U.S. consumers have ingested processed foods for many years. Even the foods found in your local health food store have had some type of processing. During the past hundred years, the human race has switched from a raw food or nutrient-rich diet to an industrial-processed food diet. This switch has played a suspected role in the gradual increase of disease and cancers. As the body attempts adaptation to industrial-processed food, it must work a little harder with digestion due to lack of enzymes previously destroyed in these processed foods. This extra work disrupts the normal function of the body and immune system that usually concentrates on fighting bacteria, viruses and diseases. Our fast-paced, multi-tasking lifestyles have led to consumption of pre-made food “on the go” to save time and sometimes money, but at the expense of our immune system. 80-85% of your immune system is in your gut.
Humans have always processed foods for easier digestion and preservation. Various ways to process foods are: fermenting, grinding, soaking, cooking, chopping and drying. Examples are sprouting, pickles, sauerkraut, dairy, wine and cheese. Due to the industrialization of our country, the loss of the old artisanal way to preserve food has been substituted which has led to a lack of nutrient-rich food. As quality diminishes, the food is less flavorful to eat, whereby factories must add HFCS, hydrogenated oils, sodium, processed flour, synthetic food additives such as MSG and others for taste appeal. These foods were not made to be easily digestible and nutrient-rich.
The industrial processing of grains is called extrusion. All cereals use this process, including those sold in health food stores. Water is mixed with grains and the slurry is passed through a tiny hole at high pressure and expanded into puffs and flakes. Oil and sugar coatings are added to attain that crunch in your cereal bowl. According to biochemist Paul Stitt, the extrusion process destroys most of the nutrient content in the grains — even the synthetic vitamins that were added to the grains. Lysine is destroyed through the process. Lysine is an essential amino acid the body needs for many functions including proper growth. Our bodies cannot manufacture it so it must come from food. “Not enough lysine can cause fatigue, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, agitation, bloodshot eyes, slow growth, anemia, and reproductive disorders.” What usually takes a few pennies for processing a box of cereal; companies can sell for $2-$7 at your local grocery store. There is no larger profit margin on earth. The profit helps companies lobby to prevent extrusion processes from being included in scientific literature and to convince government officials that there is no difference between untouched grains and grains that have gone through the extrusion process. “When grains are processed, the germ and outer layers are stripped. This is the nutrient-rich part of the grain.”
A rat experiment conducted in 1942, but locked away in a company’s file cabinet, revealed how grains affected their health. Rats that received a whole grain diet lived for over a year; those that received vitamins and water lasted two months, rats that received water and sugar lasted one month and the rats that were given water, vitamins and all the puffed wheat they wanted, died in two weeks…even before the rats that received no food at all!
Another unpublished study conducted in 1960 by researchers at the University of Michigan had a similar result. The rats that ate rat chow and water were in good health, rats that ate the cardboard box and water became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. Rats that ate the cereal and water died before the rats that ate the box died. There was more nourishment in the box the cereal came in compared to the cereal itself! About the cereal-eating rats, they developed erratic behavior, “threw fits, bit each other and then went into convulsions. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver, kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock.”
SPROUTING OR SOAKING GRAINS
To make grains more digestible, a process called soaking or sprouting is used. Grains if eaten “as is” contain tannins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. High level of tannins ingested is suspected in decreasing an individual’s serotonin level which may lead to migraines. Tannins may also decrease digestibility of foods and proteins. Enzyme inhibitors are molecules that block an enzymes ability to work properly. Poisons and drugs are examples of enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid reduces the absorption of important nutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium.
Sprouted grains are a raw, living food with enzymes intact, and therefore contains more nutrients and is easier to digest, according to the Agriculture Society online. Soaked grains are those that have been soaked overnight in water with some type of catalyst such as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt or kefir which neutralizes the phytic acid in the grain to render it more digestible. Both soaked and sprouted grains are full of nutrients needed by the body. “Those elements are made more available, because the process of soaking or sprouting achieves the following amazing transformation: Protein and fiber content goes up while reducing enzyme inhibitors, total carbohydrates, and anti-nutrient content which occur in all grains.”
There are many companies that sell grains for sprouting and even sell kits which contain a jar, lid, cheesecloth and an acidic agent. There are also many recipes that utilize soaked and sprouted grains. Otherwise, we can always snack on cardboard boxes!