Be Kind to Your Grains...And Your Grains Will Be Kind To You - Weston A Price Foundation

Be Kind to Your Grains...And Your Grains Will Be Kind To You - Weston A Price Foundation

Written by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD
Saturday, 01 January 2000 14:57
Read this in: Czech

The science of nutrition seems to take a step backwards for every
two steps it takes forward. When the study of vitamins was in its
infancy, researchers realized that white flour lacked the nutrients that
nature put into whole grains. One of these researchers was Dr. Weston
Price who noted in his studies of isolated, so-called "primitive"
peoples that when white flour and other devitalized foods were
introduced into these communities, rampant tooth decay and disease of
every sort soon followed. But defenders of the new refining process
argued that phosphorus in whole grains was "too acid" and was the true
cause of bone loss and tooth decay. Warnings against the use of white
flour went largely ignored.

Only in recent decades has Dr. Price been vindicated. Even orthodox
nutritionists now recognize that white flour is an empty food, supplying
calories for energy but none of the bodybuilding materials that abound
in the germ and the bran of whole grains. We've take two important steps
forward—but unfortunately another step backward in that now whole grain
and bran products are being promoted as health foods without adequate
appreciation of their dangers. These show up not only as
digestive problems, Crohn's disease and colitis, but also as the mental
disorders associated with celiac disease. One school of thought claims
that both refined and whole grains should be avoided, arguing
that they were absent from the Paleolithic diet and citing the obvious
association of grains with celiac disease and studies linking grain
consumption with heart disease.

But many healthy societies consume products made from grains. In
fact, it can be argued that the cultivation of grains made civilization
possible and opened the door for mankind to live long and comfortable
lives. Problems occur when we are cruel to our grains—when we
fractionate them into bran, germ and naked starch; when we mill them at
high temperatures; when we extrude them to make crunchy breakfast
cereals; and when we consume them without careful preparation.

Grains require careful preparation because they contain a number of
antinutrients that can cause serious health problems. Phytic acid, for
example, is an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound. It is mostly
found in the bran or outer hull of seeds. Untreated phytic acid can
combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the
intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in
improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral
deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming
large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at
first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term,
many other adverse effects.

Other antinutrients in whole grains include enzyme inhibitors which
can inhibit digestion and put stress on the pancreas; irritating
tannins; complex sugars which the body cannot break down; and gluten and
related hard-to-digest proteins which may cause allergies, digestive
disorders and even mental illness.

Most of these antinutrients are part of the seed's system of
preservation—they prevent sprouting until the conditions are right.
Plants need moisture, warmth, time and slight acidity in order to
sprout. Proper preparation of grains is a kind and gentle process that
imitates the process that occurs in nature. It involves soaking for a
period in warm, acidulated water in the preparation of porridge, or
long, slow sour dough fermentation in the making of bread. Such
processes neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content
increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and
other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into
simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

Animals that nourish themselves on primarily on grain and other plant
matter have as many as four stomachs. Their intestines are longer, as
is the entire digestion transit time. Man, on the other hand, has but
one stomach and a much shorter intestine compared to herbivorous
animals. These features of his anatomy allow him to pass animal products
before they putrefy in the gut but make him less well adapted to a diet
high in grains—unless, of course, he prepares them properly. When
grains are properly prepared through soaking, sprouting or sour
leavening, the friendly bacteria of the microscopic world do some of our
digesting for us in a container, just as these same lactobacilli do their work in the first and second stomachs of the herbivores.

So the well-meaning advice of many nutritionists, to consume whole
grains as our ancestors did and not refined flours and polished rice,
can be misleading and harmful in its consequences; for while our
ancestors ate whole grains, they did not consume them as presented in
our modern cookbooks in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas, bran
preparations and other hastily prepared casseroles and concoctions. Our
ancestors, and virtually all pre-industrialized peoples, soaked or
fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes
and casseroles. A quick review of grain recipes from around the world
will prove our point: In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at
least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas;
in Africa the natives soak coarsely ground corn overnight before adding
it to soups and stews and they ferment corn or millet for several days
to produce a sour porridge called ogi; a similar dish made from
oats was traditional among the Welsh; in some Oriental and Latin
American countries rice receives a long fermentation before it is
prepared; Ethiopians make their distinctive injera bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; Mexican corn cakes, called pozol,
are fermented for several days and for as long as two weeks in banana
leaves; before the introduction of commercial brewers yeast, Europeans
made slow-rise breads from fermented starters; in America the pioneers
were famous for their sourdough breads, pancakes and biscuits; and
throughout Europe grains were soaked overnight, and for as long as
several days, in water or soured milk before they were cooked and served
as porridge or gruel. (Many of our senior citizens may remember that in
earlier times the instructions on the oatmeal box called for an
overnight soaking.)

Bread can be the staff of life, but modern technology has turned our
bread—even our whole grain bread—into a poison. Grains are laced with
pesticides during the growing season and in storage; they are milled at
high temperatures so that their fatty acids turn rancid. Rancidity
increases when milled flours are stored for long periods of time,
particularly in open bins. The bran and germ are often removed and sold
separately, when Mother Nature intended that they be eaten together with
the carbohydrate portion; they're baked as quick rise breads so that
antinutrients remain; synthetic vitamins and an unabsorbable form of
iron added to white flour can cause numerous imbalances; dough
conditioners, stabilizers, preservatives and other additives add insult
to injury.

Cruelty to grains in the making of breakfast cereals is intense.
Slurries of grain are forced through tiny holes at high temperatures and
pressures in giant extruders, a process that destroys nutrients and
turns the proteins in grains into veritable poisons. Westerners pay a
lot for expensive breakfast cereals that snap, crackle and pop,
including the rising toll of poor health.

The final indignity to grains is that we treat them as loners,
largely ignorant of other dietary factors needed for the nutrients they
provide. Fat-soluble vitamins A and D found in animal fats like butter,
lard and cream help us absorb calcium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and
the many other vitamins that grains provide. Porridge eaten with cream
will do us a thousand times more good than cold breakfast cereal
consumed with skim milk; sourdough whole grain bread with butter or
whole cheese is a combination that contributes to optimal health.

Be kind to your grains. . . and your grains will deliver their
promise as the staff of life. Buy only organic whole grains and soak
them overnight to make porridge or casseroles; or grind them into flour
with a home grinder and make your own sour dough bread and baked goods.
For those who lack the time for breadmaking, kindly-made whole grain
breads are now available. Look for organic, stone ground, sprouted or
sour dough whole grain breads (we have many brands listed in our yearly
Shopping Guide) and enjoy them with butter or cheese.

Copyright: From: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. © 1999. All Rights Reserved.  To order Nourishing Traditions, go to www.newtrendspublishing.com.