Do We Really Need to Soak Our Grains?
Not long ago, Katie asked the question, “Is Soaking Grains Traditional?” Others have asked, “Is phytic acid sometimes beneficial?”
(If you’re wondering what phytic acid or ‘soaking grains’ is check out my post on the topic: Soaked grains and “properly prepared grains“.)
So I thought I’d throw out a few different “takes” on the topic for you to check out and hopefully you’ll add some comments to the discussion and we’ll see where we get. 🙂
Jenny answers many questions in her recent post:
If you've ever wondered if you need to rinse grains after soaking, or if you need to soak almond flour, or how to find the time to do it all, check out this post which answers the top five reader questions related to soaking grain: Soaking grains, nuts, beans and legumes.”
Shannon from Nourishing Days also wrote a great post about phytic acid not long ago:
While I do not doubt that phytic acid could be used beneficially in some specific circumstances, it is clear that daily consumption leads to mineral loss. Furthermore I am disheartened by the lack of knowledge of phytic acid in the general community. I came across many articles in big name journals which I suspect those who write up dietary recommendations for the government would have access to. Clearly their interests do not lie in the health of the general public.”
More about soaking or sprouting grains:
Animals that nourish themselves primarily on grain and other plant matter have as many as four stomachs. Their intestines are longer, as is the entire digestion transit time. Man, on the other hand, has but one stomach and a much shorter intestine compared to herbivorous animals. These features of his anatomy allow him to pass animal products before they putrefy in the gut but make him less well adapted to a diet high in grains—unless, of course, he prepares them properly. When grains are properly prepared through soaking, sprouting or sour leavening, the friendly bacteria of the microscopic world do some of our digesting for us in a container, just as these same lactobacilli do their work in the first and second stomachs of the herbivores.” (Be kind to your grains and they'll be kind to you.)
- Now check out what Amanda at Rebuild From Depression has to say on this, and then comment below with you thoughts!
So what do YOU think? DO we really need to soak our grains?
Related posts you might like:
- My original Pancake/waffle recipe using soaked grains
- Blender batter waffles/pancakes using 100% soaked whole grains, they’re so good!
- My homemade bread recipe, easy and SO soft…
- Homemade oatmeal bars/granola recipe
- Healthy Bread Choices – Rookie Tip
….Huh?? Cooking without ANY grains takes literal HOURS longer, just as cooking in any healthy way does, because number one we don’t know how starting from age 2 and number two we have to make EVERYTHING ourselves, including the mayonnaise, burgers, and dressings. And eating nothing but three tony “meals” per day without even ANYTHING at all inbetween that time, not only puts your body into starvation mode several times per day but also creates severe nutritional deficiencies since you are apparently eating nearly nothing.
“While I do not doubt that phytic acid could be used beneficially in some specific circumstances, it is clear that daily consumption leads to mineral loss..
it is clear ..based on what ground ?
@Star — Have you had a chance to read through all of the links above?
nutritional benefits of the whole grain flour outweigh the phytic acid issue?
Cheryl Greenwald says
I’ve read Weston Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and he doesn’t say anything about soaking grains. His big thing in that book is to eat the grains the same day they are milled!
Also, if the argument that in traditional societies much grain was actually sprouted while still in shocks in the field, that would leave little viable seed for the next year’s crop….
If you’re into Biblical eating, bread was a big thing there, but people also got a lot more exercise than we get today with cars, etc. I think Nourishing Traditions mentions something to the effect that carbs should be eaten in proportion to how much we exercise.
P.S. Weston Price also cooked all his fruits and veggies…maybe didn’t know about enzymes yet? Maybe he didn’t know about phytic acid either? I do grains both ways.
Julie L. says
This issue of phytic acid and the fact that it has voices on both sides of the fence serves as a reminder to me that no one fully understands the complexities of our foods and the way they are fully assimilated into our bodies besides the wonderful One who formed us! I find peace in this in the light of ever-changing nutritional advice out there, and seemingly continual contradictions, even from organizations (which shall remain, ahem, nameless :)) that many of us have come to trust over the years. Bottom line is that no mortal human being is privy to all of the wisdom and knowledge in the nutritional realm (or otherwise). I find the clear contradictions (such as those regarding white flour products) as well as “Brown rice is low in phytates…” vs. “Brown rice is high in phytates…” discouraging, making me aware that I can’t put blind trust into any one nutritional voice/organization. I also wish that nutritional advocacy groups would use more language such as “it seems to be the case that…” and “evidence seems to show that…” instead of using blanket, categorical statements purported as flawless fact that they themselves may even later dispute! Herein lies the problem of credibility.
I also think it’s important to remember that those of us who are passionate about nutrition should try to avoid obsessing over the ever-changing current (admitting that I am one who falls prone to this!). I am reminded that *balance* is key in life!
Amy @ Homestead Revival says
Julie, I have to agree with everything you said! So true! I have been doing some of both in our home – just what seems right – but occasionally I get out of balance in my MIND, even if my actions are still on track. Thanks for the reminder!
Julie, I couldn’t have said it better myself! I myself was pretty confused after the latest on the phytic acid info and realized I wasn’t even removing any of it. Even though I had been soaking overnight. I was getting really overwhelmed, because there is so much I am not doing. Sprouting, liver, organs, raw cheeses, ect… I had to focus on what I was doing, grass fed beef, raw milk, pastured eggs, ect…. I have stopped obsessing(for now 🙂 and I am looking to what positive changes we have made.
wow.. perfect comment 🙂 🙂 🙂
Amy @ Homestead Revival says
Angi, my 17 year old daughter was on a no carb diet for over 6 months for health reasons. At first she felt just like you mentioned – fabulous, specially after feeling bad for so long. But as time went on, she began to exhibit other symptoms that were not desirable. I insisted she go back on some whole grains, some of which I soaked, and she leveled out again. She doesn’t eat a LOT of grains, but enough to try and keep her balanced. We’re still working through how much is enough.
Kelly, I wish there was a clear cut answer on whether or not soaking grains to remove the phytic acid is beneficial on a regular basis. Seems like the video clip kind of made it foggy for me. How do I know if I’m low in something without running to have blood work all the time? Do you just go by how you feel (like I mentioned to Angi above)? Do you do some of both? I’m fairly new at soaking grains and I just am not convinced one way or the other.
Oh sorry! I see I wasn’t very clear. We aren’t no carb but specific carb. I agree with you that zero carb, though some claim to do it with long-term success, doesn’t really seem like the best idea for most. We aren’t low-carb enough for the ketosis high people speak of — just working on digestive issues and have been surprised at the other benefits we’ve noticed from being grain-free. That said, it does take a while for your body to adjust to lower insulin levels and to figure out the right level of carb for each person. Grain proteins are pretty hard for most to digest, so we choose potatoes and fruit if carbs seem too low.
Another question: Do we need to eat grains? The answer is “NO.” Life without bread and grains and legumes and sugar (except a little honey 🙂 is really quite good. My kitchen time is a fraction what it used to be and we are still eating amazing food. But it was scary getting rid of all those carbs. I thought we’d starve. Boy was I wrong. Fatigue, foggy head, and the incessant hunger (mine and the kids’) are no more. I used to eat 3 hearty meals plus snack 3 times a day. Now my meal sizes are about half and I don’t snack anymore. Fat, protein, and vegetables really fill you up, we’ve learned, when you don’t have the glucose from the carbs keeping your insulin levels high. High insulin levels make you feel hungry, by the way.
A lot of people think it must be horrible to live without bread (etc.), but we’ve discovered that it’s really quite amazing. And what it has done for my children in other areas still feels miraculous to me!
What I am curious about is this:
After soaking the majority of my whole wheat flour, is it better to add white unbleached flour to avoid more phytic acid or do the nutritional benefits of the whole wheat flour outweigh the phytic acid issue?
Also, I’ve been doing exclusively sourdough the last 2 weeks with half the flour soaking overnight with the sourdough starter, and then 2 rises the next day after kneading. Does phytic acid continue to break down during the rising phase?
Megan, I came across this again just now and realized I never answered your questions…
Yes, I usually will add unbleached white flour if I need a bit more the next day.
Also, yes, I’m fairly sure that the phytic acid continues to be broken down during the rising stage, since it remains warm and with that acid medium mixed in.
The spring issue of the Weston Price Foundation magazine devotes a long article to this very subject–phytates. Be sure to check it out.