“Does sourdough remove phytic acid? My family needs to avoid it because of tooth decay and cavities in my children,” asks Wendy R. for today’s #AskWardee. I’m sharing my answer below!
From Wendy R.:
I need to avoid phytic acid for teeth/cavity issues in my children. If I use the sourdough technique, how much of the phytic acid is removed? What if I ferment and dry the wheat, then grind and use for flour? How much phytic acid is removed then? I would rather not completely get rid of grains and beans (but I will if I need to), so I need good info to make a good decision. Thank you so very much!
What’s the phytic acid issue, anyway?
Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient present in seeds (grains, beans, nuts, and seeds) that binds with minerals in our digestive tract, blocks mineral absorption, and leads to mineral deficiencies.
Mineral deficiencies can be linked to many modern diseases, including tooth decay and cavities.
Traditional societies that didn’t consume high amount of phytic acid did not have tooth decay or other modern diseases.
It’s simple to reduce phytic acid — use traditional food prep methods such as soaking, sprouting, or sourdough/fermenting. The latter is the most effective.
More About Sourdough And Phytic Acid
“Sourdough fermentation of grains containing high levels of phytase — such as wheat and rye — is the process that works best for phytate reduction. Sourdough fermentation of whole wheat flour for just four hours at 92 degrees F led to a 60 percent reduction in phytic acid. Phytic acid content of the bran samples was reduced to 44.9 percent after eight hours at 92 degrees F. … Another study showed almost complete elimination of phytic acid in whole wheat bread after eight hours of sourdough fermentation.”
Sourdough is, hands-down, the most effective way to reduce phytic acid in foods, but it has to be done right:
- Combine all the flour in the recipe with the starter.
- The souring time should be significant, 8 hours or more.
- The temperature should be warm — warmer than room temperature.
- The sourdough starter should be active and healthy, otherwise it can’t do the work.
In addition, it’s important to also consider that modern wheat has double the amount of phytic acid as the ancient grain einkorn. So if you use einkorn with sourdough, you have the best possible scenario for a reduced phytate diet.
So… What To Do Next?
Do you need to give up grains? What’s the best approach? Here’s what Ramiel Nagel suggests in “Living With Phytic Acid”:
In practical terms, this means properly preparing phytate-rich foods to reduce at least a portion of the phytate content, and restricting their consumption to two or three servings per day. Daily consumption of one or two slices of genuine sourdough bread, a handful of nuts, and one serving of properly prepared oatmeal, pancakes, brown rice or beans should not pose any problems in the context of a nutrient-dense diet. Problems arise when whole grains and beans become the major dietary sources of calories— when every meal contains more than one whole grain product or when over-reliance is placed on nuts or legumes. Unfermented soy products, extruded whole grain cereals, rice cakes, baked granola, raw muesli and other high-phytate foods should be strictly avoided.
Combining the research and work of Ramiel Nagel with the things I know to be true as well, here are my suggestions so that you and your children can improve the cavities and not give up the beans and grains:
- Use the sourdough method to prepare your flour or grains. You can even “ferment” soaking rice or beans by letting them go longer toward fermentation.
- The best grain to use is einkorn because it has HALF the phytic acid of modern wheat. We even have a whole class on baking with einkorn — including einkorn sourdough!
- Consume no more than 3 servings per day of grains, beans, or other seeds — always making sure they have been soaked, sprouted, or soured prior to consumption.
- Make sure you’re also eating a nourishing diet with calcium, magnesium, vitamins A and D, vitamin C, good fats, broth, lacto-fermented foods, pastured meat and eggs.
- Free Sourdough Starter Instructions
- Traditional Cooking School (for Sourdough and Einkorn Baking eCourses)
- “Living With Phytic Acid” by Ramiel Nagel
- “Cure Tooth Decay” book by Ramiel Nagel
What Is The #AskWardee Show?
The #AskWardee is the live weekly show devoted to answering your niggling questions about traditional cooking: whether it’s your sourdough starter, your sauerkraut, preserving foods, broth, superfoods or anything else to do with Traditional Cooking.
I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
When: Wednesdays at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
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Don’t worry. You can catch the replays or listen to the podcast!
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How To Submit Your Questions
Two ways! (Please do NOT add future questions for #AskWardee to the comments of this post because they might get missed!)
- Tweet your question to @TradCookSchool on Twitter; use hashtag #AskWardee
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Have you dealt with tooth decay or cavities in your family? What has worked for you to get a handle on it and possibly reverse it?
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