is particularly high in the outer layer of the grain and the soaking or fermenting process allows helpful organisms break down and offset the anti-nutrient effects.
Grains also contain proteins that are difficult to digest. A diet that is high in refined and whole grains can be quite strenuous on the digestive tract, which cause damage to the digestive mechanisms that influence the development of allergies, celiac disease, indigestion and candida overgrowth. Activated foods are gentler on your digestive system, as the process of activating difficult to digest foods partially breaks down the proteins into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.
Whether or not you should be consuming activated nuts and grains depends on type of diet you have. If you are a vegetarian who primarily relies on nuts and seeds as a primary source of protein, activating your food will increase your nutritional count and help you better absorb iron and zinc. Similarly, if your diet relies on grains, activating them is beneficial for your digestive system.
It is best to schedule an appointment with an Accredited Practicing Dietitian for further advice about activated foods. They will provide you with specialised advice for your personal diet and should always be consulted before making any drastic dietary changes.
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