We have decided to ‘activate’ the seeds, nuts and buckwheat in our products – by soaking and dehydrating them – in order to release nutritional potential from nature’s lock & guard.
We have improved on common methods of activation by controlling for temperature, pH, and even adding cultures!
Like all living things, plants have built-in ‘defense systems’ that are designed to protect itself until it finds itself in a suitable environment for reproduction (ever wondered why a woman plays hard to get? 😉
Nature’s smart you see. It has the foresight to stow away all the really important things for its future survival in a series of tricky locks. Once upon a time, we had big stomachs that used brute force to squeeze out the nutrition (much like the stomach of a cow). Yet as we got smarter about it, we developed better, less energy-consuming ways of extracting the nutrition from food.
One of which is activating. Apart from being the latest raw foodie fad, traditional cultures have been using this practice for millennia. 1 ‘Activating’ involves a hoax, letting the plant believe that it can reproduce, and hence release it’s nutrition from it’s chemical locks. These are known as anti-nutrients, (inc. phytic acid, lectins, phenols (tannins), saponins and enzyme inhibitors) the plants create chemicals that act as shackles to the nutrition within, and have been shown to “reduce the availability of nutrients and cause growth inhibition”. 2
Because these anti-nutrients are designed to guard the nutrients, they’ll stop you from absorbing them, and even irritate your gut-lining along the way. 3
With a simple soak in a saline solution, the relative amount of these ‘anti-nutrients’ is drastically reduced, further declining with subsequent heat treatment.
We’ve improved this process by paying particular attention to a number of variables:
– Heat: Breaking down anti-nutrients is a chemical process that works better in a certain environment. One variable that’s shown to be effective is temperature. Keeping the solution relatively warm has time and time again shown to increase the speed and magnitude of anti-nutrient degradation. 4
– Acidity: Breaking down the anti-nutrients is a chemical process that works best in a certain setting. Just like temperature, the pH (scale of acidity) of the environment will either help or hinder the process. We’ve review the literature and decided that a pH of 5 is optimal for activating ones food. 5
– Cultures: Fermenting food is a well-known way to gain nutritional benefit from food. Less known however, is the multi-faceted ability of probiotic cultures break down the food with a number of different enzymes! Phytic acid, for example, is broken down by phytase, of which there is plenty in lactobacilli and other cultures. 6 7
- Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Nourishing Traditions (Oct 1, 1999)
- Lilian U. Thompson Potential health benefits and problems associated with antinutrients in foods Food Research International. Volume 26, Issue 2, 1993, Pages 131-149 doi:10.1016/0963-9969(93)90069-U
- Johnson IT, Gee JM, Price K, Curl C, and Fenwick GR. Influence of saponins on gut permeability and active nutrient transport in vitro. J Nutr. 1986 Nov;116(11):2270-7.
- Dorthe Carlson, Hanne Damgaard Poulsen Phytate degradation in soaked and fermented liquid feed—effect of diet, time of soaking, heat treatment, phytase activity, pH and temperature Animal Feed Science and Technology. Volume 103, Issues 1–4, 31 January 2003, Pages 141–154
- Naves L de P et al. Effect of ph and temperature on the activity of phytase products used in broiler nutrition Rev. Bras. Cienc. Avic. vol.14 no.3 Campinas July/Sept. 2012 http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-635X2012000300004
- Tang AL et al. Phytase activity from Lactobacillus spp. in calcium-fortified soymilk. J Food Sci. 2010 Aug 1;75(6):M373-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01663.x.
- Marsh AJ1, O’Sullivan O, Hill C, Ross RP, Cotter PD. Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples. Food Microbiol. 2014 Apr;38:171-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fm.2013.09.003. Epub 2013 Sep 25.