As more Americans shun wheat in favor of gluten-free diets, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2013, gives insight into why giving up grains may not be the answer to our growing health problems. The research studied the effects of replacing standard whole grain products in subjects’ diets with ancient khorasan wheat, and found that doing so reduced their metabolic risk factors, raised their antioxidant capacities, and decreased inflammatory activity.
Khorasan wheat, known under the brand name of KAMUT, is a grain unlike most of today’s versions of wheat because it has not been genetically modified, hybridized or grown with chemicals or pesticides, so many people allergic to other brands of wheat can eat it without ill effects.
“This grain has not been altered by man since ancient times and therefore remains virtually the same as it was when first gathered from the wild when man first transitioned from a hunter/gatherer to a farmer,” said Bob Quinn, founder of KAMUT International.
KAMUT brand khorasan wheat is higher in many minerals, protein and lipids than modern versions of wheat. It is especially a good source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant, which would explain why the test subjects in the study measured higher antioxidant capacities after their trial period eating the wheat compared to standard wheat products.
Quinn explained, “We have demonstrated measurable and significant health advantages of eating KAMUT brand khorasan wheat compared to modern wheat in a controlled double blind cross over human study. Since these advantages deal with increasing antioxidant capacity and reducing inflammation, they may hold the key to combating two of the most common and serious diseases plaguing the human population today, heart disease and diabetes.”
Modern wheat has been bred without nutritional value in mind, Quinn said. Faced with feeding a larger population, farmers focused on producing cheap and plentiful food with no regards to its consequences on human health. An unanticipated result of this is an increase in the amount of people with wheat allergies.
“It seems counterproductive to me for the whole population to reject wheat altogether and its valuable source of nutrition because 1% cannot tolerate it or because most of the 15% experiencing sensitivities have not eliminated those problems by eating ancient grains such as KAMUT brand khorasan wheat,” said Quinn. He compared the recent popularity of gluten-free diets, encouraged by books such as Wheat Belly, with the trend several years ago of eliminating all fat from the diet, when scientists and nutritionists know that some good fats are beneficial and necessary to the human diet.
The clinical study followed two groups, one an experimental, and one a control group, as they either ate KAMUT wheat or standard whole grains during an 8 week period. After a rest period, the two groups switched places for another 8 weeks. Although the control group ate organic, whole-grain wheat, the experimental group eating KAMUT wheat showed better results in the mineral contents of their blood as well as improvements in their inflammatory profiles. Further research will study inflammation caused by modern wheat and how a diet of ancient grains can help those suffering from specific diseases.
“Most Americans think they must turn to drugs to solve all their maladies,” Quinn said. “Our finding supports an entirely different concept, which harkens back to the teachings of Hippocrates of ancient Greece, who taught that food should be our medicine and medicine should be our food.”
Written by Sarah Shultz, for Diets in Review