Nut Gut: When “Healthy” Foods Hurt

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Twl Nut Gut 1080X675 1 | Nut Gut: When “Healthy” Foods Hurt

Nut Gut

I swear I’ll never do it again. If only it would just go away…I promise I won’t do it again.—my thoughts exactly after eating a handful of cashews that left my stomach wound up in knots for about 24-hours.

What gives?!

For awhile now, I’ve known I’ve been “AIP” (sensitive to autoimmune-irritating foods, like nuts, eggs and night-shade vegetables).

But hunger struck at 11:30 a.m. I wanted a snack. And cashews sounded good.

So I went for it…only to a couple hours later, have my tummy telling me otherwise (“These didn’t sound so good”).

Nut gut.

It’s a real thing for some folks, and while many many people can digest them just fine…many, many people can’t digest them well at all:

Enter: Gas. Bloating. Constipation.

Really what gives?! Aren’t nuts healthy for you?

Yes, nuts are a healthy, great go-to snack for some.

But (like with most things) every BODY is different, and just because we are told something is “healthy” (or even “unhealthy”) does not necessarily mean that it is healthy or unhealthy for you.

Beyond calorie counts, fat grams, and even vitamins and minerals, I am talking about digestion here folks.

Nut gut is fo’ real for some people (especially for those with already weakened gut integrity) and here’s why:

Phytic Acid.

Phytic Acid is the main storage form of the mineral phosphorus in nuts, beans, soy and grains.

Phytic Acid also helps protect plants, in the wild, from predators and weather condition—by serving as “steel armor” for the plant, safeguarding the nut, bean or grain.

Steel armor is not necessarily you or I digest well.

Phytic acid is also known as an antinutrient, found in nuts, grains and legumes, because it binds important minerals (like iron, zince and calcium) and prevents your body from fully absorbing them.

Although birds, rodents and some insects have the “guts of steel” to eat and digest phytic-acid foods (grains, nuts) in the wild, humans do not. We simply don’t have the enzymes necessary to properly digest phytates.

When we eat phytic-acid rich foods, a war breaks loose in your gut, and the compound takes hold of whatever it can—disturbing the natural process of digestion and food breakdown.

Enter: Undigested food (or impaired digestion).

Enter: Constipation. Bloating. And the fermenting of foods (in your gut).

Discomfort. And regret.

Over time, if you eat phytic-acid rich foods frequently (nuts, grains, corn, beans), mineral deficiencies, digestive issues and weakened bones/teeth are common.

Even for the folks who seemingly digest their nuts just fine are susceptible to these deficiencies over time—as their gut still has to work harder to break the phytic acid down that it does other foods.

So what to do about it?

Give up nuts, grains or beans altogether?


Instead, try soaking them.

Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting nuts, beans and grains (before cooking or baking) them helps neutralize the phytic acid, and releases nutrients for absorption (instead of inhibiting them).

If only I would have soaked my cashews…my 24-hour regret could have looked a lot differently.

The next time you eat nuts, consider soaking them prior and simply note any differences you experience digestively.

Here’s how:

• 2 cups of raw, organic nuts or seeds (it is better to soak one kind at a time)
• 3-4 cups of filtered water (enough to cover nuts, warmed)
• generous pinch sea salt
• Place warm water in a medium bowl or jar.
• Add salt and let dissolve.
• Add nuts or seeds (sure they are completely submerged in the water).
• Leave uncovered on the counter or other warm place (not the refrigerator) for at least 8 hours, (preferably overnight).
• Strain in a colander and spread on a baking sheet.
• Set oven to 150 degrees F.
• Bake in until totally dry.


No more nut gut.

The bottom line?

Listen to your body.

Just because you’re told a food is healthy (or unhealthy) for you, does not always mean it is.

How does your food make you feel? (or rather, digest)?

Heal your gut.


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