Are Spouted Grains A Healthy Food Option?

Posted: 16th March 2012 by tyler in nutrition, wheat

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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.

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  1. Tyler Simmons says:

    test comment

  2. Lindsay Warren says:

    Tyler,

    I have been meaning to ask you about ezekiel bread. I get a lot of comments from people constantly asking why I dont eat that since I wont eat a “sandwich” with them. Thanks for the clarification on the sprouted grains!!

  3. Lily says:

    I was wondering if boxed sprouted grains get rancid?

  4. Vanessa says:

    Grains didn’t evolve with us? I am not sure I follow.
    What were humans before agriculture if not hunter gatherers? Including collecting grains that due to the lack of a fridge would sprout in certain conditions? Isn’t this same process (collecting and carrying with us) what brought us kefir and yogurt? I am afraid I’d disagree with your foundations about avoiding (sprouting) grains.

    If you don’t peel potatoes I am afraid they aren’t toxic-free either, unless you are certain that your organic food is 100% pesticide free (last report was that organic is usually 60% pesticide free)

    • tyler says:

      Hi Vanessa, thanks for commenting.

      If you’ll look at what I wrote here, you’ll see that we agree on more than you think. To quote from the article “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.”

      What I’m saying here is that there has not been enough time and selective pressure for FULL adaptation to grains to occur. There have been some simple adaptations such as an increase in salivary amylase and metabolic factors influencing insulin sensitivity, but not any complex reactions that allow humans to really thrive off grains. This is well known from the anthropological evidence.

      Beyond that, most of the people that I help want “optimal”, not just “good enough”; across the board, grains have less nutritional content than tubers or fruits. So yes, some people can eat grains with impunity. But why even do it when superior carbohydrate sources are available?

      And I always recommend buying local and organic and washing your produce well!