Friday, October 19, 2012

Einkorn, an Ancient Grain

I've been reading a lot about industrialized wheat, and its impact on human health from the book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, by William Davis, MD, a renowned cardiologist. What got my attention was connecting his theories and remembering two years ago when I gave up ALL grains from my diet... I lost 30 pounds and felt great.

When I was a youngster, both of my grandparent's families raised wheat in Kansas. I can remember visiting, and walking in the fields. The wheat was just over 3 feet tall, and lots was lost when the combines harvested the crops because many of the tall stalks had fallen over before harvesting.

So I did a little more reading on wheat. BigAg started to "improve" wheat around the early- 1960's, and crossbreeding resulted in much shorter (dwarf) wheat stalks with fuller heads of grain. The new wheat grew faster too. As a result, the per-acre wheat yield of modern wheat far exceeds the yield of old wheat varieties.  

"That wheat has been hybridized is not, in itself, a reason to think that wheat is bad. The bad part comes by way of a little-known situation that resulted when wheat was hybridized. Unlike with most other plants, when wheat is hybridized it is genetically altered by the addition of chromosomes. New genes that were never present in either parent were created. As a result, modern wheat varieties are profoundly different from the wheat that mankind ate for centuries prior to our industrial age. For example, the wheat mentioned in the Bible is most likely Emmer wheat, which has 28 chromosomes, while modern wheat varieties have 42 chromosomes." Source

By the way... "modern (hybridized) wheat" is NOT THE SAME AS GMO wheat!

According to Dr. Davis, modern wheat with its new genetic code, and the newly-created constituents that came with cross breeding, is largely responsible for widespread obesity (wheat bellies), but it is also doing damage to people’s bodies in other serious ways. Dr. Davis provides convincing evidence to suggest that, in addition to heart disease, modern wheat is a player in such diseases as diabetes, bowel cancer, asthma, schizophrenia, autism, hypothyroidism, and dementia, not to mention Crohn’s disease.

The earliest known ancient wheat, Einkorn, has just 14 chromosomes and is being grown organically in Tuscany (Italy) and sold in many product forms by Jovial. It's also now being grown in a small pocket in the Western US and Canada. According to Dr. Davis, Einkorn naturally crossed with wild goat grass to make Emmer wheat (with 28 chromosomes). Both of these grains are available today, although not likely in your supermarket. In fact, the 2-3 health food stores within a hundred miles of me don't carry them either, so I had to order mine online.

I bought a package of Jovial™ Einkorn pasta to try, and I have some Einkorn flour coming soon. Baking bread may be a challenge simply because using the grains is a bit different, but there's a good tutorial here.

I cooked the Einkorn pasta for spaghetti last night, and I found it really did have a slightly nutty taste. Other than that, it was just pasta. One other thing I did notice... cleaning the pot. All the pasta I have ever cooked has always left a thin starchy film on the pot, but the Einkorn did not.

Wheat is in almost everything we eat, and giving it up totally is really, really hard... no cookies, breads, cakes, hamburger buns, crackers, biscotti, muffins, pizza, sandwiches, breakfast cereals, pasta, thickened gravies and sauces... the list is almost endless.

It will likely be several months before I will really know if I can have some wheat in my diet (in the form of Einkorn or Emmer) and still have the benefits of weight loss and increased energy from my no-wheat diet of 2 years ago.



  1. i am interested to see how your experimenting goes. did you read this latest article?

    it talks about a few things Dr. Davis did not hit on in Wheat Belly.

    1. Chuck, I am sorry to report that I haven't kept up with Mark's Daily Apple since I strayed away from a basic Paleo Diet 18 months ago.

      I did go over and read the article you posted, and it's great information, Thanks!

  2. I had to stop using wheat years ago. I was able to do spelt for about 18 months, then had to stop that. A few years later I came across Einkorn at a conference and tried it and didn't react. So I got a hold of some to try. The 2nd or 3rd meal of it I reacted to. So that was it for Einkorn.

    Since reading Deep Nutrition by Dr. Catherine Shanahan this summer I've been trying to keep carb intake under 100 gr/day. I've lost weight. But for a carb addict, this is hard!! I do feel better with the weight off.

    As we raise a good deal of our own food organically, my diet is pretty clean. It was the carbs, which I didn't eat a ton of due to the restrictions, that put the weight on and kept it on.

    There's been quite a to-do about these grains and a researcher who was raising them on a University of Mass plot the last couple years. Seems Monsanto was on the scene but the grain was extracted unscathed, by cover of night.

    1. I may not be able to consume much of the Einkorn, but since I'm a carb addict I have to try. Having just 1 piece of biscotti once every month or two would be lovely!

      I did quite well at keeping my carbs under 100 grams/day 2 years ago when I gave up grains and legumes, trading the starchy carbs for green carbs.

      BTW, I just put Shanahan's book on my Wish List, Thanks!

  3. If you are interested in growing it yourself, Bountiful Gardens sells it (although they are out for the year).

    1. Good to know, although I don't want to raise it even if I can eat it occasionally.

  4. By the way... "modern (hybridized) wheat" is NOT THE SAME AS GMO wheat!

    Just to clarify. There is no GMO wheat currently being grown globally although it appears that Australia may just have approved it.


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