Have you ever started talking with someone about whether or not to eat grains and inadvertently started a controversy?
Real/whole food advocates say to eat properly prepared grains because they’re so nutritious. Gluten-free folks are okay with any grain as long as it doesn’t contain gluten. Candida-diet followers need to eliminate starches, so most grains aren’t allowed. Then you have those who say to cut out grains forever because they were never meant to be eaten by man.
There are so many opinions and so many seemingly ‘good’ points of view it’s hard to know what to do. We’ve been there!
Our grain journey has gone from store-bought bread, to fresh ground, homemade whole wheat breads, to gluten-free grains, to a version of the candida diet that didn’t allow any grains. Each approach was brought on by family health issues and/or research. That’s why you’ll find so many different recipes here – they’re each from a specific point in our journey.
I’m not going to pretend I know all the answers, but while I’m convinced the average person eats *MUCH* more grain than they should, I’m not convinced eating grains is all bad. For many years now we’ve settled on eating sourdough and fermented grains in limited quantities – even with gluten allergies and a candida diet.
Because so many people ask me what we do and why, I’ve decided to share it here.
Step #1: Buy organic and non-modified grains
It’s true that people have eaten grains since the beginning of time (Genesis 1:29). However, today’s grains are not the same grains grown thousands of years ago. The two major differences are:
- They’ve been treated with dangerous chemical pesticides
The average American child carries four times the acceptable level of pesticides. Exposure during the fetal stage and during childhood can cause long-term damage, poisoning, infertility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system, and can potentially cause cancer.
- They’ve been genetically modified (GMO)
The US Center for Disease Control found that food-related illness increased up to 10 fold since the commercialization of GMO foods. Multiple chronic illness rates have also jumped from 7% in 1996 to 13% in 2004.
GMO crops are not regulated – there is no health safety testing required, and the U.S. FDA still refuses to label GMO foods. Yet, at the time of this writing, 64 other countries now require labeling.
Step #2. Cut back on grains – way back
Grains are the largest suggested portion on the ‘approved’ food pyramid. We hardly eat a single meal without them. Breakfast consists of cereal, toast, pastries, donuts, and pancakes. Lunch and supper are sandwiches, burgers, pizza, dinner rolls, and pasta. Even our chicken and fish is breaded. It’s like we don’t know how to eat a meal without grains.
Allergies are most likely to develop to those foods eaten daily, such as milk, corn, egg, wheat, soy, and yeast, all hidden components of many processed American foods. ~ Hampton Road, ENT
And with several allergy doctors telling us that we’re more likely to develop allergies to foods we regularly eat, is it any wonder that our bodies are rejecting grains?
Step 3: Properly prepare grains
Preparing grains simply means to soak, sprout, or sourdough them. Each of these methods are beneficial in their own way.
1.) Soaking grain
- Neutralizes enzyme inhibitors
- May begin to break down gluten proteins
2.) Sprouting grain has the benefits of soaking as well as
- Increasing vitamin A & C
- Decreasing carbs and overall calories
- Destroying lectins, which trigger inflammation and related problems
- May increase beneficial enzyme activity
3.) Sourdough – this is my personal favorite. Sourdough (a.k.a. fermented) grains have it all. All the benefits of soaking and sprouting plus:
- They help lower insulin response and ensure that blood glucose levels are stable. The lower the number on the glydemic index (the measure of how high and how quickly blood sugar spikes after eating a food), the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels. Sourdough bread rates a 68 as opposed to 100 by other breads.
- They lower carbohydrates (the bacteria eat the starch and sugars, making your bread products easier on your digestion).
- They break down gluten. Many people with gluten sensitivities can tolerate sourdough breads without reactions.
Travis, my gluten-free husband, regularly eats One Ingredient Sourdough Pizza Crust and Basic Sourdough Bread without reacting to it. (My sister-in-law who has not been tested for celiacs, but responds to wheat as a celiac, has also eaten pure sourdough bread and not reacted.)
After years of researching and reading, we’ve decided that the best option for our family is to purchase organic and/or non-GMO grains, to eat much less of them than the normal American Diet would have you believe is safe, and then prepare them in the sourdough method which gives us the greatest health benefits. We occasionally use coconut flour and almond flour for a grain-free option as well.
I hope this helps your grain-eating decision-making, and makes your kitchen smell like Grandma’s. 🙂
“No Need to Label GMOs” Says FDA
Five Ways the FDA Has Failed Consumers on Genetically Engineered Foods
Labeling Around the World
GM Foods are Not Safe
Living with Phytic Acid
Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread
Shared With: The Healthy Home Economist, The Modest Mom Blog, Time-Warp Wife, Growing Home, Real Food Forager, Cooking Traditional Foods, Tessa The Domestic Diva, Women Living Well, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Deep Roots at Home, Sweet Kisses & Dirty Dishes, GNOWFGLINS, Our Simple Country Life, Real Food Whole Health, Jill’s Home Remedies, Real Food Freaks, Food Renegade, Simple Living Mama, Domestically Divine Tuesdays,