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Saturday, January 31, 2015

3 Ancient Traditions For Healthy Bread: Natural Leavening, Sprouting, Soaking - Julie Koyle

As much as we all love a good piece of toast, it’s no secret that grain isn’t always easy on our digestive systems. Dr. David Perlmutter, MD., believes that we should nearly cut all grain from our diets. Although his science is compelling, cutting grains would eliminate some of the most important nutrients that our bodies need.

That’s why our choice of grain is so important today. Einkorn is easier to digest and more nutritious, which is why we love it so much (not to mention the delicious flavor).

Yes, grain does do some really good things for our health. If only there were a way to get the benefits without the assault on our digestive systems. Oh, there is. Besides the type of grain we choose, there are some very cool (and even ancient) methods for giving our breads a health boost.

In her book , Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon discusses studies by Dr. Weston A. Price. He studied groups of people untouched by civilization. These people have striking health and longevity. This is due, in part, to the fact that they have preserved ancient traditions for food preparation.

Dr. Price found that these groups of people – across the board – prepared their with grains in one of the following ways: Natural Leavening (sourdough), Sprouting, and Soaking. The following information is an introduction to each method. We’ll be doing a series of posts with more detail about each method, including the health benefits and how-to information.

As you probably guessed, this is referring to sourdough, also known as natural fermentation or natural leavening. Sourdough is a bread that rises without the use of packaged yeast. You’re probably aware that the way this works is the bread dough undergoes a fermentation that causes it to rise. It begins with a start that is fed and ferments. Then it can be used leaving a little behind to be fed and used again. There are many health benefits to natural leaven. Watch for the follow up post for a more in-depth look at this ancient techinque. Here are a couple brief reasons why we should consider natural leavening (More to come).

Natural leavening makes wheat much easier to digest because the fermentation begins the digestion process before it ever hits the mouth.

Natural leavening enables nutrient absorption in the body. The phytic acid is broken down so that our bodies are better able to absorb the nutrients found in grains.

As we know, grains are seeds that have the ability to develop new growth. There are protections in grains that keep them from growing until conditions are perfect. If we provide those conditions, grains will crack open and begin to sprout. Here is where we stop the process and use the grain as we usually do. Again, you may be asking, “Why would we do that?” Sprouting also has some great health benefits that improve the track record of the grains that make up such a large part of our diets.

Grains that are barely on their way to becoming a new plant are easier to digest. It makes sense considering that the toughness is being broken down in favor of a new, tender plant.

Catching a plant at this stage means catching all the nutrients necessary for growth. Not only that, the process makes those nutrients more accessible for our bodies. Another important factor is that there are many nutrients that aren’t available in grains until they germinate. An important one is vitamin C.

For a list of studies done on the health benefits of sprouting go here.

Soaking is another process that improves the healthiness of grains. This provides the conditions for germination that alters the grain enough to make it better for our bodies. Grains can be soaked in water or water mixed with things like salt or something acidic like yogurt, whey or lemon juice.  Again, why?

Soaking breaks down gluten which is one of our digestive system’s main enemies. It’s another example of how we partially digest the grain before consuming it. It also has the power to neutralize toxins that clutter our colons.

Soaking is another way that phytic acid can be broken down so that our bodies are able to have full access to the nutrients found in grains.Also, this process that directs the grain towards germination facilitates the creation of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that our body needs to function properly.

Well that was a very brief introduction so look forward to our upcoming series of posts with more detail about each method.


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