Depending on who you ask, or what diet you personally follow, you’ve probably found that grains have become a controversial subject. While grains used to form the foundation of the dietary ‘food pyramid,’ they are now completely shunned in some diets, and reduced or restricted in others. So what’s the skinny on grains, where skin health is concerned?
At the NAA, we feel there’s much more to the conversation than simply a ‘healthy or ‘unhealthy’ label for grains as a whole. We recommend that you consider the type of grain, its origin, whether or not it contains any compounds like gluten that could potentially be inflammatory to the skin and the body, and how it’s prepared, before adding or eliminating it. This week, we take a closer look at one manner of preparing grains—sprouting—to give you inspiration for including the most skin-friendly grains in your diet.

What are sprouted grains?

Grains (which are the seeds of a plant —think a kernel of rice or a grain of quinoa) that have been soaked long enough to sprout are called ‘sprouted grains.’ The soaking and sprouting process reduces a grain’s starch level, as the grain uses some of the energy from its starch to sprout to life. This reduction in starch can make the grain more easily digestible. Soaking and sprouting also increases a grain’s antioxidant and nutrient levels and makes levels of some nutrients, like zinc, iron, and magnesium, more bioavailable, likely because soaking reduces levels of phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors in grains that interfere with mineral absorption. Look around your grocery store, and you’ll likely see increasing numbers of sprouted grain products— from breads to crackers to chips.

Can sprouted grains benefit my skin?

Sprouted grains absolutely can be an excellent choice for healthy skin—as long as the grain itself is a food that agrees with your body. Sprouting wheat, for example, can make its mineral content easier to absorb, and make it easier to digest on the whole, but it will not eliminate the protein gluten that creates inflammation in some bodies. Any food that creates inflammation can contribute to unwanted skin reactions. On the whole, it appears that sprouted grains may have a lower glycemic response that unsprouted grains, which gives them an advantage for skin health, in addition to the higher levels of skin-nourishing nutrients that they offer. We think that sprouted grains can be a great addition to your healthy skin diet, especially if you choose sprouted versions of grains that are nutrient-dense, like quinoa, teff, and millet— and especially if you consume them in moderate quantities.

Want to learn more about sprouted grains, and sprout your own?

Further Reading:
The Everything Sprouted Grain Book
The Sprouted Kitchen