Although I'm a committed Paleo eater, I've recently gotten to thinking... Historically, could a certain amount of phytic acid have made sense in a diet that included high levels of minerals (like the Paleo diet)? Granted, eating something like a standard American diet is more likely to tip the scales in the opposite direction (too much leaching of minerals from the body) but I wonder if some traditional diets high in certain minerals relied on phytates from nuts/legumes/grains to achieve balance. In fact, some believe hemochromatosis may have arisen as an adaptive response to an increase in grain consumption in certain populations.
If an over-abundance of minerals is a concern, what is the proper course of action? Eat more nuts/grains/legumes (egads)? Limit consumption of red meat (double egads)? Drink more tea/coffee with meals? Ingest more chelating foods?
It seems the only problem is too much iron. I don't know of any other mineral which is harmful in bigger amounts when consuming a diet without much phytic acid.
This is the hypothesis about the "adaptive response":
The high incidence of HH (Hemochromatosis) has some potential implications regarding diet. The gene appears to reduce survival, yet it has become relatively common and widespread among those of European (Celtic) ancestry. Consider the following hypothetical analysis.
For 99% of the time since the inception of the species, humans have lived as hunter-gatherers, eating a diet that includes animal foods that are rich in easily absorbed iron. Under such circumstances, the gene responsible for HH would not survive for long, as the hunter-gatherer diet is rich in animal foods and heme iron, and the HH gene (genetic mutation) would sharply reduce survival of those unlucky enough to have it.
In the most recent 1% of our history, humans developed agriculture, stopped being hunter-gatherers, and switched from a diet rich in easily absorbed iron to a diet based on grains--low in bioavailable iron and high in phytates (iron inhibitors). Under the new circumstances, a genetic mutation that increases iron absorption (e.g., the gene associated with HH), would occur in an environment where it actually enhances survival. Under those circumstances, such a gene would both survive and spread.
Modern times arrive, and bring large-scale agriculture and agricultural technology, industrialization, and greatly increased wealth. Over a very short period of time, the meat/animal food content of the diet increases substantially from what it was 100 years ago (if less than what it was prior to the development of agriculture). However, those with the HH gene who eat a diet rich in animal foods are now at increased risk of disease, because their bodies absorb "too much" iron from the recent dietary change that allows them to eat far more meat than their grandparents could afford. That is, their bodies have partially adapted (via the HH gene) to a diet in which iron is of very low bioavailability.
The above hypothesis explains the incidence of HH, and also may serve as evidence, in selected populations, of partial, limited adaptation to the "new diet"--i.e., the high-carbohydrate, grain diets provided by agriculture. Contrast the above--possible evidence of limited genetic adaptation to dietary changes in the approximately 10,000 years since agriculture began--with the unsupported claims made by certain raw/veg*n advocates that humans could not, and did not, adapt to a diet that includes animal foods, after ~2.5 million years. Reminder: the above is a hypothesis, for discussion.
So maybe the problem is not eating not enough phytic acid (it may be healthy in small amounts, for example apparently if fights cancer) but the excess iron which follow a low-phytic acid diet.
There are some steps to reduce iron if you don't want to bind all the other needed minerals:
"Nuts can sharply inhibit the absorption of iron in a meal; the inhibition can be overcome, however, by the addition of vitamin C to the meal (Craig )."
sources: Ray Peat, beyondveg
I think Lucus Tafur has a very reasonable perspective on the subject:
I posted the following on another thread:
Don Matesz has an interesting take on it:
"I have never seen any evidence that dietary phytate causes mineral deficiencies except in the context of overall poor quality diet, such as people attempting to live on diets composed entirely of unleavened grains and legume flours without adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, and other mineral sources"
What makes nuts better than legumes? 12 Answers
least harmful grain or pseudograin 8 Answers