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Traditional Grains

May 30, 2008

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Some people have trouble digesting whole grains. Sally Fallon, founding president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, points out that people traditionally soaked or fermented their grains, often for a few days, before cooking. Soaking grains, or fermenting them by soaking in hot water with vinegar, neutralizes the phytic acid and makes the grains easier to digest. All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer of the bran. Phytic acid combines with certain minerals in the body, such as calcium, magnesium, copper and iron, and can block absorption in the intestines, which may lead to digestive disorders, mineral deficiencies and bone loss. Eight hours of soaking in warm water will neutralize the phytic acid, and greatly improve the nutritional benefits of grains. Even an hour of soaking will help.

The most common grain in our culture is wheat. Many people are allergic to wheat but don’t know it. Wheat products are heavily subsidized and promoted by the government in the food pyramid, and the food industry incorporates it into almost all breakfast cereals, cookies, cakes and crackers. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats, is difficult for many people to digest. If you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, you can experience bloating, constipation or gas after eating wheat and other glutenous grains. Other related problems are allergies, celiac disease, brain fog, chronic indigestion and candida. Sometimes the symptoms occur immediately after eating, but they can also take time to manifest. Whole grains are great to have a part of your diet, but please be mindful of how you eat them and when you eat them.

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.