[Re-post] Phytic Acid Friend or Foe?

Phytic Acid Friend or Foe?  The Soaking of Grains Investigated by Sue Becker

Since 1992 I have been teaching others the health benefits of freshly milled whole grains.  I have heard literally hundreds of testimonies of improved health, from minor issues to life threatening ones.  What a confirmation these testimonies have been to the truths that have been taught.

Over the years, though, conflicting messages have arisen from time to time.  When questioned concerning these teachings, I would research each one as to their validity.  Most of the time I found some truth mixed with error.  I chose to answer these questions on a personal level as they arose.  I did not wish to get in a public arena of debate, choosing instead to just let truth prevail, and it always has.  I have watched books, diets and teachers come and go.

However, there is a teaching I feel I must address formally. It is causing quite a stir among those of us who have embraced the lifestyle of milling our own grains.  I have searched, studied and agonized over the subject for the past 4 or 5 years.  My desire was not to prove any one wrong, but I had to know that what I was teaching was correct.  If I was teaching error I had to change.  It is my desire to present to you my findings and let you make an educated decision as to what is correct.

The subject is phytic acid and the sprouting or soaking of grains.  Phytic acid is considered by some as an anti- nutrient component found in the bran portion of all grains and beans.  It is being taught that “untreated” phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption.  It is being said that a diet high in unfermented whole grains supposedly can lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss.  It is also suggested that long term consumption of these untreated phytates may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and other serious adverse affects.

Statements are also being made that imply that grains have always been eaten in their sprouted form and that “our ancestors and virtually all pre-industrialized people only ate grains that were soaked or fermented”.  Nourishing Tradition by  Sally Fallon pg.452

My first thought is, that I see no reference of sprouting grains in the scripture.  Many people refer to Ezekiel 4:9 as the first mention of sprouted bread.  Careful examination of the verse however, gives no indication that the grains are sprouted.  God’s instruction to Ezekiel is to take “wheat, spelt, barley, millet, lentils and beans” and to put them into “one vessel”.  A word study done on “one vessel” showed that it means exactly that – one container.  I do not see any indication of sprouting.  One must remember that each of these grains or beans was used separately for food, for example barley loaves or spelt bread.  The instruction to Ezekiel appears clear to me.  God did not want Ezekiel to make a variety of breads out of the individual grains, but one bread out of the grains combined.  Individually, grains and beans lack certain necessary amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.  However, when grains and bean are combined, they perfectly complement each other, forming a complete protein.  In a long term fast, much body mass is lost due to a lack of nourishment, particularly protein.   When grains or beans are sprouted some protein is lost.  I believe this bread was not sprouted, and the incredible supply of complete protein and other nutrients perfectly nourished Ezekiel for over 400 days!

It is taught by some that grains were harvested differently in Biblical days than now.  This is Jordon Rubin’s best argument as to why there is no evidence of the sprouting of grains in the Bible. The teachings of Dr. Edward Howell are quoted and embraced as truth by both Sally Fallon and Jordon Rubin.   “Dr. Howell noticed that the old harvesting techniques helped preserve and enhance the nutrition value of the grain.  After cutting the mature grains in the field, farmers would gather the stalks and loosely bind them upright in sheaves and let them stand overnight in the field before threshing them (or removing the grain from the grass stalks) the next day.  This allowed the grains to germinate or sprout”The Maker’s Diet by Jordon Rubin pg.139 (emphasis mine).  The premise is that this “germination” or sprouting of the seed in the field broke down the “harmful” phytic acid naturally so that no further soaking of the grain was necessary.

Dr. Howell’s statement is so simplistically wrong I truly thought I was missing something!  No seed can begin to germinate or sprout and then be stored.  The sprouting process can not be put on hold.  It is like being pregnant – you are or you aren’t.  If you are, you can not put it on hold and save the baby until you are ready for it.  That baby will continue to grow until it is full term.  It is the same with seeds.  Once the sprout is formed, a full grown plant is going to develop.  If seeds were allowed to sprout, they could not be stored, resulting in no seeds for next year’s crop and no food for the winter. 

Germination of the seed does indeed stimulate phytase activity.  Phytase is an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid and that allows the release of stored mineral which the new plant needs for growth.  Normally these nutrients are stored securely inside the seed until it germinates.  The fermentation process of yeast triggers this same activity and causes phytase to transform non-usable minerals into digestible ones.  These minerals include phosphorous, zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper.  Without proper fermentation, these minerals remain inaccessible to your body.  Allowing bread to rise for several hours before baking insures maximum nutritional value and the release of these stored nutrients.

I checked with the owner of one of our grain elevators on grain harvesting procedures.  The owner had just returned from Ethiopia.  It was harvest season there.  He assured me that the primitive methods used for harvesting grain in Ethiopia today were the same primitive methods for harvesting grain used for thousands of years.  The cut wheat was tied up in bundles, because it is easier to pick up a bundle than an individual stalk.    The seeds must be fully dry at harvest time or they will not store!  It is not desirable for the grain to get damp; therefore, it is harvested as quickly as possible.  The only difference in modern methods of harvesting is that machinery is used to perform the tasks.  The last thing any farmer wants is for the grain to get damp!

 “Like snow in summer and rain in harvest so honor is not fitting for a fool.” Proverbs 26:1  Amp. version

 “Is it not wheat harvest today?  I will call to the Lord and He will send thunder and rain; then you shall know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the Lord in asking for a king for yourselves.” I Samuel 12:17 Amp. version

Moist grain at harvest is a curse from God, not a benefit!

Continue reading this excellent article at The Bread Beckers

Further topics include: The History of Bread Making and Natural Leavens, Phytic Acid – Friend or Foe?, Is There a Place for the Sprouting of Grains?, The Attack on Bread – God’s Perfect Provision

~ by Majestic on April 11, 2011.

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