Are Sprouted, Soaked, & Fermented Grains Healthy?

Are sprouted, soaked and fermented grains healthy

Grains are a controversial food in modern times, and perhaps with good reason. They aren’t the food they were thousands of years ago, or hundreds of years ago, or even 50 years ago.

Are All Grains Bad?

Maybe you’ve why grains have become so controversial when people from other countries (usually Asia and Italy are mentioned here) are able to eat them regularly while staying thin and living long lives. There are actually several factors that seem to contribute here, including genetics, other dietary differences, and a vast difference in the actual grains themselves.

Also- while grain consumption is an inherently irrelevant statistic when it comes to both weight and longevity,  if you want a statistically valid comparison, squatting while using the restroom actually seems to be one of the best predictors…

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. Within these groups, there is disagreement among which grains are healthy and how they should be prepared.

While there is certainly a case to be made for avoiding modern grains for a variety of reasons, there are also traditional preparation methods that cultures have used for thousands of years to help reduce the not-so-great properties of grans and make them more bioavailable. Among these traditional methods are soaking, sprouting or fermenting (or a combination of all three).

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 harmful to humans, especially in large amounts.

These natural protective compounds in plants can be harmful to humans, especially in large amounts, and especially for those with an underlying genetic or health issue. Thankfully, there are methods that help break down these protective compounds and make the nutrients in grains more available during digestion.

Soaking, Sprouting and Fermenting

Traditional cultures where grains were consumed regularly or in large amounts found ways to reduce the harmful components 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.

Sadly, most grains consumed these days are not prepared in any of traditional ways, and many cultures have largely given up these methods in the name of modern convenience. Yet, science is starting to understand the wisdom of these older methods and to realize that newer, more convenient forms of processing may not only be making grains harder to digest, but may be contributing to micronutrient deficiencies.

Are Soaked, Sprouted and Fermented Grains Healthy?

From a nutrient perspective, grains prepared in these ways 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 modern grains safe to consume. Unfortunately, with hybridized, highly sprayed and highly processed modern grains, there isn’t an easy answer and even these traditional methods may not be enough to reduce all of the harmful properties in these foods.

Mark Sisson sums up the effects of soaking and sprouting in his article about traditionally prepared grains:

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 for those with certain health issues, but other modern grains 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 grains, but this still doesn’t mean that sprouted, soaked, or fermented grains are as healthy as they once were or that they should be consumed in large amounts. Many modern grains have been hybridized to be higher yield, but less nutritious. Additionally, many grains are highly sprayed right before harvest, and these chemicals remain in the processed grain or flour and traditional methods of preparation will not remove them.

Certainly, if you consume grains, it would be best to use these traditional methods (preferably all three) and to mill flour yourself using ancient grains that have been grown organically and not hybridized to reduce nutrition.

It is also important to note that 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 even traditionally prepared grains. As statistics show that we are not consuming enough vegetables, I’d personally focus on adding more vegetables to our diets for nutrients, rather than spending the extra time and money to make quality 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).

Long story short- grains are far from a super food, especially modern grains that have been highly processed. Traditionally prepared grains are definitely a step in the right direction but they don’t compare to vegetables when it comes to nutrients. For those with a gut or autoimmune issue, even traditionally prepared grains can be problematic.

Anyone who doesn’t have any food related problems and that have excellent gut health may do great with soaked, sprouted or fermented grains, but I’d still recommend only adding these in after optimizing other aspects of the diet, increasing vegetable intake and making sure to get enough high quality proteins and fats.

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.


  • 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!

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Reader Comments

  1. This post came just in time! I just had this exact same conversation with my dad about grains this morning on my blog lol!

    • What about this article?

      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?

      • 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.

        • What if you’re addicted to grains? I switched to whole grains a long time ago and I love whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and popcorn. I usually try to get organic, but sometimes I use brown rice noodles in homemade pho. I feel hungry and grumpy when I don’t have grains around and satisfied when I eat them, especially coated in healthy fat like olive oil, coconut oil, or grass fed butter.

          • Addictions of any kind aren’t healthy, so it may take a bit longer for you to overcome it.

    • 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.…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.

    • 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.…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.

  2. 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.

    • Be careful…Shakeology claims they are healthy, but it’s loaded with fructose!

      • There’s a difference between fructose and hfcs. Fructose in and if itself is not bad for you. Look up Dr Ray Peat.

        • Fructose (not hfcs) has become an issue in the patients we see. We see a lot of people with metabolic disorder who eat better than the SAD. When we limit fructose and allow the body to utilized the excess we see positive results….their labs improve and they feel better.

  3. 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.

    • LOL I have this conversation with my 4-year-old regularly:

      M (eating): Food is good for you!

      Me: Well…some food is better than others. THAT food is good for you!

      I think you’re really onto something, calling it out like that 🙂

    • lolz, I do the air quotes thing ><

    • I was getting bloated eating it but god has lead me to fast i had no grains for a over year and now can have garains no problem. I think in many cases there is a problem with grains Couse people don’t clean their body regullary and have bad guy bacterias. I think fear of eating grains is hugely overrated. It was main ingreedent for human, i think woring of the phytoc acid is unreasonable we ahsould learn from.ancestors. Meat was eaten rearly, we need animal products but plants are definatelly healthier, despite of the amount of nutirence..give your kids grains and fruts, don’t worry that’s. What makes us happy, halthy god made sugar, yeah thank you daddy

  4. 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?

    • Agreed! My manifesto against grain fiber is coming soon 🙂

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

    • 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!

      • Hi Dan,

        I think there are quite a few cultures that survived well into the modern era without a diet of grains – island Gaelic, Polynesian, Inuit to name a few. That said, grains, properly prepared, were an important part of the vast majority of human diets. I think you can make the case that had Homo Sapiens not discovered grass seeds that could be stored, planted and harvested, we would have gone the way of the Neanderthal and eery other proto humanoid that relied on the so-called paleo diet.

        The only problem humans have with grains is that we lack a second stomach. Grains need to be fermented prior to digesting. Sprouting or germination is critical to neutralizing phytic acids and, to suggest that the germinated seed or gain, will be unable to access the nutrition the germ has to offer as this author writes, is absurd.

        The abstract she cites contradicts itself in its summary. Anyway, we sprout and ferment all our breads. Most of our customers are either diabetics or gluten zombies who have come back to life and recognize that the gluten scare was just that – a relatively short-lived dietary freak out put forward by well meaning types looking to demonize that one thing as if everything else was okay when, in realty, our entire food delivery system in this country is corrupt and designed to be toxic so long as it is profitable.

        Our salvation will be thru bakers such as yourself and what we do. And with farmers who say no more to monocrops and to consumers who educate themselves – not thru dubious scare tactics like gluten free but by understanding and explaining to consumers that there is and was a set of traditional methods that went in to preparing healthy foods before corporations co-opted our food system and turned it into a nightmare

        • Thanks Don and Doug…i bake wild yeast sourdough from freshly ground wheat as our only bread…and i feel very strongly about it too.
          To answer Katie’s rhetorical question “why eat grains if there are better options?” ….so if soaking and fermenting break down phytic acid and cause the nutrients (which are present, just look at the make up of a wheat berry, vitamin b being one which helps with mental health) to be available…then the reasons for consuming bread would be numerous :comfort food, filling teenage boys bottomless pits, saving money, stretching your proteins so they last longer, the amazing taste, the hundreds of meals that open themselves up, not being grumpy and uptight about food all the time…to name a few.
          …so worth it.

          • Would you be willing to share your recipe? I bake bread from freshly-ground wheat but have not tried to make it with wild yeast. Thank you.

  5. Have just recently jumped on the ‘anti-nutrient’ learning curve.  Thanks for the information.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • I have, but don’t think I’ve mentioned/reviewed them yet. Thanks for the suggestion and I will re-read and suggest them soon 🙂

  8. 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.

    • There are some anti-nutrients in the potato skins that can be harmful to some people.

      • But do I really have to cook them? I like to juice with my carrots!

  9. 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!

    • I believe there is wisdom in your approach to food, Be informed but enjoy!

    • 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!

  10. 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!!!

    • Please go to The Bread Becker site and read her articles about Wheat Belly . She also has a cd you can order for free called The Truth About Wheat. She has done her research and helped me to make sense of all the conflicting information out there.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.  

  13. 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? 

  14. 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!!

    • 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!!

      • I know this is an old post, but Against All Grain has an awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe!

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

    • 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

  16. 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’

  17. 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?!?!? 😀 (I’m serious, although laughing:))

    • 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.

  18. Thanks for the article. I really like the information that you have put together here!

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

    • 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.

      • I enjoy breads, seeds, and nuts. They make me happy. Do you have any suggested products made the old way or recipes for me to to have them the old way?

        • You can use the traditional methods of soaking/fermenting the grains and nuts (read: sourdough bread).
          Sourdough makes the most amazing bread and is quite easy, despite what some people say. When it comes to porridge and so on, you can f. instance soak oats overnight in water with some acid like raw apple cider vinegar (unfiltered and unpasteurized) to neutralize the phytic acids. Just know that oats contain a lot of phytatates that need to be broken down. To do that you need to add ground spelt or other flour that contain phytase, the enzyme needed to break down the phytates (this enzyme is not present in oats).

          This article explains how to soak grains correctly:

  20. 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.

  21. 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…

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • Mine are!

        no one says you have to eat a TON of meat. just some.
        make it high quality.

        add butter and fats to everything. they love it!
        they get baked sweet potatoes for breakfast with a ton of butter.
        sometimes, a little rice with mashed banana, with a ton of butter.
        occasionally, we make properly prepared grains… like waffles! with a ton of butter.

        if you give them low-fat, then yes, they’ll eat a ton of grains.
        But add butter, and they will eat less grains.
        make paleo green plantain pancakes. with butter.

        I feed my kids TONS of butter.
        broccoli. with a mini dipping bowl of butter.
        they’ll eat a head of broccoli if it has butter and salt, without even blinking.

    • Hi, we also have this problem. However, I did find that when we changed our diet, the costs did not really alter that much. As I was no longer buying bread, as I make my own sourdough and we eat very little of it. I do not buy the crisps and snacks and frozen foods, tins etc that I used to buy. I merely buy my organic box and go to the shops to buy my meat and fish. We switched to primarily more veggie meals and making things like a sourdough veggie pizza, veggie curries and chillies. You can either use cauliflour rice or I soak my brown rice. We havent had a problem with rice again, we try to do this no more than once or twice a week. Fermented/soaked overnight tortillas for mexican meals. We still eat potatoes and sweet potatoes. I make all my own sauces and try to ferment what I can because its better for your gut health apparently. There are ways around things, I think the biggest problem is getting your head around planning your meals and feedings your ferments but once you get into a routine with one, try the next, dont expect too much too soon, you will be overwhelmed. Start in one area and look to make the changes. Generally, I now buy organic meat but because we only eat a little meat now, the cost again is actually less than before and is equalising out.

      • I was wondering what “organic box” you buy? Is it a home delivery service or a CSA? Thanks!

        • Hi, we are in the UK and have a delivery of organic veg from a local farm, we can buy organic meat from our local Supermarket now so I buy it sparingly. Although I expect things might change as we hear that Monsanto are wanting and making plans to move into the UK.

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

  23. 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!

  24. 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?

    • 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.

  25. 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!

    • 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.

      • A brilliant and well written post. You have dialed in the most pressing problem we have today with our food production–our government, in collusion with Big Pharma and the likes of Monsanto, is killing us.

    • 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.

    • 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.


    • 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

      • Very true…. I no longer strictly go by the no grain rule… But what I do now is buy quality grains. Organic and sprouted, and the sprouting is more important to me. The government subsidizes certain crops and much is grown of these and that is why it is cheaper… pretty much all grains are going to be cheaper than meat and veggies fruits etc. So sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do.. I can afford to go grain free but I would also like to save some off my food bill, so I eat grains again now and like it 🙂 Just quality grains and even those are not bad in price. I don’t make a lot at all but I like my job so no climbing corporate ladders for me so I gotta work with my budget. I usually buy Ezekiel bread, eating grains again helps save some $. But I still buy quality stuff so eating quality will cost more just like anything else quality does. But how I save is this, I shop at thrift stores for clothes when I can, don’t always find what I want but sometimes. I have not drove in years now and this saves me the most money of all… This alone freed up the money to be able to afford to eat better. Also I don’t have a cell phone bill, I use google voice and just pay 1 bill instead of 2. But we gotta do best we can that’s all, I will live as long as I can best I can eating Ezekiel bread! and of course other things hehe but that is my cheap staple food.

    • 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.

      • To those worried about costs….. Try getting some chickens if that is a possibility where you live. In my town, you can have up to 5 hens, as long as they are not along the fence line and you keep them cleaned up. We moved out to the country a few years ago, and I have a small flock of free range chickens now. I do provide them with feed, try to get good quality stuff, but they mostly feed themselves in the woods and the yard. Every so often I will hatch out some eggs, as I do lose a few from time to time to coyotes, neighbor’s dogs, hawks, etc. But I usually have more eggs than I know what to do with, and that really helps with the food bill. Plus I know they are healthy and have not been given any questionable chemicals.

    • Christina, I agree. The stress of “eat this, don’t eat that” may actually be worse than the diet issue itself. Especially since what’s “good” and what’s “bad” changes as often as our smart phones become smarter. Worse yet, there is never a consensus between those informing us what’s good vs. bad. There are so many answers to the same question. The “best” answer to a valid question I’ve read so far is right here: “don’t ask us, blame the politicians YOU voted into office.” Wow.

      I have read that the new craze of going “gluten free” and the new claims on labels of being “gluten free” is actually moot unless you have Celiac disease which makes one intolerant to gluten. To someone without it, gluten is not a problem, therefore going “gluten free” is completely unnecessary. Stating that here may be a problem for some, yet at many other sites it’s agreed upon by most.

      I don’t have any food allergies for which I’m thankful. I have changed my diet in the past based on what was popular at the time. In the ’90s, the enemy was fat. I was younger and more easily swayed so I went with it. I’d never actually had a weight problem but at that time, skinny was in. I did lose a few pounds (that I really didn’t need to lose) and I also thought I was eating healthy with my extremely low fat diet. A year or two in, I became clinically depressed. I thought it could have been because I was going through so hard times although I can look back and say the hard time was simply “life.” Nothing so traumatic that one would expect to need going on Prozac. Of course Prozac was the newest “go-to” drug at that time also. Funny how that worked out. Anyway, wasn’t until years later I heard that no having enough fat, be it healthy or even unhealthy fat was linked to depression. Mind you, back then any fat was unhealthy, but considered not AS unhealthy as others. But I do believe it’s very likely my diet caused or at least contributed to my bout of depression. The prozac turned me into a zombie but that’s another topic for another site.

      Therefore, my lifestyle is everything is moderation. I do, however, avoid sugar, foods w/sugar. However, I’m not completely sugar free. I do allow myself a treat now and then. Happiness is also needed to be healthy. Ice cream makes me happy. I refuse to sit and research all day what I should eat or not eat and why. Everyone who writes an article such as this believes their way is the only way. Therefore, in every case we’re going to be eating right AND eating wrong at the same time. We can’t win. If we were to take it all so serious, we’d need Xanax for sure.

      Ain’t no politician going to fix each one of our problems. Who can possibly expect them to make it so everyone can afford anything one may need or want. Even if it were possible to “vote them all out” who the heck is going to replace them? I mean seriously. I guess when you don’t have an answer, blame it on the politicians. HA!

      Life’s short no matter what you eat or don’t eat. It’s mighty ironic that I can eat fats again but now grains are evil. Fifteen years from now it may turn out that cutting out grains was actually a bad thing to do. No one knows! Period! No one can promise I’m not going to get run over by a car either… lol

      I know I’ve gotten a bit carried away here but it was therapeutic. I now absolutely won’t feel guilty for eating a couple scoops of ice cream which I’m about to do. I made myself hungry.

      • I do want to add that I respect this site, Wellness Mama, and your dedication to it. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you don’t know what you’re talking about. You obviously did a lot research, possibly schooling, and found something that works for you, are happy with it and apparently feel good eating the no-grain way. I also give you props for passing your knowledge and what you believe in on to others. Others may find the answers they’re looking for here and what’s better than that?

        However, EVERYTHING in life needs balance. It’s great that this site provides a place for others to voice their opinions, many don’t. However, I didn’t realize mine was so long until I posted it. I guess my husbands right. I do talk too much.

      • I hear ya, msdc. I feel the same way, it’s frustrating a bit but since I love studying and reading about health so much it doesn’t matter I just keep coming back for more info. But at a certain point I keep reading but I don’t change much, I eat what I enjoy and don’t worry about the rest. I even eat some things that I don’t think are ideal but I still eat them because I just can’t keep changing sometimes or eliminating everything. The one thing I do is just eat quality stuff regardless of what it is and avoid junk food almost entirely. I keep it pretty simple and then focus on other joys in life. Have a great night!!

      • I totally agree Mary!! The stress over what to eat and not to eat plus the guilt is a huge problem! And it makes your head spin how fast the ideas on what is good and not changes.

    • VERY well said!! Thank you for putting this out there, Christina!!

      • I absolutely agree Christina (and Sydnee). It is more expensive and it isn’t doable for everyone all the time (there have been times it was very tough or even impossible for us as well). I feel that I have an obligation to write about what I’ve found works best for our family and what I believe are the best options, but I hope that I’ve never made another mom feel guilty for not choosing the same things or being able to afford them. As moms, we are all trying to do the best we can, and this doesn’t mean that we will (or should) choose the same things all the time. Thank you both for reading and for commenting on this.

  26. 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.

    • 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’.

  27. 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?

  28. 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?

    • 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.

  29. 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

    • IT would mainly just be problematic for the sugar spike…

      • and the arsenic.

        depending on how much brown rice anything you intake on a daily basis.

    • ” Would brown rice syrup have these anti-nutrients as well?”

      Can’t find the answer to this question ANYWHERE. Its really irritating.

  30. I have been taking Barley Gold…tell me what do you think of this product?

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

      • 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?

  31. What about nuts…are they ok to eat?

    • Yes, but they are also better soaked and dehydrated

      • 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’:

        • Exactly. Sorry, but I can find a ton of research to say that grains are NOT bad for you. Really you can pick what you want to believe and then find research to back it up, because there is so much research out there that contradicts itself.

  32. 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

    • HI…Thank you but you didn’t include the website. Could you include it..

  33. 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.

    • 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…

  34. 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.

  35. 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?

  36. 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?

    • Excellent point.

  37. 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!!!!!!

    • 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.

  38. 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 !

  39. 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!

  40. 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 😉

  41. do u include rice in grains?

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

  43. 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?

  44. 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 .

  45. 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

    • Hi Kathy! I’m vegan too, & while I’m not an expert, I enjoy researching health & this is what my advice to you would be:
      Stick to ancient grains such as teff or millet, & eat lots of pseudograins (which are technically seeds & not officially “grains.” The 4 psuedograins are quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, & wild rice, & all 4 are full of nutrients & gluten free, & they’re all great for you!) I would still soak them prior to cooking them if you’re concerned about the things in this article (I’m just learning about soaking grains & nuts now, even though I’ve been eating these foods for years. I always soak my legumes, but I’m just getting into soaking grains & nuts). I disagree that we need to eliminate grains from our diets. They have only become a health issue recently when we stopped preparing them in the traditional way that involves soaking. When we go back to this method, we can gain a lot of nutrients from ancient whole grains, & therefore don’t need to consume animal products! Hope this helped! 🙂

      • Hey Steph. How long do you soak pseudograins for? How about legumes? Thanks!

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. Be careful out there. You’re worrying about gluten… look up DIMBOA and DIBOA.

  50. 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?

    • from all the things I have read, wheatgrass is OK bc it has changed into a plant!
      it no longer is a seed/grain, not even a sprout! (i guess a sprout is like a teenager… part kid, part adult?)
      It IS a full blown plant.

      a seed/grain is a “stored” form of energy, that’s where the concern lies.

  51. 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?!

  52. 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?

    • I am gluten intolerant and have consumed wheatgrass juice for years, with good results. I consider wheatgrass juice a vegetable, and not a grain or seed.

  53. 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!

  54. 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 😀

  55. 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?

    • Amen!!!

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

  57. It seems that this is the latest “hate food” this decade. Each decade seems to bring another food category that our society (US) needs to deem as ‘bad’ and harmful.

  58. Not intending to create conflict, but after doing lots of research and from personal experience, I can’t help but feel all the anti-grain hoopla is over-blown. Many foods can be called into question for various reasons, but should we stop eating them all based on our limited, fragmented, knowledge? We are always uncovering new “truths” that alter the big picture. For example, phytates themselves do have health benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects. In laboratory research, phytates have helped normalize cell growth and stopped the proliferation of cancer cells. They also may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower a food’s glycemic load. In my own case, after trying various approaches, I rid myself of diabetes and many other health issues and lost over 100 lbs by switching to a diet very high in complex carbs, including all kinds of grains, which I later discovered was very similar to the recommendations of Dr. McDougall and others, and at 62 I have never felt better. I did also clean up my diet, but cutting added fats (except as part of a whole food) and adding back the (complex) carbs was the biggest change…as a diabetic I had been warned to avoid them, another example of erroneous info! In less than 3 weeks my blood sugars were normal and I was able to stop the nasty medications! For the first time in my life, for the last 5 years I’ve been able to eat until satisfied and stay at a stable, normal weight… and 50-75% of my intake is *healthy* starches, including a lot of whole grains of all kinds! There are lots of others out there having success too, I am no exception. Take from this what you will, but a sweeping condemnation of grains is totally unwarranted.

  59. You certainly make a very good case for cutting grains altogether. For the uninitiated, though, you might include a list of what count as please-avoid grains. Obviously wheat. And corn. Oats are a little less obvious to me…and after that is rice? barley? quinoa? beans? What is a grain and what is not – and how can you tell if you meet a new one? And Fructose is bad…what about fruit? It’s hard enough to rewrite all my “right”s and “wrong”s without so many new things to learn.

    Also, speaking of rights and wrongs, you mentioned the Biblical references to grains being for the use of man in your “slowly killing you” post. You cited early ancestors as being pre-agriculture and thus pre-grain and much longer-lived. But this is not a convincing argument to someone raised in a traditional Judeo-Christian tradition, and believes Adam, the first man, “tilled the earth” for his living.

    Please don’t think I’m being preachy here, I just don’t believe I’m the only one in this whole community who has ever struggled with this question. If there is a way to believe that Daniel was healthier than the other princes eating “pulse” and that all grains should be avoided today, I would love to be shown to it!

  60. I see in some of your recipes that you use almond flour as an alternative to grain flour. Should almonds and other nuts and seeds not be avoided aswell since they also contain phytic acid and as soaking only reduces it a little?

  61. So, I’ve read several of your blog posts about grains and beans. You said you avoid them, yet you consume meat. Do you not know the dangers of eating animal products?

  62. Mark Sisson is NOT a scientist. There are peer reviewed studies that show phytates (as well as the other anti-nutrients) are significantly reduced during sprouting. I fell for Paleo for one year and while it worked well in terms of weight loss and reduction in total cholesterol, it left me short of energy for running. I also had difficulty recovering after running (muscle cramps and aches). I always felt my body was short on something and that’s when I discovered sprouting.

    Every seriously analyze the Paleo argument? Its fundamental premise is that we didn’t eat grains as Paleolithic humans and that they were healthy (no obesity, heart disease, etc.) The question everyone should be asking is this: Why didn’t post-Agricultural Revolution humanity get fat and have heart disease, you know, for the last 15,000 years of human history? Why is it only post-Industrial Revolution humanity that has these issues? THE ANSWER IS SPROUTING! Before commercial farming, humans let their grains be exposed to the sun and wind and rain, and allowed them to sprout in the field before harvest. In fact, when the grain sprouts, it’s time to harvest. Simple. We don’t do this today. Many commercial farms try and produce 2 yields in a season and harvest the grain long before it sprouts. That leaves the endosperm (the fuel for sprouting) intact. It is all starch and almost immediately turns to fat in humans, if not burned off through exercise. Not to mention all of the anti-nutrients are at their peak at this point.

    I have been back on grains (sprouted only) for 8 months and have not seen weight gain, an increase in cholesterol, or any of the problems that I had prior to going Paleo.

    Bottom line: Eat sprouted grains in addition to fruits, vegetables, and lean meats for optimum health.

    • Nice, I eat sprouted grains too rarely eat unsprouted. I think sprouted grains are best and it’s a nice food to have around. It’s nice to be able to eat grains but the sprouted kind.

    • I think you have a really valid point, I eat about 80% paleo and then when I use grains I either soak, sprout or ferment them. I don’t use any gluten grains for myself though…but I do make a sourdough organic spelt bread for my son’s lunches because he won’t eat anything else I try. I also make a buckwheat sourdough bread to have on the odd occasion I want something bready. I definitely think there’s alot to be said for moderate grain and legume use that have been prepared properly. I guess many people find this too lengthy and tiresome to do so, end up cutting out the grains by default. But once you get into a rythym of proper preparations it’s pretty easy. That said and done I still only use grain and legumes in absolute moderation.

  63. Greetings Katie,

    Thank you for the post. I enjoy eating sprouted rye berries and generally expose them to a quick steam before ingesting. My question to you is, are there added benefits to soaking the berries once sprouted in an acidic medium?

    Best Regards,

  64. I like eating bread. I use fermented grains in the mix along with white and wholemeal flour. I make it myself.Compared to some of the rubbish that passes for food eg. Mcdonalds, I am comfortable with it. I also produce all my own veg and eggs organically. I eat very little processed food. I eat butter, not margarine and use cheese. I also process my own chicken meat. I live in a unit in the suburbs. Within 5 years I would like to produce all my own fruit also. My vegetable intake has increased since I have been growing my own because it is right on my back door step. My point is that there is probably more danger in processed food than simple grains, although these have probably been sprayed and certainly cost some food miles. One day I hope to have some land then maybe produce everything on site.

  65. Great topic. However, to state that all grains contain zero nutrients is NOT true. Ask Dr. Allan Christensen. It is true that those with autoimmune diseases should not consume them. But-some of the healthiest people in the WORLD do, not to mention some of the smartest docs out there, eat grains ( after soaking them of-course). I don’t know Katie, I bet after more research you may change your mind….!

  66. I do eat grains. I’ve read that it is difficult to get enough carbs from plants. And if you don’t get enough carbs, this affects metabolism in a negative way. I prepare most of our family’s grains and use a 50/50 mix of organic whole wheat (ground in our grinder) and natural white flour (organic, unbleached, unbromated, unenriched). I like adding natural white flour as it has no phytic acid and doesn’t go rancid like whole wheat (all the oil is found in the outer parts that get removed when sifted to white flour. It is still a very “whole” food as nothing has been added or processed. Simply sifted part out. It’s like eating only the yolk of an egg. Not the entire food, but a whole food, nonetheless.

    Grains are definitely the trickiest part of food to figure out for me. This has worked really well for us financially and healthwise!

    • I can see where she is coming from, but the grains consumed in those tribes she mentions were served in whole form, most often. They also were not modified, enriched or sprayed with pesticides. Most of those tribes were also spending much more time in the sun, probably had less stress and a variety of other different lifestyle factors. In today’s world, it is difficult enough to obtain enough micronutrients from diet (even one centered around a lot of veggies and high quality proteins). Carbs and grains are not as high in many key nutrients as other foods (vegetables and animal proteins), so for that reason, I still don’t think they have a big place in a modern diet.

  67. the article which you have written about jell……… was very usefully to me.thanks very much.

  68. I know this is an older article, but one quote that stood out to me was by Mark Sisson saying that “Sprouting reduces gluten to some extent, but not by very much. Don’t count on it. A little bit goes a long way.”

    I know sprouting is different than fermentation (such as sourdough), but I thought I’d share something that I read recently: “… sourdough bread produced with a particular strain of lacto-bacilli had gluten levels of 12 parts per million – where anything under 20 ppm is considered gluten-free. Bread made with the same wheat but without lacto-fermentation had gluten levels of 75,000 ppm.”

    That quote came from this article:

    So it may be that sprouting isn’t going to reduce the gluten content in bread, but sourdough bread will.

    And thank you for all of the great information you provide on your blog. I really appreciate everything I learn from your efforts!

  69. This subject seems to be a hot topic. I have not read every post, so this may have been stated by someone else. I would like to refer everyone to a wonderful book written by Dan Barber. “The Third Plate” documents a major issue with grains that may have less to with phytates than it does with monsanto. Our civilization existed for years in harmony with nature utilizing all food products-grains as well as meats. Where we have gone wrong is allowing chemicals to go into the ground along with the seeds. For most people with allergies to wheat (this is a growing problem) is not with the wheat but the chemicals used to plant it. What makes sense to me is eating local, organic foods – back to the lifestyle of our ancestors to better our nutrition overall.

    • You are absolutely correct! I have a former co-worker who actually had what amounted to Round-Up poisoning. They thought it was Lyme disease at first. She is now on a very strict detox regimen that will likely last for years and can have no grains. I think all the chemicals, the GMO and pre-treating of endosperms, and the chemical engineering and subsequent treatment with pesticides is more the problem than anything else. That and all the fake ingredients in most store-bought foods. I myself am wheat free with very little grain, but I wouldnt call myself Paleo, either. I eat cheese and yogurt, rice, and occasionally organic corn products. I have seen a huge improvement in my thyroid function, my glucose and cholesterol levels, and have lost 15-20 pounds. But I need to add some grains back in if I am ever going to get my family on board.

  70. I am considering mixing into my diet the following for occasional use with my waffles / pancakes or baking.

    organic sprouted oat flour
    organic sprouted buckwheat flour
    organic unpasteurized almond flour (not sprouted)

    in addition to using:
    organic coconut flour and Organic Tapioca Flour.

    From a gut irritant stand point, can you give a general ranking from least harmful to most. Or if they are basically on the same level.

    appreciate your help.

  71. Hi, I have been really into eating fermented foods, like homemade, sauerkraut, sour dough bread and also fermented tomatoes. I thought that a benefit of eating anything fermented was adding beneficial bacteria to your gut. I like the benefit of what you mentioned in the article as well. Do I have it right, though? Not only is fermenting grains and beans good to help breakdown the nutrient lock but also the natural probiotics or prebiotics that are created during the process is good for our digestion. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I am all about learning!

  72. Is there a barley flour we can do the sourdough thing with?????

  73. Every other week I bake a sourdough spelt bread using a starter made with kefir. I do this because I like the ‘concept’ of bread and don’t want to eat meat too often, which is where I would ultimately be led if I restricted starches as a calorie source.

  74. Hi Katie,

    Generally I love your posts and find them very informative and well researched. Today I was disappointed to find several typos, beginning with the missing word in the third sentence. These typos damage your credibility! Had I not already been familiar with your blog, I would have written you off right away. That said, keep up the good research, articles, recipes and instructions. Just be sure to thoroughly proofread before publishing. 🙂

    • Thanks for pointing out the typo, however, if you’re going to base my credibility on whether I accidentally omitted a word or not, you’re probably going to be disappointed, as I’m definitely not perfect, and normally write while holding/nursing a baby. My first priority is my family, so typos will happen as I multi-task. Thanks for reading!

      • Wow! Just wow!
        Keep up the great work Katie! Just wanted to send some peace and love after that comment. Coming from another mom with 4 young ones….you rock!!;-)

  75. I was just sent this article by a friend. I wondered if you would mind reading it and replying? I know you are busy but it is full of so much information against sprouting and soaking I thought you might be interested.

    I found her claims of wheat being a good chelating agent to be fascinating.

    I have a gene mutation that makes me 4x more likely to develop celiac so I am not planning on eating gluten again and not looking for a good reason to eat it 🙂 I honestly would just love to read your thoughts on this.

  76. Since my husband’s diagnosis of diverticulitis he has been eating fermented rolled oats every morning. He just keeps adding to the jar like you would sourdough starter. The fermented oats always sit out on the counter – he just eats some for 2 – 3 days and adds someone eats and adds. Does this sound okay, or should he start fresh after a certain time? He’s used the same base for about a month?

  77. Where can I find the proper way to prepare rice?

  78. Hi all, I have been baking sourdough bread for some years now. I started when my husband became allergic to wheat/gluten and he cant eat normal bread. However, he can eat my homemade bread without any reactions. Recently, my teenaged daughter has had problems with wheat, so I make white sourdough loaves every other day for her and hubby. However, i generally make with either wholewheat or the more ancient grains like spelt or kamut. I think the key is again, making gradual adjustments. My daughter at the moment struggles to go without her bread, whereas myself and hubby tend to eat it once or twice a week. We have certainly found the change beneficial to our gut health, from a nutritional standpoint, I am not sure, which is why we try to include lots of fish and veggies in our diet now.

  79. Following a “green” epiphany, I have found lots of helpful information on your site. However, I do wish some articles read as more directly informative, rather than from a stance, i.e. a persuasive essay. Equipped with facts, we are not only able to make the most informed decision possible, but in the case of an evolving subject (like the many-faceted subject of diet and nutrition), it leaves us open to build on what we know, with no opinions tied to the information. Particularly in the case of nutrition, where there are so many telling us what “yes” and what “no”, simply listening to the experts and the informed becomes contradictory and confusing (not to mention, they themselves might not always be completely informed!). For these reasons and more, I am a firm believer in the spread of unbiased information–only the facts and research. Recommendations are excellent when presented as such, but there is never a need to convince (and as an aside, identifying and abandoning motives as a writer makes us very strong, direct, credible, and in-control!). I do hope this advice will come as friendly, as I respect and appreciate your blog immensely!

    Also, can you elaborate or share a link on the “harmful properties” of cruciferous vegetables?

  80. I think it’s worth mentioning that preparing ancient grains suck ad einkorn in a traditional way can provide a far cheaper “filler” food for people who desperately want to provide a healthy life for their family, but are struggling to afford it. I’ve been doing a low/no grain diet for my family of 5 for over 3 years now, and I just can’t keep doing it. Despite diligently meal planning, it is completely breaking the bank. Discovering that I can purchase and prepare ancient grains in a way that is far less damaging to our guts has been life saving.

  81. The biggest reason I feel eating grains is good is because grains are found through out the Bible. Jesus wouldn’t have handed out bread and fish if bread were bad. He even called Himself the bread of life.
    So, whatever contemporary science says about bread and grains, or anything else, God’s Word is eternal: in season, out of season, it will always be true.
    I think it’s best to eat balanced meals, eating the foods that God gave us, and called “good.”