As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I receive a lot of questions about many different types of foods. One of the most common questions I receive is “are grains healthy?”
My answer to this question is “they can be if you tolerate them well and prepare them properly.”
All real, whole foods have the potential to be healthy, but grains should be prepared in a certain way so we can access their nutrition and tolerate them without any negative side effects.
The reason we have to prepare grains in a certain way is because they contain substances called antinutrients. The antinutrient called phytic acid is an acid that is mostly found in the bran and on the outer hull of the seeds or grains. When we do not prepare grains properly, this phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc in the intestinal tract and prevent our bodies from absorbing them. This is why it is so important to prepare your grains properly – to avoid serious nutrient deficiencies and bone loss. Additionally, there are other antinutrients found in grains that inhibit digestion and put stress on the body.
In order to prepare your grains properly, so your body does not have to enter a stressed state and can absorb the nutrients in the grain itself, you must soak the grains in a mixture of water and acid.
Try combining 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of warm water. Soak your grains in the mixture overnight or up to 24 hours. The phytic acid will neutralize and the difficult-to-digest substances within the grain partially break down into easier-to-digest substances.