Getting The Best Nutrition From Grains

How Industrial Wheat Is Processed


Modern wheat has been altered over the years through breeding to simplify its growth and harvesting, increase its yield and raise its gluten content for the production of commercial baked goods--all of which have rendered modern wheat more difficult to digest.

Even before they are planted in the ground, wheat seeds receive an application of fungicides and insecticides.


Farmers then spray with pesticides and fertilizers.


Sounds strange, but farmers apply hormone-like substances or "plant growth regulators" that affect wheat characteristics, such as time of germination and strength of stalk.


The long storage of grains makes them vulnerable to a number of critters. Before commercial grain is even stored, the collection bins are sprayed with insecticide, inside and out.


Heat damage is a serious problem that results from the artificial drying of damp grain at high temperatures. Overheating causes denaturing of the protein26 and can also partially cook the protein, ruining the flour's baking properties and nutritional value.


Food irradiation is method of preserving food by using a type of radiation energy. Health Canada permits the irradiation of wheat and wheat flour to prevent spoilage. Irradiation destroys bacteria, molds and yeast which cause food to spoil, and controls insect and parasite infestation.


Monsanto Canada Inc. requested the approval of genetically engineered wheat from Health Canada in July 2002 and from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in December 2002. To date approval has not been given.


It was not until the late nineteenth century that white flour became readily available. The process used to create white flour destroys many of the grain’s nutrients. Even whole wheat flour is compromised during the modern milling process. High-speed mills reach 400 degrees F, and this heat destroys vital nutrients.

Modern bread making incorporates dough conditioners and preservatives, as well as toxic ingredients such as partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils, soy flour, refined sweeteners, powdered eggs and milk that contain oxidized cholesterol. Commercially produced whole wheat breads rarely use the slow-rising sourdough methods that are necessary to break down the natural “preservatives’ in whole grain.

So, how do we avoid this?

Buy your grains whole from good organic sources and make your own bread,


Purchase baked goods from a small, organic reputable company or local bakery where you can ask key questions,


Look for organic sourdough or sprouted breads freshly baked or in the freezer compartment of your market or health food store.

Why we should sprout and ferment grains

The well-meaning advice of many nutritionists, to consume whole grains as our ancestors did and not refined flours and polished rice, is misleading and often harmful in its consequences; for while our ancestors ate whole grains, they did not consume them as presented in our modern cookbooks in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas and other hastily prepared casseroles and concoctions.

Our ancestors, and virtually all preindustrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles. One may speculate on what mysterious instructive spirit  taught our ancestors to soak and ferment their grains before eating them, but the important thing to realize is that these practices accord very well with what modern science has discovered about grains.

All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound) in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone density loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects.

Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. The simple practice of soaking cracked or rolled cereal grains overnight will vastly improve their nutritional benefits. Soaking in warm water also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amounts of many vitamins, especially B vitamins.

Scientists have learned that the proteins in grains, especially gluten, are very difficult to digest. A diet high in unfermented whole grains, particularly high-gluten grains like wheat, puts an enormous strain on the whole digestive mechanism. When this mechanism breaks down with age or overuse, the results take the form of allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, chronic indigestion and candida albicans overgrowth. Recent research links gluten intolerance with multiple sclerosis.

During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

Excerpted from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.

How to sprout and ferment grains

First, soak seeds and grains for about 8 hours. Simply fill a mason jar one-third full with any grain or seed. Add filtered water to the top of the jar and screw on the top with a screen insert or a mesh cloth held on with an elastic band. At the end of 8 hours, or when you get up in the morning, thoroughly drain the seeds/grain. Next, rinse the seeds/grain for about 30 seconds under rushing tap water. This is a very important step. After rinsing your seeds, make sure you drain or shake off any excess water. Invert the jar and let it sit at an angle so it can drain, and to allow air to circulate. If your seeds are left to stand in excess water they will rot…Avoid the disappointment of ruined sprouts by rinsing and draining thoroughly.

Now that your seeds have been soaked, rinsed and drained once, they will begin sprouting. From this point you should continue rinsing and draining 3 times daily until they are finished, about 3 days (60 hours): Routinely rinsing and draining sprouting seeds once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening bed results in successful sprouts every time. When the sprout is about as long as the grain, you can either use right away in Essene Bread or Pilaf or put in refrigerator till you use it. The other option is to put on a cookie tray and dry at 200 degrees F for about 8 to 12 hours. You can then grind these dried grains (bulgur flour) and use in place of flour in most recipes. I use 1/2 bulgur flour and 1/2 arrowroot powder.

The Benefits of Sprouted Grain Breads and Flours:

The process of germination not only produces Vitamin C, but also changes the composition of grain and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases Vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Carotene increases dramatically – sometimes eightfold. Even more important, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc; sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds. These inhibitors can neutralize our own precious enzymes in the digestive tract.

Complex sugars responsible for intestinal gas are broken down during sprouting, and a portion of the starch in grain is transformed into sugar. Sprouting inactivates aflatoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains. Finally, numerous enzymes that help digestion are produced during the germination process. However, we must warn against over-consumption of raw sprouted grains as raw sprouts contain irritating substances that keep animals from eating the tender shoots. These substances are neutralized in cooking. Sprouted grains should usually be eaten lightly steamed or added to soups and casseroles.

Excerpted from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, PhD.