I received an email from reader Elana that made me think.
“I know that nuts have some Omega three vs. Omega six imbalance, and also are one of those foods that might cause issues for some people too. I thought it might be worth thinking about.”
Elana is definitely correct. Recently I put together an “Elimination Challenge” to gauge my sensitivity to common Paleo/Primal staples that affect some folks adversely – and it completely slipped my mind when I zeroed in on nightshades and eggs that nuts are also problematic for some. For my own challenge, I switched nuts out for other filling fat sources like avocado, olives and coconut.
Grains and beans contain problematic elements called phytic acid and lectins. Nuts do as well, though they are generally regarded as much less problematic, especially when soaked and dehydrated. This article helps explain more about what lectins do, and this also provides a good lectin overview. This for-purchase article provides a good review on phytate. We’re still learning about lectins and their biological activity – even vegetable matter has some lectin content. It’s an evolutionary adaptation. People and animals contain lectins too! So are animals and veggies “bad?” Not at all. Small amounts of lectins appear to induce desirable immune activity. Grains, beans and legumes (including soy), however, are known to have the greatest potential for toxicity with regards to their lectin load, in addition to their phytic acid and neurotoxic (addiction-fostering) activity. (Not to mention the fact that they taste like cardboard).
All-in-all, I’m unaware of a specific body of research dedicated to nuts and the gut aside from a great volume of anecdotal evidence. IBS and Crohn’s patients may be advised to avoid nuts, but on the basis of the effect potentially jagged, incompletely chewed fragments may have on the gut, which is not what I’m necessarily concerned about here. Knowing, however, that nuts do contain phytic acid and lectins, along with the anecdotal evidence, should be enough to decide where they fit into an individual elimination plan.
In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon offers some techniques for “disabling” some of these problems via soaking and sprouting.
I did have my nuts & berries breakfast today, but avocado is just as happy a fat source for me.
Breakfast: Nuts, berries and coconut milk.
Lunch: Roast turkey & sweet potato with cinnamon.
I love having a whole roast turkey in the kitchen to pull from at will. So delicious, and reminds me of Thanksgiving, which is the light at the end of this Elimination tunnel! (Ew…gross image.)
Dinner: Beef stew over spaghetti squash.
(Ohhhmigoshyouguyyys, this was SO good. I added the spaghetti squash to this meal because I worried that the stew would be too bland without tomato or tomato paste; since thickening with flour or cornstarch is out-of-the-question for me. I was so worried that I decided to improvise a gravy – and it was absolutely delicious.
I took the broth from the stew and reduced it by simmering over low heat. Then I added the broth with some of the stewed parsnips, carrot and onion to a blender and pureed. It made the perfect gravy-esque sauce.
I hope everyone’s day was as good as mine. Sunday prep time really makes a difference – I had the stew and the turkey ready to go, so the only cooking required was the gravy and the squash.