Did you ever notice the “little man” inside a split-open peanut? When I was a kid, I thought he was somehow magical.
Well, it turns out I was right!
That little man is the embryo or sprout, which, when germinated, is the beginning of new life. Just like the yolk of a fertilized chicken egg, it contains the nutrients needed to give this new life a good head start.
A chicken egg has a hard shell to protect that fragile new life, and plants have similar protective features, although they’re more subtle.
Instead of claws, teeth, or a hard shell, plants’ subtler protective mechanisms include phytic acid, gluten and other lectins, and tannins. These ensure that whole seeds pass through animals undigested so the seeds can then grow in the soil.
When we eat seeds, these protective substances prevent us from fully absorbing the vitamins and minerals our bodies need from plant sources. We simply can’t break them down efficiently enough.
Not only are unsprouted seeds poorly digested, thus hindering absorption of vitamins and minerals, but they contain naturally occurring anti-nutrients such as aflatoxins, which are bad for our health. (When it comes to aflatoxins, peanuts are the worst. I avoid eating them.)
Three methods used by traditional and preindustrial cultures for thousands of years to bypass these protective measures are soaking, sprouting, and fermenting.
Soaking softens the seeds so our digestive juices can break them down more easily, but sprouting is much more effective than just soaking, largely because of the enzymes that are released. Sprouts are life!
Fermenting is very helpful, too, by the way, which is why I encourage eating sauerkraut and other fermented foods. They help to keep our gut microbiome healthy and robust. To read my earlier blog post on gut health, click here.
Especially if you’re a raw foodist or a vegan, I hope you’re eating sprouts regularly. They improve the quality of protein in nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes and make these foods more digestible, helping your body utilize more vitamins and minerals.
Another food that helps with absorption of vitamins and minerals is my Micronized Purple Rice (MPR) powder. Milled down to the size of a micron, MPR helps these micronutrients get into our cells and helps with ATP production in our mitochondria. As new cells are generated, they are healthier, which helps our bodies to become healthier and improves many health conditions.
The commonest types of sprouts are alfalfa sprouts, often used on deli sandwiches, and mung bean or soybean sprouts, commonly used in stir-fries. But there are many other types of sprouts as well.
One of the healthiest things you can eat (other than MPR!) is broccoli sprouts. They have more glucosinolates — a natural chemical that helps protect our cells — than regular broccoli. They’re great in salads, on sandwiches, or added as a topping after cooking to hot foods such as lentils.
In fact, when eating cooked foods in general, it’s best to consume slightly more than half of your meal raw, because the enzymes in raw foods help your body to digest the cooked foods.
Sprouts are a great choice when it comes to the raw portion of your meal, because they’re loaded with enzymes — more than other raw foods. Did you know sprouts can have up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and veggies?
Sprouts go way beyond the common bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. You can sprout grains such as wheat, barley, and spelt, legumes including lentils, peas, and beans, nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, vegetable seeds such as broccoli and radish, and other types of seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
If you eat wheat bread, you might find that the gluten it contains can be hard on your system. Many people today are sensitive or even allergic to wheat. Much of modern wheat is highly manipulated, leading to leaky gut syndrome and a host of other problems.
Thanks largely to genetic modifications but also to poor agricultural methods, most U.S. wheat is simply not very good for us anymore.
To read more about wheat and gut health, click here to read my earlier blog post about why Oprah is wrong about bread.
Sprouting may not be enough to overcome the negative aspects of modern wheat farming, but it can’t hurt. Sprouted wheat bread is more easily digested because the gluten is partially broken down, so if you’re going to eat wheat bread, look for sprouted wheat bread. Usually it’s found in the frozen foods section of health food stores.
You can sprout your own nuts, seeds, grains, beans, and legumes right at home, thus increasing the quality of your diet substantially. To learn how, just go to Youtube and search for “how to sprout…” (seeds, nuts, etc.).
So, if you want to improve your diet quickly, easily, and inexpensively, start sprouting today!