Are Sprouted, Soaked, & Fermented Grains Healthy?

This is one question I probably get asked via email about ten times a week, and for good reason. There is some disagreement in the health community about traditionally preparing grains, and it seems that there is a good body of evidence on both sides.

Maybe you’ve been asked why grains are bad when people from other countries (usually Asia and Italy are mentioned here) are able to eat them regularly and still stay thin. [Side note: I'll be addressing both of these misconceptions soon, but the short answer is that besides the big difference is genetics, there are some other huge dietary difference that make up for this, and Italy is seeing rapidly rising rates of obesity and heart disease. If you want a statistically valid comparison, squatting while using the restroom actually seems to be one of the best predictors of longevity...]

Even in the health community, there is a split between WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) followers and the Paleo/Primal/Low Carb group on the health and necessity of grains and if they should be eaten at all.

You might have read my stance on how grains are killing you slowly, but as there are claims that these traditional preparation methods reduce the dangerous properties of grains, it is worth another look.

What are Soaked, Sprouted or Fermented Grains?

All grains have various properties that protect them in the plant world and allow them to survive to produce seed. In animals, these protective features are often claws, teeth, sharp spines, venomous fangs, etc, or the ability to run away and escape enemies, but plants protective features tend to be a lot more subtle.

Since plants aren’t able to fight or evade, their protective mechanisms are less noticeable. Plants like poison ivy or poison oak have obvious protective mechanisms like the itch-inducing oils on their leaves.

The protective mechanisms of those amber waves of grain are harder to identify externally. These crops are often eaten by animals, so their protection lies in the ability of their seeds (the “grain” itself) to pass through the animal and emerge on the other side as a pre-fertilized seed, ready to grow.

Plants accomplish this through the presence of gluten, other lectins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid which allow the grains to pass through the digestive system without harm to the plant. (note: Phytic acid is especially damaging to bone and tooth health and has been linked to tooth decay) These indigestible compounds are great for ensuring the plants continued fertility, but they can be very harmful to humans.

From a previous article:

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.

and

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

Traditional cultures where grains were consumed regularly or in large amounts found ways to reduce the harmful components of grains through methods like soaking, sprouting and fermenting.

These methods are designed to do what our body can’t and break down the anti-nutrients (gluten, lectin, phytic acid, etc) in grains so that they are more digestible to humans. Evidence shows that these methods do indeed make the nutrients in grains much more bioavailable and reduce the anti-nutrient properties.

These methods rely on using an acidic medium in liquid to soak the grains, a constructive environment to soak them and let them sprout, or a process like sourdough fermentation to alter the chemical make-up of the grain.

Certainly, most grains consumed these days are not prepared in any of these ways, but from a health perspective, are sprouted, soaked or fermented grains healthy?

Are Soaked, Sprouted and Fermented Grains Healthy?

From a nutrient perspective, grains prepared in these ways do have much higher nutrient levels and lower anti-nutrient levels than grains that are just ground into flour and baked, but should they be eaten?

The question remains, do these methods reduce the harmful properties enough to make these grains safe to consume. Mark Sisson sums it up well in his article about traditionally prepared grains:

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.

Adding fermentation to the mix reduces the harmful properties even more, but does not completely render them harmless.

The presence of these anti-nutrients in all grains also explains why people who avoid wheat for health reasons but still consume “gluten-free” foods may still have health problems. Wheat is definitely at the more dangerous end of the grain spectrum, but the others aren’t harmless by a long shot, and many of them are higher in simple starches than wheat.

So, Should We Eat Them?

Certainly, these methods of preparation do improve the nutrient profile of what is otherwise a harmful food to consume, but this still doesn’t mean that sprouted, soaked, or fermented grains are healthy or that we need to consume them.

If you are going to consume any grains, it would definitely be better to prepare them in one of these ways (or all three!) to make them less harmful to your body, but I stand by my assertion that there is no need for grain consumption at all.

There are no nutrients in grains, even traditionally prepared ones, that are not found in other foods, and many other foods are higher sources of nutrients than traditionally prepared grains.

It should be noted that all plant substances have properties that can make them harmful to humans in some way, but that it is much easier to reduce these harmful properties in other plants (cooking cruciferous vegetables like Broccoli and cauliflower, peeling and cooking sweet potatoes, etc). This is also why I recommend limiting beans, nuts, etc. or soaking and dehydrating the nuts to remove the anti-nutrient properties. (More on this soon)

So, in short, I don’t recommend grain consumption at all, even if they are properly prepared, as they aren’t an exceptional nutrient source and they do have harmful properties. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition or leaky gut, even these types of grains should be carefully avoided as they can make the condition worse.

For the small percentage of the population that doesn’t have any food related problems and that have excellent gut health, some of these grains might be ok occasionally in moderation, but other than taste, there is no reason to eat them.

There is also a definite difference between grains high in anti-nutrients like wheat, barley, etc and ones like white rice (not brown rice) which are naturally free of the more potent anti-nutrients like gluten) and which seem to be somewhat less harmful.

The other point worth mentioning is that even sprouted, soaked and fermented grains cause a spike in insulin and can inhibit weight loss and lead to other health problems if eaten in large amounts.

Summary

  • 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.

What do you think? Do you consume sprouted, soaked, or fermented grains? Totally disagree with me? Share below!

Reader Comments

    • Mike says

      What about this article?
      http://foodbabe.com/2014/02/24/healthiest-bread-on-the-market/

      She said that the breads made from sprouted grains are ok to eat because:

      “the sprouts are much more easily digested than starchy flour, and contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than whole grains. Phytic acid is destroyed when the grain sprouts, so your body is able to absorb the nutrients in these grains”

      What’s the bottom line here?

      • says

        They are more easily digested but in general, there are much more nutrient dense and less dangerous (digestive wise) foods than grains so we avoid them. Also, sprouting, etc reduces the anti-nutrients but doesn’t get rid of them completely.

    • Thomas says

      Thank You Katie for getting some Barley information out there. From what I know the sprouted gluten-free Barley is the way to go for a healthy gut. Avoiding the gluten and getting the nutrients in the sprouting stage before they are lost. I saw on the google search something mentioned about a product called Barley Gold. I have been taking Barley Gold for a few years now. In the last few months I have found a company in St. Petersburg, FL. called Boomers Forever Young, who are one of the only distributors of Barley Gold’s unique sprouted barley. They call it Boomer Barley and you can find it here on their website. boomerboost.com…The benefits are amazing for athletes and diabetes sufferers. I was blown away to find someone close by that sold this stuff and I cannot believe how much my health has improved since finding this product. I feel young again and I contribute it to the digestive freedom the Barley gives me allowing me to absorb my nutrition at a much higher rate. I cant believe it took me 45 years to figure this out.
      Love your website too! Very helpful.

    • Thomas says

      Thank You Katie for getting some Barley information out there. From what I know the sprouted gluten-free Barley is the way to go for a healthy gut. Avoiding the gluten and getting the nutrients in the sprouting stage before they are lost. I saw on the google search something mentioned about a product called Barley Gold. I have been taking Barley Gold for almost a year now. In the last few months I have found a company in St. Petersburg, FL. called Boomers Forever Young, who are one of the only distributors of Barley Gold’s unique sprouted barley. They call it Boomer Barley and you can find it here on their website. boomerboost.com…Along with another ground breaking product called Boomer Boost. I recommend these guys to everyone I meet suffering from aging and malnutrition issues. The benefits are amazing for athletes and diabetes sufferers. I was blown away to find someone close by that sold this stuff and I cannot believe how much my health has improved since finding this product last year. I feel young again and I contribute it to the digestive freedom the Barley gives me allowing me to absorb my nutrition at a much higher rate. I cant believe it took me 45 years to figure this out. Our food doesn’t have the nutrition that we require.
      Love your website too! Very helpful.

  1. says

    So glad you wrote an article on this.  Shakeology is coming out with a new flavor called Tropical Strawberry.  But they have changed the protein to make it vegan-friendly by making the protein source a sprouted brown rice protein. I think I read that it’s also fermented, as well as sprouted, but I can’t be sure. I just don’t know much about this new protein source. (all other flavors are whey protein isolate)  I’m excited to try it, but the “rice” part kind of worried me.  This eased my worries a little bit to really try it out.  If I have issues, I’ll can easy switch back to the other flavor that has whey protein isolate.

  2. Dan says

    I honestly think we need to start throwing physical, as well as air, quotes around “food” when describing those substances that do more harm than good to our systems. There’s a whole range of things growing out in the world and it’s only by convention that some of them are lumped in with bacon and cauliflower. We really need to Pluto most of these grains and vegetable oils that are crowding the cupboard. If you can start aligning them more with grass, trees, and motor oil, it’s going to go start eating at the subconscious and perception will slowly give rise to reality. By continually giving donuts the same status as tallow, we’re simply making it all the harder to get the point across.

  3. Brenda says

    Wow-Two articles in two days from you well written about two different subjects that are confusing. (yesterday it was about fats) This answered questions I have been wondering about. Well done. I agree that grains are highly over rated and unnecessary. Something else that could have been talked about more in this article is the ‘fiber” of grains. The fiber in grains is damaging to the digestive system. Not all fibers are created equal and the fiber in grains is as much as they would have believe (other plant foods have more) plus it is a different kind of fiber that is actually damaging. Do you agree?

    • Judy says

      How do I find the article about fats that you mentioned Brenda? I’m having trouble finding it. Hope someone can help!

    • Don says

      you all do realize that since the dawn of humans , every civilization that has survived to modern times subsisted on a diet that consisted mainly of grains? ..most containing gluten.
      To state that wheat , rye, etc provide no necessary nutrition is ludicrous…
      During the rise of the Roman Empire the soldiers refused the fight if they ran out of bread ..yes they had traveling bakeries behind the front…no meat or veggies was OK , no bread they laid down their arms .
      That said we bakers mark 1854 as the death of bread as that’s when yeast was discovered and the ability to make bread in a couple of hours was determined …proper bread is made with a natural starter..that consists of flour , water, a little salt and ferments for over 24hrs ( no conditioners , additives, DATEM , ADA, Ascorbic acid , Lcystenine, etc. needed ! )
      Rather than eliminate grains from your diet I would encourage you to focus on eating whole grains ..preferably baked in an Artisan style of long fermentation and hearth baked
      What you should try eliminating before jumping to conclusions that grain makes you feel bad is refined white flour, sugar , fat and salt …too much of these are the scourge of the American diet
      On sprouted grains I am recently working on Artisan breads using them and I have to say they are wonderful , I encourage you to try them when you find them ..but watch for sugar content.
      Real Bread is meant to be enjoyed!

  4. Jayleigh says

    I agree! I am so passionate about the removal of grains from our diets. And GMOs are a WHOLE other piece to this. I think Dr. Davis (Wheat Belly) brings this into light. Very interesting.

  5. Venus says

    Hi wellness mama! I was wondering if you have read the books Deep Nutrition and Food Rules by Catherine Shanahan? If not, you should definitely read them, they are extremely interesting and I think that they would be both interesting to you and beneficial for the blog and your nutrition knowledge.

  6. Tina Basinger says

    I’m pretty much anti-grain, but have had a hard time keeping them completely out of my system.  I must ask though, what is bad about sweet potato skins that you said to peel them?  I always thought the skins held a lot of vitamins, etc.

  7. Jen says

    Love this article!  I have a blog with a friend who is a Paleo follower and I write from a more WAPF perspective.  However, I am completely baffled by the over emphasis on grains in most of the WAPF blogs that I read.  I do not understand the mindset that just because you ‘can’ sprout/soak to make it better than you should — always.  There is a reason why those grains are so difficult to process — because we shouldn’t be eating that many of them. 

    My new philosophy is that I will have 1-2 meals a day with a grain (rice or a sourdough bread slice)  The majority of the meal as a healthy fat, meat, and veggies, broth, etc.  If a dessert is desired, it’s now a grain free dessert and I make it as nutrient dense as possible.  My new favorite squash porridge – YUM!

    • says

      This is definitely one area where I diverge from the WAPFers like Cheeseslave, Food Renegade, Healthy Home Economist, etc. I’m yet to see any of them provide detail or proof of the “nutrients” we miss by not eating grains, and while I agree that these ways of preparing make grains less harmful, I certainly don’t agree they are necessary or good!

  8. says

    This was a great post!!! One thing that finally sealed the deal for me was reading about all of the changes to the proteins that wheat has undergone through over the last 50 years or so in “Wheat Belly”. Although I’d known all about the reasons why grains should be sprouted, soaked and fermented and even though I knew that grains were keeping me heavy (and craving them more), I just couldn’t get it out of my head that “Jesus ate wheat” so it can’t really be all that bad! Reading “Wheat Belly” helped me to understand that while it’s true that Jesus ate wheat, the wheat that He ate resembles the wheat that we eat today in name only.

    Thanks, as always, for such great information!!!

  9. Dan Moffett says

    Thank you for the information. I’ve read your articles on grains. They have helped me change my lifestyle. Since I put the wheat out of my diet I have lost 148 pounds. My energy level is through the roof and I feel great. I am constantly asked how I’ve lost the weight and keeping if off for 2 years now.

  10. Irish Colleen says

    I sprout, soak, and ferment my own grains, legumes, and the like.  I sprout, dry, seal, and store them for when I need them.  I grind what I need and repackage the remainder.  I don’t eat much in the way of grains but when I do, I choose sprouted.  It’s certainly an improvement over incredibly processed, chemically laden, items in our public food supply so if you are going to eat grains, sprouted would be far more beneficial if you are going to eat them.  I think sprouted, soaked, fermented is not so much of a gluten issue as it is a whole food, knowing where your food came from, research what you feed your body, and make better choices.  

  11. fariha says

    i have just made the mistake of buying white sprouted wheat.  Do you think if i fermented this sprouted flour it might reduce the WGA? 

  12. JenRivers says

    Wow, this article is so interesting. Grains are one of the foundations of our diet! We often buy sprouted grain products made by Ezekiel, but never sprout and rarely soak grains in our home. My husband and I, along with our fifteen month old son are ready to try this 90 day grain-free challenge to see how we feel. I am inspired! Wellness Mama, are there any grain-free cookbooks you’d recommend? Thank you!!

    • says

      I know this reply is long after the post, but if you are still interested check out the Paleo cookbooks like Well Fed, Everyday Paleo, and Practical Paleo. The last one covers in depth a lot of what is wrong with eating grains and what they do to you as well as recipes. Also, Against All Grain is a blog site with lots of awesome recipes. Good luck!!

  13. Victoria Robinson says

    At Aldi today, I bought a bag of pinto beans, and one of Great Northern beans. Are these safe to eat, by chance?

    • thwap says

      I think any seed, at SOME level anyway, will have this natural protection around the outer layers of the seed of these phytates and enzyme inhibitors, designed to make it hard for the animal to digest and designed to designed to prepare the seed for sprouting and germination after the animal excretes it.

      I would be careful of seeds in general (including nuts), and I have a feeling that the bigger the seed the more careful you have to be. (look at http://chriskresser.com/another-reason-you-shouldnt-go-nuts-on-nuts)

  14. Therese' says

    Thankyou for such a great site! I have not had time to browse the whole site, but what I have seen so far is great! Therese’

  15. topolina says

    Shocking! I eat my home made granola for breakfast and also chew on almonds and different nuts almost every day. I don’t feel physically bad after, so the article really made my world stop for a second.

    But I keep wondering – are almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds ecc bad for you as well? I really like them and lentils too, I eat them for proteins, because I don’t really like meat (where else could I get my proteins? I’m not a beliver of protein shakes and bars).

    AND – please help me! What should I eat for breakfast then?!?!? :D (I’m serious, although laughing:))

    • chris says

      You can soak all nuts and seeds and dehydrate them or lightly roast them before eating to reduce their phytic acid. Nuts generally have less phytic acid than grain. However pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds have a lot. So use in moderation even if soaking them. If I use nuts and seeds I usually soak them with a tablespoon of salt for about 24hrs (cashews 7-8hrs as they are softer) and dehydrate them for 24hrs before eating. Remember if you don’t prepare them properly your body can’t access most of the nutrients in them anyway because it is bound up by the anti nutrients. If your looking for what to eat instead…eggs might be your best friend. Possibly learning to like meat if you can would be really good too. Eggs are standard breakfast for me.

  16. Thejbiddy says

    Do things like amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa fall under the same discussion, or are they better than the grains mentioned in your article?

    • says

      In some ways, they are “better” than wheat and the worst offenders, but they do fall into the category of not being necessary since other nutrients can be found in higher amounts other places, and some people will still have a reaction to them.

  17. says

    I’m new to all this grain free thing. I have recently come across that I need to eliminate them to help my acne. I really don’t want to give them up as they are a staple that I have grown up with. Everything has grains in it. All the food I’ve learnt to prepare has grains in it. It has been quite frustrating really, but having read this blog with the simple yet easy to follow facts it has made me more detrmined to keep trying new things. Thanks heaps.

  18. kristy says

    I struggle with this issue a lot and would love to hear your thoughts. My family of 6 spends quite a bit on groceries, but we really cannot afford to spend more. I have lowered our grain intake but we simply can’t afford a no-grain diet. I would have to big time sacrifice my convictions on the quality of meat we eat to have the money to even reduce our intake a little more. It is frustrating but I just don’t see any way around it…something has to give in regard to my convictions in order to keep to our budget…

    • Lisa says

      I know how you feel, because I have the same problem as you. Food prices are getting higher I just have to keep in mind that we have to have “moderation in all things”. Even with the food we eat. Eating the grains that are less harmful are better to buy, even if it lowers food cost. If I wasn’t pregnant then I would be making mine own bread and other things and not buying so much. I also live in the big city and there is no space to grow my own garden, which helps lower food budget. Hang in there, you are not alone.

    • says

      I, too, have your problem. We have cut red meat for the most part in my family, merely because it is too expensive. You can make more dishes with “kinder” grains like rice, quinoa, or millet and use herbs like cinnamon/cardamom or cilantro/lime to vary flavors. Another art to master is tofu. Tofu is very cheap and high in protein. Just be sure buy the organic stuff, to avoid the downside of processing.

    • says

      I am not a parent so perhaps this is a pipe-dream: Might the kids be satisfied by using fatty foods like butter, coconut oil and roasted coconut chips (with cinnamon and erythritol)? Costco now sells Kerry Gold grass-fed butter in 3-packs for perhaps $6.00.

  19. Jckstokes1 says

    I’m gonna have to checkout chai, that’s a grain isn’t it? Didn’t I see it recommended here?

  20. LisaD says

    I use organic sprouted whole wheat flour.  Should I be soaking this before using it?  I am currently experiencing pregnancy induced gluten intolerance.  I still need wheat flour for my 3 young kids, it makes a meal stretch.  I want to prepare this flour as healthily as possible.   Thanks for any help!

  21. Oneawesomebunch says

    I do love alll the info on why the grains are bad for you. I new to this and I need to know what or where you find out what I can serve my family instead of grains?

    • says

      Vegetables are always a great option and starchy foods like sweet potatoes, squash and root veggies have a lot more vitamins than grains :-) A lot of my recipes sub vegetables (zucchini lasagna, spaghetti with squash or cabbage, etc.

  22. Christina says

    One thing I find rather frustrating about everyone who bashes grains is that very few of you acknowledge situations like the one mother a few comments back who can’t afford a Paleo diet. I’m on GAPS right now and have been grain free for 6 months, and boy has it taken a toll on our bank account! And that’s just with one person grain free, my husband still eats (soaked or sprouted) grains. It’s really not practical at all (financially speaking) to raise a family on the Paleo diet. I definitely understand being grain free if you have gut issues and need healing, but I do wish Paleo bloggers would give a little grace to those who are just struggling to put whole foods of any kind on their tables. The other issue is guilt – I’ve been in traditional foods and Paleo circles long enough to know how much controversy there is about pretty much everything – if we tried to follow the “right” thing to the “t” we’d die of the stress and guilt before we die of the grains and legumes!

    • Morneau_for_4 says

      Why do we have to acknowledge other people’s situations? Do you think acknowledgement will make unhealthy choices more acceptable? Face it: our economy has reached “stagflation.” Higher prices, no growth. Think about reasons why food prices have skyrocketed and complain to your lawmakers instead of lecturing us. Mandatory ethanol production has increased corn prices, which in turn increases pork prices. Subsidies also keep prices artificially high. Cumbersome regulation, Big Food lobbying, and public health hysteria has made whole foods more expensive and not even available in some areas (raw milk, etc). Go complain to the lawmakers who have put us in this position. Or vote them all out.

    • Felicia Alvarez says

      I’m sorry, but I disagree. It really is only more expensive to eat Primal/Paleo if you are trying to recreate a SAD menu with “legal” components. Just drop the grains and replace with more non-starchy veg. Three ounces of meat or other protein (eggs, for example or dairy if you use it), with an ample salad or a cooked leafy green and a brightly colored veggie are a complete meal. Or make a soup with bone broth and lots of veggies and a little meat. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We are just so used to the stuffed feeling we get from a starchy diet and the over-eating that grain cravings lead to, that we can’t imagine we could be satisfied without them. Give it about five to ten days and you would be amazed at how much money you can save.

    • Los says

      If you want to make the cost worth it your going to have sacrifice time.
      Grab a bucket and google organic vegetable gardening. You can grow vegetable anywhere the only factor is the climate your in that limits what you can garden.

      BUT, you can grow at least 3 vegetables OR MUCH MORE that you normally see in most supermarkets,

      Word to the wise I am a 22 year old college economic/finance student and the cost of vegetables and food in general will increase quite drastically the next 10yrs and will continue to rise and you better believe your taxes are going up. I will not explain how just keep note of prices. It will be good to incorporate a self-produced food system/source now so you get used to the practice.

      The benefit is instant cost saving and it is guaranteed not GMO or pesticide-free because you control the process.

      *MAKE SURE YOU LEARN THE ORGANIC METHOD

    • canitary says

      I agree, I don; t necessarily dispute the premises that grains may be unhealthy , but I am from latin AMERICA the poor and most middle class depends on grains as basic staple , for economic reasons, I which that area .be address . About meat,a free pasture beef in my area is fifteen dollars a pound, for a decent cut, i can not afford .appreciate some comments on that

    • Sarah says

      I’m with you Christina. We are a family of 8, with my oldest being almost 9 and my youngest is 8 months old. We have tried going *mostly* grain-free for 3 weeks now. I budget $850 a month for groceries, and go shopping every 2 weeks, but by the end of those 2 weeks our fridge and cupboards are just about bare! I’m finding I have to dip into some other budgeted category to buy more food for a couple of days.
      While I have benefited from being grain-free by losing 8 lbs. so far, we haven’t noticed any other differences. Since we didn’t have any noticeable issues to begin with, my husband and I have decided that we are going to do 75% grain-free meals, and the 25% of grains will be prepared traditionally.

  23. Mary says

    yes, i do. Jesus ate grain, so did almost all of our ancestors. i always use sprouted nuts/flours/seeds/beans – but i think that eliminating all of these if you are having no health problems and enjoy them constitutes an excessive pre-occupation with the health of the body. i have great gut health, eat grains or beans with every meal and have zero belly fat after having 3 kids (and one is only 5 months). i’m northern european. and i second the GAPS link that is rarely talked about. few understand digestion like dr. cambell and she approves of both grain and pork in a healthy gut, and nuts for even an unhealthy one.

    • Felicia Alvarez says

      The grains of Bible time are very different genetically from the grains of today. Now they have been selectively bred to not only be shorter for ease of harvest but to contain even higher levels of phytates and other anti-nutrient because these protect against crop damage by pests and increase storage time, even at the cost of the health of the consumer. And by the way, while Jesus’ diet probably included the ancient forms of these grains, it didn’t include pork. Just sayin’.

  24. says

    I work on a mill, and I found this really interesting. We feature and greatly encourage gluten-free products. As a girl of the great American Heartland, it is hard to stop eating wheat. I want to make the switch to gluten free, but I have a taste for wheat products and I know how to use them better. Do you have the sources (studies/stats/journals) that you got this info, so I can learn more?

  25. Stefa folle says

    I have been trying to eliminate grains and realised quickly that I cannot afford this diet!
    Anyone has good recommendations on books for soaking,sprouting and fermenting grains?

    • Poppins says

      A great book with lots of traditional food recipes(including soaking and sprouting), as well as interesting tidbits, is “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. I personally have found it helpful in clarifying these most disputed questions(fermented dairy, properly prepared grains) as well as making yummy food.

  26. says

    Very interesting, I’ve been gluten-free for awhile and mostly grain-free to help bring down my inflammation/leaky gut from chronic stress. Would brown rice syrup have these anti-nutrients as well? Or just unfavorably spike insulin? Thanks

      • Elaine says

        So you have head of Barley Gold..they say that there is no phytic acid ..they have neutralized it all.???

      • Kris Kramer says

        I realize this is a really old post, but I’m reading it now and was about to order a Barley powder mix to aid with chronic constipation. I already ferment my own vegies, made and drink beet kvass, ingest coconut oil, etc. Still having trouble. Any reason you wouldn’t take a Barley product?

      • thwap says

        How on earth are they ok to eat, when they *also* have phytic acid in them – in fact, if you google, often MORE than the average grain?? This is inconsistent….I’m very baffled…..if one should avoid the enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients in grains and just eat higher and richer sources of nutrients and iron and whatever else you need week to week (which thanks to your very helpful articles here. I’m starting to accept I’ll have to do – sprouting/fermenting freak here!) – one should also. in the same breath. avoid nuts entirely (soaked or not) – as well – right?? :S (Or to be more precise, just have the riiiight little amount that you should and not have it above that ‘healthy’ amount…)

        Result from a quick googling of ‘nuts phytic acid': http://chriskresser.com/another-reason-you-shouldnt-go-nuts-on-nuts

  27. Los says

    Hi Wellness Mama,

    I think the content you are sharing to the public is great and the fact that you are exposing some grains and beans that have some negative impacts on the body.

    I come from a family of doctors and was raised by one. The doctors I am associated with are not your typical medical doctors. They utilize whole food supplements and organic ailments to treat most patients depending on their status. They resort to drug prescription and pain killers when the patient is in shock or suffering from high levels of pain.

    I want to share this companies website with you and the others of this board so that you can see what real medicine is. Comb through the website and read the ingredients for each product. This is the drug companies true fear.

    What is funny is you never hear about these kind of supplements only in Whole Food or in health shops that sell you the striped down versions. Now you can’t buy these products directly you have to get them from a doctor because you know if this was available to the masses that would destroy the drug companies but at the same time protects doctors such my family that practice

  28. Los says

    Listen, you cannot just begin categorizing all these foods as good or bad.
    First of all if you really want satisfy your body, schedule a blood test with your doctor and find out your blood type before going structuring your diets.

    You can’t just fill a plane with regular non leaded from exxon lol.
    Every person has a different blood type or a combination of them. For example I am blood type A and most red meats do not go with my blood type and do me more hard then good. I can eat fish and turkey but after that I basically reap maximum benefits from any nuts, grains and vegetable.

    In the stone age not all humans had the same diet. They ate what they had access to and this depended on their location. A good example is Italy current day, if you go to the cost you will barely see people eating any red meats. The majority of what they ate came from the sea and surrounding vegetation. Italians in the mainland would live primarily off of meats and grain and some veg. My point is in ancient times most groups of people living on the planet had VERY different diets.

    We are their ancestors and the proof is in our blood what they ate and those everyday food they consumed are what benefits you depending on your blood type.

    • thwap says

      Good point. I guess in the end, the factor of ‘what works best for ME’ (based on careful observation of self) must ALWAYS line every nutrition and health issue…

  29. says

    Meat is better for you than sprouted, cooked grains? I find that very hard to believe. Even lean meat makes the blood “fatty” for around four hours after consumption, during which time that fat floating around in the blood can cause issues. Your body also produces a large amount of acid while digesting it (which can take 24 hours), throwing off your PH balance and leaching calcium out of your bones. Excessive grain consumption obviously isn’t good, just like a lot of otherwise healthful things. I eat sprouted rice and natto (fermented beans) for breakfast mixed with raw vegetables (about a 30:70 ratio), and have seen an increase in energy and overall health, including weight loss, since doing so. Just cutting out all animal products has broken me out of the “can’t lose any more weight” rut. Of course, Los makes a very good point about different diets for different people.

  30. Wanda says

    I believe this information whole heartedly. Before becoming a vegetarian I ate meat and did not relay on meat substitute products that contain wheat gluten. Once I started eating veggie sausages or fake burgers I noticed I developed Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I really want to stay off grains and need help. What else must I delete from my diet?

  31. Rachel says

    I’m curious… did any particular health issue spark your interest in nutrition? I find that people who come to it out of cardiovascular emergency tend toward the vegetarian side, where as those who come to it out of a candida/leaky gut or food allergy emergency are more likely to end up paleo or otherwise anti-grain. There are plenty of testimonies of relief from both sides, and I’m beginning to wonder if it really isn’t just dependent on your body type and/or moderation. I notice a big difference between when I’m eating or not eating refined carbs but if anything I feel better when I’m eating some “Ezekiel” bread and steal-cut oats (in addition to my modest servings of organic free-range/grass fed meat and eggs and piles of fruits and veggies). I have debated this issue with my mom (a near-vegan) and still don’t feel that my anti-grain and pro-meat arguments are iron-clad. Other factors aside, grains have more nutrients per calorie than meat or white potatoes (at least according to Dr. Fuhrman), so how do you know at what point the anti-nutrients cancel out those extra nutrients? I feel like I’m comparing apples and oranges when I try to compare grains with meats in any concrete, analytical fashion… can it really be done?

  32. Dale Anderson says

    This may be a stupid question but would soaking grains in Alkaline water neutralize phytic acid? There must be a way to fix this… there must be a way. Please say it isn’t so!!!!!!

    • Travis says

      Im not certain about soaking in Alkaline water. It’s not hard to make it acidic though, just add some lemon juice of vinegar. My water is slightly alkaline, but I add a bit of lemon juice and/or yogurt runoff(whey) and hope thats ok. Also if you soak grains/beans/whatever, save a bit of the soak water and add it to the next batch. H20 isn’t breaking down the phytates for the most part, its what lives in it. Sometimes we just have to make due with our location, abilities, and whats available. Side note, I also try to remove fluoride from my water by dissolving calcium(dolomite powder)in it. I cant afford(and it isnt always feasable )to bring a filter most of the time(most filter chlorine, but do nothing for fluoride). The calcium binds with the fluoride and settles out, and even if you ingest it, it wont bind to your bone/teeth calcium, it has already done that, and is is more inert.

  33. Martin says

    My understanding is that there is a big differencee between the benefits of consuming germinated seeds compared with “whole” grains. The minerals in particular are locked into the endosperm by phytic acid and as such are relatively poorly digested. When a seed germinates, the action of water to first of all expand the seed coat, allow more moisture and air in, stimulates on a very small scale fascinating activity where the phytic acid becomes phytase…an enzyme. This eventually allows the minerals to be changed from salts to chelated versions of the same minerals which themselves are easily absorbed. In the case of wheat, vitamin C levels can increase by 1000%! Finally I hope I’m right on this subject as I produced literally tons of germinated seeds over ten years, selling them here in the UK through a national chain of health food shops …who now sell minerals in plastic containers !

  34. Cori Bernall says

    So I am wondering… Why are nuts better than grains if it is recommended that they are soaked? I have seen several articles lately that encourage soaking nuts. Thanks!

  35. Francois Bertrand says

    I have a question!
    I liked your article, well written and you seem to look at it with more then one angle which is rare when the topic is something people are often very “passionate” about. I’m reading a book on hypotoxic food which is based on the studies of doctor Seignalet (but referring to many other studies including Dr.Campbell), making the same observation that toxicity to the gut will open the door to unwanted molecules, proteins and others and lead to auto-immune diseases. The problem is that Dr. Saignalet and the author of the book Jacqueline Lagacé both recorded 80%+ success rate with 90+ diseases WITHOUT excluding germinated nuts. I a curious person, and I don’t believe that one person out there holds the truth, that will always allude us partially, but I am wondering how they got such results anyway? Are you familiar with his work? Maybe there results could have been better, I wanted to have your opinion on that, out of pure curiosity without trying to prove or out prove anything, and because you seem like a level headed person and I like that.
    My initial reaction is that it shows how the ideal nutrition is relative to our capacity to deal with toxicity. In the end, if stuck on an island I might end up owing my life to nuts, even if it triggered arthritis ;)

  36. Kanrei says

    What is about sprouted lentils and beans, are they more ok? (I just saw, some paleo people thinks they are ok, when sprouted)

  37. says

    Does it make any difference if we are using an ancient grain as opposed to modern wheat? I’ve heard that the older varieties have many more nutrients and much less gluten than today’s wheat. If we used sprouted heirloom varieties, would you still consider them to be nutritionally inferior to other dietary choices?

  38. Yvonne says

    Wheat like most foods except meats breaks down into alcohols . We have alcohols that are formed in us to break food down. If you do not get fresh foods
    depending on the foods you are an alcoholic literally. So you an imagine what you are then doing to your body. The fresher that certain foods are the better for you .

  39. says

    I have been a vegetarian for almost 40 years and now vegan for 5 years. I used to have severe hayfever (gone after eliminating wheat!!), but still get itchy eyes, etc after eating certian foods, nuts and was told I have leaky gut and autoimmune issues. As a vegan I eat a lot of beans but not only large legumes. My diet consists mostly of the small ‘pulses’ (moong, urad, small lentils,channa dal etc..) favorites of the middle eastern culture. I soak and cook with a bayleaf and kombu seaweed. They take maybe 15 min in a pressure cooker to cook down. I will never eat meat, fish of any kind, so beans and tiny pulse beans are my choice. But after reading your article (good and helpful info, TU – backing off of grains for sure) I am not sure how to handle the protien situation. The pulses seems easier to digest over the larger beans. Any advice is helpful.
    Kathy E. from Kensington MD

  40. Jennifer says

    I follow what you are saying and I will tell you my experiences… I have several food intolerances. I was tested for these when I was 16 and was told to never eat any component of eggs ever again, and to never eat grain and dairy products within 6 hours of each other. I noticed a huge and marked improvement of digestive and skin ailments. Later on, through the urging of a sister, I tried fertilized eggs and found them to be quite compatible with my digestion… one random unfertilized egg though would leave me writhing on the floor in pain and stench… So, knowing enough about chemistry, I started experimenting with different ways of preparing grains. I’ve found that fermented oats- don’t bother me at all, fermented rice- very slightly, fermented wheat- very slightly, sprouted wheat- no problems, sprouted rice- no problems, and I can now consume them with dairy. Otherwise, that combo also has me writhing in pain and stench.
    momathomescientist.wordpress.com

  41. Rae Farrell says

    I have been grain free for three years.
    I was never a celiac, nor did I ever feel bad consuming grain.
    I just quit eating all grains in order to lose weight.
    I lost nearly a hundred pounds in that time.
    Recently I read about milling your own non-GMO sprouted whole wheat flour, and making sourdough breads from time tested old world starters.
    They were I was told predigested, as in sourdough’s, and converted from a complex carb to a simple carb by way of sprouting, in other words once sprouted, dried, and milled the body treats the sprouted flour as a vegetable.
    Well I went all in spending hundreds of dollars on grain mills and all the accessories to make homemade breads.
    I made wonderful breads that tasted extraordinary.
    I was so proud of myself.
    I went slow only eating 2 slices a day for the first week to see what my body was telling me.
    Near the end of the week I thought I was going to die, I ached all over like I had the flu, I became bedridden, with gas and bloating, my fingers swelled up to nearly doubled their size and my joints ached, I could hardly walk and I was dead tired all the time.
    Pain is a great motivator to change one’s behaviour.
    All my bread making equipment is now up for sale.
    I will never ever go back to eating any type of grain, ever.
    Live and learn from it I guess.

  42. TJ says

    Hi Katie!

    I have a couple questions for you regarding your article.

    What do you think of buckwheat (technically it is not a grain, and it is gluten-free).
    Also, do you consider quinoa to be bad or good to eat everyday?
    What about amaranth (another supposed supergrain).
    How about adzuki beans, chick peas?
    All the beans are the dried variety of course, nothing canned.

    I’d really like you input on these. I have eliminated wheat and rice from my diet and substitute with other things, ie when i make pancakes i use buckwheat flour.

    Looking forward to your input.
    thanks!

  43. Xochi says

    Thank you so much for this blog, and all of the important health information that you share!

    I am beginning to understand the problem with wheat and other grains, but I would be interested to see what you think of wheatgrass. I have read that wheatgrass is very nutrient-dense and is just amazing for your health, but it does come from wheat obviously. What is your opinion of wheatgrass?

  44. Charles says

    Modern wheat and breadmaking are totally different. Wheat makes up 90% of grain consumption. And once the digestive system is damaged, it is fragilised against many other foods.

    But I am not convinced that the Bible and history is wrong on ancient grains and breadmaking like einkorn and fermentation.

    When most of this anti-nutrient talk has come from a firm believer in evolution, you gotta be aware. And Mat Lalonde at least dispels a bit of the horror around the phytates concept.

    After going without tubers and grains, I just felt they were needed. Plus there are the taste and practical issues – potatoes and fat are awesome! And a slice of bread to slather some fat on is almost a practical necessity.

    Did evolution make foods more tasty so that they would be more eaten?!

  45. JoeD says

    I am wondering how wheatgrass juice (extracted from Hard Winter Red Wheat Berries for example) plays into this discussion? There is a ton of posts out there about the benefits of including wheatgrass juice in your diet. Assuming one follows general guidelines for growing wheatgrass, does the extracted juice from wheat berries also have the issues discussed here?

  46. Tina says

    Thank you for this great article. I’m just now researching the benefit of sprouting and fermenting. Mainly because I have a severe allergy to sesame which has gotten progressively worse, it started with itching and hives. Now, along with hives and itching, I experience extreme swelling of the extremities and become violently ill (vomiting and stomach cramps that rival labor). Even the smallest seed or consumption of oil can trigger this reaction. Interestingly enough, I unknowingly consumed a vegan protein drink that contained sprouted and fermented sesame….I never had a reaction. This tells me that this process works, at least in my case. I would think if there were still dangers in consuming the offending food after the sprouting and fermenting, I would have experienced some sort of reaction. Of course I will not willingly try sprouted and fermented sesame, yet, but will continue to research. Thank you!

  47. Joey says

    I will keep eating my Ezekiel bread… I feel good doing it and this life is not perfect but we try and I want to enjoy life also… So this is where I draw the line, I like it I keep it I feel good :D

  48. Parvati says

    Well, to my surprise I have to totally disagree with you, in regards to some people at least. My own experience is that I was grain free for 11 years, long before the Primal/Paleo world existed. I simply figured out that I did better without grains & stopped eating them. I was still not a well person and in about 2005 found the GAPS program and successfully did it for 25 months, dairy free as that worked best for me. I felt better than ever in my life and was sailing with it, thinking it would be my lifelong way of eating. But around 25 months I started to get digestive symptoms. Hmmm…. Then one day right around that time I was in a very unusual restaurant while traveling and decided to eat the traditionally prepared corn. All my digestive symptoms disappeared, I felt really well again. So slowly I introduced fermented millet & quinoa to my diet. I didn’t go to corn as I can’t find that old Native American home grown quality. I had some concerns about it, and always fermented the grains AND ate them with an animal fat as is the traditional way. What has happened: I lost 6 pounds which stayed off. My energy is higher. My brain is functioning even better than the great results I found on GAPS. My grocery bills are about 3/4 of what they were.

    So, to my experience if we have a really & truly healthy gut (Gaps, SCD will get you there, Paleo/Primal is a maintenance diet, it does not seem to heal the situation) then yes, we can thrive on at least the seed grains. I think this would be the ideal – to get our guts healthy enough to eat widely. Frankly, if I were living way back when & I came upon a field of ripe grasses (grains) which must have been plentiful on the rich savannahs of that time, I would have set up camp & eaten all I could. Isn’t that health?

  49. Allen says

    I wonder if adding some raw pineapple juice (for the bromelain) to a soak containing whey would render the gluten and lectins denatured?

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