Anti-Nutrients: What Are They and What Do They Do?

It’s been awhile! Sorry I’ve been MIA… but I have been working on something really great and hope I will be able to share it with you all very soon!

Today I want to talk to you about Anti-Nutrients. These are exactly as they are named… not a nutrient. Seems simple, you eat something that isn’t nutritious, not a great choice, but is it really that bad? Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as that. Anti-Nutrients are foods that ‘cancel out’ or ‘rob’ your body of its essential micro-nutrients. A quick definition would be that if a food you eat needs more nutrients for the body to use it than what the food itself gives, it is an anti-nutrient. Living on these foods can gradually create a toxic overload and rob your body of vital nutrients to function. An Anti-Nutrient overload makes it very difficult for your body to eliminate toxins.

Anti- Nutrients can come from deep fried foods, refined sugar, additives, cans and plastic containers, alcohol, pain killers, antibiotics, pollution, environmental chemicals in water, and excessive free radicals from smoking. Two-thirds of the average calorie intake in modern countries consists of fat, refined sugar, and refined flour.

Within these Anti-Nutrients there are also ’empty’ calories. They are called ’empty’ because they provide no nutrients, and are often hidden in processed foods and snacks that are in the form of refined sugars. I find the best way to remember what foods are packed with extra empty calories, and also contain ingredients that rob our bodies of essential nutrients, making us feel sluggish and tired is to use: C.R.A.P.

C- carbonated drinks

R- refined sugar

A- artificial colours and flavourings. Also Alcohol

P- processed products

Carbonated Drinks: It is thought that one of the main causes of today’s obesity epidemic is the over consumption of soft drinks and fruit juices.

Refined Sugars: This category includes white flour, refined sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup. All of these are often combined in pastries, cookies, cakes, yogurt, and cereals.

Artificial Colours and Flavourings: These are anti-nutrients which are often included in confectionary products (sweets, candy), soft drinks, party foods, and snacks such as chips. “A” also stands for alcohol, which is considered a toxin.

Processed Products: Heavily processed foods such as ice cream, party foods, sausages, hams, and deli, smoked or cured meats are more likely to contain all of the above, plus trans fats, which are considered a danger to health!

I do understand we are all human, and we do get cravings and we do sometimes binge, however it is essential to try to figure out what is fuelling these cravings or needs to binge. There are three major categories, or causes for cravings: Addiction/Allergy, Discharge, and Imbalance of the System. When you try to stop eating these anti-nutrients to get healthy, you may run into some major withdrawal symptoms or cravings, so it would be helpful for you to know what your body is trying to tell you. Sometimes cravings are just something that our body is telling us we need, and aren’t bad at all.

Addiction is when you stop eating a food you are addicted to and you get withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, depression, or tension, so you then eat that food again and those symptoms go away. Working through the craving and identifying it as an addiction, will help you overcome this situation, so that you don’t fall back into the same addiction.

Allergies are when you eat the food, you get a headache, depression, tension, etc. but you are still drawn to eat that food and fight through those symptoms because the craving won’t stop and we don’t realize that it’s the food causing those symptoms, or that simply they could go away if we stopped eating the food.

Discharge is when you stop eating the foods, and your body is in the healing process, the toxins that have built up from the sugar and other anti-nutrients are being put back into the blood stream to be filtered through the kidneys, liver, etc. they pass by our hypothalamus on this journey and our hypothalamus picks up residue in the blood that activates ‘memories’ of all that good food we ate and makes us crave it all over again.

Imbalance of Systems occurs when we eat a diet that is rich in one area and isn’t balanced out by another. An example of this would be a craving for sweets (carbohydrates) could come from either an excessively high protein, fat, or mineral/vitamin (even salt) intake. A craving for animal protein could come from an excess of carbohydrates, minerals (including salt), fluids, or fats. A craving for sweets, that is accompanied by a craving for fats, can also signal a deficiency in protein.

Eliminating the Anti-Nutrient foods that we have become so accustomed to having in our regular diets, and working our way through the cravings, and figuring out the right balance for our bodies, is essential to good health. You can do it!

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