Monday, January 9, 2012

When wholesome grains spell trouble?

A good friend of mine, Violet,
recently drew my attention to some 'troubling' issues
about the consumption of whole grains.

According to an article she read,
improper consumption of whole grains
may cause problems like:
- indigestion/mal-digestion 
  (due to high fibre and enzyme inhibitors)
- minerals mal-absoprtion 
  (due to high fibre and phytates)
- intoxication 
  (due to rancidity)

It's very true!

Although whole grains is more nutritious and healthier
than refined grains,
it's important to learn the proper ways to consume whole grains
to avoid some unnecessary "side-effects".

To circumvent/solve the problems above, one may consider
doing the followings:

(A) Storage
> store at cool and dry place.

~ whole grains contains a lot of good fats
   (which white refined grains do not have
   after polishing away the brain and germ layers).
   But these good fats easily go rancid if stored under heat, direct sunlight
   and high humidity.
   Hence it's important to ensure the proper storage of these grains
   in dark, dehumified container away from heated spot of the kitchen.
   This will also prevent the growth of microscopic mould on the grains
   which is very toxic to our liver.

(B) Preparation
> soak, germinate/sprout the grains prior to consumption.
~ all whole graisns/seeds contain enzyme inhibitors, phytates
   and other toxins that causes digestive and absorption problems.
   This is part of the plan of nature,
   to protect the seeds so that
   they do not anyhow get gobbled up by animals
   to ensure their survival.
   But we human could use a bit of intellect
   to render these seeds suitable for consumption,
   by soaking to remove phytates
   by germinating/sprouting to degrade away enzyme inhibitors and other toxins.
   Therefore, in order reap the wholesome benefits of whole grains,
   we have to invest some effort. -- But it's very worth it!

(C) Consumption
> improve digestibility/absoprtion and minimise acidity by:
     i. adding more water content (e.g. congee, plant milk, soup) 
     ii. low heat treatment (e.g. light toasting prior to making buckwheat tea) 
     iii. grinding into powder (e.g. brown rice powder)
     iv. fermentation (e.g. miso, rejuvelac) 
     v. complement with fresh juices (for alkalising purpose)
~ all the approaches above not only will help mitigate digestibility and absoption issue,
   but will also introduce more variety of dishes!

(D) Combination
> consume various types of grains but consume 1 type of grain at one time
~ each type of grain are 'made different,
   hence they have different nutritional profiles,
   having their own 'strength' and 'weakness'.
   Eating a variety of grains will help compensate
   each other's imperfections and synergise their strengths.
   However, if we eat different grains blindly in one meal,
   that may cause indigestion,
   as different grains may need different enzymes to digest in our gut.
   Therefore, it's advisable to eat each different types of grains separately
   for maximum digestibility.

Hope this posting will help clear the worries about the "side-effects" of whole grains
as well as offer some ideas on how to make small improvement in their daily diet =)

Bon apetit!
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}


  1. Hi Kee Yew
    Thanks so much for the sharing of such invaluable info.
    Regarding the storage (A), will it be good to add a piece of charcoal which acts as a dehumiifier?
    Regarding consumption (C)(iii), does it mean soak or sprout and then grind to powder? What can we use it for?

  2. Hi JK,

    (A) charcoal is a good idea, at least for purification, but I am not sure how effective it is as dehumidifier tho'. Try vacuum container instead =)

    (C)yes, can soak/sprout prior to grinding/blending. But when it's soaked/sprouted, it's usually wet and hard to grind into powder (it will turn into paste instead), unless the sprouted/soaked seeds are dehydrated prior to grinding. It also depends on the culinary need :)


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