Why I’m Giving Up Nuts (and it’s not for the obvious reason)

goodbye tasty almonds, it was a good ride while it lasted

goodbye tasty almonds, it was a good ride while it lasted

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.

pumpkin seeds are probably out too. Now I have the sads.

pumpkin seeds are probably out too. Now I have the sads.

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).

make your own nut butters after properly preparing the nuts

make your own nut butters after properly preparing the nuts

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?

20 thoughts on “Why I’m Giving Up Nuts (and it’s not for the obvious reason)

  1. I hear you on this! I’ve had a hard time minimizing my nut intake on a paleo/primal diet! For awhile we had to, because my daughter was diagnosed with a nut allergy. 6 months later, they re-tested her a few times and she was not allergic (a mystery!). Slowly, we got back into eating nuts, in part because they recommended that she be exposed to them (scary at first, as you can imagine). But I do tend to go overboard on the nut butters and spreads because they’re easy protein. Do have substitutions in mind or are you going to soak nuts and still eat them?

    For teeth, I highly recommend the Healthy Mouth Blend by Orawellness. It’s not enough on it’s own for me – I use it with fluoride-free toothpaste or tooth powder – but my gums bled with flossing for years and within days of using that stuff, they no longer do! It’s great and given your palate I think you’d enjoy the taste. Good luck and keep us updated!

    • Hi Lily, I’m also a nut butter junkie (typical that I decide to give it up when there’s a jar of cashew butter in the fridge chanting my name 😦 ). I think when I do start eating them again I’ll soak the nuts and try to go very, very easy on the butters. It’s going to be a tough learning curve but I’ve found from experience that I just can’t eat them in moderation. Thanks for the Orawellness tip, I also get bleeding gums when I floss….which is probably a sign that I need to do it more!

      • In solidarity I’m trying to reduce my nut intake! So far, so good. One serving a day only. We’ll see how long it lasts!

        Try the Healthy Mouth Blend – it really worked amazingly well for my gums. I add it on my brush with my fluoride-free toothpaste. It’s not quite enough for me on it’s own.

  2. There are too many good things about nuts and seeds to stop eating them. FLOSS and water pick, that mayy make the real difference.

    • I agree with you. That’s why I’m not giving them up permanently. It’s just a temporary measure. Thanks for the tip about flossing and water picking – I do the former but not the latter, will give it a go.

  3. I did know that some food fanatics are adamant about soaking nuts, But I never knew why. Thanks for the info! I did know that some nuts like acorns have too high levels of tannins that can be leached out – but who eats acorns, anyway? I floss twice a day and go 4 times a year to have my teeth cleaned professionally, which keeps my old gums and teeth in good condition. So the nuts I eat (and i eat a little every day) can’t be that bad for me. In fact my bone density has risen to normal and they took me off fosamax!!! This says to me that mineral absorption must be adequate. I am looking into soaking nuts – some need it more than others – might post one day on this… good luck!

  4. Good luck 🙂 I remember watching something about culinary history and it saying that our ancestors had terrible teeth because of all the nuts and seeds they ate…bit worrying for me really…!

  5. I hope you keep us updated if your teeth improve. Mine are pretty sensitive and painful too.

    I actually just started eating nuts after excluding them for a long time. They make me feel very nice, satiated, and energized (and yes, they’re packed with nutrition!). I owe it to them for keeping my hunger at bay. I buy them all raw, soak them in sea salt, and roast them…I think it reduces most of the phytic acid.

    • Yep, sounds like you know your nuts! When I start eating them again I’m gonna have to get into the soaking routine. It’s been about 3 days now and my teeth are definitely on the mend. The toothaches have gone, they’re not as sensitive and brushing them doesn’t hurt my gums. Success! (achieved with a diet low in phytic acid, lots of stock and oil pulling every morning)

      • wow that’s amazing! I’ve been brushing less harshly and I’ve cut out mouthwash with alcohol…hoping for the best. I’ve heard a lot about oil pulling, but it sounds really gross lol.

  6. If you’re going the WAP route, get some of the fermented cod liver oil/high vitamin butter oil blend to take, too. I get mine from radiantlifecatalog.com. It’s not cheap, but I take it in capsule form. When my boy was 18 months, I realized he had active decay in his top teeth. What was decayed crumbled away eventually, but what’s left seems white and strong. I had immediately started him on that blend, in the gel form (he’s 3 now and takes it by the spoonful in the mornings), and also bought some ghee, which is clarified butter, which is basically more butter oil. We put that in his hot cereal or on his toast or eggs.

    Weston A Price found that when he put people with active decay on those oils, that the caries seemed to arrest. I think he was on to something. There’s even a line across my boy’s teeth where the decay had started in at the gumline, then stopped, and the teeth erupted further, so now there’s a tiny line across the center of the two front teeth where something WAS happening, then stopped. I am certain that if I hadn’t made these additions to his diet, we would have seen further erosion of those teeth. (I always had cavities as a kid, and my husband’s side of the family has terrible teeth. I suspect he started life out with some weak enamel…)

    I made mineralizing toothpaste at home, but I’ve also used Earthpaste. I like that as well.

    (I recently saw Rami’s recipe for fixing active decay that looked like he wanted you to eat a pound of raw grassfed beef? whew! that’s an interesting idea.)

  7. Pingback: Cocoa-Nutty Haystacks (flour and dairy free!) | Things My Belly Likes

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