When working with clients one on one, we dive really deep into how to improve digestion. For some people, this can be as simple as chewing each bite of food better; you want to aim for at least 30 chews per bite, drinking CCF tea, testing your gut for digestive enzymes and probiotics, or choosing food preparation methods that support digestion.
One type of food prep that seems to help everyone is by soaking or sprouting nuts, seeds, beans, grains, and lentils. You probably see many diet trends that tell you to avoid these foods altogether; however, if you prepare them correctly, they can be a nutritious addition to your food choices, especially as the weather gets colder. You can read more about paleo, keto, and IIFMM diets and which diet is most beneficial for humans here.
Many of these diet trends instill fear of eating certain foods because they can be hard to digest, but this is only half of the story. Some foods can have digestive inhibitors that may cause gas or bloating; these enzymes protect the food from germinating until it is time to do so. However, soaking and sprouting deactivate the inhibitor enzymes making nutrients more readily available. Please note, roasted nuts and seeds cannot be soaked.
All of these nutritious foods have different properties meaning they require varying soaking times. Let’s take a look.
Nuts and Seeds
Hard nuts like almonds require 12-24 hours; medium density nuts such as walnuts or brazil nuts need 6 hours; soft, fatty nuts such as pine, cashew, or macadamia require 2 or fewer, seeds like sunflower or pumpkin need 6-8 hours.
Most grains and pseudo-grains, like quinoa, require 4-8 hours of soaking. This time frame is perfect as you can start to soak them when you are heading off to bed, and when you wake up, they will be ready to go. White rice typically does not need to be soaked; with options like basmati, soaking can negatively impact the texture when cooked; however, I always like to rinse basmati or jasmine rice for 3-5 minutes before cooking.
Beans and Lentils
Generally speaking, you’ll want to soak beans and lentils for 4-8 hours. Many people say that lentils don’t need to be soaked, but I like to give them at least 4 hours of soaking time, except for red lentils, simply rinse them for 3-5 minutes.
How to Soak
- Place your food in a large glass or ceramic container.
- Cover completely with filtered water. Note that some of these foods will expand, especially beans, walnuts, and grains, choose a container with lots of room and check back in an hour or so to see if more water needs to be added.
- Wait the allotted soaking time for that food.
- Drain and rinse.
- From here, you can cook the item, dehydrate it, or, for nuts, seeds, and some grains, you can eat them just like this. If you are sprouting, there are a few more steps; my blog on this is coming soon!
I’ve had several clients who improved digestion using soaking and sprouting practices. Have you tried this yet? Comment below.