One of the hottest trends in nutrition is getting rid of gluten in your diet. A growing part of the American population allegedly has a “sensitivity” to gluten, a protein found in rye and wheat.
There are a lot of theories, but there is plenty of contradiction in the nutrition community. Some believe that it is caused by genetically modified food.
Other research suggests that the sensitivity attributed to gluten may actually be something else: “fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates” (FODMAPs)
There is also Celiac’s disease. When someone with Celiac’s eats gluten, it causes a negative immune system response in their small intestine. Yet only a small percentage of the gluten-sensitive community have Celiac’s disease.
Making it even more complicated, there are gluten-free versions of many foods that would usually be made with wheat. But, while you may avoid gluten, the food may very well be unhealthy:
“most gluten-free versions of traditional wheat-based foods are actually junk food. Check the ingredients and you’ll likely see some combination of rice starch, cornstarch, tapioca starch, potato starch and guar gum as a substitute for white flour. These are the same kind of highly refined industrial starches that spike blood sugar as much—or even more than—white flour.”
So you end up avoiding gluten problems but increase your risk for diabetes.
Recently, we interviewed Bob Quinn on our podcast. He is the founder of Kamut®, which is ancient khorasan wheat. Unlike modern wheat it is NOT genetically modified.
Anecdotally, many people with gluten sensitivities, and even some Celiacs, have reported to have no problem with Kamut®.
Bob’s company has sponsored research over the past 30 years. It seems definitive, at the very least, that ancient wheat is more nutritious than modern wheat.
From the 1988 nutritional analysis done by Medallion Laboratory: “The most striking difference was the concentration of proteins and amino acids. The protein was 40% higher and the concentrations of 16 of the 18 amino acids normally found in wheat were higher. Twelve of those 16 amino acids were found in levels 21% to 67% higher than those found in modern wheat.”
It is also much, much higher in minerals.
“Nine out of 10 minerals measured were higher in the ancient grain with four of those nine being 31 to 90% higher including important ones such as selenium, zinc and magnesium.”
Finally, it seems to be higher in fatty acids.
“The concentrations of all four of the fatty acids normally found in wheat ranged from 78% to 257% higher in the ancient grain compared to modern wheat.”
Another study shows that the anecdotes of feeling better on ancient wheat as opposed to modern wheat may have some scientific support behind them. In a 1991 double blind study, “of 100 people suffering from significant wheat sensitivities; nearly 70% showed a lower test score for KAMUT® Brand wheat than they did for modern wheat.”
In conclusion, it appears that the gluten found in ancient wheat is more digestible and nutritious than in modern wheat.
For those with gluten allergies, is it really the sensitivity to gluten that is causing digestion problems? Or perhaps it is just gluten found in modern wheat. Or maybe it isn’t gluten at all.
If your kids (assuming they don’t have Celiac’s) grow up on a healthy, non-GMO diet, can they safely eat ancient wheat? Who knows. It remains to be seen, but the results so far are encouraging.
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