As promised, for today I laid out steps how to reduce phytic acid through soaking, sprouting and fermentation.
Need to add – besides binding minerals in your body, phytic acid also binds certain proteins, starches, amino acids and enzymes. Therefore, it makes even more sense to be cautious around the naughty thing.
All three methods – soaking, sprouting and fermentation – “wake up” or activate phytase. Phytase in turn breaks phytic acid via a chemical reaction. How exactly? It cleaves the parts that bind minerals – phosphates (arms) – from the rest of the molecule. This changes their chemistry blocking ability to bind. In fact, phosphates become phosphoric acid*. The stuff that remains becomes inositol. Once phosphates are abstracted, phosphorus and any bound minerals are released, the very thing that you want to happen. Yes, in plants, phytic acid can exist already bound to a mineral or two – in this form it is called phytate.
Your body does neutralize phytic acid but only a tiny amount, so give it a hand by soaking, sprouting and fermenting all your seed foods. I didn’t make the steps overly detailed but you will get the main idea.
1. Fill a bowl with warm filtered water. Add 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Keep in mind that the optimal pH for soaking is between 5 and 6. When soaking nuts and seeds, add some salt as well.
2. Rinse seeds with filtered water and put them in. Make sure they are completely submerged.
3. Don’t cover a bowl with anything! This study noticed that light helps to activate more phytase. Leave it standing in warm light place for the next 24 hours. According to 2006 German findings, generally, the best temperature for soaking is between 45°C (113°F) and 65 °C . I don’t know where it can be that hot in a house but on a kitchen counter is good enough.
4. Change water and rinse seeds every 12 hours.
Usually, 24 hours is enough for majority of grains, nuts, beans and seeds. The longer the soaking time, the more phytic acid is removed. I guess hold the seeds just before they go bad, you will need to find that “golden middle”.
Soaking is not invention of “new age” or green revolution nor it is an outcome of obsession with healthy eating. Has been around for awhile. For instance, before putting nuts and seeds in their mouth, the indigenous people of Central America first soaked them in salt water, then dehydrated in the sun, then ground and then finally cooked them! They took advantage of the precious knowledge passed from one generation to another and were perfectly fine without PubMed 🙂 . Also, don’t say you spend a lot of time preparing your food!
After soaking you need to expose seeds to air and leave them just a little bit of water. Sprouting can be easily done without specifically designed sprouters. However, they do make the process easier and yield more per batch.
1. Rinse a mason jar with boiling water to kill off any bad bacteria. Pick the size according to the type and amount of seeds you want to sprout. Just remember that sprouting doubles or triples the volume of food.
2. First, soak the seeds of your choice for 12 hours. Then rinse them and put into a jar. Fix the cheesecloth over top with an elastic band or put some kind of a sprouting lid on.
4. Place a jar upside down into some container. A bowl or pot works. Put it at a slight angle, so that air can get in and water can get out.
5. Re-rinse seeds several times per day with filtered water and return a jar to the tilted position. In the next 24-48 hours you should see the tiny tails erupting.
Similar to soaking, the longer the germination time, the more phytic acid is removed, so preferably wait until the tails are longer than just a few millimeters. Some seeds may need up to 5-10 days to sprout – brown rice is very slow, for example. For sprouts to emerge, seeds should be truly raw. And not all seeds would sprout even if they are labeled “raw”, like cashews and hulled hemp seeds. Store-bought wild rice doesn’t sprout either.
Make America great again, kidding, make seeds hard again
Once soaked or sprouted, nuts and seeds are soft. If you really want the original crunchy texture, dehydrate them at “keep warm” mode in a stove or dehydrator. This way they can be stored for longer time too. Otherwise, store them covered in the fridge.
Before you ferment your grains and legumes, soak them first for 12-24 hours. If your goal to remove as much phytic acid as possible, sprouting them is even better. You need a bacterial culture. You can either make your own, use brine from a good-quality ferment, use sourdough rye culture or any vegetable starter culture.
1. Rinse your seeds and place into a jar.
2. Prepare a fermenting liquid – mix warm water, bacterial culture and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture into a jar just to cover the seeds.
3. Cover the jar with something transparent and let it stand in a warm, light place. When bubbles start to develop, stir the mixture occasionally to release the accumulated gas.
Hold until the seeds have a pleasant sour taste and even softer texture. Although the time varies with the type of seeds and bacterial culture, fermentation usually takes a few days.
Rye flour to the rescue
To add additional phytase enzyme and thus eliminate more phytic acid, add freshly ground rye flour to the fermenting liquid. Rye flour has more phytase than any other grain known. In this experiment, soaking corn with 10% of whole rye flour resulted in a complete elimination of phytic acid in six hours! For your reference, corn is quite high in phytic acid and low in phytase.
According to Ramiel Nagel, the author of Cure Tooth Decay book, rye is powerful. He claims that you can “bring the phytic acid in your diet to the absolute minimum by adding freshly ground rye flour or a sourdough rye culture” to grains or whatever you are trying to dephytinize and then soak them in acidic medium with some kind of bacterial culture added.
In much the same way (adding bacterial culture, acid and freshly grounded rye flour) you can ferment any flour made from unsprouted seeds. For example, coconut flour. There is no such thing as “sprouted coconut floor” and dry coconut does contain some phytic acid. Fresh coconut does too, but has less impact on mineral bioavailability. In regards to nut and grain flours, try to consume only those that are made from sprouted seeds. However, if you have unsprouted almond or teff flour hidden somewhere in your pantry, don’t be lazy, ferment it before eating. In the name of your teeth and “I feel awesome today”!
Like soaking and sprouting, people started to notice the benefits of fermented food a long time ago. Again, a corny example – to make flat bread, native Americans fermented cooked corn meal for two weeks!
If interested in details how the processes of soaking, sprouting and fermentation remove phytic acid, have a read here.
Any confusion or suggestions? Let me know!
* Synthetically-created phosphoric acid is put into coke to prevent the growth of bacteria which otherwise would multiply into billions among the sugary heaven!
Ramiel Nagel. Cure Tooth Decay. 2011 (e-book)