Thursday, 23 May 2013

Phytic Acid and the Holographic Universe

Updated on December 18, 20017 due to removal of some of my online references.

What could phytic acid and the holographic universe possibly have in common?  I’ll tell you.  They’re both being explained by scientists in a less than conclusive manner.  The Emergency Medical Hologram (Star Trek: Voyager), better known as "The Doctor" may be where scientists are headed, but they’re not quite there yet.

Many people strongly believe that we’re holograms in a holographic universe. I leave that for them. But now that I've got your attention, this article is mainly about phytic acid because I eat a lot of nuts and seeds which contain a lot of phytates (phytic acid in salt form).

Fuzzy logic seems to be what surrounds the science on phytic acid.  I say this because the research has been interpreted to mean that phytic acid is bad for us while at the same time being good.  First for the bad.

Phytic Acid as a Chelator and Enzyme Enhibitor
It has been shown that phytic acid can bind to certain dietary minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese and, to a lesser extent calcium, and slow or block their absorption in the human gut.  It is certainly undesirable to lose nutrients from the food we eat in this way.  However, I did not find much substantiated information about phytic acid acting as a chelator in the human digestive system.  What I did find was that phytochelatins are chelators and as oligomers of glutathione can be synthesized in the body from the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, and glycine.  No need to eat nuts for this effect.

As already mentioned, in salt form, phytic acid is called phytate and was discovered in 1903 to be the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues.  It is said that phytates are indigestible by humans but I would question whether this is relevant.  Wiki states without verification or explanation that we cannot utilize the inositol or phosphate in the phytates.  I found out that there are a number of phytate-degrading enzymes (phytases).  One of them, histidine acid phosphatase (HAP),occurs in animals, plants and microorganisms. The article in the link is about using these enzymes artificially in animal feed as were most of the references I came across.  In fact, there seems to be a lot more interest in how phytases and other enzymes are utilized by farm animals than humans altogether.  However, phytases have been most commonly detected and characterized from fungi.  They are in other microorganisms too and we happen to have lots of both of them in our gut (or should).  How can we not be able to digest phytic acid when the organisms in our gut are able to do it for us? Yet, if our gut flora is compromised by antibiotics and other factors, it would then follow that phytic acid would be more of a nutrient blocker.

In an article about inhibition of trypsin activity (an enzyme needed for protein digestion) in vitro by phytate was based on an experiment with trypsin from a cow.  In an article by Ramiel Nagel this was referred to as evidence that phytates in nuts and seeds inhibit trypsin activity in humans.  However the digestive system of a cow does not operate the same as a human one and I do not think this is a good source.  Trypsin is a serine protease (type of enzyme) which in humans is responsible for coordinating various physiological functions, including digestion, immune response, blood coagulation and reproduction.  Nagel also claims that phytates inhibit other enzymes such as pepsin and amylase.  So whether phytic acid is a problem for humans is rather an important issue if it interferes with the absorption of minerals and inhibits enzymes.  Maybe there's more research out there to show that phytic acid has a negative impact on our digestive ability or maybe it needs to be done, but either way, it would be unlikely that it would explain the opposing views that phytates are good for us.

Phytic Acid as an Anti-cancer, Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory Agent
I found an article with lots of phytate facts that gives evidence of the benefits of phytic acid for humans, especially as an anti-cancer agent.  I came across another claim that phytic acid is an antioxidant (like vitamin C), but no longer have a link for this.  Phytates are also touted as having anti-inflammatory effects and other benefits by Dr Weil, although this link no longer seems to work either.

I won't dwell on this.  All I need to do is taste some of my home prepared cashew nuts to know that the world is real and eating cashews makes me feel good. 

Here is how to prepare and roast nuts and seeds:

Buy some cashew nuts in the local store.  I get organic ones to minimize the amount of chemicals that have been used in growing, storing, transporting and packaging them.

Open the packaging and put them in a large bowl, add lots of fresh spring water (collected from a local natural spring if possible) with some sea salt and let them sit overnight.  I got started with soaking in water because of the “phytic acid is bad for you theory”, but lemon juice or vinegar is supposed to be added to remove the phytates (although it won’t remove much) which I don't do.  Soaking in yogurt, kefir or buttermilk is supposed to do the job even better, but I think that’s a waste of good milk products.

In the morning, drain the nuts (or seeds) in a big strainer, and pour some fresh spring water over them until it runs clear.  Then spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper.  Place them in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius.  After about a half hour, take them out and stir them about because they dry faster on the outside than in the middle of the pan.  Keep an eye on them and stir them a couple of more times until they are golden brown.  A taste test finds them pretty crispy.  When done, remove them from the oven and before they cool too much, stir in some small chunks of butter and sprinkle in some sea salt.  When cool, store them in a glass jar in the refrigerator (or in a cooler).

Also, while I’m at it, I'd like to comment about making bread and/or cake with ground almonds.  Some say this has lots of phytic acid.  If it matters, which I don’t think it does, I would like to point out that ground almonds are processed.  They have to be blanched to remove the skins and dried before grinding.  I think this would have some effect on the phytic acid content.  With all the gobbledygook out there, it’s no wonder people are confused.  But not me.  And I’m not a hologram.  I’m for real and love my roasted nuts and seeds, especially my cashews! 

I also like nuts and seeds raw, but don't eat as many at one time when raw.

Photo credit:  the Emergency Medical Hologram (Star Trek: Voyager), better known as "The Doctor".