To Soak or Not to Soak?

To Soak or not to soak? How to prepare grains properly.

Last week we discussed the value of grains and whether to include them in a daily diet or not. My conclusion is that for many of us grains are still important to have in our diets to some degree. I also believe that the way those grains are prepared is very important to our use of them.

Traditional Methods of Preparing Grains

Weston A. Price, a dentist from the 1930’s researched many traditional cultures, studying their diets to see what they consumed and how it was prepared. He started out believing that a plant based diet would be the healthiest and and was very surprised to find out that was not true.

He found that traditional cultures did use grains but they prepared them by soaking the flour, sprouting the seeds and then drying and grinding or by souring them with sourdough. Across all the cultures some way of preparing the grains for better use by human bodies was consistent.

The main reason for this seems to be that grains contain phytic acid.

Reasons for Soaking Grains

Phytic acid makes foods harder to digest and makes the minerals and nutrients in the grains less available to our bodies. Phytic acid will bind with nutrients in the digestive tract, especially magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and zinc. If a person is deficient in any of these for too long a period of time these deficiencies will lead to health problems.

Grains also contain enzyme inhibitors which protect the seed (the grain) as it prepares to grow into a new plant. The vitamins and minerals were not really designed for us (although I do believe they were give to us as food by God) but are needed for the plant for growth.

If we sprout seeds before eating them the nutrients are unleashed and made more available to our bodies. So sprouting and to some degree soaking makes the nutrients more available to us for our nutritional use.

Soaking the grains also breaks down gluten and fiber which can be damaging to our bodies. Despite what you have heard about fiber and the need to eat as much as possible fiber is not good for us in all situations. Those with leaky guts can actually fiber makes their situation worse. And fiber that is not readily able to be used by the body can cause discomfort, gas and other intestinal issues.

How to Soak Grains Properly

To prepare grains properly by soaking you need moisture, warmth, acid PH and time. It is best to soak your grains in a liquid that is at about 115 degrees (warm) with a small amount of added lemon juice or vinegar and to do so for about 12 hours or more. Many sources recommend using dairy liked whey, buttermilk or yogurt for soaking.

According to Amanda Rose, a PhD food scientist, the calcium level in dairy prevents the phytic acid from really getting properly broken down. So she does not recommend this medium for soaking. Also if anyone has a dairy intolerance this would also make choosing a milk based medium a poor choice.

Breaking down the phytic acid of course works best with grains high in phytic acid.

These grains should be soaked:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat

Corn, millet, oats, and rice are not high in phytase so soaking these grains does not make as much of a difference.

My favorite way to soak grains is using the sourdough medium. Making a yeastless sourdough loaf of bread seems to combine many elements to get grains in which much of the troublesome elements have been dealt with.

Next week I will share more about the benefits of sourdough and the basic recipe I use.

Read more about this topic by Amanda Rose at Rebuild from Depression: Soaking Grains

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Jennifer Dages
Jennifer is a happily married homeschooling mother of 4 who lives in small town Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Entwife's Journal and at Purposeful Nutrition. She is also an RN who is working to build a health business through blogging, speaking, and health coaching.
Jennifer Dages

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