The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cool article on health aspects of grains

sam's picture

Cool article on health aspects of grains


A friend sent this to me.  Thought it was worthy of reposting.

What we do with natural leavens and soaking/mashing, are good for you.   It is neat how our efforts for flavor results in a healthier bread.   We are rediscovering the ancients.   Not to say they knew more about microbiology than us, but it is cool to me how our efforts for flavor have a healthy side effect.     :)




sam's picture

Not that anyone cares, but my rule for the past few months and onward, is:  

"No bread except for what you make."

I ain't claiming any miracles or anything...   but it's a good rule..   It means means if I want to make burgers, I have to make the buns.   :-)   It's a good rule to have.



bnom's picture

and it's a surprisingly easy rule to follow -- commercial breads aren't at all tempting.   I've been making my own burger buns and recently bought a meat grinder.  I may need to adopt  a "no burger unless fresh ground" rule.

Mebake's picture

Thanks for the link.. gvz! Feels good to be reassured that our homebaking is healthy and flavorsome.

FoodFascist's picture

yeah, erm... the author of the article is actually against eating grains full stop! Fermenting them at home is admittedly too much work for him! What he doesn't realise is that modern-day capitalist production of food has rendered virtually anything unsafe to eat. Even organic foods - you know what, I regularly see cows from organic farms grazing happily by the side of a motorway. Digesting all the heavy metals and innumerable other pollutants, including sulphuric acid, in the dust that settles on the grass they munch and the air they breathe. How on earth is that healthy?

Following this person's logic, no part of most plants, apart from fruit, would be suitable for eating. Fruit is generally intended by nature to be eaten by animals who would digest the fruit while leaving seeds intact (or mostly) and distribute that seed with their dung as far from the parent plant as that animal travels. That's root veg, leaf veg and stalks all out of the question, presumably. Yet even certain fruits contain toxins.

His logic is ludicrous.

It's not the eating of grains that makes people unhealthy. It's the deviation from centuries-old cooking methods for the sake of quick, grab and eat solutions.

Heating food in the microwave is probably more detrimental to one's health than even eating quick-rise, unfermented bread. Eating lots of meat (and lots may only mean more than 2-3 times a week) robs one of minerals more than anything else.

I eat cooked cereals every morning, such is the tradition of my home country. Oats, millet, wheat semolina, rice, buckwheat, corn can all be cooked for a healthy meal. I slow-cook most of these in water, then add milk, sugar and salt. Sometimes butter. I sometimes soak them overnight, not because I knew anything about the health benefits of soaking before this article, but because soaking makes cooking much quicker. When cooking millet, I change the water once or twice. Again, not because of any scientific knowledge, but because my granny worked out that cooked in this way, it doesn't cause heartburn. I'd say I eat as much grain as your average person from an "impoverished, traditional culture country". I also drink kefir. My digestive tract is healthier than that of the average westerner, and I know this for a fact as my mum's a doctor and had me tested inside and out like a guinea pig.

My toddler is also mad on my breakfasts, kefir and yoghurt, he'd happily reject any other food but not these ones. I think that may be saying something!

On a side note, if there's anything I would advise people cut out of their diet is fresh milk. In ye olde days, people drank raw milk which contains enzymes and bacteria which make it easier to digest (for calves, of course, but also works for humans). Not only does pasteurisation eliminate all that beneficial stuff, most milk these days is also homogenised which serves no purpose but to prevent the cream rising to the top and make the milk more aesthetically "appealing". There are some serious considerations regarding the detrimental impact of the milk fat globules broken down and disperced by homogenisation. One thing I know is, when I switched to non-homogenised milk, that greatly improved the taste of both my home-made kefir and my cooked cereals.

Beside homogenisation and pasteurisation however, fresh milk is still hard to digest for anyone over the age of two, as the levels of lactaze - the enzyme which breaks down lactose (the sugar present in the milk of all mammals) - drop dramatically at this age. This is the reason why many people are lactose intolerant, although most don't realise that (one may develop a mild stomach ache several hours after drinking a lot of milk and because of the time gap, you wouldn't associate the pain with having had milk).

Sour dairy, on the other hand, is very easily digestible. Firstly, lactose will have been broken down by bacterial cultures that convert fresh dairy into sour cream/kefir/yoghurt/cheese. Secondly, if that cheese/yoghyrt/kefir wasn't pasturised or otherwise fiddled with by the manufacturer, it'll have some of those bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms in it, and many of these also live in your gut, so eating sour dairy can replenish your own army of digestive flora. Although with modern-day technology employing acids, vegetable rennets and other artificial stuff to produce sour dairy, I couldn't be sure of the health impact of supermarket bought foods anymore. Which is why I make my own kefir.

Rant over.

Thank you everyone who's managed to read to the end of my post! You are heros ;-D

EvaB's picture

while good for small children and calves, isn't necessarily good for adults. I stopped drinking milk around age 2, it made my stomach hurt, my mother tried to get me to drink it but I simply wouldn't so I drank milky coffee, until I was about 7 that upset my stomach so I drank barely milked coffee until I got pregnant at 24, then I wound up drinking it black! Couldn't stomach the cream or milk in it anymore.

I don't drink soy, use soy in replacement for this or that, and the only soy product I use is soy sauce, I don't think that soy is good for me! It doesn't make me sick feeling like the milk did, it just doesn't do it for me. All the claims of soy being great for females because of phytoestragens etc, might be for ASIAN women whose genetic inheritance includes generations of soy use, but not Western Canadian who has very mixed genetics, but the more recent ones are Native American. Their diet was some grains from grasses, some tubers and roots, and lots and lots of meat, some fruit dried for winter consumption and made into pemmican for winter consumption, also the three sisters of corn (not the fancy sweet corn but good old fashioned corn) beans and squash, when I eat foods I grew up eating, lots of meat, cornbread, beans, fresh garden produce, I thrive, eating the stuff from the store with this additive and that corn syrup (an abomination as far as I'm concerned) etc, I get sicker.

I suspect there is a lot to genetics they don't know about, and haven't found out yet, but I believe we actually do better on the diet we grew up on. One thing I don't eat that we ate lots of when I was a kid, is macaroni, not Kraft dinner (my mother bought it and cooked it herself) and rice, both of which are big no-nos with diabetics. But we ate things like boiled wheat (brother hated it, I loved it) and beans, I can live on beans, and they don't give me gas! Its all in how you cook them, my brother used to soak his beans for two days before cooking them, no one ever got gas from his beans, and they had a different flavour! So maybe fermentation was at the root of that!


FoodFascist's picture

oh, absolutely agree with both of your main points - that it's best for most people to more or less stick to the traditional diet of their ethnic group (or groups, if they are of a mixed heritage), and that traditional cooking methods are the way to go.

We have developed genetic traits that help us cope with particular types of food that our ancestors have been eating. For example, people from different ethnic groups have different levels of certain enzymes that are responsible for digesting certain foods. A classic example is alcohol dehydrogenases, a group of enzymes which break down alcohol in humans and other animals. Native Americans, Inuits and some Asian ethnicities are among the notorious examples of people who, unlike most Europeans for example, haven't got a genetic ability to produce these enzymes and for whom drinking alcohol is extremely addictive with devastating consequences. Certain Asian populations are also unable to digest milk of other species, or even their own past the age of two-ish, because they didn't have a mutation which allowed them to continue producing small amounts of lactase past the age of two. Etc. etc.

However, beyond these genetic factors, there are other kinds of local biological adaptaions. A human baby is born sterile, inside and out. The first skin contact and the first drop of milk from his/her mother's breast introduce flora into his gut (the flora that will effectively do most of the work in digesting food) and onto his skin. Now that flora will be different depending on where you live, and this is another kind of local adaptation to local foods (as well as other environmental factors).

i'm not saying one should only ever eat what his or her ancestors ate, absolutely not. However, it would be prudent stick to one's traditional diet to a certain extent, especially for pregnant/breastfeeding mothers and young children.

thomaschacon75's picture

He could grow anything. His garden was like a garden of Eden; better-looking tomatoes, squash, cucumbers you couldn't buy at a farmer's market (or so we thought); sweeter watermelons never before existed. But the chemicals he used to turn Mother Nature into Monanto Nature ended him, having tumors in places doctors had never seen before (ear lobe! toes!)

I still remember the smell of the chemicals he used and the garage full of potential carcinogens. His garden pharmacopia, every variety of Round-Up, every kind of fertilizer, would have made Montsanto proud.


Cathryn K's picture
Cathryn K

While this fermentation subject is hot, let's also remember how folks in Asia first were able to tame the soybean so it was nutritious not toxic: fermentation!  We have abundant evidence around us in increasing numbers of soy-intolerant people who thought they'd eat soy to replace dairy-not a good idea unless it's fermented. So Tofu and Tempeh are the fermented, healthy forms of soy- but not the many other soy products now flooding the shelves touting their health properties!

FoodFascist's picture

yeah so far as I'm aware the thing with soy is that it's from the same family of pulses as peanut, therefore anyone who's allergic to peanuts (or prone to be allergic to them but doesn't know about it yet) will likely be allergic to soy, and vice versa. I think chickpeas are from the same family but I'm not sure.

The big mistake many doctors make when they suspect an allergy to cow milk proteins (which is different from lactose intolerance) in formula-fed babies is recommend a soy-based formula. This is very risky, because is a baby is already allergic to something they will be even more likely to develop an allergy to something as potent as soy. The way to go therefore is to try a hydrolysed cow milk protein formula (in which the cow proteins are denatured) in the first instance, then if that doesn't work soy could be considered.