Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
3 Aug

Are Traditionally Prepared Grains Healthy?

“People from Africa, Asia, and Latin America eat lots of grains and manage to stay skinny, so what’s the deal?”

You know this line of questioning. We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably all pondered it. It may have even stumped a few of you, left you stuttering and stammering for a quick explanation. But by the time you think of a reply (if you even have one), the moment has passed and they have “won” the argument. A briefly open mind was now closed.

But let’s be honest: it’s a valid question, and a tough one at that. We can’t just avoid the tough questions. So let’s take this head on.

Like always, the answer is multifaceted. Health is not reliant on a single feature. It’s not just diet, it’s exercise, stress, sleep, family, community, genetics, infectious burden. Within diet, it’s not just what is eaten, but also what isn’t eaten. It’s how food is prepared, whether it’s cooked or eaten raw. Find me a culture who thrived on grains as a staple food, and I’ll find you a culture who came up with some elaborate preparation method to mitigate the antinutrients and enhance the nutrient bioavailability of those grains. Find me a culture whose health thrived on toxin-rich grains as a staple without mitigating said toxins, and I’ll be waiting a long time (and observing the United States through smug Primal shades while I wait).

In today’s post, I’m going to explore the primary reason for why so many traditional cultures who ate grains managed to stay thin and relatively free of degenerative diseases: traditional grain preparation, including soaking, sprouting, and fermentation. If you’re familiar with the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s stance on grains, you’re probably aware of these preparation methods. Each step alters the nutritional experience of the grain to varying degrees, making it more digestible, less toxic, and tastier. I for one am not willing to go through hoops to make grass babies go down easier, but the process is nonetheless extremely interesting. And in the future, if any of my readers want to give grains a shot, at least they’ll do it right, or as right as it can get. As I always say, the only reason to make grains any part of your diet is as a cheap source of calories that converts to glucose very quickly.

You know how cool parents will drink or smoke with their teens to teach them mature consumption of potentially illicit substances before they learn to do it all wrong it in the wild world? This post is kinda like that.

Let’s first do a quick rundown of what exactly we’re trying to avoid, deactivate, or mitigate. We gotta know what we’re up against.

Phytic acid: Phytic acid is the main storage form of phosphorus in grains. That’s awesome for the grain, which needs phosphorus, but there’s a catch. Phytate also binds to many minerals, including zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron, to name several. And, since non-ruminants don’t possess phytase, which digests phytate and releases the bound minerals for easy absorption, eating large quantities of phytate-containing foods results in mineral deficiencies for meat-eating apes. These deficiencies, taken to an extreme, can manifest as tooth decay, which might explain why early grain eating populations had worse teeth than the hunter-gatherers who preceded them.

Enzyme inhibitors: Grains are seeds that require certain wet, nutrient rich conditions for proper growth. Spontaneous germination is counterproductive (you don’t want your children settling down in an area with high crime and high unemployment, do you?), so enzyme inhibitors prevent it. When moisture abounds (like, when soaking grains), the inhibitors are deactivated and sprouting occurs. So why should we care? Certain other enzyme inhibitors also inhibit our ability digest the grains. If you’re relying on grains as a dietary staple, you can’t afford not to wring every last drop of nutrition out of them.

Lectins: I covered lectins fairly comprehensively in a previous post, so I’ll keep it brief. Lectins are nature’s pesticides, protecting the tiny grain from predation. They can perforate the intestinal lining, disrupt our immune systems, and there’s even evidence that they bind to leptin receptors in the hypothalamus (potentially triggering leptin resistance).

Gluten: You know this guy. Found in wheat, rye, and barley, he’s a real bastard of a protein – and possibly not just to celiacs. There’s some evidence that true fermentation can break down gluten, but not all of it. Some Italian researchers used a unique blend of bacterial species to break down 99% of the gluten in sourdough bread, but it was under strict, extremely contrived laboratory conditions. More on that later.

So, how do traditional cultures take care of the aforementioned?

Soaking and Sprouting

I’ve written about soaking nuts and seeds before, and soaking grains is the same idea. The grains are covered with water, placed in a preferably warm place, and soaked for between 12 and 24 hours. There’s not much more to it than that. After soaking, you drain them, rinse them, and let the grains sit out for a couple days. To get grains to sprout, rinse and drain them a couple times each day until sprouts emerge.

Effect on phytate: If the grain contains phytase, some of the mineral-binding phytic acid will be deactivated, but not much. And if the grain has been heat-treated, which destroys phytase, or it contains very little phytase to begin with, the phytic acid will remain completely intact. Overall, neither soaking nor sprouting deactivates a significant amount of phytate.

Effect on enzyme inhibitors: Well, since the seed has been placed in a wet medium and allowed to sprout, the enzyme inhibitors are obviously mostly deactivated. Digestion is much improved (cooking will improve it further).

Effect on lectins: The evidence is mixed, and it seems to depend on the grain. Sprouted wheat, for example, is extremely high in WGA, the infamous wheat lectin. As the wheat grain germinates, the WGA is retained in the sprout and is dispersed throughout the finished plant. In other grains, sprouting seems more beneficial, but there’s always some residual lectins that may need further processing to deactivate.

Effect on gluten: Sprouting reduces gluten to some extent, but not by very much. Don’t count on it. A little bit goes a long way.

Fermentation

After soaking and grinding, grains are traditionally mixed with a starter culture or allowed to wild ferment. Starter cultures often include whey, kefir, yogurt, or left over fermentation medium from the previous batch. Wild fermentation occurs when the grain mixture employs bacteria already present on the grains, or picks up wild yeasts and bacteria from the environment. Both methods are far more effective than just soaking and sprouting at deactivating antinutrients and improving digestibility. Plus, fermentation lends interesting flavors to and enhances the shelf-life of the resultant food (which was extremely valuable in the days before refrigeration and canning).

Effect on phytate: Remember phytase? It’s the enzyme that deactivates phytate, and it really gets cooking during fermentation. In grains that contain high amounts of phytase, like wheat, rye, and buckwheat (technically a pseudo-cereal, but close enough), a day of fermentation deactivates most of the phytate. To degrade the phytate in low-phytase grains, however, the fermentation time must be extended. Adding small amounts of phytase-containing grain to the mix will also speed up the process. Increasing the temperature also improves phytate breakdown. In millet, a low-phytase grain, it took 72 hours to completely degrade the phytate. In wheat, it took ten hours to reach a maximum of 88.8% phytate reduction using a specific bacterial strain. Other strains resulted in reductions of between 28% and 86% (with most reaching above 80%). Standard quick rise baker’s yeast only reduced 16% of phytate (that’s what 99% of wheat eaters are eating nowadays, remember!). Ten hours may not always be enough, however – another fermentation study found that at 48 hours, phytate in wheat was still degrading.

Effect on enzyme inhibitors: Fermentation also significantly reduces enzyme inhibitor activity. A few examples would be prudent, since fermentation has different effects on different enzyme inhibitors in different grains. In 24 hour traditional sorghum fermentation, both trypsin inhibitor and amylase inhibitor (which impedes starch digestion) were reduced by up to 58% and 75%, respectively. In millet, a 48 hour fermentation was required to completely deactivate amylase inhibitor. As I mentioned in the last section, one study found that 48 hours of fermentation resulted in maximum wheat starch digestibility, presumably by deactivating amylase inhibitor.

Effect on lectins: Fermentation reduces lectin load fairly comprehensively across the board, but it might take longer than you can spare. In lentils (I know, not a grain, but with similar antinutrient issues), 72 and 96 hours of fermentation at 42 degrees C eliminated 98% and 97.8% of the lectins, respectively. Specific info on grain lectin breakdown due to fermentation is sparse. Overall, fermentation appears to be pretty effective at reducing lectins (and cooking reduces them further).

Effect on gluten: No store bought garden variety sourdough you find is going to be gluten-free. A team from Italy was able to produce a gluten-free sourdough wheat bread by using specific bacterial strains from all over the world and subjecting the bread to many days of fermentation. The process was totally unfeasible for the home or average commercial baker. There’s also a guy who sells monthlong fermented sourdough bread out of LA-area farmers’ markets and claims celiacs can eat it without issue. Reviews on Yelp seem to corroborate. Maybe I’ll swing by his stand and give it a shot, but I’m skeptical. And besides, I’m personally more worried by WGA, which is biologically active at nanomolar concentrations and which may not be fully degraded by fermentation.

To Eat, or Not to Eat

Some may turn up their noses at agrarian people for relying on a “sub-optimal” grain as staple food, but not me. Yeah, I’m definitely no fan of grains, and I think avoiding them is one of the biggest positive steps a person can take for their overall health. That’s beside the point. As a technical feat, I find the taming of the grain incredibly impressive, a testament to mankind’s awesome ability to adapt to and overcome adversity. Any other animal that switches over to a new staple food that prevents nutrient absorption, causes intestinal perforation, and increases inflammation had better develop some physiological adaptions to deal with the antinutritive factors, and quickly, if it doesn’t want to die out or be forced to move to a new habitat. A human, though? Humans figured out a way to preserve the toxic food, make it palatable, drastically reduce its antinutrient content, and make it more digestible, thanks to the big efficient brain inside our skulls. It’s not physiology (well, kind of), it’s not some advantageous mutation that’s naturally selected and saves the day. It’s human ingenuity, knowhow, knowledge, and wisdom. It is manipulation of the environment to suit our immediate needs. That gets us into trouble on occasion, but you can’t say it isn’t impressive.

That said, will I start soaking, sprouting, and fermenting big batches of grains in my kitchen? No. It’s way too much work and it’s unclear whether the toxins are fully mitigated (and in the case of wheat, they almost certainly are not). I’ll admit that crusty sourdough bread can be a nice occasional treat when eating out, but it’s not something I’m interested in eating on a regular basis. Furthermore, I’m not missing out on any magic nutrient by avoiding grains, but I am avoiding the elaborate prep work required to make them moderately edible (and the toxins that may or may not be deactivated). For the billions that rely on grains for sustenance, these traditional preparation methods are necessary. Choosing between potentially toxic food and starvation, you choose the food – no question – and then you do your best to make it more nutritious. For those of us who don’t need to make that choice, for whom bread is an extracurricular treat, I think removing the risk altogether by simply avoiding the potentially toxic food is a better move. And if it’s carbohydrate you’re after, stick with safe starch sources like roots, tubers, or even white rice (the sole grain that requires no elaborate processing).

But at least you know there’s a better way than what most people do with grains nowadays. At least there’s somewhat of a middle ground for people who won’t relinquish the grass babies.

What about you guys? Do you think you’ll ever experiment with traditional grain preparation?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. ===============================
    Most people in the US are over-dosing on white flour carbs 3-6 times per day.
    Try to observe obese people sneaking another 2-3 cookies, slice of pizza, donut, bagel, bunch of pretzels, muffin, roll, ………………..
    (with a diet soda of course!!!)
    ========================================

    roy wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  2. Just in case anyone is interested, this is exactly what Dr. Mercola has been preaching for years. (No, I don’t work for him and he’s not a relative, but I’ve found his info to be very enlightening and almost spot on regarding what I’m reading here about avoiding grains, etc.) It might be another good source of info on food and lifestyle choices.

    He’s actually the reason I gave up grains way back when even before I found Primal Blueprint.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  3. Has anyone experienced skin problems as a result of avoiding grains for many months ?
    I was warned by my naturopath that this might happen and now my historically clear complexion is recently plagued by some sort of rash… help !

    angeliou wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • It could be that you are experiencing a die-off of bad bacteria in your intestinal tract. As your body “sheds” the anti-nutrients consumed over years, it is common in some people (myself included) to experience breakouts and rashes. It might help to take a probiotic, to replenish the good bacteria. Be patient. The rash will go away, but it takes time. I was grain free for about a year, and then for about a week I ate chips and bread, etc., and now I have acne…Fabulous. The key is to stick it out.

      Kim wrote on August 4th, 2011
  4. Mark,

    Interesting that the Primal Blueprint considers white rice a better alternative to grains when the majority of the health industry believes the opposite.

    Alykhan

    Alykhan wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • White polished rice is low in fiber and moves through the bowels quickly.

      Fiber Menace

      Kaiser Wilhelm wrote on August 4th, 2011
  5. Grains eventually convert to sugar in our guts. The addiction to sugar has been discussed by several sources including Gary Taubes’ book “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.” Getting over sugar (grains) as an addiction can be as difficult as overcoming addictions to heroin, cocaine and nicotine. Recovering alcoholics have been known to switch to another easily available drug: sugar.

    That sounds like enough of a reason to seriously consider giving up grains of any kind.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  6. I also wonder if you throw the baby out with the bathwater by soaking grains…Are a significant amount of vits and mins poured out with the soaking water? I haven’t been able to find any research on this.

    jennifer wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  7. I have a friend who had breast cancer and a relative who had colon cancer. Both of them recovered after eliminating ALL animal products from their diet- meat, dairy and eggs – and following a diet full of grains and vegs. They know nothing about sprouting, fermenting or such things. Once you get seriously ill you will try everything.I am so happy they are alive.

    Any More wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • They went on a high alkaline diet. Grains are acidic.
      Imagine how fast they could’ve recovered had they not eaten grains on top of veggies.

      The cure for cancer was already found LOOOONG ago by Max Gerson. 1928.

      Kaiser Wilhelm wrote on August 4th, 2011
  8. I’m not sure the phytic acid argument stands up because:

    1. It seems that the mineral binding effects of Phytic acid are only a problem where people get most of their minerals from grains and have very little other sources such as fresh fruit and veg. The instance of mineral deficiencies in countries that have such variety in the diet – even those who are still heavily reliant on grains don’t suffer from mineral deficiencies. The deficiencies are only noticeable in developing countries.

    2. The Phytic acid in nuts and seeds seems to be several times higher than in grains (particularly once grains have been cooked). Although nuts might not be eaten traditionally in the quantities of grains / pulses, nuts are included in the ancestral diet.

    3. Phytic acid is also shown to have therapeutic effects

    Tara wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • Wrong. Tooth Decay was high compared to other primitive cultures where grains had been consumed in moderation together with native foods like oysters, fish, cattle, lamb and garden fresh vegetables. (Gaelic)

      Also, it depends on with how much immunity to tooth decay you were born.
      If you were born with soft teeth because your Mom ate a bunch of grainy crap during pregnancy, then you’re 1000x more likely to get rampant tooth decay…while someone born to a primitive mother, who ate native foods and breast fed the baby, would have a higher immunity to tooth decay starting out.
      (Weston Price)

      Also, drinks that are erosive contribute heavily to decay.

      “3. Phytic acid is also shown to have therapeutic effects”
      You’re high, right?

      Kaiser Wilhelm wrote on August 4th, 2011
  9. I’m curious if wheat grass juice is very healthy to drink (or not). Does anyone know?

    Haydn Huntley wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • it’s sprouted wheat with the fiber removed. you make the call. none for me thanks.

      moonablaze wrote on August 7th, 2011
  10. As always, thanks for the information!
    There has been many times that, even knowing I was right, I couldn’t find the arguments to tell people why grains are not good eventhough many people stick to them in quite a good health (so far).
    Para los lectores en español, ¡visitad mi blog! http://spartangourmet.blogspot.com/ Salud!

    El Gourmet Espartano wrote on August 4th, 2011
  11. There is actually a study that has been done on Italian women with breast cancer and a high GI diet is linked to reoccurrence. I love grain but have gone cold turkey on it since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I am however making sourdough bread for my children, I figured it was better than store bought crud.

    Stacey wrote on August 4th, 2011
  12. Yea right. If it weren’t for sugar and additional taste supplements, I wouldn’t go for grains. haha! This is a very informative post. Thank you!

    dana wrote on August 4th, 2011
  13. I think some posters are missing an important point or two here – grain products only became part of the hominid diet about 10,000 years ago after 3 million years of hunter gathering. Our genetic make up has not yet had time to evolve to the extent of being able to accept grains as a nutrient, hence the problems it causes, resulting particulary in obesity and diabetes type 2. To suggest that grains can be included in a ‘balanced’ diet is to miss that point. Diabetes and obesity are likely to be the diseases that wipe out the human race unless governments recognise that their edicts on high carb (grainbased) low protein are so wrong and that they need to listen very closely to the evidence being written up by the evolutionary nutritionalists. As a renal nurse I have seen the number of patients with ESRF (end stage renal failure), caused by diabetes, increase tenfold over the last ten/twenty years. I rest my case! Love Paleo!

    Paul wrote on August 4th, 2011
  14. How many of you have actually read Weston A. Prices’ “Nutrition and Physical DEgeneration”? I think some of you would be singing a very different song. His work has NOTHING to do with WARF they stole his good name and are paid by Monsanto to distribute lies.

    John Mings wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • I have read it. The WAPF does represent his work fairly well, although Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation is another excellent source. PPNF is more scholarly, whereas WAPF is more activist and is getting the message out to the masses.

      They RAIL against Monsanto constantly, so that little tin hat comment makes your claims dubious, to say the least.

      Price found that it’s definitely possible to have excellent health on diets containing traditionally prepared grains. But he also documented that the cultures on few or no grains typically had fewer than 1% cavity prevalence, those on traditional grains only had around 5% prevalence, and those on processed foods had 25% or more prevalence.

      MamaGrok wrote on August 4th, 2011
      • That’s true, the primitive swiss and primitive gaelic had the highest rate of dental decay because at that time they already had access to grains. Even though those grains were fresh, with no nutrients removed.
        The flours we buy today have to have the minerals and vitamins removed (BY LAW) in order to be shipped by millers to prevent spoilage. So you can imagine how detrimental these flours are to our health now. It is store food which has given us store teeth (Hooten).

        Chapter 27: Expression of modern degeneration caused by grains are dental caries, periodontal inflammations, so-called pyorrhea alveolaris, types of eye inflammations, failing vision, scurvy, un-united fractures, recurring spasmodic fractures, skeletal affections, joint pains, berri berri, pellagra and sterility.
        Prenatal Injuries: These affect germ cells, thereby producing a defective fertilized ovum and defective fetus…hare lip, cleft palate, narrow hips, narrow face, constricted nostrils, mental backwardness, juvenile delinquency, skull defects of the skull and floor of the brain, brain defects, mongoloidism and idiocy.

        Animals fed grains have shown the same deformities as in humans (page 345). Grains damage germ plasm. Many, if not most, of the congenital malformations met with in these studies resulted from defects in the germ plasm, which were present before fertilization (page 322).

        Weston Price page 279:” As yet I have not found a single group of primitive racial stock which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by living on plant foods.”

        As the plants ripen the phosphorus is transported in large amounts to the seed while most of the calcium remains in the leaves. When cattle consumes the grass (leave part) of a plant, the animals themselves are in better condition than when on grain concentrates (page 384).

        This phosphorus/calcium imbalance causes us to borrow from our skeleton. This borrowing process is explained in details on page 508.

        All this might explain why there are no primal babies with perfect dental arches, because at the time of puberty, when eggs are formed, the mother ate grains which damage cell plasm. It would take 2-3 generations to get rid of this DNA defect caused by grain consumption.

        Primal Palate wrote on August 4th, 2011
        • “All this might explain why there are no primal babies with perfect dental arches, because at the time of puberty, when eggs are formed, the mother ate grains which damage cell plasm.”

          –Perhaps, you mean grains are corrupting young women’s eggs? Even before a baby girl leaves her mother’s womb, she already has inside her all the eggs she will ever have. They ripen for release over time with hormonal priming during her reproductive years, but they are not forming…that business was done in utero.

          Deedly Deedee wrote on November 9th, 2013
  15. I’m a WAPF-follower and even I think of grains as a compromise food. I think the idea is that the prized foods are animal fats, meats, organs, eggs, and (high-fat) dairy, but since grains are a necessary staple in much of the world, the compromise is to eat them whole and soak/sprout/sour them in traditional ways. If you have the means to avoid grains OR if you have a condition that’s aggravated by grains/carbs, skip them. They’re more necessary for bulk in the diet than for any specific nutritional need.

    Also, the response to “but [insert random culture here] eat lots of grains and stay skinny” is that skinny != healthy. Anyway, a lot of cultures that have to rely on traditionally-prepared grains have food-availability issues, which explains slenderness. Seriously, the first world is one of the only places where we eat so much food without getting any real nutrition from it.

    Melantha wrote on August 4th, 2011
  16. Fantastic post, and I am bookmarking it. I’ve only recently cut out grains, and I can see the point in avoiding them entirely — eventually perhaps I shall.

    Last night after telling the waiter I wanted my shrimp dish without either the proffered pasta or bread, he proceeded to come back with it over pasta. I didn’t send it back — it was pretty easy to separate the shrimp and its accompaniments out from the pasta which was below (and it was late, and I was hungry and I’m not into making scenes), but I’d say a good 80% of that meal was pasta, had I gone for it.

    So far, I’ve gotten rid of two of my three bread/baking cook books; the other is so replete with techniques I can’t part with it yet — someday. The thing that has bugged me in the past about cookbooks is they all focused on WHEAT. I wanted barley, millet, amaranth, oats as main ingredients. You’d occasionally see cornbread, and a minor bow to oats.

    I think that what I’ll end up doing (my diet is still in flux) is not cooking or prepping grains myself except maybe three or four times a year — and I’ll refer back to this post. When out at a restaurant, I can decline grains. The occasional (very occasional) pizza out with friends will be a guilty pleasure, and I will take small (very very small) portions of proffered homemade desserts — which I already do. Social amenities do indeed have value.

    That being said, I may have short moments of experimenting with techniques you mention above. And there is one bakery north of me with breads that to me taste excellent and are made with fresh and wholesome ingredients, once you get past the grain. Two loaves a year from there? I might do that. It’s been close to half a year at this point.

    This omnivore is getting to where she knows she needs to go… gradually.

    Of Goats and Greens wrote on August 4th, 2011
  17. I am confused, is all wheat bad and does that include a whole wheat and what about spelt bread with wild rice is that also bad. I am trying to get my family to start eating Primal so it is my wife my self and two boys 2 and 5, it is very hard to completely eliminate breads as we are so used to it.

    Marko Arsenic wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • As someone mentioned before, grains damage cell plasm and cause defective DNA. It’s not just the toxins that we know of that are bad, phytates, lectins, gluten, etc…

      Kaiser Wilhelm wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • long story short: yes, all grains are bad. Spelt is a form of wheat and wheat is probably the worst one out there. white rice is not so bad but if you want to be primal, bread is gonna have to go. (you can search the forum for “angry bread” for a stopgap substitute if you’re going nuts for a sandwich)

      moonablaze wrote on August 7th, 2011
    • Start with gradually eliminating all snacking and drinking sweet beverages (juices included) between meals. People eat more junk when they snack, and children are more fussy about food when they snack between meals.

      Galina L. wrote on August 15th, 2012
  18. Recently going Paleo. No probems dropping grains. BUT I can’t get nearly enough fiber (25 -35 g/day). Can’t eat that amount of vegetables. I am slow swallower, limited time for prep. Thinking of going back to a very high fiber grain. Suggestions (or reprimand)helpful.

    Willson wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • You must be suffering from digestive problems, switching from a high fiber diet to a low one.
      Fiber Menace, a book written by K. Monastyrsky explains exactly what happens when you switch from high to low fiber..and what it means to stay on a high fiber diet for the future of your colon.

      Primal Palate wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • It is not necessary to eat too much fiber at all. There were healthy societies living on meat and milk products like Mongols or meat alone like Inuits.I” am sure your fiber consumption is higher than for any herder. It you have constipation, take some magnesium supplement that all we need anyway.

      Galina L. wrote on August 15th, 2012
  19. What about a buckwheat? I personally eat a no grain diet but I don’t know what to recommend to my lean and healthy 18-year old son who is willing to eat a paleo-style diet. Since there is no necessarily for him to loose weight, I advice him to supplement his diet with potatoes, white rice and buckwheat.As far as I know there is no tradition to soak or ferment a buckwheat before preparation. It just supposed to be kept hot for a while after 20 minutes of initial cooking. Is it possible that prolong heat exposure will eliminate some undesirable components?

    Galina L. wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • I have a very young son who wants to eat Paleo too . As a source of carbs he eats rice , potatoes and buckwheat. Most of the time it is a buckwheat crepes based on the recipe http://chriskresser.com/sourdough-buckwheat-pancakes-now-theyre-even-fluffier, but slightly different. One cup of un-roasted grains got soaked in a cheap yogurt and one cup of water, starter is added. When mix is ready, we add 4 eggs, salt and backing soda and use a blender on the mix. Actually, in order to make a big portion only 1/3 of the mix is needed.

      Galina L. wrote on August 15th, 2012
  20. Being new to the primal way, but trying to learn as quickly as possible, the sprouting – no sprout, has been a huge question for my family. We have always sprouted daily and stopped not knowing where sprouts fit in with primal a few months ago, when learning of the “grok” way to eat and how much sense it made. We have not eaten bread in a long time, when we have eaten bread – are shocked at the depressed healthily feelings. The sprouts that I was so sure were good for us, no matter what was sprouted; peanuts, sunflower, radish, all lentils, peas, all beans, but I must admit I am confused now. Is there a site that explains the difference between, seeds, grains, legumes, maybe a great chart so there is no guessing? Then there is wheat grass juicing, almost afraid to ask about that ;). We do raise our own beef, pork (also have decided hunting wild pigs would be a good natural source), chickens (layer and broilers), rabbits, goats (dairy and meat), and starting squab production. Stopped drinking fresh goats milk and focusing on fresh goat milk keifer. With the high temps and severe drought, the garden has burned up, so hoping to figure the fine details of sprouting out. What to sprout, what to forget?? Thinking of using them as veggies, any thoughts?
    thank you

    txmom wrote on August 4th, 2011
  21. we can get to a decent grocery store 2-3 times a month, so we can get veggies, but hoping the sprouts could fill in between trips. The closest decent store is 65 miles round trip and 158 round trip to a good store with selections.

    txmom wrote on August 4th, 2011
  22. Mark is right, just having bread as a treat is the best way. I like to just grab a small chunk of bread with a big slab of butter on it and thats it. It is only a pinch of carbs. Same as pasta sauce. I add just a pinch of noodles in a big meat tomato sauce, just to add a little fill.

    Lee wrote on August 4th, 2011
  23. My people are indigenous to the United States and we treated corn in a very elaborate preparation before eating it, as it was believed to put something bad in the stomach otherwise.

    Jasetyn wrote on August 4th, 2011
  24. I’d rather eat properly prepared beans myself than any type of grain.

    George Mounce wrote on August 4th, 2011
  25. My wife has gone Primal with me for the most part, but she she is from Taiwan and refuses to give up tofu. She can’t get over years to being told that tofu was a healthy food. (I am allergic to soy and never get near the stuff) Does anyone know if the fermentation of the soybeans in the tofu making process eliminate the leptins and make it more tolerable to digest?

    Nick wrote on August 5th, 2011
  26. Just to balance out the 100% positive comments on the theme ‘grains are unhealthy’, here is my two cents : excepting the people who have allergies to grains, how can so many folks be so stupid? Human history, common sense, and even a cursory understanding of ‘modern’ diseases like cancer and heart disease lead to quite the opposite conclusion. Its meats and processed food you want to eliminate, not grains.

    alohajim wrote on August 5th, 2011
    • No, It’s processed foods and grains that are the main culprits to health and especially obesity. Processed foods are full of sugar and salt, Grains – well, read the post again.

      Paul wrote on August 8th, 2011
    • You don’t come here often, do you?

      Karen P. wrote on August 9th, 2011
    • Processed and grain-fed meats, yes.

      Lisa wrote on August 10th, 2011
  27. very insightful BUT you didn’t explain HOW THEY PREVENT OBESITY FROM ARISING

    Dan wrote on August 5th, 2011
  28. I have a daughter-in-law who has Celiac disease. If she eats my sprouted/soaked/fermented product, it does not bother her at all.

    Yolanda wrote on August 5th, 2011
  29. I don’t miss grains at all. After eating grains, I would get the same feel in my mouth when I ate a box of Sour Patch Kids at the movie theater. You know that nasty film? My teeth are healthier because of it too!

    Marissa wrote on August 5th, 2011
  30. I eat sprouted grain bread; it’s low glycemic, so I use it for a sandwich for lunch on most days. Good stuff.

    But I also strength train heavily. I also eat a lot of dairy.

    Actually, the only thing that is “primal” about my diet is that it is low carb. I eat a lot of eggs, meat, etc. I do owe something to this site and the book; it was what got me to go low carb. So thanks.

    Jay wrote on August 6th, 2011
  31. I am a naturally slender person, always have been. I remember eating an entire box of Entenmann’s choclate eclairs in one sitting throughout my childhood, and never gaining an ounce. In fact, at 5′ 7″, I didn’t break 100lbs. until my senior year of high school. So it irks me to no end when I constantly hear (or read) of people equating good health with “being skinny”. They are not the same thing!!! I have been hovering around 123lbs. for the last 25 years. I had also been a vegetarian/ vegan for most of that time. I had horrible muscle tone and, despite being “skinny” had cellulite everywhere. I was gassy and bloated ALL the time. I always blamed it on female “stuff”. I am new to the whole paleo thing, (seriously, it’s only been a couple of weeks!) but I already notice that my bloat is gone, gas (sorry if this is TMI) is gone, and I am starting to see some muscle tone. I am convinced that this is the right way for me. I still have issues with regards to the ethics surrounding paleo eating. Having been vegetarian/ vegan, my reasons were not just nutritional. There are still MANY reasons to eschew meat. Most of them stemming from factory farming and the environmental and animal welfare implications, so it blows my mind when I read of paleo advocates eating things like veal (WTF???and this was on a very well known paleo blog!) If we are to be true hunter/ gatherers, we would not be locking baby cows in cages…just sayin’. I could go on, but I have already strayed too far off topic. Thanks for listening…

    Joanna wrote on August 7th, 2011
  32. Thanks for this, Mark. I’ve been wondering lately why some people can make the leap to be gluten-free, but don’t see the wisdom in going grain- and legume-free. Why spend all that time and energy trying to make something palatable when you can just have delectable real food? We’re not missing anything nutritionally, so I won’t bother. Gimme steak and veggies.

    Karen P. wrote on August 7th, 2011
  33. I live in Australia but born in Italy. I recently visited my homeland and was surprised by the slim women and men in Italy. So where were all the fat Italians? In Australia we are fat, but in Italy they are from from fat. One thing I did notice is that many of the towns now have supermarkets and Italians eat more western than traditional Mediterranean diets. Traditionally, Italians would kill their pigs in the Winter and eat sausages, proscuitto, salami and cook with lard throughout the winter. The prosciutto and salami would last into the summer months. Bread is eaten with salami and cheese, but not eaten as sandwiches and toasts as we eat. Fresh pasta took much effort, so it was not eaten as readily as we do. The wheat had to sown, harvested, milled and baked before they could eat their daily bread. Each step required energy expenditure. Dried pasta was bartered for in the major towns. It took many hours by foot, mule or horse to travel. Much energy was expended in order to feed themselves.

    Italians in Australia are far fatter than those in Italy, in particular those that have given up their vegetable gardens and their traditional foods. It seems to me that processed foods and the introduction of the supermarket has made the biggest impact both in Australia and Italy. As a child we did not eat pizza every day. Pizza was reserved for special occasions. But in Australia, I know many people that live on takeaway pizzas.

    One thing that I did noticed while stuck at the airport in Frankfurt was that there were no fat people. So what are they doing differently?

    Mirella wrote on August 8th, 2011
    • ‘…but not eaten as sandwiches and toasts…’ Bruschetta?

      Paul wrote on August 8th, 2011
  34. I agree with all the comments about grains – but would you please address “seed grains” like quiona, amaranth, buckwheat and millet?

    Are they ok?

    jodie wrote on August 8th, 2011
  35. I eat sprouted grains almost daily and have never had problems. No digestive upsets, malnutrition, or low energy – quite the opposite, actually!

    Just keeping the carbs at 140-150 does it for me. I occasionally go up about 5-10g on days when I’m super-active or have longer/harder workouts, in which case I find I’m a little hungrier. My weight has been low and steady for years. I’ve never had to *lose*, just maintain, and going 95% Primal (I say 95 because of the grains) made it much easier.

    Lisa wrote on August 10th, 2011
  36. Paleo man was dead at 40. How can you base so much on early man. Man has consumed grain a long time, longer than he has been using toxic salt. Do you have any scientific study that supports toxic grain. The arthritis society recommends grains, the Mayo clinic and on and on. Most Blue Zones use grains and beans.

    I say moderation! Balanced. I need to see one study!!!!

    Cam Watts wrote on August 10th, 2011
  37. My wife is an amateur authority on diet, but she would not ever admit to or claim that. It’s just over the years, everything that she has told me about diet turns out to be however true everything Mark says is (convoluted, huh?) That’s because everything that I read by Mark winds up explaining something my wife has told me. I can assure you that if she had the time, she would do all the soaking, and sprouting, and fermenting. She currently does make kombucha with these amazing mushrooms. Point is, I can testify that the time required to make grains worth eating is enormous. Sometimes during the few weeks in the summer when she isn’t teaching, she takes time to do one of these things. The amount of time it takes is unreal and not worth it.

    Ralph wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  38. If you look at certain cultures worldwide, like “third world” African tribes, or Papua New Guineans, the people are often quite skinny, but still have big bellies.

    Why?? A diet based on carbs, and not enough protein! The thin/bloated-belly look is a symptom of malnutrition.

    More protein, fewer carbs all the way!

    Ben wrote on September 29th, 2011
    • Indigestible fibers is what creates bloated bellies because the indigestible fibers keep getting fermented and fermented in your gut until the end of time (or digestive tract), creating MASSIVE gas.
      They also pile up and stretch the colon…

      They would need 4 stomachs to break down cellulose.

      Arty wrote on October 29th, 2011
  39. Okay, I’ll say it straight up, I’m here to vent only! lol

    I am mad at myself that after 1.6 years of eating primally I have now fallen off the primal wagon and rolled down grain alley!
    Been munching on freshly baked multi grain bread for the last 4 days and having a giant guilt complex.
    Also been binging on grapes like mad (it’s the season what can I say) and the seeds from the multi-grain and grapes together are tearing me a new one.
    Anyways, thought I’d confess somewhere, people around me don’t wanna hear it…lol.
    Back on the primal wagon tomorrow before the digestive time bomb goes off!!!

    Issabeau wrote on October 29th, 2011
  40. I’m confused on the soaking.

    With beans, you soak the beans and pour out the toxins with the soaked water. Then, you pour fresh water in and cook.

    With grains, the other recipe sites and books just seem to soak it then cook it. Wouldn’t this just reabsorb the toxins and be cooked into the breads?

    Jaybird wrote on November 19th, 2011

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