The traditional practice of soaking, fermenting and sprouting grains has only in recent years been neglected as new technologies have been created and new forms of food processing introduced. We have forgotten the importance of this method of preparation in favour of quick and easy bulk processing.
Whole grains contain anti-nutrients and traditional societies generally soaked or fermented their grains to neutralise these phytates and enzyme inhibitors before consuming them. In effect, predigesting grains so that the vitamins/minerals and other nutrients were properly available. “Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Untreated phytic acid can combine with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption.” Our predominantly (unprepared) processed and whole-grain based diets may actually be leading to serious mineral deficiencies and bone mineral density (BMD) loss.
Most grains contain enzyme inhibitors (irritating tannins, complex sugars the body can’t break down, and gluten and hard-to-digest proteins), which can inhibit digestion and put unnecessary stress on the pancreas leading to allergies and digestive disorders. But these enzymes are a part of the seeds system of preservation, preventing sprouting until the conditions are right. Conventionally prepared grains still contain these enzymes. “Plants need moisture, warmth, time and slight acidity in order to sprout. Proper preparation of grains is a kind and gentle process that imitates the process that occurs in nature.”