What’s the Fuss about Soaking Grains?

There is lot of data and research material available to tell us that food grains contain something called as ‘Phytic Acid’. And soaking releases phytic acid from grains, unbinds micro-nutrients for better absorption.

So, what is Phytic Acid?

Phytic acid – the storage form of phosphorus – is one of those pesky “anti-nutrients” that inhibits absorption of minerals. It’s often considered an anti-nutrient because it binds minerals in the digestive tract, making them less available to our bodies.

food_grains

Phytic acid (known as inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6), inositol polyphosphate, or phytate when in salt form), discovered in 1903, a saturated cyclic acid, is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially bran and seeds. It can be found in cereals and grains.

What’s the big deal?

Phytic acid is well documented to block absorption of not only of phosphorus, but also other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. It also negatively affects the absorption of lipids and protein. I would guess that one reason this is true is because phytic acid also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food such as pepsin (which helps break down protein), amylases (convert starch into sugar for digestion) and trypsin (also used in protein digestion). While whole grains have a much higher mineral content than processed grains, we won’t get the full benefit of that nutrition if phytic acid blocks us from absorbing it. Phytate has been labeled by the World Health Organization as one of the main causes of anaemia (iron deficiency).

Any potential problems with phytic acid for Vegans and Vegetarians?

Phytic acid can bind minerals in the gut before they are absorbed and influence digestive enzymes. Phytates also reduce the digestibility of starches, proteins, and fats.

Vegan eaters often consume more iron than omnivores. Yet, they also consume more anti-nutrients, including phytates, and these reduce the amount of iron available to their bodies. Consuming 5-10 mg of phytic acid can reduce iron absorption by 50%.
This is why vegetarian eaters should eat more iron than omnivores (33 mg for veg eaters vs. 18 mg for omnivores).

How much difference does it make to remove phytic acid?

Phytic-Acid-iron

It is well documented that removal of Phytic Acid from grains gives better absorption of minerals. Not just iron but many other nutrients essential for a healthy living.

How do we remove Phytic Acid from our food grains?

Soak, sprout or ferment!! That’s all.

But, is Phytic acid all bad?

Ramiel Nagel did an excellent job summarizing some of the latest research on phytic acid having positive effects. Here it is.

As evidence of the detrimental effects of phytates accumulates, reports on alleged beneficial effects have also emerged. In fact, a whole book, Food Phytates, published in 2001 by CRC press, attempts to build a case for “phytates’ potential ability to lower blood glucose, reduce cholesterol and triacylglycerols, and reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease.”

So, my dear readers, the call is yours. I would consume more of iron, calcium, vitamins and other nutrients to balance the lower absorption due to phylates instead of avoiding phylates all together. But if you are Vegan then it is strongly recommended that you avoid phytic acid by consuming grains that are soaked or sprouted only.

Make the right modifications to your grains depending on your diet and food you consume. For example, our Granola is an excellent food for anyone (read: Vegetarians) looking for power-packed nutrients and very low phytic acid  as against a regular Indian hot breakfast, why even museli.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article. I have read at least 50 research papers on Phytic Acid before putting this together.

So, Eat Healthy and Be Happy! 🙂

About soulbakers

Wholesome and delicious breads made from Organic ingredients. Choose from a variety of breads that are made with healthier substitutes like olive oil instead of margarine, organic jaggery instead of refined sugar and organic flours. The palak and carrot used in palak and carrot breads are organic too. So, make a healthy start to the day without compromising on the taste. Our range of cookies and cup cakes will leave you wanting for more. You do not have to even feel guilty as they are absolutely natural and do not play with your health with any which way. Contains no chemical or artificial flavorings or preservatives. Eat Healthy, Be Happy. Because You Are What You Eat!
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3 Responses to What’s the Fuss about Soaking Grains?

  1. very good article. one question though…abroad, raw food is quite the rage and i was wondering which are the leaves/ grains we can eat raw/soaked, since in india all our spinach, etc is cooked

    • soulbakers says:

      marieen, glad that u found the article to be a bright spot 🙂 Now coming to your question, u can eat almost any vegetables (leafy, roots and others) raw as long as they are organic and does not have pesticide residues and is washed well. In fact baby spinach goes very well in salads. Grated beetroot, grated carrots, grated radish mixed with dahi and some garnish of salt n pepper make a nice dinner substitute. 🙂

    • soulbakers says:

      The best practice and age old practice in India has been to soak veggies in salt and turmeric powder water. Both salt and turmeric are anti-biotic and natural cleansers. This should be done with all veggies, be it cooked or raw. Hope this helps 🙂

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