You’re at a loss; you are doing gentle exercise, resting when you need to and taking an anti-inflammatory supplement. You’ve been following all the healthy eating advice, eating plenty of plant foods and reducing your intake of sugar, alcohol and caffeine, but your joints are still causing you issues - what is going on? You could be experiencing the effects of antinutrients.
Antinutrients are chemicals found in plant foods such as beans, legumes and grains, which protect the plant itself but interfere with the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals for us humans (1). Although many of the foods which contain antinutrients are very healthy and their consumption is encouraged for most people, some of us are more sensitive to the effects of antinutrients than others, particularly those with inflammatory or autoimmune conditions. If you are sensitive to their effects, high intake over a prolonged period may increase levels of inflammation in the gut (2), which in turn can aggravate joint pain (to read more about how our gut health influences inflammation, click here). Let’s take a look at some of the common antinutrients and their sources...
Oxalate, or oxalic acid, is a chemical found primarily in leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, cocoa, nuts and seeds. It binds to minerals, specifically iron and calcium, which then become unavailable for absorption and are instead excreted by the body (3).
Lectins are found in all plant foods, but raw legumes (such as beans, lentils, peas, soybeans and peanuts) and whole grains like wheat contain the highest amounts. As with oxalate, lectins bind to minerals, especially calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc; they also bind to cells of the digestive tract, which can affect nutrient absorption and interfere with the gut flora (4).
Saponins are found in high amounts in quinoa, Soy beans, chick peas and oats. They inhibit enzymes which help to digest and absorb nutrients, as well as binding to minerals. (5).
Luckily, antinutrients can easily be reduced or almost completely eliminated through the way a plant food is processed (6). Here are my top tips for reducing antinutrients:
Not yet including an anti-inflammatory supplement to ease your joint pain? DEFLAME is a plant-based liquid supplement containing omega-3, curcumin, ginger and frankincense designed to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. To read more about DEFLAME, click here.