Should I switch to einkorn wheat?
If you love wheat and can’t easily let go then einkorn might be a healthy and tasty compromise.
Einkorn is an ancient wheat, so it was spared the aggressive yield-increase breeding of modern wheat and is therefore less allergenic and richer in micronutrients.
Importantly, the gluten in einkorn is easier to digest, compared to normal wheat, which has considerable health implications. Gluten is exceedingly prevalent in our diets, so it is worthwhile spending some time discussing it.
Gluten is a family of proteins that are present in wheat, barely, rye and spelt. They are long and complex and therefore cannot be broken down in the stomach to amino acids (the simplest ‘currency’ and the one the body wants) but instead to chains of proteins, which causes a few issues:
- these chains can injure the wall of the small intestine, causing low level but constant inflammation
- the injured intestine wall can become more permeable, allowing bacteria from the digestive tract to migrate into the blood and organs, causing an immune response (leaky gut syndrome)
- the proteins themselves can also migrate into the blood stream, and, since they are not supposed to be there, create a further chronic immune response.
These reactions can be severe, such as in celiac disease, or very mild. If your immune system is in ship-shape condition, it’s probably not an issue for you. If it isn’t, it might be the straw that breaks your immune system’s back (see a previous piece about toxins).
To reduce the potential damage you could:
- stick to ancient wheat such as einkorn
- buy traditionally made sourdough: the slow fermentation of traditional sourdoughs allows the microorganisms in the starter to break down some of the gluten and carbs, making it more digestible
- avoid commercial breads as they are sometimes fortified with pure gluten and are always contaminated with additives
- try to buy organic as this will avoid Glyphosate, which alters the microbiome and makes proper digestion even more difficult.
We have asked two outstanding producers to develop einkorn recipes especially for us. Julian produces a slow-fermented, organic einkorn bread (which includes 20% organic stone-ground wheat), and Carlos has developed two types of einkorn pasta. The flavour in both cases is earthy, wholesome and very satisfying.