What are Soaked, Sprouted or Fermented Grains?
Gluten is a sticky, water soluble protein that is found in your favorite grains (wheat, rye, barley, etc). Grains like corn, rice and oats have similar proteins that cause problems over time. Gluten and similar grain-based proteins work to break down the microvilli in your small intestine, eventually letting particles of your food leech into your blood stream (a lovely term called “leaky gut syndrome”) causing allergies, digestive disturbances or autoimmune problems.
Lectins, are mild toxins the inhibit the repair of the GI track. Lectins are not broken down in the digestive process and bind to receptors in the intestine, allowing them and other food particles to leech into your bloodstream. Nothing like pre-digested food circulating the blood stream! The body views these lectins and the food they bring with them as dangerous invaders and initiates an immune response to get rid of them. This immune response to particles of common foods explains the allergy creating potential of grains.
Soaking, Sprouting and Fermenting
Are Soaked, Sprouted and Fermented Grains Healthy?
Soaking and Sprouting:Effect on phytate: If the grain contains phytase, some of the mineral-binding phytic acid will be deactivated, but not much. And if the grain has been heat-treated, which destroys phytase, or it contains very little phytase to begin with, the phytic acid will remain completely intact. Overall, neither soaking nor sprouting deactivates a significant amount of phytate.Effect on enzyme inhibitors: Well, since the seed has been placed in a wet medium and allowed to sprout, the enzyme inhibitors are obviously mostly deactivated. Digestion is much improved (cooking will improve it further).Effect on lectins: The evidence is mixed, and it seems to depend on the grain. Sprouted wheat, for example, is extremely high in WGA, the infamous wheat lectin. As the wheat grain germinates, the WGA is retained in the sprout and is dispersed throughout the finished plant. In other grains, sprouting seems more beneficial, but there’s always some residual lectins that may need further processing to deactivate.Effect on gluten: Sprouting reduces gluten to some extent, but not by very much. Don’t count on it. A little bit goes a long way.
So, Should We Eat Them?
- Yes, these methods do reduce the harmful properties but do not eliminate them. As grains still aren’t a stellar source of nutrition, even with all these elaborate preparation methods, and they can be/are harmful to many people.
- For the little bit of nutrition they might provide, the benefit is still overshadowed by the harmful properties that still exist in small amounts (gluten, lectin, phytic acid, etc) and they take an extreme amount of preparation time and energy for this small amount of nutrition.
- If you have a strong, healthy gut, eat an otherwise nutrient rich diet and go to these great lengths to properly prepare grains, you might be able to tolerate them occasionally, but why go through all the trouble when we live in a time where there is access to healthier foods (vegetables, meat, good fats, etc).
- In an age where we are bombarded by toxins in our air, water and food supply, removing grains (even traditionally prepared ones) is an easy step we can take to improve our health and to make room for other, more nutritious foods in our diets.
- If a substance (in this case, grains) might be harmful for you to consume, and there are no negative effects of removing it, logically, it would be wise to avoid it.