Byon July 21, 2008 8:21 AM
Recently in modern food science, there has been a big push toward Whole Grain. Myself, i generally feel this is a good thing. Whole Wheat (or other grains) just tends to taste better, and I’m fortunate enough to be descended from a Western European farming culture where quite a lot of our diets were based on grains. Of course, this does imply (and mean) that there are plenty of foods enjoyed around the world that my body isn’t really designed for, so don’t think I’m talking down on anyone.
However, as great as whole grain are, the modern food doctrine likely contains only half the story. Yes, as is claimed our ancestors did tend to eat a lot of whole grains, and didn’t have access to the processed flours and the like we use a lot of today. However, if one does a survey of the majority of indigenous peoples alive today, or looks at grain recipes throughout history, it is rare that they ate the grains without first soaking them (at least overnight), usually in some sort of traditional (meaning rich in lactobacilli) milk product.
It turns out that the bran (outer coat) of a whole grain is rich in Phytic acid. The problem with this is that Phytic acid likes to bind to minerals in our digestive tract, which prevents them from being absorbed. There has been evidence to suggest that people who take to eating a large amount of whole grains, but who don’t soak them first, will tend to develop long term health problems due to mineral deficiency.
Luckily, this is an easy problem to solve. Catherine and I have porridge at least three mornings a week, often more, as it’s a quick breakfast in the morning. I begin the night before, by adding ¼ cup of oats to a ¼ cup of warm water, and a teaspoon of buttermilk. I let that soak while we sleep, and when I get up in the morning, I add a ¼ cup of milk, and put medium heat to it. Stir it occasionally, until the water just begins to boil when you’ll want to turn down the heat and stir it mo re often. Serve with butter and a bit of sugar. Coconut Oil, which is usually solid at room temperature, makes a fantastic replacement for the butter.
It’s just that easy, and the enzymatic and bacterial action that occurred during that soak means that you’ll get better vitamin and mineral conversion out of those grains, and truly get the benefits of those whole grains. People’s all over Africa, Asia, and South America still use these fermentation techniques on their grains, so please, give it a try. You might even find that you like it better.