Anti-Nutrients | Back to Balance

Enjoying a balanced diet allows you to truly thrive.

Anti-nutrients, wait what? How can a nutrient offer anything but the best? Aren’t nutrients supposed to provide nourishment for growth and the maintenance of life? How can a nutrient be anti-anything? Truth be told, certain foods have residual amounts of anti-nutrients. But have no fear, the healthy benefits outweigh the harm. Then why bring it up? Anti-nutrients are naturally found in animals and plant-based foods. The discussion isn’t so much “beware of dangerous anti-nutrients”. It’s more about having balance and a foundational understanding that eating specific foods in abundance isn’t the best way to health. Healthy eating is about variety, that’s why it’s called a balanced diet. Various foods offer different health benefits. Just because a certain food may contain high levels of nutrients that support skin function or digestion, doesn’t mean you overindulge. Behaviors of extreme over consumption of healthy foods can lead to conditions like Orthorexia.

Orthorexia is an unhealthy focus on eating in a healthy way.  Eating nutritious food is great, but if you obsess about and continually over consume healthy foods- it can damage your overall well-being. The basic understanding of this condition is that an individual has very controlled eating habits and rejects a variety of foods for not being “pure enough”. The concern is that these individuals are consumed with doubt and begin to avoid whole meals entirely.

Commonly, avoiding sugar, fast food, saturated fats, gluten and other potentially harmful foods are often discussed. There is plenty of information out there on “clean eating” and the removal of harmful foods that provide little or no nutrition. We all know the natural consequence of overeating foods that don’t serve us well. Weight gain, skin conditions, poor immune function, fatigue and mood swings are among the common symptoms linked to a poor diet. So, what is the right way to eat?

There’s a saying… “you’ve got to nourish to flourish.” Nourishing your body with a variety of healthy, nutrient rich foods on a consistent basis allows you to flourish. Remember, if what you are bringing into your diet doesn’t serve you well- get rid of it. That doesn’t mean you have to become a diet extremist. Enjoy that piece of dark chocolate or have that glass of wine. Just remember that your body will always aim for balancing; your body can heal itself by itself. Providing your body with the right nutrition is another layer of self-care.

All in all, the downside of over-consuming foods that have anti-nutrient properties is that it can create conflict when absorbing imperative minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Another consideration is that these anti-nutrients affect the absorption of other nutrients ingested at the same meal. Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid eating large quantities of foods containing anti-nutrients at one meal. Eat a balanced diet throughout the day with a variety of healthy offerings for optimal health. Well, are you a little curious about which foods contain harmful anti-nutrients? Let’s review a few anti-nutrients that have great nutritional benefit but should be ingested in moderation:

  • Glucosinolates: Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale
  • Lectins: Legumes, Peanuts, Soybeans
  • Oxalates: Beets, Green Leafys, Nuts, Tea
  • Phytates: Seeds, Whole Grains
  • Saponins: Legumes, Whole Grains
  • Tannins: Grapes, Tea, Coffee

Let’s continue to create awareness about diet extremes. Overeating, undereating, unhealthy eating habits or extreme dieting faces many challenges. The emotional aspect of eating disorders and conditions can feel overwhelming, create low self-esteem and cause anxiety. From the outside eating disorders may not appear to make sense, however it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If you or someone you know needs help in this area, please reach out to www.nationaleatingdisorders.org for support.

 

 

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