Health risks of Soya bean and Soy products

Soya bean has, for long, been heralded as a valuable source of complete nutrition, so much so that not only the bean but the use of its derivatives is also soaring. To date, the popular soy products/derivatives in the market are:

Whole Soya bean, Soya Chunks, Soya milk, Soya sauce, Tofu, Edamame, Miso, Tempeh, Soya nuts, etc. Soy is now being used as a key product in the plant based meat. Textured soy protein acts as a meat extender and hence, is extensively used for the production of meat alternatives.

But are the beneficial health claims for this so-called ‘protein-rich, cholesterol-lowering, heart disease and breast cancer-preventing, superfood’ true? Well, not all.

Although it is packed with nutrients, these are of little use for your body because of the presence of ‘antinutrients’. These are plant compounds that reduce the body's ability to absorb essential nutrients. Soya bean is one such food commodity that contains almost all the antinutrients there are. From oxalates, phytates, lectins, protease inhibitors, saponins, glyphosates to the deadly mold toxins, each of them have been found to be present in soy.

These antinutrient compounds are linked with a number of negative health impacts, viz.,

Apart from the high antinutrient content, soy is also considered to be a potent allergen, meaning it is capable of causing allergies. 

Phytoestrogen, a compound naturally present in plant based foods and abundantly in soy, is known to have feminizing effects on men. For instance, in a case report on gynecomastia (enlargement of breast in men) associated with soy consumption by a man, it was noted that after the patient stopped consuming soy products, ‘his breast tenderness had resolved.

Last but definitely the most important concerns of all is the processing involved in the production of soy products. Some of the soy varieties in the market are highly GMOed, further questioning their use.

In our opinion, soy is a ‘genetically-modified, testosterone-lowering, man-boob-producing health risk that should never ever be part of any human’s diet. 

Reach out to us if you want to learn more about what food works best for human health!  

References-

  1. https://sci-hub.do/10.1080/10408399409527649
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/confused-about-eating-soy
  3. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/soy-isoflavones
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270274/ 
  5. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-illegally-importing-genetically-modified-soya-seeds-allege-farmers-and-food-activists/articleshow/62810722.cms 
About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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The 5 most toxic metals to human health and how to detox from them

The periodic table contains 105 elements, of which 80 are considered metals. Metals are natural components existing in the ecosystem. Among these are ‘heavy’ metals which have either high atomic weights or high density.  This category of metals have not only been known for their high weight but most importantly for their adverse effects on the environment as well as our health.

Following is a list of heavy metals which are common in our everyday life:

Titanium, Vanadium, Chromium, Manganese, Iron, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Zinc, Arsenic, Molybdenum, Silver, Cadmium, Tin, Platinum. Gold. Mercury, Lead. Heavy metals are in our bodies whether we want them there or not.

However, not all of them pose a threat, for e.g., gold typically is not a toxic metal. Also, zinc, iron and selenium are essential minerals with a key role in improving our health.

Mercury, lead, aluminum, cadmium and arsenic are all examples of the toxic brew that lurks in our bodies. Heavy metals, which have widespread environmental distribution and originate from

natural and anthropogenic sources, are also common environmental pollutants. Most common sources include pesticides, animal manures, fertilisers, leaded paint, mine ore waste (mine tailing), sewage sludge, spillage of petroleum distillates, coal combustion residues, waste dumps, industrial effluents, burning of fossil fuels, vehicle exhausts, usage in kitchen utensils and many others.

Following are the most toxic heavy metals that impact human health

  1. Mercury

It is one of the most toxic elements and a threat to wildlife as well as to us humans. The reason why mercury is dangerous is that once released into the environment it cannot be removed and it accumulates and magnifies to unsafe levels in aquatic food chains.

Sources- Dental amalgam, vaccines, batteries, skin lightening creams and soaps; herbal medicine, in eye cosmetics, arm and leg bands, disinfectants and pesticides and seafood (especially fish)

Health impacts- vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, eye irritation, neurological disorders, reproductive changes.

(Refer: https://www.thrivefnc.com/blog/dangers-of-mercury-from-humans-to-environment/ )

  1. Aluminium

Aluminium is the third most abundant element found in the earth's crust. It occurs naturally in the air, water and soil. Recent investigations on environmental toxicology revealed that aluminium may present a major threat for humans, animals and plants in causing many diseases.

Sources- Packaging cans, kitchen utensils and foils, antacids, antiperspirants, cosmetics and  foods such as cheese, soft drinks, sponge cakes, coffee and tea and food additives, e.g. anticaking agents, preservative, food colouring and baking agent.

Health impacts- Listlessness, memory loss, liver and kidney dysfunction, osteomalacia, Alzheimer’s, interference with zinc, calcium, iron and copper absorption.

  1. Lead

Lead is a slightly bluish, bright silvery metal. Lead can get released from industrial processes as well as from vehicle exhausts and it may get into the soil and water which can be further taken up by plants. This is how lead exposure may also enter our body through food and drinking water.

Sources- Fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and some food items like fruits and vegetables, grains, seafood, red meat, wine and soft drinks.

Health impacts- Hypertension, chances of miscarriages or stillbirth, abdominal pain, brain injury, kidney damage and poor hemoglobin production. Lead poisoning early in life can cause altered brian development, reduced intelligence, reduced attention span and a decline in educational achievement.

  1. Arsenic

Despite being the 20th most abundant element in the earth’s crust, it ranks highest on the list of hazardous substances toxic to our health. Arsenic is the most common cause of acute heavy metal poisoning.

Sources- Insecticides and foodstuffs such as fish and shellfish, meat and poultry, dairy products, cereals

Health impacts- A potent carcinogen, gastrointestinal irritation, brain damage, fertility issues, miscarriages, decreased production of both red blood cells and white blood cells,etc.

  1. Cadmium

It is the 64th most abundant metal of all. Cadmium is a heavy metal that is produced during the smelting of other metals, such as zinc, lead and copper.

Sources- Fertilizers, pesticides and food items like shellfish, mussels, dried seaweed, shrimps, mushrooms, liver.

Health impacts- severe kidney damage, calcium metabolism alterations, bone fracture, psychological and gastrointestinal disorders, immune system deficiencies, cancer.

Detoxing heavy metals from your body

Heavy metals, when accumulated in the body can cause high blood pressure, risk of heart diseases as well as stagnant, unchanged weight despite putting in efforts to try and lose it. Heavy metals in the body also aid in free radical generation in the body.

Free radicals are harmful byproducts of chemical reactions happening in the body. Also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), these free radicals are capable of destroying the structure of our cell walls and DNA, putting our body through a stressful situation (usually called ‘oxidative stress’).

Higher the oxidative stress, higher is the chance of degenerative diseases or problems related to it- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, cataract, loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles, graying hair, hair loss, changes in hair texture and diabetes. 

Hence, clearing up this load of heavy metals from our body becomes all the more important. 

One technique is chelation. Chelation detoxification is used to remove toxic metals from the body and restore proper functioning. Chelating agents are substances that can chemically bond with toxic minerals, metals and chemicals within the body. They encircle and carry away the unwanted matter from the body via excretion. It employs an intravenous infusion that may, according to an individual’s needs, include vitamins, magnesium and a saline solution.

However, this needs to be done under expert supervision and advice.

A counteractive antioxidant defense against the heavy metal-caused oxidative damage can also help in clearing up the load. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. Glutathione, L-cysteine, N-acetyl cysteine, Taurine, Melatonin and Alpha-lipoic acid are amongst the potent antioxidative compounds.

Some of the essential minerals like Iron, Selenium, Zinc, Copper play a major role as antioxidants in our body. (Know about the importance of Selenium and Zinc)

(Refer:https://www.thrivefnc.com/blog/the-underrated-nutrient-selenium/ )

(Refer: https://www.thrivefnc.com/blog/zinc-an-quintessential-nutrient/)

It is also possible to detox with food, binders and nutrient supplements. At ThriveFNC our 3 month 1-1 coaching program ends with a round of detoxification. 

We follow these 3 scientific principles while doing this:

i) A good detoxification must be focused on releasing stored toxins from cells.

ii) All four phases of detoxification must be working optimally to metabolize toxins 

iii) Once toxins have been mobilized and metabolized, they must be excreted.

You CANNOT effectively detox by just drinking smoothies and juices, those kinds of detox diets don’t fit into any of the above 3 principles. 

Besides which, your bio individuality has to be taken into consideration while creating your personalized detox plan. If you are someone who has been suffering from degenerative ailments or weight gain issues, detoxing from toxins might be a good idea. Heavy metals can take a serious toll on your happy living, set up a consultation with ThriveFNC and see if this is what you need. 

References-

  1. https://www.intechopen.com/books/poisoning-in-the-modern-world-new-tricks-for-an-old-dog-/mechanism-and-health-effects-of-heavy-metal-toxicity-in-humans
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4427717/ 
  3. https://sci-hub.tw/10.3390/ijms161226183 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303853/ 
  5. https://www.nhicwestmi.com/natural-detox-chelation-therapy 
  6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jhn.12286 
  7. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=CjSNNEFmTH8C&oi=fnd&pg=PT7&dq=heavy+metal+detox&ots=Pql8NJb4mF&sig=5E2hqPq4j5o3zC8rmjVOxzyT55U&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=heavy%20metal%20detox&f=false
  8. file:///C:/Users/Ria/Downloads/263f4ddfa975f6bfce7bc5c93153f37546c3.pdf 
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844020315346
  10. https://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/how-to-rid-your-body-of-mercury-and-other-heavy-metals-a-3-step-plan-to-recover-your-health/https://www.metabolicfitnesspro.com/walshdetox 
About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Plant antinutrients- Saponins

Saponins are a diverse group of chemicals compounds present abundantly in plant foods. The name ‘saponin’ is derived from the Latin word ‘sapo’ meaning ‘soap’, because saponin molecules form soap-like foams when shaken with water.

Saponins are plant-derived secondary compounds, which are found in more than 100 families of wild and cultivated plants. They are naturally produced as foam-producing compounds by many plants, including groundnut and other oil seeds. They are usually found in legumes such as soybean, peanuts, chickpeas, broad beans, and lentils, quinoa, sunflower seeds, spinach leaves, tea leaves, quinoa seeds, sugar beet, oats, yucca, tomato seeds, fenugreek seeds, asparagus, brinjal, yam, and allium family (onion, garlic, leek, etc).

Due to the bitterness, throat-irritating and inhibitory activity of saponins, they are considered to be ‘antinutrients’.

Recent studies have shown that a bitter or astringent taste is related to amounts of saponin isolated from pea and soya flour and plant saponins are a contributing factor to the undesirable organoleptic properties that humans associate with some legumes and legume products.

In the digestive tract, this antinutrient compound stack together like small piles of coins, which are too large to pass through the intestinal wall. The working of digestive enzymes such as amylase, glucosidase, trypsin, chymotrypsin and lipase is hampered in the presence of saponins, thereby affecting carbohydrate and protein absorption and the overall growth rate of an individual. In addition, they form insoluble saponin–mineral complexes with iron, zinc, and calcium and decrease the nutrient bioavailability.

These insoluble complexes again interact with bile acid and cholesterol and increase excretion of bile acids. Low concentrations of free bile acids can, however, impair the efficiency of lipid absorption and presumably affect the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

It should be, thus, noted that the low levels of saponins in foods may not be injurious to health but could become toxic when consumed at higher concentrations in the diet. 

On the contrary, saponins are also attracting considerable interest as a result of their hypocholesterolemic, immunostimulatory, and anticarcinogenic properties.

Ways to reduce the saponin content 

Saponin content from the different sources can be reduced firstly by soaking the foods. A lot of saponins are lost when the soaking water is discarded. Loss of saponin increases with increased duration of soaking. Greater losses occur during soaking in salt water than in plain

water. Secondly, cooking of saponin-rich foods reduces the amount by 40%. However, loss of saponin is greater during pressure cooking than during ordinary cooking. Greatest amounts of saponin are lost during soaking in salt water followed by pressure cooking.

However, to ensure further reduction, alcohol extraction technique works best. But it is not a reliable household process.

Our suggestions-

As the amounts are reduced and not completely removed, foods containing saponins should not be consumed in large amounts. Also if you are suffering from digestive issues, we would recommend you to watch your diet for the antinutrients.

References-

  1. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1093/jn/116.11.2270
  2. https://benthamopen.com/FULLTEXT/TOBIOTJ-13-68
  3. https://fppn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s43014-020-0020
  4. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/B978-0-12-384947-2.00610-3
  5. https://carnivoreaurelius.com/saponins/
  6. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1089/109662004322984734
About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Mycotoxins- The Hidden Danger

Mycotoxins are a relatively large, diverse group of naturally occurring, fungal (mold) toxins, which have been strongly implicated as chemical agents of toxic disease in humans and animals. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites synthesized by a variety of fungal species. These toxins have attracted worldwide attention because of their impact on human health, huge economic losses, and domestic and foreign trade. 

The term ‘mycotoxin’ was coined in 1962 in the aftermath of an unusual veterinary crisis near London, during which approximately 100,000 turkeys had died. When this mysterious turkey X disease was linked to a peanut (groundnut) meal contaminated with secondary metabolites, it sensitized scientists to the possibility that these fungal metabolites might be deadly.

Although more than 500 mycotoxins have been identified, potentially toxigenic, major mycotoxins influencing our health include,

Food Sources

Mycotoxin can occur in food and agricultural products via many contamination pathways, at any stage of production, processing, transport, and storage. Mycotoxin can enter in the human food

chain directly by consuming contaminated plants and food products and indirectly through residues in milk, meat, eggs, and their derivatives.

Mycotoxin species Food commodity that is contaminated
AflatoxinsCorn, wheat, rice, jowar, ground nuts, almonds, oilseeds, dried fruits, cheese, spices, milk, eggs, meat.
OchratoxinsBarley, wheat, dried fruits, wine, coffee, oats, spices, rye, raisins, grape juice.
TrichothecenesCereals, cereal based products
FumonisinsCorn, corn based products, jowar, asparagus, rice, milk
ZearalenoneBarley, oats, wheat rice, sesame, soybeans and cereal based products
PatulinApples, apple juice, cheries, cereals, apricots, grapes, pears, peaches, olives, bilberries
CitrininStored grains and grain based products, cheese, spices
Ergot alkaloidsWheat, rye, barley, millets, oats, jowar, triticale (a hybrid of wheat)
Table 1: List of food sources of mycotoxins

Impacts on health

Mycotoxicosis, the disease resulting from exposure to a mycotoxin, may be manifested as acute

to chronic and ranges from rapid death to tumor formation. Many hidden diseases may occur

when mycotoxins interfere with immune processes, rendering the person who has consumed them more susceptible to infectious and other diseases. Numerous diseases have been seen in humans for which evidence implicates mycotoxins as the root cause.

Adults usually have a high tolerance of mycotoxins and, in the reported acute poisonings, it’s children are those who die. Mycotoxins are likely to cause infectious diseases in children which results in reduced food intake and also the repartitioning of nutrients to maintain an

upregulated immune system and away from growth and development.

Mycotoxins are immunotoxic as they can cause a variety of immune-related changes. They are capable of decreasing your resistance to infections by suppressing your immune system functioning.

Exposure to mold may lead to mycotoxin allergy, sensitivity, or a variety of unwanted symptoms due to their direct attack on the immune system. Symptoms of mycotoxin allergy may include:

Runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, itching, skin rashes and in a few cases manifestation of asthamatic symptoms can also be noticed.

The metabolites of all the different classes of mycotoxins have been declared to be potent carcinogens by IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). Liver, kidney, esophageal, breast and skin are among some of the cancers caused by mycotoxins via DNA damage, oxidative stress and death of functioning cells.

The aflatoxins, known causes of acute aflatoxicosis, are also potential cofactors of hepatic

carcinoma, together with the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). This mycotoxin suppresses the DNA repair mechanisms and prevents detoxification which leads to further development of cancer cells.

The gastrointestinal tract is the primary target organ and is exposed directly to mycotoxins. Mycotoxins disrupt the gut microbiota balance, and thereby dysregulate intestinal functions and impair  immune response, which may eventually result in systemic toxicity that leads to chronic mycotoxicosis.

A study reported that rural populations in the Balkans have a high incidence of chronic kidney problems and tumors of the excretory organ system, named to be as Balkan

Endemic Nephropathy (BEN). The reason behind is thought to be conjecturally associated with Ochratoxin A. The toxin, believed to cause nephropathy is also a potent carcinogen, with the potential to cause BEN-associated cancer of the kidneys.

Inhalation of mycotoxins is especially hazardous to those living inside damp, wet, and moldy

Buildings. Such toxic inhalation can lead to pulmonary irritation and headaches, fatigue, malaise, diarrhea, inflammation and lung injury of the nose, chest pain. The chemical nature of most of the mycotoxins makes them highly soluble compounds that can be absorbed from the site of exposure such as from the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract to the bloodstream where it can be disseminated throughout the body and reach different organs such as the liver and kidneys.

Antinutrients are plant compounds that reduce the body's ability to absorb essential nutrients. Studies show that AFB- a mycotoxic metabolite interferes with vitamins A, D, B12, iron, selenium, and zinc metabolism.

CIRS is commonly known as biotoxin illness. This is a multi-symptom, multi-system illness set in motion by exposure to biotoxins, or neurotoxins produced from a biological source such as molds. Symptoms include: chronic fatigue, chronic pain, persistent cough, allergies, asthma, rashes, muscle cramps, headaches, disorientation, diarrhoea, vomiting, etc.

Mycotoxins may also lead to:

Fatigue

Sleeplessness

Dry skin

Hair loss

Blurred vision

Leaky gut syndrome

Chronic pain

Unexplained weight gain or weight loss

Hormonal issues

Numbness

Insulin resistance

Gut problems, such as nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Chemical sensitivity

Blurred vision

Fibromyalgia

Behavioral changes

Emotional changes

Dealing with Mycotoxins

  1. Avoid foods that are either contaminated or have high likelihood of mold growth

Table 1 lists all the foods which can possibly expose you to this deadly toxin.

  1. Prevent growth of mycotoxins

It has been accepted that the prevention of different mycotoxins contamination is the primary measure and alternative over the other control methods. Herbal products such as spices, plant extracts, aromatic oils are good prevention alternatives. Natural herbs such as green tea, cinnamon, chamomile, ginger, black pepper, coriander, black seed, licorice, garlic, onion, fenugreek seeds, basil seeds, and roquette seeds can detoxify mycotoxins.

In a study report, it was found that turmeric extract can ensure protection against the adverse effects of these toxins. Medicinal plants, black cumin, clove and thyme extracts have efficacy in suppressing fungal growth. In a recent report leaves extracts from sweet passion fruit, rosemary and oregano efficiently degrade mycotoxins.

  1. Detoxing mycotoxins from your body

Some individuals will need to reduce the mycotoxin load in their diet by around 25-30% to see noticeable results.  Meanwhile, others may need to reduce the mycotoxin load by 75-80% to see noticeable health results. It all depends on how good your body is at detoxifying! The better your detoxification systems are, the better your body will deal with any mycotoxins you do ingest. Avoid processed, sugary foods, maintain a well-functioning gut and check for any nutrient deficiency. Another way is to sweat out mold toxins in an infrared sauna. The use of infrared saunas in combination with glutathione was proven effective in helping people return to work after mold illness from a water damaged building.

Probiotics which generally help restore the natural harmony of gut microbiota coupled with its mycotoxins reducing ability could increase its health-promoting value and is a good mycotoxicosis prevention/ treatment strategy.

Our recommendations: The severity of the damage caused by mycotoxins in the body may vary depending on factors such as vitamin deficiency, energy deprivation, alcohol use and infectious disease status. If you suspect you’ve been impacted by mycotoxins, there are a few tests that can actually check your toxic load. 

If you need help figuring out the tests or managing and recovering from your symptoms, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help. 

References-

  1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcimb.2018.00060/full
  2. https://www.intechopen.com/online-first/mycotoxins-the-hidden-danger-in-foods
  3. http://www.fao.org/3/x5036e/x5036E0q.htm
  4. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.toxicon.2020.07.004
  5. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.micpath.2020.104095
  6. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/11/3/159/htm
  7. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1007/978-3-319-92300-0_14
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164220/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19854821/
About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Plant Antinutrients- Glucosinolates

Glucosinolates (GLS) are natural, sulfur and nitrogen containing compounds present in plants. These are secondary metabolites found in Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family of vegetables and certain fruits. In your diet, representatives of the family Brassicaceae of particular importance are vegetables like Cabbage (white and red), Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Radish, Turnip, Rocket or Arugula, Kale, Papaya, Moringa, Garden cress, Mustard seasonings and sources of oil such as Rapeseed and Canola oil.

While GLS degradation products have also been reported in food products outside the plant kingdom, for example, in cow milk. 

GLS have been studied for their toxic and anti-nutritive properties,and goitrogenic activity. They are formed as a part of defense mechanisms in plants. When a plant perceives danger, the glucosinolates get converted to isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are toxic byproducts or breakdown products (BPs) of glucosinolates metabolism. Isothiocynates and other byproducts are precursors of ‘bad’ compounds which may interfere with thyroid hormone (T4) production, absorption of iodine, thereby drastically reducing iodine supply to the thyroid gland, and resulting in the development of goiter and other associated problems.

Administration of glucosinolates rich foods for a long time can lead to the enlargement of liver, kidney and thyroid gland. A few studies have found a small but significant increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and with higher intakes of glucosinolates. However, the possible relation is not understood.

Several GSL-containing plants are commonly consumed foods. Based on their toxic properties or pungent taste, GSLs are often classified as antinutritional factors.

However, the importance of GSLs is even higher because most of these compounds have been associated with many beneficial effects to human health, such as anticancer, antibacterial, antidiabetic, antiobesity, antifungal and antioxidant activities among others.

Certain processing techniques may help toward decreasing these toxic compound content. Treatments such as soaking, fermentation, storage at high temperatures, cooking, and drying have been reported to decrease the content of such toxic compounds. Apart from these, the impact of freezing is remarkable: the standard practice of freezing-thawing has been reported to reduce by more than 30 % the total GLS content in various Brassica vegetables.

The potentially complicated effects of glucosinolates and their metabolites are suggested by mixed evidence. We would recommend avoiding the consumption of glucosinolate rich foods if you are already suffering from thyroid problems, heart diseases or Diabetes or any other inflammatory condition. If you are having symptoms that you can’t explain and would like to understand what’s going on in your body, reach out to us and we’ll help you out. 

References-

1) https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/B978-0-12-816493-8.00001-9 

2) https://sci-hub.tw/10.2174/1381612823666170120160832

3) https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-26479-0_4-1

4) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304797602_Anti-nutritional_and_health_promoting_properties_of_glucosinolates 

5) https://sci-hub.tw/10.1093/ajcn/nqy003

6) https://sci-hub.tw/10.2147/CLEP.S164497

7) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/

8) https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-26479-0_10-1#:~:text=Steaming%2C%20microwave%20processing%2C%20and%20stir,glucosinolates%20from%20the%20plant%20tissue.

About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
LIKE WHAT YOU'VE READ?
Sign up for free updates delivered straight to your inbox
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Tannins- Polyphenolic compounds in plants

Tannins are water-soluble, natural polyphenols mainly present in plant-based materials, including food. Polyphenol compounds were originally known as “vegetable tannins” due to their ability to interact with proteins of the skin in the process of tanning that transforms animal skins into leather. Biochemically, tannins are sort of secondary metabolites predominantly available in plant-based foods and beverages. Secondary plant metabolites are used in signalling, regulation of primary metabolic pathways and oversee the overall development of the plant.
Tannins can be classified into two broad groups - Hydrolysable tannins (Gallic acid or Ellagic acid) and Condensed tannins (Catechin and Epicatechin)/ Proanthocyanidins (PA) (procyanidins, prodelphinidins,
and profisetinidins).

Food sources
Hydrolysable tannins are usually present in low amounts while Condensed tannins/PA are more widespread in plant based foods. Foods like coffee, black tea, wine, grapes, chocolates, cocoa, soybean, kidney beans, cow pea, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, kathaa, supari, apples, apricots, barley, jowar, peaches,
mint, basil, rosemary are rich in the condensed category of tannins.
Pomegranate, strawberries, raspberries, amla, clove, barley, rice, oat, rye usually have a high hydrolysable tannins content.(Now you know why tea and coffee is a big no-no immediately after consumption of main meals or snacks).

Health effects
Tannins are secondary compounds, which are formed in plant leaves, fruits and bark and they accumulate mainly in the bran section of the legumes.Tannins usually affect protein digestibility and lead to reduction of essential amino acid availability. When ingested, tannins form complexes with proteins, which cause inactivation
of many digestive enzymes- pepsin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, elastase, thereby causing protein deficiency.
Other deleterious effects of tannins include damages to mucosal lining of gastrointestinal tract, and thus, increased excretion of proteins and essential amino acids. Some experiments show that tannins also decrease the activities of intestinal microflora, consequently less absorption of organic matter and soluble fiber that is
attributed to damage the mucosal lining of the digestive system.
Hydrolysable tannins are readily broken down during the digestion process. The breakdown products constitute a large amount of compounds, which can be toxic.
Tannins are complex, astringent and water soluble phenolic compounds known to reduce the bioavailability of nutrients in the gut. The astringency feeling is perceived by the tongue in the form of extreme dryness and roughness in the mouth.
Moreover, high doses of tannins like catechin used in supplements can cause renal failure, hepatitis, fever, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and skin disorders.
The main negative effect of tannins as food are their antinutritional impacts, i.e., absorptions and binding with nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and minerals in the digestive system, thus, hindering their nutritional availability.
Major antinutrient activity of tannins that is binding with minerals can cause severe deficiency of essential minerals. In this series iron deficiency is the most prevalent.

Moreover, tannins not only affect iron availability, but also iron metabolism. Ferritin, an iron storage protein, is adversely affected by tannin binding in soybean seed ferritin (SSF). However, despite the antinutritional and toxic impacts, recent studies have explored and confirmed numerous health benefits like antioxidant, anti-cancerous, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities
of tannins.

Reduction techniques
Diets in developed countries are mostly based on highly‐digestible proteins of animal and vegetable origin, while those in developing countries are predominantly based on poorly‐digestible proteins from less refined cereals and legumes due to the presence of less‐digestible protein fractions, high levels of insoluble fiber, and high amounts of antinutritional factors, including phenolic compounds like tannins.

Therefore, several technological treatments have been developed to reduce tannin content of these foods and thus increase protein digestibility. The various treatments which are also easy household measures for reduction are:
Soaking in water (overnight) or alkaline solutions (like sodium bicarbonate)
Pressure cooking
Roasting
Fermentation
Malting
Germination
These pre-treatments are especially important for vegetarians, for whom nutrition is mainly characterized by the intake of lower‐quality plant proteins accompanied by the intake of high amounts of secondary plant metabolites (tannins) resulting from a predominantly plant‐food‐based diet.

Our thoughts?
Tannins are a chemically diverse group of compounds that are present, at variable levels, in most plant based foods, so their intake is almost universal. Nevertheless, the foods containing them cannot be completely avoided if you are plant based. If you have health issues though, then cutting down on high tannin foods would be a good idea.

Reach out to us if you need to talk and need help figuring out your personalized nutrition plan.

References-
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12320
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s43014-020-0020-5
https://sci-hub.tw/10.1039/c3fo60263j
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236143118_Tannin_An_Antinutrient_with_Positive_Effect_to_Manage_Diabeteshttps://www.intechopen.com/books/tannins-structural-properties-biological-properties-and-current-knowledge/applications-of-tannins-in-industry
https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bph.13630
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408699891274273
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15569543.2019.1662813
https://sci-hub.tw/10.1007/978-1-4615-3476-1_40
http://www.isca.in/rjrs/archive/v1/i12/14.ISCA-RJRS-2012-113.pdf
https://dspace.uevora.pt/rdpc/bitstream/10174/18018/1/DETERMINANTS%20OF%20TANNIN_final_corrections.pdf

Plant Antinutrients- Enzyme Inhibitors

Plants produce a variety of substances as part of their defense behaviour in order to protect their integrity. Because of the high protein content and beneficial nutritional value, legumes play an important role in human diet.

Legumes provide energy, dietary fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins required for human health and provide a well-balanced essential amino acid profiles when consumed with cereals and other foods.

Enzyme inhibitors, a group of antinutritional compounds, found in legumes, can be toxic, unpalatable or indigestible. 

These substances are considered to be ‘antinutrients’ because their uptake often interferes with nutrient absorption. The term ‘enzyme inhibitors’ is suggestive of inhibiting or interfering with different enzymatic activities related to the human digestive system. Also known as Protease inhibitors, these substances work to disrupt the enzymatic ability of the digestive or microbial enzymes that are present in the stomach resulting in the inability to properly digest the plant material.To this group of factors belong amylase inhibitors and protease  inhibitors. 

Protease Inhibitors

Proteases are enzymes that help in the breakdown of proteins into smaller pieces. Hence, l Protease inhibitors are substances which prevent digestion and absorption of proteins and amino acids in the gut.

This class of antinutrient substances are capable of hampering the activities of different proteolytic enzymes, namely- Trypsin, Pepsin, Chymotrypsin and others. All the 3 enzymes are responsible for digestion and absorption of proteins.

Protease inhibitors are widely present in commonly consumed foods and can be a cause of poor protein utilization from the diet. This can ultimately lead to growth issues and malnutrition. However, most of the information on the nutritional effects of the inhibitors has come from experiments with animals. Also animal studies have shown that trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors are capable of causing enlargement of the pancreas.

Protease inhibitors have also found therapeutic role in modern medicines for the treatment of HIV and respiratory diseases. But long term use of these medicines have been reported to cause insulin resistance and other metabolic conditions.

Soybean contains the highest amount of protease inhibitors. Other sources include crops such as mung beans, ground nuts, chick-pea beans, potatoes, barley,oats, jowar cucumber seeds, millet, wheat, buckwheat, groundnut, chickpea, pigeonpea, corn, and pineapple.

Amylase Inhibitors

Amylase inhibitors are substances that bind to alpha amylases making them inactive. Alpha amylases are substances that aid in starch digestion. Inhibition of α-amylase is considered a strategy for the treatment of disorders in carbohydrate uptake, by reducing insulin levels, as well as, dental caries. However, the instability of amylase inhibitor under the conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and its heat-labile constituent results in its failure to be used as starch blocker.

Amylase inhibitors are found in cereal grains such as wheat, maize, rice, barley and legumes like kidney beans and cowpea.

Ways to reduce Enzyme inhibitors from foods

Handy practices like soaking, germination and fermentation can reduce the amounts of these antinutrients from foods consumed.

ThriveFNC recommendations: Avoid consuming these foods if you have underlying health issues or reach out to us and we’ll guide towards making these foods safe for consumption

References-

1) https://benthamopen.com/FULLTEXT/TOBIOTJ-13-68

2) https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/B9780081005965034259?token=1FF78B9D0FADB81AFC2B839E9EA56DE3CF189E03CDB61A1DC727810F7C26629102C94270F99DCCAE254CA96E3D4CD9C4

3) https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/B978-0-12-374718-1.10016-1

4) https://watermark.silverchair.com/0362-028x-50_2_161.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAArgwggK0BgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggKlMIICoQIBADCCApoGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQM6lE80DLxIefg13SrAgEQgIICa3zoDGFg-Yvqr4ORRSEeUbBSoK2NepjWMAEmqpmZTZhjZ0P-5XIaEvzN6bO0FTdo7hQi4HcWYBW9npMNpcxx2sOkRcheLKqv1Z6VkV6yQkPwUNlUca2AW8gBgdNERXq0dp4JX8jx88bFzKCP0AL1j4gLeorYBcs11tJMNa8Z7Qrdc1WDHZSMh3dYtuQ4fSqZs7SXX8Jg4vYrSP70EsoP5diLu31eeKqe49tBhD8XgPCF2VDhLk4NctgwZcBLdb2ovvozrwONTsSBTkvWNAVQBhj-8O6VKmernhude6F07VhpXfTKookV__dUGji99ggW-8hp5eNExrCpHveRcwRU3qI1OYyPAFv2jHmfdHQomag4rR_Q7jPPAlUnaLom-n7Q_XrGqbeqhbIfU0B2YDxQ6I-M13FQmgfTf-Q1d-kuMGZS161d4T24tzUFdrDIhrmGFNnxm8H_9E4psO9DcohWM2ixLTDonnDuVvuCK_rHULNjem8Ceg3v_8fuDZYY7F37LWe_GMn74Vug5WAu4fjqddab2wZmKiA1Rm98X9yiil2dhu-JIFPHIAB4UMHoG7QLmJS0yUyW5W1jPDNApt-CZVwSs5vI5DwmIPr7V2vGSYbGpEl-VJSJB-Op5P1_tLdT8r6Xof7b14wk_EaQsY-_lGQ8Tuv3dbKX4DaqlZRVXpuESfeYNFXqlpnheRFHRNYLGaLyrZJonDspySk6gFcp9fQ0u4SUyTZSVFn9d1Qme-E1h9AQS544KxyXWSFGLSH423pkWYjia0GC_31oEL9uwcCm8xsUVH3NorS4aoAS1EP67I56tJbbxm2QYnA

5) https://sci-hub.tw/10.1007/978-1-4615-2882-1_5

6) https://sci-hub.tw/10.1021/bk-1997-0662.ch001

7) https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0134634

8) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2016.00470/full

About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Plant Antinutrients- Lectins

Lectins are carbohydrate binding proteins that are widely distributed in nature and occur in a variety of foods. Largely present in plants, they are consumed almost daily in inappreciable amounts. Many studies have shown that lectins can interfere with nutrient absorption and with this effect it is considered to be an ‘antinutrient’. As “anti-nutrients”, they have received much attention due to popular media and fad diet books citing lectins as a major cause for numerous health issues. It is also being referred to as the ‘new gluten’.

Sources of Lectins

The food we consume is either derived from plants or animals. Plants offer an enormous variety of macro- and micronutrients if we can absorb them. As lectins are present in the most commonly edible plant foods, your exposure to functionally active lectins is a common event

Foods rich in Lectins are

Tomato, Potato, Lentils, Soyabean, Kidney beans, Peas, Carrots, Cherries, Blackberries, Wheat germ, Rice, Corn, Garlic, Peanuts, Mushrooms, Avocado, Beetroot, Leek, Cabbage, Tea, Parsley, Oregano , Almonds, Cashew nuts.

Health impacts

Significant amounts of lectins are found in fresh and processed foods and there is lack of public knowledge concerning the deleterious effects of dietary lectins on health. Along with their presence in most edible foods, lectins are- (a) toxic, inflammatory, or both; (b) resistant to cooking and digestive enzymes.

It is thus no surprise that they sometimes cause food poisoning. In fact in a study, food poisoning in 43 people was attributed to toxins present in uncooked or partially cooked kidney beans. No pathogens were present in the food, but it contained phytohaemagglutinin, a type of lectin that can cause red blood cells to clump together. It can also produce nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and diarrhea. Milder side effects include bloating and gas. It can also disrupt the intestinal microflora.

Animal studies have reported that active lectins can interfere with the absorption of minerals, especially calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Legumes and cereals often contain these minerals and the presence of lectins may prevent the absorption and use of these minerals in the body.

Lectins are also capable of causing kidney disorders leading to nephropathy and proteinuria. Of particular interest is the health implication for autoimmune diseases because lectin proteins can bind to cells for long periods of time.

Another suspected lectin disease is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Lectin found in wheat is one of the most common food triggers for RA patients.

Lectins block mucosa, which is the natural barrier and protector against bacteria and viruses not only in the intestine, but also in the throat. This creates a prolonged state of inflammation which can re-program the immune system and lead to autoimmune condition(Eg., Hashimoto’s)

Many lectins are powerful allergens, and prohevein, the principal allergen of rubber latex, is one. It has been engineered into transgenic tomatoes for its fungistatic properties, so we can expect an outbreak of tomato allergy in the near future among latex sensitive individuals and others.

Ways to reduce Lectin content from foods

Lectins are most toxic in their raw state, however, foods containing them are not typically eaten raw. Cooking processes including high-heat methods like boiling or stewing can inactivate most lectins. These plant antinutrients are water-soluble and typically found on the outer surface of a food, so exposure to water removes them. Simmering at low temperatures such as in a slow-cooker or undercooking lectin containing foods will not remove all the lectins.

Some lectins get destroyed during digestion as a result of enzymes produced by your body. Other processes that deactivate the compounds are sprouting grains and beans, and mechanically removing the outer hull that contains the most lectins.

Lectins are found in a whole variety of commonly consumed foods. It seems likely that the exclusion of lectins from the diet could become the next ‘food fashion’ for Nutritionists to promote, especially as there is evidence to suggest that certain lectins may be harmful to health.

We at ThriveFNC recommend keeping yourself away from lectin containing foods if you are already facing health problems. To find out if lectins are at the root of your health problems, set up a consultation with us and we’ll help you out

References-

1) https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.toxicon.2004.05.005

2) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/lectins/#:~:text=The%20problem%20with%20lectins&text=They%20contain%20phytohaemagglutinin%2C%20a%20type,effects%20include%20bloating%20and%20gas.

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115436/

4) https://www.boostthyroid.com/blog/2018/4/12/why-lectins-are-important-for-your-thyroid#:~:text=Nuts%20such%20as%20almonds%2C%20cashew,case%20for%20lectins%20from%20nuts.

5)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6603809/#:~:text=It%20seems%20likely%20that%20the,may%20be%20harmful%20to%20health.

About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
LIKE WHAT YOU'VE READ?
Sign up for free updates delivered straight to your inbox
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Plant Antinutrients- Phytates

Modern society has easy access to a vast informational database. The pursuit of sustainable,  green and healthy lifestyle leads to a series of food choices. Therefore, it is of importance to provide reliable, comprehensive and up-to-date information about food content including both nutritional and antinutritional elements. Nutrients are associated with positive effects on human health. Antinutrients, on the other hand, are far less popular for the contemporary human. They are highly bioactive, capable of deleterious effects in humans, and vastly available in plant-based foods.

Plant-based food products are the main staple food for human beings in many parts of the world. They constitute an important source of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Several anti-nutritional compounds are contained in plants as part of their defense mechanism. Phytate is one of the majorly found anti-nutrients from plant foods. 

Phytic acid (or phytate when in salt form) is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues. Phosphorus, in this form, is not utilised by human beings, dogs, pigs, birds or other animals because they lack the intestinal digestive enzyme- Phytase. Phytate is formed during maturation of the plant seed and is, therefore a common constituent of plant derived foods like cereals or legumes.

Sources of Phytates

Main sources of phytic acid are cereals, legumes, oilseeds and nuts. These food groups represent approximately 40-60 % of total calorie intake in developed and developing countries respectively. Cereals like corn germ, wheat bran, wheat germ, rice bran, barley, jowar, rye, amaranth grain, buckwheat and oats and related cereal food products are rich in phytates. Millets and legumes like kidney beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas are next in line to the cereal category for their phytic acid content. A maximum phytic acid content is present in soy concentrates. Considerable amount of phytates are also found in oilseeds like sesame seeds, sunflower kernels, rape seeds and nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashewnuts.

Health impacts

The effects of phytic acid are attributed to its ability to form complexes with positively charged food components, such as proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and trace elements.

Many investigations have been carried out on the negative aspects of phytate that have offered overwhelming evidence that dietary phytate is an antinutrient component. Phytates have shown negative interactions with both the macro and micronutrients.

Phytate and macronutrient digestibility: Phytates can form complexes with proteins, carbohydrates and fats from foods. These complex formations alter their structure, which may result in decreased digestibility.

Phytate and mineral uptake: Phytate works as a highly negatively charged ion and therefore its presence in the diet has a negative impact on the bioavailability of mineral ions such as Zinc (Zn2+), Iron (Fe2+/3+), Calcium (Ca2+), Magnesium (Mg2+), Manganese (Mn2+) and Copper (Cu2+).

Among them, bioavailability of Zinc was reported to be the most adverse effect in humans. The presence of phytate in the plant-based foods is an important factor in the reduction of Zinc absorption which resulted in dwarfism and hypogonadism.

More than one third of the world’s population suffers from anemia, half of it caused by iron deficiency. Iron deficiency adversely affects cognitive development, resistance to infection, work capacity, productivity and pregnancy. The addition of sodium phytate to foodstuff is known to reduce the absorption of Iron.

Sodium phytate is also responsible for hindering the absorption of Magnesium and the mineral gets excreted in the feces in the presence of phytates. Phytates form insoluble complexes with Calcium, thereby inhibiting its absorption. The availability of Manganese and Copper is reduced due to phytates from food.

Attempts to lower phytic acid content

Major efforts have been made to reduce the amount of phytate in foods by different processes and/or the addition of different substances. Techniques, such as soaking, germination, malting, and fermentation, result in the degradation of phytates from the food.

Soaking: Generally, cereals and legumes should be soaked in water for 15-30 minutes or even longer (overnight); phytate is water-soluble, so a considerable amount of phytate is removed in the water.

Germination and Milling: During germination of cereals and legume, an increase in phytate-degrading activity is observed. Moreover, when malted cereals are ground and soaked, there is complete degradation of phytate.

Fermentation: Plant products, e.g cereals, legumes and vegetables, are extensively used in the preparation of a variety of fermented foods. Fermentation can yield an almost complete degradation of phytate.

Addition of Phytase: Phytase is a substance which breaks down the phytates. Microbial phytase preparations are now commercially available, making their use in food processing technically feasible. Addition of a phytase preparation during food processing is suggested.

Antinutritional factors are widespread food compounds that are especially challenging for those choosing a predominantly plant-based diet. The presence of these antinutrient compounds in foods may induce various reactions and you might be completely unaware of their influence on your health. 

Our recommendation at ThriveFNC, avoid unfavourable health outcomes by choosing a diet based on sound science. The best diet is the one you can sustain for life.  ThriveFNC’s approach is evident-based and tailored according to your health condition. Connect with Thrive and improve your health.

References-

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/

2) https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.11.052

3) https://benthamopen.com/FULLTEXT/TOBIOTJ-13-68

4) https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/101181.pdf

About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
LIKE WHAT YOU'VE READ?
Sign up for free updates delivered straight to your inbox
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