I have had a few questions about our Tooth Healing Diet, so I decided to write a catch-up post clarifying some things and adding in some information that I sorta kinda… forgot.
A friend was concerned that we weren’t eating whole grains anymore. We are still eating grains, whole grains even. What we are doing is transitioning from whole grains processed by factories that give little or no thought to the importance of preparation in this particular food group. Instead, I will be making most breads and grains at home. We will also be avoiding whole grains that include the bran in most cases, like oats, since the bran contains the highest amount of phytates in the grain.
The problem with the whole grain bread in the stores is that, because they have not been prepared as nature intended them to be, they actually carry anti-nutrients which nullify all those other great nutrients you could be getting. Eating white bread is like eating empty calories, since the parts of the grain with the most nutrients have been removed, but in typical whole wheat selections all the extra nutrients are simply cancelled out anyway because of the lack of care that is taken with the grain in production.
Phytic acid isn’t limited to dental health; it’s a whole-body issue. Since phytic acid steals nutrients from your body, it affects all of your body’s functions, not just your teeth. I was aiming to create a tooth-friendly diet, and cutting out phytic acid is included because dental hygiene is just one of the victims of our American diet that is high in this acid.
Also, I was going to write a more detailed post on what our new lifestyle looks like after our oat-purge. I was waiting to include my granola recipe, but I haven’t perfected it yet, and it could be a while… so that will be for a later date. We have basically gotten rid of all the processed food products in our home that include oats or oat products. This is for the very reason that I stated before – the producers of these foods do not make their oat products in such a way that makes them safe or healthy to eat.
We don’t eat a whole lot of oats in our home, so it wasn’t a big transition for us. The only food I knew I would miss is granola, so I learned how to make it myself – in a healthy way, and that’s what I use for our granola snacks now. We also eat oatmeal for breakfast regularly. Whatever oats we eat, I make myself at home, and I have peace of mind knowing that what I’m feeding my family is good for them.
So how do I ensure that our oats are safe and free from phytic acid? There are two factors to consider: the kind of oats you buy and how you make them when you get them home.
The kind of oats you buy is extremely important. If your oats are already tampered with in inappropriate ways before you get them, nothing you can do will make them safer to eat. Most brands of oatmeal and oats are already prepared and processed before they come into your home; that’s why it only takes them five minutes to cook! You want to find an oat, first of all, does not include the bran. You want the entire rest of the oat, but the bran is higher in phytic acid than anything else. If you get rid of the bran, you’re already eating healthier.
You also want to look for an oat that has not been processed at high temperatures. Almost all brands of oats are heat-processed, which means that they have already been cooked before they come to you. After the oats are cooked, your opportunity to break down the phytic acid in the oat is gone.
There are a couple of options here. The first is to go with raw oats, which would be the ideal. There is one place I found that sells completely raw oats; you can find them here. Unfortunately, for most people this is prohibitively expensive, our family included.
The second option, and the one we have gone with, is to find an oat that has been only minorly processed. The only oat I have found that meets this requirement is McCann’s steel-cut oats. They are whole oats, sans the bran, and they have been chopped into pieces instead of pressed. The texture is actually quite delightful; we like them much better than pressed oats, and you can do just about anything with them that you can do with a pressed oat. These oats are heated, but not to high temperatures. This keeps the integrity of the oat so that soaking before eating will still have positive benefits to their nutritional value. The best thing about McCann’s is that you can get them in almost any regular grocery store! And the price is competitive compared to other brands.
If ya’ll have any other ideas for raw or low-heated oats please leave a comment! I would love to pursue other options that are available.
The second thing we need to consider in making our oats healthy to eat is how we prepare them once we get them home. Oats, like all grains, require soaking to be digestible. If you don’t soak them, not only are they more difficult to digest, but they retain their phytic acid. The combination of these two factors means that your body will get few of the nutrients actually contained in the oat.
Whenever soaking grains, you should remember to add an acid to the mixture. The acid assists in breaking down not only the phytates, but also the rest of the grain, so that your stomach has less work to do. Usually warm water also helps in this process, so remember not to use cold. Every grain’s soaking times, temperatures and styles will be different; here is what we do for oats:
I use the hottest water I can get from tap and cover the oats. I then add either rye starter or rye flour to assist in the breaking down process. I leave it overnight for 8-12 hours (although it can soak longer). There is obviously more than one way to do this, but this is what I have found is easiest and gets me the most benefit for the fuss. If you soak your oats feel free to share how you like to prepare them.
I hope that clears up some of the vital information I’ve been missing! For those of you who are waiting, here is a sneak preview of my pantry clean-up. I LOVE how much space we have! You should have seen the before picture…