There’s nothing better than a nice soak… and your oats and digestive tract will thank you for it!
Soaking Oats: Why Bother?
Here’s the thing:
Oats (and other grains) are actually really hard to digest. They are seeds. Seeds aren’t meant to be digested.
A Grain’s first job is to stay intact through the digestive tract so they can germinate and start growing when they come out the other end.
Phytic acid is one tool that helps oats stay intact through the digestive system. It blocks the digestive enzymes in the body. Phytic acid also binds to important minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium making them hard to absorb. So, phytic acid has to go!
Soaking helps to release enzymes (phytase) that begin breaking down phytic acid. The body can then absorb more nutrients (and in case you’re wondering: yes, it’s a good idea to soak other seeds and even nuts before eating them too).
Should We Eat Grains at All Then?
I don’t eat grains anymore in order to heal my Hashimoto’s. So I get asked whether grains are bad for everyone. I know there is a lot of contradicting advice and opinions on this topic, but here’s my take:
There is nothing in grains that we can’t get from other sources (more easily and in greater amounts). Vitamins, minerals, and fiber can all be found in fruits, vegetables, and animal products.
If you don’t eat animal products you can still get most of what you need from fruits, vegetables, and plant protein sources. What you can’t get from plant protein sources you can’t get from grains either.
I’m not trying to convince anyone to eat or not eat animal products, but if you want to know my take, I wrote about it here.
That being said, humans have been eating grains for a long time. Many argue that grains have been part of the human diet since biblical times, so they must be okay.
Katie at Wellness Mama addresses this argument and touches on a few interesting points. One is that grains have always been a food eaten in hard times, not during celebration. This makes me think that grains are okay in moderation but not the ideal food. Basically a whole “junk” food.
Industrialized Grains are Not the Same as Ancient Grains
Ancient humans that ate grains didn’t eat the same kind of grains we have today. Since industrialized grains came around we’ve seen huge increases in metabolic and other diseases. So, the kind of grains we eat plays a part too.
Processed and refined grains = bad.
Ancient grains properly prepared by soaking and sprouting = likely okay for some people in moderation.
Which people? Anyone dealing with health issues, especially metabolic, autoimmune, or gut health-related, should question whether grains are helping or hurting them. And of course, talk with your doctor for advice for your specific situation.
Properly Soaking Oats
Soaking oats is fairly simple, you just need to be organized to get them soaking on time!
- Oats need to soak in an acid overnight to break down anti-nutrients.
- Oats are very low in the enzyme phytase which is needed to break down phytic acid. So that’s why properly soaked oats must include something to add enough phytase, in my case I use buckwheat cereal.
- Oats should soak for at least 12 hours but 24 is best, and a little longer is ok too. I usually start them soaking at night so we can have them in the morning.
- This recipe is also gluten-free and dairy-free!
- 1 cup rolled or steel-cut oats (gluten-free if you’re gluten-free)
- 1-2 tbs. buckwheat groats or cereal (I like this one)
- 1 tbs. raw ACV (I like this one)
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- Warm water
Add ingredients to a large bowl. Add warm water to cover and leave at least an inch of water over the oats. Cover and let sit on the counter overnight (12-24 hours).
When they’re done soaking rinse them in a colander under cold water.
Soaking Oats: How to Use Them
Now that you have some oats soaked and ready to go you can prepare them a couple of ways.
- Cook them quick. Place in a saucepan, add 1/3 cup or so of water or milk and cook until creamy (4-6 minutes). Add toppings or mix-ins too!
- Add them to a recipe. Replace raw oats in a baking recipe with soaked oats. You will have to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by roughly 1 cup per cup of unsoaked oats.
- Dry them in a dehydrator and use later.
- Make homemade granola. Yum!
Have you tried soaking oats? Have you noticed a difference in your digestion?