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How are fermented/sprouted grains not "ok"?

by (333)
Updated about 18 hours ago
Created June 10, 2011 at 3:12 AM

I've just gotten into paleo over the past 2 months or so but I'm doing a lot of reading. I just got the Primal Blueprint, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and Deep Nutrition from Barnes and Nobles. The WAPF and Deep Nutrition advocate fermented or sprouted seeds/grains. Are ALL grains not allowed in paleo simply because paleolithic hominids would not have eaten them, or is there a biochemical poison/explanation for why they are not allowed?

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3914 · June 11, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Ben, not really. I don't know that many people who are into WAPF specifically, but when I think of the raw milk drinkers and grain grinders and soakers I know, many are New Age hippies. I'm a traditional Catholic myself, so I guess I'd qualify as "super religious Christian" more than they would.

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78422 · June 10, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Buckwheat isn't a grain, for one thing.

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15976 · June 10, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Amen again, Aaron. On a side note, ever get a little freaked out by how many super religious Christian crazy people are into WAPF?

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12407 · June 10, 2011 at 1:03 PM

@aaron. i accidentally downvoted from my iphone. i corrected it. good comment...

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3914 · June 10, 2011 at 12:41 PM

I like the foundation too, and NT is one of my favorite cookbooks. There's a lot of good stuff in it even if you ignore the bread and dessert sections. My wife and I went through a sprouting/fermenting phase, having some fun with sourdoughs and all that, but ultimately it was too much trouble and still of questionable healthiness. If the economy tanks completely and bird flu wipes out my chickens, and I'm forced to harvest grain from my neighbors' fields to survive, I'll process it WAPF-style; but until then, I'll stick with easier and less dangerous foods.

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15976 · June 10, 2011 at 12:32 PM

@Jamie, I came from hardcore WAPF, too. I'm grain-free now for over one year. Yknow, on WAP, i consumed a good amount of sprouted buckwheat and it never made me feel very well. I know that buckwheat generally is considered one of the more benign grains but I always still felt not-right after eating it. Just saying.

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15976 · June 10, 2011 at 12:30 PM

nice one, Aaron. I was wapf for five years. Still like the foundation, tons of good info. The basic idea in processing grains in their way is to take something that is deleterious to our health and process it in such a way to make it less deleterious. Fine but why not simply avoid the item (s) altogether? I find I feel much better simply avoiding grain, be it sprouted/fermented/etc or otherwise. One exception: I continue to eat, and not at all be bothered by, sprouted corn in the form of Food For Life's Sprouted Corn Tortillas. I just need some starchy variety to accompany all my potatoes.

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2399 · June 10, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Great analogy about context.

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666 · June 10, 2011 at 10:41 AM

But the anti-nutrient-story, even though true, is a bit dodgy. As veggies, nuts etc. also contain these (nuts especially I believe). I just read this somewhere, not an expert ;) I read some good things about Spelt though, especially the old 'breeds'.

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1793 · June 10, 2011 at 7:18 AM

I think for many people they are probably fine. I seem to be pretty gluten intolerant, though I haven't tried any fermented flour-based stuff since going paleo. For me, I see no reason to eat it- I'm fine eating delicious, delicious potatoes, taro, etc.

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300 · June 10, 2011 at 5:00 AM

the main thing about grains is gluten (and similar substances are found in all other grains as well), and the effect it has on your digestive track. Bad MoJo. When I do eat grains (special occasions), I use sprouted flours, and I bring my own homemade bread and desserts to family functions. Then I feel uncomfortable and bloated for a few days afterward... LOL Remember, this is your journey. Best way to find out if foods are problematic is to completely remove them from your diet for a month or two (takes a while to cleanse your digestive track), then add them back in and see how you feel.

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300 · June 10, 2011 at 4:57 AM

the main thing about grains is gluten (and similar substances are found in all other grains as well), and the effect it has on your digestive track. Bad MoJo. When I do eat grains (special occasions), I use sprouted flours, and I bring my own homemade bread and desserts to family functions. Then I feel uncomfortable and bloated for a few days afterward... LOL

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3315 · June 10, 2011 at 3:32 AM

I've been wondering this myself, so I'm hopeful for a scientific answer. I know that sprouting and fermenting changes the biochemical makeup of grains and legumes, and I'm assuming that there just hasn't been a great deal of "study" upon these changed foods because they simply aren't commonly eaten. Personally, sprouting grains and legumes has made them more digestible for me (in the past, I'm not eating them presently) and I intend to reintroduce them at some point down the road to see what happens. For the time being I'm doing a fairly strict paleo experiment with myself though.

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3914 · June 10, 2011 at 10:31 AM

If you were a healthy person who grew up eating WAPF-style your entire life, with your grains always soaked or fermented, then you'd probably be fine to continue doing so. Especially if you weren't genetically disposed toward gluten intolerance and you weren't eating large amounts of modern gluten-heavy wheat, but mixed other more traditional grains into your diet.

But very few of us fit that description. We grew up on Wonder bread, mac & cheese, and thick crust pizza. Not only were our diets filled with gluten and anti-nutrients, but those were accompanied by large volumes of inflammatory PUFAs from vegetable oil and fructose from refined sugars. We're damaged, so just starting to soak the grains to remove some/most of the harmful ingredients may not be enough to get us healthy.

An analogy: If you're trying to avoid a sunburn, just reducing your time in the sun to short enough periods will do that. But if you're already badly sunburned and peeling, you have to get out of the sun entirely so you can heal.

Besides all that, soaking/sprouting/fermenting is a fair amount of work. If you like the process of baking, you might enjoy the work, with its various steps over time and containers of wet grains sitting around on your counters. But if you're just looking to get good quality, good tasting food into your body without turning it into a full-time job, steak and eggs are a heck of a lot easier.

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12407 · June 10, 2011 at 1:03 PM

@aaron. i accidentally downvoted from my iphone. i corrected it. good comment...

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15976 · June 10, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Amen again, Aaron. On a side note, ever get a little freaked out by how many super religious Christian crazy people are into WAPF?

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e
3914 · June 11, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Ben, not really. I don't know that many people who are into WAPF specifically, but when I think of the raw milk drinkers and grain grinders and soakers I know, many are New Age hippies. I'm a traditional Catholic myself, so I guess I'd qualify as "super religious Christian" more than they would.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e
3914 · June 10, 2011 at 12:41 PM

I like the foundation too, and NT is one of my favorite cookbooks. There's a lot of good stuff in it even if you ignore the bread and dessert sections. My wife and I went through a sprouting/fermenting phase, having some fun with sourdoughs and all that, but ultimately it was too much trouble and still of questionable healthiness. If the economy tanks completely and bird flu wipes out my chickens, and I'm forced to harvest grain from my neighbors' fields to survive, I'll process it WAPF-style; but until then, I'll stick with easier and less dangerous foods.

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2399 · June 10, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Great analogy about context.

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15976 · June 10, 2011 at 12:30 PM

nice one, Aaron. I was wapf for five years. Still like the foundation, tons of good info. The basic idea in processing grains in their way is to take something that is deleterious to our health and process it in such a way to make it less deleterious. Fine but why not simply avoid the item (s) altogether? I find I feel much better simply avoiding grain, be it sprouted/fermented/etc or otherwise. One exception: I continue to eat, and not at all be bothered by, sprouted corn in the form of Food For Life's Sprouted Corn Tortillas. I just need some starchy variety to accompany all my potatoes.

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9948 · June 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM

I never could fathom having to sprout grains just so I could eat them. I don't know what is the obsession with trying to eat a neolithic food that I know does damage to my body...soaked or not.

The obsession is so great in vegans that they began to sprout anything that would sprout because they perceived that the sprouts are always a good food source.

Then they started sprouting buckwheat and juiced the sprouts. They contracted a condition called fagopyroism...a condition that results in the skin being very very sun sensitive. http://www.townsendletter.com/Dec2004/buckwheat1204.htm

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10 · January 07, 2012 at 5:26 AM

I have been eating paleo for 2 years, and I do eat sprouted rice and corn. I also eat sprouted beans, sprouted rice and I use sprouted wheat flour for baking. Then texture is a little different from wheat flour and gluten free flour, but as far as I understand sprouted grains digest similarly to vegetables. I have had no ill effects from eating the sprouted grains, and have found several online suppliers. My family has slowly been making the switch to paleo, and these sprouted beans/grains have really helped with the transition. I eat 40% vegetable, 30% protein and 30% fat. This combination of protein, veg/fruit and fat seems to work really well for me, and I have lost 80lbs in the last two years through this change in my diet. I buy my fruit and veg at our local food co-op, this encourages me to eat seasonally. I also eat raw dairy/yogurt that I get from a local dairy. I have found that the least amount of processing is best. Good luck on your paleo journey. It changes your life, but in some really great ways. I have RA, Fibromyalgia, IBS and chronic migraines. This change in my diet has completely changed the quality of my life when it comes to overall pain level and inflammation. It is the best thing I have done for myself.

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2765 · June 10, 2011 at 4:21 AM

Not a clue. If you mean things like bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts... they aren't really grains that can't be eaten without processing. They are little green edible shoots that are going to become plants...and I eat them. Great source of sugarless, starchless, won't make me fat food.

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15226 · June 10, 2011 at 4:04 AM

My view on this is that it is just easier to say avoid all grains, rather than saying avoid gluten containing grains, and others are okay if they have been prepare properly i.e. soaking, fermenting, etc.

As always, Stephan Guyenet has wonderful insights...

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/03/grains-as-food-update.html

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/05/traditional-preparation-methods-improve.html

It also seems widely accepted that people with autoimmune diseases should avoid all grains.

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2283 · June 10, 2011 at 3:40 AM

I think the main thing is that most grains (save white rice and buckwheat, I believe), have anti-nutrients. The soaking/fermenting DOES help, a lot. However, they are still present. Because they are still present, they can harm the body. Even if we don't show any outward symptoms, for years even.

That said, I also came to Paleo via WAPF and still hold onto a lot of WAPF ideals and practices. I still have beans occasionally (soaked/sprouted)...I still do some soaked grains, although I always avoid gluten.

I am not a paleo nazi, and do believe there is still room for knowledge in this arena. However, I do think this is the closest thing to a diet that could potentially heal people of a lot of allergies/illnesses.

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78422 · June 10, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Buckwheat isn't a grain, for one thing.

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666 · June 10, 2011 at 10:41 AM

But the anti-nutrient-story, even though true, is a bit dodgy. As veggies, nuts etc. also contain these (nuts especially I believe). I just read this somewhere, not an expert ;) I read some good things about Spelt though, especially the old 'breeds'.

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15976 · June 10, 2011 at 12:32 PM

@Jamie, I came from hardcore WAPF, too. I'm grain-free now for over one year. Yknow, on WAP, i consumed a good amount of sprouted buckwheat and it never made me feel very well. I know that buckwheat generally is considered one of the more benign grains but I always still felt not-right after eating it. Just saying.

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0 · February 06, 2013 at 6:09 PM

I'm late to the party, but for me it comes down to nutrient density. WAPF likes to throw around the term "nutritious", and though in context to what was bioavailable in grains that are NOT ancestrally prepared, the nutrient availability is significant, in context to just about every other food source there is, ancestrally prepared grains are still basically a pile of sugar with very little nutrition. For me, Paleo is about getting all the nutrition I can in for every calorie of food I eat.

~Huntress

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0 · September 19, 2012 at 2:06 AM

not so sure foodies are seeking that which is easier. So soak away! ...Paleo has been helpful, up to a certain point, Ive had to start avoiding eggs, pork and anything more then a table spoon of fat or two a day... it looks like i have autoimmune hepatitis of the liver, and my body is waffling with a Ovarian Cysts diagnosis (sometimes i have all the symptoms, sometimes i don't..explain that?)...Anyway, I would love to get back into sprouts for simple variety, so is it yea or nea?

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1070 · March 07, 2012 at 11:49 PM

For most people, they ARE fine. They just aren't an IDEAL source of nutrients (and a bit of a pain to prepare) when compared to the foods we more commonly recommend like eggs, liver, salmon, beef, etc. But if you like them and tolerate them, go for it.

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0 · March 07, 2012 at 11:37 PM

I've come to this page with the same question. I see to aspect as to why grain and seeds should be unhealthy. First grains and seeds have a high starch content. Second Grains and seeds have natural toxins, all plants do but in different amounts. The thin is that the process of sprouting tricks the grain or seed to transform its starch into sugars which it uses as its energy source until photosyntheses is possible. So sprouted Grains and seeds have a vary low content of starch hand a high fiber and sugar content. The question as I see it is whether it's still poisonous, due to its toxins.

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