Put Down the Breakfast Cereal & Learn to Soak


Why Soak Grains?

You can soak grains before cooking or baking them. Soaking grains (and nuts, seeds, and legumes) helps to neutralize phytic acid, an anti-nutrient, present in them. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of critical vitamins and minerals (phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc) from being assimilated into the body. Phytic acid also inhibits enzymes from assisting our digestion. Breakfast cereals and other packaged foods have had all of the vitamins and enzymes stripped away, leaving the phytic acid to do damage to your gut.

Phytic acid = Locks Up Vital Vitamins, Enzymes & Minerals

Grains to soak:

  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Faro
  • Teff
  • Wheat flour
  • Spelt flour
  • All gluten-free flours

Polenta & cornmeal need a different process (soaking in dolomite powder + water)

Other foods that need soaking:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Dried Peas

Does Soaking Help with Weight Loss?

There is evidence that an unhealthy gut (with low levels of bacterial diversity), can hinder diabetics and obese patients from losing weight. This is because bad gut bacteria will take more carbohydrates from a food and turn it into body fat. Probiotics alone will not solve the problem, but likely a myriad of solutions are needed. Eating a diet of highly processed foods makes gut bacteria diversity plummet. The bran in whole grains (touted to be healthier), actually has more phytic acid than refined flours. So, if you want to eat whole grains soak them! Anything that we can do to strengthen the gut bacteria and help digestion is going to help with weight loss.

Grain/Nut Foods Not Soaked = Hard on Our Gut Bacteria = Tougher to Lose Weight

How Soaking Works

When you soak grains in warm water with fresh whey from yogurt (or lemon juice), it activates the phytase enzyme that unlocks the minerals and vitamins. Also, it unlocks more B Vitamins and helps digestion. Nuts have the highest amount of phytic acid of any food (other than cocoa), so it is especially important to soak nuts before eating them.

Grains, beans, seeds and nuts are all a seed of a plant, and that plant wants to ensure that it’s “baby” will germinate in optimal conditions for producing another plant and more babies. So the seeds are designed to wait for moisture, warmth, and rain (which has a small amount of acid in it, just like our lemon juice or yogurt). Therefore, all of the nutrients that we can be absorbing from the life-giving seeds of a plant are being blocked unless we prepare them properly.

Store-bought packaged granola, granola bars, quick oats, cookies, store-bought breat, breakfast cereals, and other packaged grain foods will have high amounts of phytic acid in them and should be avoided altogether. Try making sourdough bread at home, it is very healthful.

Side Note: Vitamin D and Calcium in fermented dairy products (kefir, yogurt, cultured butter, buttermilk, cream cheese) will help counteract the phytic acid present in bread products if you eat them together.

What is Whey?

Fresh whey from yogurt is simply the watery stuff that pools in a container of yogurt after taking a few scoops out. Furthermore, it is not powdered whey protein. Whey protein powder is highly processed with no good bacteria or acid in it to bring out the enzyme phytase. You can get fresh whey from store-bought yogurt or homemade yogurt. Just scoop some yogurt out of the container. Then wait for the whey “water” to pool in the yogurt. You can use that to soak your grains, beans, and seeds.

If you are allergic to dairy products or you are vegan, you can use lemon juice instead.

Step by Step Instructions

For Grains:

  1. Pour grain into a pot or bowl & add double the water (room temperature). Try to use filtered water, as it doesn’t have chlorine which kills good bacteria.
  2. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of fresh whey or lemon juice
  3. Stir
  4. Let sit in a warm place for 24-48hrs
  5. Cook as usual

For Oats:

  1. Pour oats into a pot & add double the water (room temperature). Use filtered water.
  2. Add a generous sprinkle of sprouted or freshly milled rye flour. Rye has the highest amount of the good enzyme phytase which helps the phytic acid decrease (since oats do not have much phytase).
  3. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of fresh whey or lemon juice
  4. Stir
  5. Let sit in a warm place for 24-48hrs

For Beans/Legumes

  1. Pour beans in a bowl & fill the bowl with water until it is up to the top. Beans absorb lots of water
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
  3. Stir
  4. Let sit in a warm place for 24 hrs

For Nuts & Seeds

  1. Pour nuts or seeds into a bowl & fill the bowl with water until it is up to the top.
  2. Add a very generous sprinkle of sea salt (not table salt, which uses anti-caking agents). Taste the water, it should be very salty.
  3. Stir
  4. Let sit for 12-18 hrs. In the middle of this time period, change the water.
  5. Roast on low 175° F or in a dehydrator for a crispy treat

What About Soaking for Babies?

Babies are still developing their gut flora and don’t fully have a mature system until 2 or 3 years old. So it is especially important to avoid giving babies the following:

  • rice cereal that is store-bought (make your own by soaking rice)
  • crunchy breakfast cereals
  • muffins
  • quick breads
  • tortillas, corn chips
  • whole wheat breads, white breads
  • cookies, crackers, etc. that have not been prepared right.

Babies do not need grains until 1 year old. Also, they need easy-to-digest foods with lots of fat (such as avocados, coconut oil, butter, fermented dairy) as breast milk is naturally 50% fat.

Soak grains, beans, nuts and seeds as often as you can and it will help your digestion and keep your family healthy! In addition, start slow and experiment with doing it for one meal you make, such as oatmeal or beans. Questions? Contact me on my website or twitter (@RosemaryPure1).

Rosemary Hansen is a published author on Amazon, a Traditional Foods Chef, and a devoted Mama. You can learn more about her Pure Living Course + nourishing tips at: www.RosemaryPureLiving.com

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making any changes to your regimen.


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1988 47:270-4; J Anal At Spectrum. 2004 19,1330 –1334; Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 1994, 42:2204-2209.




Rosemary Hansen on Youtube
Rosemary Hansen
Rosemary Hansen is a published author, artist, and Traditional Foods Chef. She is on a mission to heal people with eczema and other gut-related autoimmune disorders. Her book, The Natural Mama's Guide to Eczema, is about her son's eczema journey and how she ultimately healed it. It is available on Amazon in print and kindle. Check out her website with recipes, essential oil tips, and healthy living ideas: http://www.RosemaryPureLiving.com.