“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!
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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 is the BEST way to reduce phytic acid in our seeds. This is an excerpt from “Living With Phytic Acid”, an article by Ramiel Nagel, the author of Cure Tooth Decay:
“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
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Jennifer A says
Well, when I saw your email I had to say, yes, I have one or two. Ugh. I’ve been trying to heal them and other things that have helped, besides avoiding sugars, are using my own coconut oil and baking soda toothpaste (when I use my husband’s, I notice a lot more pain within one day’s use) and supplementing with vit. D and A. Soon I’ll have raw milk to replace the store bought which I’m sure will help significantly too. I’ll look into getting some einkorn too. Thanks Wardee!
Is einkorn gluten free?
Wardee Harmon says
Agnes — No, it isn’t gluten-free. However, it has less gluten and a gentler form of it.
Is using a sourdough start to reduce phytic acid in soaked grains better than using an acid, like say, lemon juice??
Wardee Harmon says
Elise — Yes, it is, because it has the cultures that are far more effective at taking care of anti-nutrients. That’s why, when you compare the methods, soaking is the least effective and sourdough the most effective. Thanks for your question!
Elise Grant says
Sorry, to be more specific, if I wanted to soak oats for oatmeal, which would be better??
Using the sourdough will be more effective in reducing the phytic acid when using for oatmeal.
Traditional Cooking School
hi, was curious if sourdough is same as when you forget to put your dough back into refrigerator on a hot day and its left on kitchen counter for a day and turns sour, inflated and sticky? is it ok to use that dough for cooking(we actually throw it away!)
Wardee Harmon says
uzzi – I daresay you have a mini fermentation going there. 🙂 Whether or not it’s good to use depends on the ingredients. Did it have an acid (apple cider vinegar) or a culture in it (like yogurt or kefir)? If so, I’m tempted to say, yes you can use it. If it didn’t, it might actually have spoiled during that time. It is hard to say for sure though. Interesting question!
No dear …it was dough made with flour and water only.In some parts of our country they do use this dough to make naan(flat bread) but they have specific consistency and sourness.
On purewow.com theres a recipe for, so you can cook pasta in 60 seconds. They take any store brought pasta and soak it for 1 hour so it hydrates and cooks quicker. I wondered if it would be possible to use this type method to convert store brought pasta to sourdough/”safe” to eat ? I asume whatever you use you would have to soak for longer than 1 hour but what would you soak them in anyway would diluted sourdough starter work or would milk keifer whey be better ? Any thoughts anyone ?
Interesting idea! To reduce the phytic acid it needs to soak for at least 7 hours. We think you’re likely to end up with a gummy mess of noodles when doing it for 7 hours. We really don’t know if this is a good idea or not… You could try it and see but we don’t have any experience to say either way.
Traditional Cooking School
7 hours hmm I dont mind making homemade pasta its just they arnt hard enough for pasta soup I will have to try a 7 hour soak and maybe drying my own when its warmer. Thank you
What should be the ratio of sourdough starter to flour? I find it hard to believe that a small sourdough starter will remove a lot of phytic acid from many times more, in volume, flour in just 8 hours. I can understand that phytic acid will be removed in the actual starter itself, because it’s smaller and is quite watery compared to the thick dough which I assume allows for more activity in the bacteria.
And how much exactly is the phytic acid content reduced?
What about rye flour btw? How much phytic acid does it contaion compared to wheat, and how does the reduction capability compare?
Research is hard to come by. The most in-depth we’ve seen is at this article:
Living With Phytic Acid by Ramiel Nagel
Traditional Cooking School
Does the acid produced from fermenting the grains erode tooth enamel? Or if rinsed properly with water will this be eliminated?
I checked with Wardee, and here is her reply:
“I don’t know anything specific about this. I’m sorry. I do believe there’s more to tooth decay than just what we eat (sugar, acid). Our mineral balance, especially deficiencies, can lead to tooth decay, too. Diluting with water and/or rinsing right afterward should help if one is concerned, but again, I don’t know about this specifically.”
—Sonya, TCS Customer Success Team
In terms of making a good quality sourdough bread, health benefits aside, recipes often call for a cold ferment. If the dough was at room temp for 4-6 hours before a 12 hour cold ferment and then rose at room temp for another 4-6 hours, would that be sufficient in breaking down the phytic acid? Or can that process only happen in an uninterrupted long warm ferment?
While we don’t have specific data on that, our thinking is, yes.
And that’s what we do anytime we follow a recipe that asks for the dough to sit in the refrigerator. We give it time before and after at room temperature.
Also the starter we teach is best suited for room temperature. There are sourdough starters specifically for cold temps and I would assume they work even though it’s cold because that’s their element (though maybe slowly?).
This is all speculation, we don’t have tested data. 🙂
~Danielle, TCS Customer Success Team
Is store bought sourdough bread also phytic acid reduced. Does a bread making machine work with sourdough starter. Thank you
Store-bought sourdough bread is most often not true sourdough. If the label says it contains yeast is it commercial bread where they added some sourdough to give it flavor but the dough was never soaked long enough to reduce phytic acid.
We do not have instructions for making sourdough in a bead machine, I’m sorry.
~Danielle, TCS Customer Success Team
Phytic acid binds to minerals that make bones and teeth, and minerals are not absorbed. Sourdough has less phytic acid than other breads