Grains and gluten intolerances are a popular topic of late, it seems I run across someone almost daily who like me, has a problem tolerating gluten and digesting grains. For years I suffered the classic intolerance symptoms every time I gave in to my weakness for crusty, French sourdough bread. When I finally went on a completely grain free regime, the change to my health was quite remarkable. Was I resigned to a grain free diet for life? It seems not, I am now learning the body is affected differently by grains, depending on how they where prepared, with the guidance of Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price foundation I discovered that we are not being kind to our grains, so our grains our not being kind to us.
With fast modern conveniences the art of properly preparing grains through soaking, sprouting and fermenting is largely disappearing in industrialized countries, we rely on processed breakfast cereals, grains stripped of fiber for quick preparation and bakery goods from a box. All these conveniences result in products not kind to the digestive system, allowing digestive inflammation and food intolerances amongst other issues to take hold.
For thousands of years, traditional cultures have been preparing grains through soaking, sprouting and fermenting; this is important as this largely lost art allows several important changes. The process of soaking increases the B vitamin content, produces Vitamin C, carotene increases dramatically.
Most importantly, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid are neutralized, these substances can neutralize our own enzymes in the digestive tract and wreck havoc. Phytic acid is present in the bran of all grains and inhibits the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. A further benefit is the complex sugars in the grain responsible for intestinal gas are broken down, and aflotoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains are inactivated.
All together this practice makes grains much more bio available to the body, however it does not render all grains tolerable to all. In my own experience I have found through proper preparation I am able to tolerate most grains, however wheat remains a problem. Almost any grain, nut or seed can be soaked and sprouted, nut that have been removed from their hulls like pecans will not sprout, however soaking allows for the enzyme inhibitors to be released, again easier on the digestion.
Several posts will follow with recipes for sprouted grains, a valuable art I have learned through Sally Fallon’s ‘Nourishing Traditions’ (a book every cook should have!) is to soak flours in preparation. Here is a recipe adapted from her book for Buckwheat pancakes, this is the recipe I prepared at my recent health talk, using flours kindly supplied by ‘The Old Mill’ at Guildford, a fully operational 18th century grist mill we are fortunate to have in my area in Guilford County,North Carolina. http://www.oldmillofguilford.com/Print
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Weston A. Price Foundation