Tell people you’re cutting nuts out of your diet and they automatically assume you’re doing it to lose weight.
Not me. I gave up dieting a long time ago and, as a result, my weight has stabilised at a point I’m happy with (but that’s a topic for another post).
I’m giving up nuts because I’ve been having a few problems with my teeth and last week learned the surprising connection between nut consumption and tooth decay.
It began with this post from Cheeseslave who interviewed Rami Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay. Nagel believes that a diet high in nuts can be very damaging for dental health as raw nuts are high in phytic acid – which can block mineral absorption in the body. He goes so far as to call nuts “anti-nutrients.”
A recent study from January this year appears to back this up.
The British study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined that eating nuts led to tooth decay, cavities and bad breath among African hunter gatherers (they know this from studying dental remains found in a cave in Morrocco. Not sure how they can tell they had bad breath but science is a mysterious thing).
And, of course, nutritional guru Dr Weston A Price (who happened to be a dentist) found in his research that populations who ate less nuts, seeds and grains, had much better gnashers.
The good news is that you don’t have to abandon nuts completely to avoid an overload of phytic acid (after all, nuts are a good source of essential fatty acids).
The secret is in how you prepare them. Soaking can reduce the phytic acid and fermenting is even better for dispelling those pesky anti-nutrients. Here’s a detailed guide on how to prepare nuts, seeds and grains to get you started.
I’m going to lay off the nuts for now, make my own toothpaste, be more consistent about regular oil pulling and see if all those steps help resolve my various toothaches and pains. It’s got to be better than white-knuckling it in the dentist’s chair.
Weigh in: Do you eat nuts? How do you keep your teeth healthy? Did you know about how damaging phytic acid can be?