Honeychick Homestead

Homestead, Health, and Happiness

Wheat – What’s good about it? What’s bad about it?

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My first presentation at The 2015 Heirloom Exposition was an interesting talk by Robert M. Quinn, who is a farmer with a PhD. He is passionate about ancient wheat and sharing why he believes we need to get back to growing wheat that focuses on high nutrition, instead of high yields. He believes our society is well fed but not well nourished. I totally agree!

He previously used conventional farming methods to grow modern wheat and realized he was spending his entire  farm subsidy check on herbicides. When he switched to organic farming methods, he saved money! He believes it’s important that we return to building healthy, mineral rich soil that feeds the plants and makes the food more nutritious for us. You can find out more on his website kamut.com

He posed some good questions, like, “Why daily bread become deadly?” and “Are wheat and gluten-free diets a fad?”

Robert pointed out that many can’t eat modern wheat but they tolerate ancient wheat; and when you look at the data, truly only 1% of the population has Celiac disease and roughly 12-20% have wheat sensitivity. Some studies suggest the issue may really a sensitively to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Round Up, which is used heavily on conventional wheat. This all made sense, since I’ve learned similar information during my first session at Bauman College.

Here’s a few of the things that have changed in the past 50 years when it comes to growing and producing wheat, he believes these issues also could be contributing to wheat and gluten sensitivity.

The seed, the way it’s grown, they way it is processed, and how we eat it is now all based on high-speed, low-cost production. He shared that beginning in the 70’s the goal for wheat farming was increased yields, more resistance to disease and bugs and to quickly increase the size of the bread loaf.

We now have harder bran with more protein but antioxidants have been subtracted, so it is a less resistant starch and it seems modern wheat now causes inflammation.

He suggested that one of the main problems is the changes that were made to the modern wheat  seed, and also believes high-speed processing is an issue. Modern bread is made very quickly and usually has fast rising yeast and/or extra gluten added to quickly produce a loaf of bread. Fifty years ago, bread making was a slower process that often used a sourdough starter that helped pre-digest the flour making it easier for us to digest. This process does take longer but the result is a healthier and more nutritious bread.

His recommended solution is that we avoid modern wheat and change focus from high yield to high nutrition

Robert felt it was important to address some criticism regarding his decision to trademark the name “kamut” because many people claim he’s doing the same things as Monsanto. Here’s how their trademark is different from Monsanto.

They claim no ownership of grain take full responsibility of product

They charge farmers nothing to use the product

They requires farmers to be organic to use the product

They provide an organic field advisor as no cost

They will show organic agriculture will feed the world

The will show their organic farms will help heal earth

His farm has partnered with two universities in Italy, The University of Bologna and University of Florence. They spend roughly $300,000 of their budget on research, which is a very small amount compared to most major research firms. Their research efforts look for small subtle differences in the grain that make huge differences to the body.  They’ve completed 1 rat study and 5 human studies, you can read more about their studies here.

He briefly shared some of the surprising findings of their research comparing ancient wheat (kamut) to modern wheat (a mix of white and wheat bread). Their human studies typically use 30-40 people and the results are consistent, even though they use a small pool of people.

Their first human study focused on a group at risk for cardiovascular disease but otherwise healthy.  This was a double-blind study that lasted 16 weeks, for 8 weeks the subjects ate recipes prepared with modern wheat and then the following 8 weeks ate the same recipes prepared with ancient wheat.

What they found was ancient wheat reduced cardiovascular disease risk, lowered their LDL cholesterol by 8%, and their blood contained threes times as much potassium and magnesium. It also showed oxidative stress reduced by ancient wheat and their cytokines markers showed signs of decreased inflammation.

Another human study involved people who had Irritable Bowel Syndrome, they chose IBS because it affects roughly 20% of US population, this was another 16 week, double-blind study.

While consuming ancient wheat they experienced less abdominal pain, less bloating, with these two symptoms almost disappearing after 6 weeks. Their bowel movements improved and at the end of 6 weeks all participated had at least one bowel movement a day.

The last study he shared included individuals with cardiovascular disease, all participates had a history of at least one heart attack, and all were taking statins to lower their cholesterol.

The professor conducting the study didn’t think they would see any improvements because of their health history. They were surprised to see reductions of cholesterol, glucose and insulin levels. The magnesium levels in their blood increased by 3%, tests showed less oxidative stress, and significant reduction of TNF cytokines by 34%.

The reduction in TNF cytokines is amazing!  TNF cytokines are cell signaling proteins that are involved in systemic inflammation in the body, and the disregulation of TNF production which has been suggested to cause many diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, IBS and depression.

Robert and the research team recently completed diabetic study, are currently working on a study of gut microflora and microbiota, and are planing future studies of dementia and obesity. The research team believes it’s more that just wheat that is causing issues and that modern grains, even in small amounts, can switch certain genes on or off, creating inflammation.

Robert’s goal is to encourage farmers to replace modern wheat with new land made of mixtures of anti-inflammatory ancient wheat and grains, plant new land worldwide with ancient wheat, and to no longer plant patented seed.

He feels strongly that gluten isn’t the problem and believes replacing modern wheat and high-speed food production with ancient wheat and slower food production would be a major help to those suffering from wheat and gluten intolerance and sensitivities. He ended his presentation by encouraging everyone to “Go organic!”

What do you think? Is modern wheat the real culprit of increased sensitivities or are other things to blame? Share with me in the comments.

One thought on “Wheat – What’s good about it? What’s bad about it?

  1. It might be…but it is hard to think of giving up bread.

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