Should You Be Soaking Your Grains?

Have you ever sprouted, or simply soaked your grains before cooking them? It’s a simple process, and there are certainly some great benefits in doing so. Soaking grains is just what it sounds like, soaking grains in water. Sprouting takes it a step further, and continues this process until the seed has actually germinated. Today we will discuss some reasons why you may want to consider doing this before cooking your grains.

What Happens To Grains When You Soak Or Sprout Them?

Soaking and sprouting grains before cooking them lowers the levels of compounds that are often referred to as “anti-nutrients,” such as phytate, lectins, and oxalates. These are referred to as “anti-nutrients” because they bind to some of the nutrients in grains and make them less available for absorption. These compounds can also cause digestive discomfort in those with sensitive guts, so soaking grains before cooking them may alleviate digestive upset in many people. Soaking or sprouting grains also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors. In grains, enzyme inhibitors are beneficial because they protect the seed from germinating until the conditions are optimal for its growth. But when we ingest them, they can have the effect of inhibiting our body’s own enzymes, which are important for absorbing and assimilating nutrients.

Some Reasons You May Opt To Soak Your Grains

  • If you have a sensitive gut, or experience digestive symptoms from eating grains
  • If you take medications that interfere with nutrient absorption, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • If you have a history of oxalate kidney stones, and need to lower your consumption of oxalates in your diet
  • If you want to enhance nutrient absorption from the food you eat

How To Soak Grains 

To soak grains for the benefits mentioned above, you can simply place them in a bowl of warm water. It’s also best to add an acid medium to the bowl, such as apple cider vinegar, yogurt, or lemon juice. Then just dump the water and rinse them before cooking. Optimal soaking times can vary from a couple of hours to overnight. Grains like buckwheat, millet, and brown rice don’t have very high levels of phytate, so they only need to be soaked for a few hours. Grains such as whole wheat, oats, and spelt should be soaked overnight because they have a higher phytate content. But soaking for any amount of time will still bring about benefits, even if you don’t have the time to soak them for as long as you wish. 

Other Options Than Soaking Grains Yourself 

If you don’t have the time or patience to plan ahead and soak your grains before cooking them, an alternative is to buy grain products that already contain sprouted grains. Some good brands that make sprouted grain bread are Ezekiel, Silver Hills, and Dave’s Killer Bread. Some companies that sell sprouted oats are One Degree and Shiloh. There are many more brands that make sprouted grain products, you just need to check the label! 

If you don’t soak your grains before cooking them, or opt for pre-sprouted grain products at the grocery store, it doesn’t mean that you won’t absorb any nutrients from them. Grains aren’t unhealthy if they aren’t soaked or sprouted first, and if you are already eating a very nutrient dense diet, it’s not imperative to do so. But if you notice that you don’t digest grains well, or you fall into any of the categories listed above, then you may want to consider doing this. 

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