Some bellies simply do not do well with grains! Even though quinoa is gluten-free (and technically not a grain but a pseudo grain), it still contains lectins, saponins, and phytic acid like most grains—all compounds that can mess with your gut. Lectins can damage the gut lining leading to leaky gut and other disorders. Lectins also cause leptin resistance, which means that your hunger signal is suppressed and that you’ll be hungry even when your body has had more than enough calories.
Saponins are another problematic element of pseudo grains and seeds—like lectins, these compounds are designed to protect the seed so it can survive to pass on the plant’s genetic line. Like lectins, saponins also contribute to leaky gut syndrome by damaging the enterocytes, the cells that line your gut and control what passes in and out of it. If you’ve ever thought quinoa tastes soapy, it is: In South America, the saponin residue is used as detergent!
Phytic acid is a compound that humans can’t digest: Essentially, it binds to the minerals in the food and prevents us from absorbing them. No matter how impressive a food’s nutrition facts panel looks, none of those nutrients will do you any good if the phytic acid in the food is preventing your body from using them. Phytic acid can also interfere with digestive enzymes and otherwise irritate your gut.
Soaking and rinsing your grains (and pseudo grains) can help remove some of these compounds, but if you struggle with serious digestive issues, you may want to consider eliminating grains altogether and see how you feel.