At this point, most people understand the drawbacks of wheat and why it has to be limited or eliminated from the diet. It’s not that wheat in its pure and original form is bad in and of itself, but due to over consumption, hybridization, and a high gluten content, there is simply no other reasonable choice but to avoid it for many people.
Or is there? What if bread made from whole wheat could be made healthier, to the point that it may even be tolerated by gluten sensitive individuals? There are three things to consider in making bread a healthier choice, and if one can do all of them, they just might be able to enjoy a little bread now and again with little to no side effects.
Always go organic
As with any food the focus should be on eating as clean as possible, but with wheat, it is even more important.
A practice that has been very common since the early 1980s in non-organic wheat fields is the direct application of Roundup (glyphosate) to wheat fields just prior to harvest in order to speed up maturation and create a consistent ripening process that makes harvesting more convenient. This direct dousing of poison on exposed wheat kernels has been very routine for the past 15 years.
Although some try to maintain that glyphosate is not harmful, it is starting to become clear that it disrupts the proper functioning of the gut and contributes to permeability of the intestinal wall, which can express itself in a multitude of symptoms including celiac disease and other autoimmune conditions.
For these reasons, any wheat product used for bread has to be organic. No exceptions.
Source a truly ancient grain
Modern wheat has been heavily hybridized (not to be confused with genetically modified), with the goal of increasing yields, warding off plant disease and pests, and doing better in certain weather conditions. However, as a result of this hybridization the gluten structure has changed significantly, which has conceivably caused the rising number of people with intolerance to gluten.
When a truly ancient grain is sourced, like Einkorn, there are three main differences that make it a much healthier choice, including:
Most modern wheat is a hybrid of many different grains and grasses, whereas Einkorn is recognized as among the forms of wheat that were first cultivated by humans.
Einkorn has 14 chromosomes, where modern wheat has 42 chromosomes, which changes the gluten structure.
Einkorn is considered more nutritious than modern wheat, due to higher protein, EFA’s, phosphorus, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene.
These three reasons alone make an ancient grain like Einkorn a much better choice than modern forms of wheat.
Ferment your dough
So now one has an organic wheat flour from an ancient grain like Einkorn which removes the toxic component of wheat and lowers the gluten content. This is an incredible start, but one more process will make the bread even easier on the digestive system.
This process is fermenting. Using a sourdough starter to naturally leaven the bread (which also avoids potentially harmful commercial yeasts), will further reduce the gluten content and activate food enzymes that make it much more digestible. In fact, research in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that when wheat bread is thoroughly fermented, gluten content drops to 12 ppm – a level that is deemed “gluten free”.
Although highly sensitive individuals may not be able to enjoy any type of bread, this is a perfect example of how an ordinarily poor food choice can be turned around into a much better one.
Get your sourdough recipe here.