Plants have many medicinal properties, such as herbal tinctures, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and adaptogenic powers. However, there’s another side to plants that is often overlooked. Plants have biochemical defenses that are less popular and not as well understood. Vegetables: They Fight Back will explore this concept further.

Fruits and Vegetables

Plants use chemical compounds to protect themselves from predators. Animals can fight back or run away, but plants can’t. However, they have their own defenses. Chillies and fruit are examples of plants with protective compounds. Chillies contain capsaicin, which gives them their spicy taste. This compound is unpleasant for animals, even though it may have health benefits for humans. Capsaicin is so potent that it’s used to make pepper spray.

Fruit, on the other hand, have bitter compounds in their peels and rinds that deter insects and other potential threats. These compounds are known as antinutrients and can cause digestive problems for animals that eat them. In short, vegetables: they fight back!

Nuts and seeds

Vegetables fight back when it comes to their reproductive system. Plants prefer that their seeds remain undigested, which can be a challenge since some plants have a tasty fruit surrounding a bitter seed. Blackberries, for instance, have a sweet juicy sack around their bitter seed. This fruit-seed combination is an ingenious strategy to ensure reproduction. Birds eat the fruit and the seed remains undigested, allowing it to grow wherever the bird lands. But how does the seed survive digestion?

Enzyme Inhibitors

Enzymes speed up reactions and are not used up. Enzyme inhibitors, on the other hand, prevent enzymes from catalyzing reactions. When it comes to seeds, enzyme inhibitors can delay the breakdown process, allowing them to pass through birds before digestion occurs. Vegetables and nuts also use enzyme inhibitors to prevent germination in unsuitable environments. However, these inhibitors can interfere with the absorption of maximum nutrition from foods.

Modern food processing doesn’t remove enzyme inhibitors from foods, which can strain your digestive system. To avoid this strain, foods such as soy, vegetables, and bread were traditionally fermented. Fermentation helps disable the enzyme inhibitors, allowing for easier digestion.

By consuming food with activated enzyme inhibitors, your digestive system may suffer. The pancreas, intestines, and microbiome work tirelessly to produce enzymes to digest food, but consuming nuts, seeds, and grains that haven’t been prepared traditionally may take a toll on your digestive system. This situation only gets worse over time.

Overall, vegetables fight back with their enzyme inhibitors, which can have a significant impact on your digestive health.

Oxalates, Phytates and Tannins

Vegetables: They Fight Back. These chemicals, such as oxalates, can limit our body’s ability to digest and absorb minerals like calcium[1], magnesium[2], and iron[3]. Spinach is an example of a vegetable high in oxalic acid, which forms magnesium oxalate and reduces the bioavailability of these minerals. Another compound that affects mineral absorption is phytates, made of phytic acid and minerals. Tannins, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals have not been fully studied yet. However, avoiding all plants is not necessary. To reduce the damage, here’s what you can do.

Damage Control

I mentioned before that we have distanced ourselves from traditional food preparation methods, making these compounds problematic. To consume plants, prepare them like your ancestors did. Soak and sprout grains and ferment vegetables. Cooking can also degrade anti-nutrients, especially in a pressure cooker.


To counter enzyme inhibitors in food, take extra enzymes when consuming them. Digestive enzyme capsules or high enzyme-containing foods like fermented foods, sauerkraut, vegetable juices, and yoghurt/kefir can help. Eat slowly to give your body more time to stimulate its own digestive juices.


When taking supplemental nutrients, especially minerals, avoid consuming them with high doses of anti-nutrients. This prevents anti-nutrients from binding to your nutritional supplements in the digestive system, optimizing the assimilation of the supplement.

Avoid what you must

Certain anti-nutrients can cause sensitivity in some people while others tolerate them well. Nightshades, such as potato, eggplant, pepper, and tomatoes, can cause symptoms like arthritis and skin issues in some people. Removing nightshades from the diet has resolved these symptoms for some. Eliminating almost all vegetables has also led to progress in health conditions for many people at Learning and applying this information strategically can improve your life and health, so enjoy your vegetables responsibly.

Read this article too: Why Veganism is NOT the Answer

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  1. Pingback:The Truth about Calories | William Dickinson.

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