(NaturalNews) In the previous installments, you learned how phytic acid in grains can block iron and zinc absorption, inhibit enzyme function, and lead to poor bone growth. In this article we will examine the surprising connection between whole grains and bone loss.
As early as 1949, the researcher Dr. Edward Mellanby, the discoverer of vitamin D, demonstrated the demineralizing effects of phytic acid. By studying how grains with and without phytic acid affected dogs, Mellanby discovered that consumption of high-phytate cereal grain interferes with bone growth and interrupts vitamin D metabolism. High levels of phytic acid in the context of a diet low in calcium and vitamin D resulted in rickets and a severe lack of bone formation.
His studies showed that excessive phytate consumption uses up vitamin D. And conversely that Vitamin D can mitigate the harmful effects of phytates. According to Mellanby, "When the diet is rich in phytate, perfect bone formation can only be procured if sufficient calcium is added to a diet containing vitamin D."[Footnote 1]
Mellanby's studies showed that the rickets-producing effect of oatmeal is limited by calcium. [Footnote 2] Calcium salts such as calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate prevent oatmeal from exerting the rickets-producing effect. According to this view, the degree of active interference with calcification produced by a given cereal will depend on how much phytic acid and how little calcium it contains, or how little calcium the diet contains. Phosphorus in the diet (at least from grains) needs some type of calcium to bind to. This explains the synergistic combination of sourdough bread with cheese. Historically, the cultivation of grains usually accompanies the raising of dairy animals; high levels of calcium in the diet mitigates the mineral-depleting effects of phytic acid.
In Mellanby's experiments with dogs, increasing vitamin D made stronger bones regardless of the diet, but this increase did not have a significant impact on the amount of calcium excreted.
Based on Mellanby's thorough experiments, one can conclude that the growth of healthy bones requires a diet high in vitamin D, absorbable calcium and absorbable phosphorus, and a diet low in unabsorbable calcium (supplements, pasteurized dairy) and unabsorbable phosphorus (phytates). Furthermore, the book "Cure Tooth Decay," explains in detail how anti-nutrients in grains can cause tooth decay. Interestingly, his experiments showed that unbleached flour and white rice were less anti-calcifying than whole grains that contain more minerals but also are higher in phytic acid. Other experiments have shown that while whole grains contain more minerals, in the end equal or lower amounts of minerals are absorbed compared to polished rice and white flour. This outcome is primarily a result of the blocking mechanism of phytic acid, and it is likely to be the result of other anti-nutrients in grains. Thus, absorbable calcium from raw dairy products and vegetables, and vitamin D from animal fats, can reduce the adverse effects of phytic acid.
Other studies show that adding vitamin C to phytic acid rich meals can significantly counteract inhibition of iron assimilation by phytic acid. [Footnote 3] Adding vitamin C significantly counteracted phytate inhibition from phytic acid in wheat. [Footnote 4] One study showed that anti-iron phytate levels in rice were disabled by vitamin C in collard greens. [Footnote 5]
To summarize, phytic acid in whole grains can lead to bone loss. The anti-nutrient effect of phytic acid is limited by consuming vitamin C, calcium from leafy green vegetables or raw dairy, and fat-soluble vitamin D such as from organic egg yolk or fermented cod liver oil.
In the next installment of Whole Grain Toxicity, we'll look at how to disable phytic acid with phytase.
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1 Mellanby E. The Rickets-producing and anti-calcifying action of phytate. Journal of Physiology I949 I09:488-533. 2 Creese DH and Mellanby E. Phytic acid and the rickets-producing action of cereals. Field Laboratory, University of Sheffield, and the Department of Biochemistry, Queen's University, Belfast (Received 11 August 1939) 3 Iron absoprtion in man: ascrobic acid and dose-depended inhibition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Jan 1989. 49(1):140-144. 4 Ibid. 5 Rice and iron absorption in man. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. July 1990. 44(7):489-497. * Cure Tooth Decay: Remineralize Cavities and Repair Your Teeth Naturally with Good Food