One of my friends and I often exchange emails about his questions on nutrition and exercise and my thoughts on the topics. They’re always good questions and many people would benefit from seeing these interactions, so I decided to start posting them. Here’s the first one:
Are sprouted grains a healthy food?
In general I have my clients avoid grains. The overarching reason for this is because grains are one of those foods that are outside the human evolutionary niche and most people will look, feel, and perform better without them. A grain does not reproduce if it gets eaten, and it can’t exactly fight you off or run away, so many varieties have evolved biologically active anti-predation chemicals to dissuade animals from eating them. These chemicals can contribute a variety of health problems in humans.
Certain animals have been eating grains long enough to evolve adaptations that neutralize these chemicals, but grains are a relatively new food to humans on an evolutionary time scale, which hasn’t allowed for full adaptation. To be clear, there has been some adaptation in humans, which is why we see a spectrum of tolerance to grains; some people can eat them and not see any health problems while at the other end of the spectrum, certain people will die from eating grains.
Indigenous cultures knew this, and have used traditional preparation techniques (fermenting, sprouting, and soaking) to render them less harmful. Ezekiel grains are sprouted, which makes them a far better choice than regular grains (whole wheat, barley, rye). I personally don’t eat any grains, they are a sub-par carbohydrate source when compared to toxin-free carbohydrate sources such as sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, and rice.
If you really want to eat grains, stick with sourdough (fermented) or spouted varieties and closely track how you look, feel, and perform.