Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sprouts: minimising contamination

Sprouts are probably by far the most health-giving addition you can make to your diet but even large commercial growers sometimes have problem with bacterial or fungal contamination.

If you are using Peter Burke’s method of growing sprouts, being careful not to over-water, and growing the sprouts in the sun will help against this risk. However, I have recently discovered that another way of significantly reducing risk of contamination is to add radish seeds to whatever seeds you are sprouting.

As radish seeds germinate they release antimicrobial compounds into the growing medium that inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Kohlrabi and red cabbage also do this, but not to the same extent as radishes.

Here are some of my pea sprouts luxuriating in the morning sun:



Sprouts: jars versus growing medium

I should have made clear in my previous post that Peter Burke’s method involves growing the sprouts in a sterile medium (sphagnum moss/perlite/vermiculite in precise proportions) in order to minimise the risk of any bacterial or fungal contamination, given that you are growing the plants in very crowded and somewhat damp conditions. (There is a thin layer of compost plus some powdered or liquid kelp at the base of the planting dish to provide the plants with nutrients.)

The book is well worth begging, buying or borrowing as the author has put a lot of time into developing a virtually foolproof method of growing highly nutritious sprouts that is extremely cheap and involves minimal time and effort.

What are the advantages over plants sprouted in a jar? To my mind-

  • less time involved in growing the sprouts
  • the sprouts are more nutritious
  • they last much longer – you just cut or pull the amount you require
  • you can sprout a much wider variety of plants – for example, flaxseed is hard to sprout in a jar to the leaf stage, yet flaxseed sprouts are extremely good for you

Here are my current sprouts – photo taken this morning. Do they look like anything you’ve sprouted in a jar or bought at the supermarket?



How to neutralise pollutants

It’s become impossible to avoid exposure to potentially health-threatening pollutants no matter where in the world you live. That’s just a fact of life. And while we need to develop a global society that minimises the production of pollutants it’s still possible to live a perfectly healthy life even in a highly polluted environment. The human body is amazingly adaptable, given the right inputs.

A hundred people can eat food contaminated with salmonella or the harmful type of e-coli (there are benign types too). Yet all of the hundred will not necessarily come down with food poisoning. How come? The ones that don’t will in all likelihood have a more robust community of gut bacteria.

Keys to overcoming environmental pollutants are plants, water, cutting down on unhealthy foods, and eating a wide range of organic leafy veges and soil-grown sprouts.


Plants help to detoxify the environment. Google “plants that detoxify the air” and you will find lists of those house plants that do this most effectively.


The water you drink is key. If you don’t have access to pure, chemical-free water and can’t afford to buy bottled spring water on a regular basis, do your best to save up and invest in an effective water filter that remineralises the water. Or make your own water filter – just google “how to make a water filter” and you will find a wide range of options. Distilled water is not ideal because the distillation process strips the water of minerals that your body needs.

Cutting Down on Unhealthy Foods

You don’t need to be told which foods these are! If you’re serious about your health you will already know that energy drinks, processed foods and regular consumption of fruit juices work against your health.

Feed Your Gut Microbes with Leafy Greens

It has only recently been discovered that eating leafy greens is essential to the health of your gut microbes – the benign ones that ensure you remain healthy.

“Every time we eat leafy green vegetables we consume significant amounts of SQ sugars, which are used as an energy source by good gut bacteria,” …

“Bacteria in the gut, such as crucial protective strains of E. coli, use SQ as a source of energy. E. coli provides a protective barrier that prevents growth and colonisation by bad bacteria, because the good bugs are taking up all the habitable real estate,”


You will know that vege sprouts contain nutrients in a far more highly concentrated form than the full grown plant. What you may not be aware of is that each type of sprout contains a different range of nutrients. Many of these nutrients are anti-carcinogenic as well as helping the body to neutralise environmental toxins.

Our knowledge of the health-giving properties of sprouts is only in its infancy but to give a few examples, a study published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry earlier this year found that an extract of radish sprouts neutralised testicular damage and restored fertility in male rats that had been exposed to bisphenol-A. Another study published in the Journal of Teratogenesis, Carcinogenesis, and Mutagenesis in 2003 found that an extract from mustard sprouts was highly protective against DNA damage caused by exposure to benzo[a]pyrene. Broccoli sprouts are also well known for their chemoprotective effects.

Growing Sprouts is Easy – and Cheap

Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 days by Peter Burke has revolutionised my life. It is well worth buying or borrowing. His method is extremely cheap, takes a minimal amount of time (no repeated soaking and rinsing of sprouts) and very little space. All you need is a windowsill or other small area that allows access to direct light. I like to grow my sprouts in the sun but direct sun is not essential. I currently have sprouts from peas, buckwheat, daikon radish, flaxseed, black mustard, and sesame seed, and I have a broccoli/radish/rocket mix coming along. Each type of sprout has a different nutritional profile, so the greater variety you eat the better.