Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wheat or Spelt?

So, what's the matter with wheat? As a contemporary "...wheat for man"...disciple, (homemaker-of-stored-wheat-making-fresh-bread-to-obedient-and healthy) this was a serious question. That was the question I had when I first started studying the Blood Type Diet. I was willing to go off wheat as suggested by the "O" diet of Peter J. Dadamo, if there was a good reason. So, I studied and read what Dr. Dadamo had written and researched and read many other resources on the subject and this is what I learned.

The wheat today, that is so prevalent in our culture, is not the wheat of our ancestors. It has been hybridized many times to get a food grain that was resistant to pests, stood up strait and tall for the harvesters, had higher protein content, thrived on chemical fertilizers and could tolerate poor soil and water conditions. They got what they wanted. Higher crop yield and higher protein content. Third world countries were pleased, American farmers were pleased and the customer got great tasting bread and pastries, pasta etc. (Monsanto now wants to force the American and European farmer and markets to exclusively use their "improved" genetically modified wheat and get even higher crop yields which will give them a huge monopoly...which means money).

The trouble with wheat IS the higher protein content. Lectins are abundant and diverse proteins in grains found in the bran and germ. Gluten is the most notorious. Ancient wheats like kamut, spelt, rye and pre-hybridized wheat, had lectins including gluten but not in the intensity of today's wheat. These newer hybridized lectins are hard, if not impossible to digest. We are hearing more and more about celiac disease and other gastrointestinal problems of which a share of the blame lies with hybridized lectins in wheat.

There is another problem with wheat; it has some really big advantages in the food industry; first, it tastes really good, second, wheat gluten holds ingredients together... it's a "glue" ( a mighty useful property in baked goods) and third, it is relatively cheap and abundant. These advantages made wheat products irresistible to food processors in the 50s and 60s and growing numbers of customers including working women. American cuisine (and culture) dramatically changed with the creation and invention of snack foods, dry breakfast cereals, frozen dinners and other connivance foods. Huge food industries grew out of this and huge profits. Hydrogenated vegetable oil fats like shortening and margarine rose to ascendancy during the same time but that's another story. With huge advertising budgets and more women holding jobs outside of home and less time to grow, buy and cook meals at home, it worked. Fast foods and processed convenience foods found their way into the American diet so deeply and permanently that people today who have to now cut out all wheat products for health reasons, go through a "withdrawal" period that resembles "mourning", before they can begin the road back to health. The same can be said of refined sugar and hydrogenated fats. To make matters worse, the starch of wheat as a complex carbohydrate, is addictive. Ask anyone trying to quit wheat!

Hybridized super proteins and overuse of wheat starch in everything helped create gastrointestinal problems that are epidemic today. It's been a good 60-70 years since scientists started hybridizing wheat and about 40 years of processed food for convenient and fast consumption and we now have a population with varying sensitivities to either the starch of wheat or the lectins of wheat or both. Colitis, crohn's disease, celiac disease, irritated bowel syndrome(IBS) and many others can trace the cause to wheat. If a doctor suspects "food allergies" one of the first things on the list to avoid is wheat....for good reasons. There is talk that celiac disease is genetic and I don't doubt it, but what I have learned from Dr. Peter J. Dadamo, is that we do have some influence through food and life style over our gene manifestations. We can "tone down" certain genes that could spell trouble for us or, "turn up" the volume on other genes that can benefit us. So I believe it is with wheat gluten and other lectins. We can, from generation to generation intensify the sensitives of certain foods to where they become a serious problem. How long now have we been exposed to overabundant and hybridized wheat products? Think of our ancestors and how they used wheat....certainly not the overabundance of our day. Is it any wonder babies and toddlers today are coming into this world with severe allergies and sensitivities?

My personal experience with avoiding wheat products since 2005, has been nothing short of miraculous. So many of my "aging symptoms" disappeared; the greatest one being rheumatoid arthritis. I no longer have stiff, achy knees and knuckles. Yet, my two younger sisters who could not give up wheat in any sustained way, have both had knee replacement surgeries. I realize there are other factors but I am certain that had I not given up wheat, my knees would be about shot now too. Wheat lectins that are not digested, and most are not, get out of the bowel (leaky gut inflammation caused by lectins) and into the blood stream and collect in certain places in the body and cause autoimmune response from the body's defense systems that inflame and attack the lining of the joints. When wheat is absent, so the is autoimmune reaction.

For me, wheat starch is also a problem. My pancreas and other organs just do not want to do the work of breaking down that wheat starch carbohydrate and so it slowly goes through the first stages of digestion, then gets stored as fat. For me, starch equals = stored fat. I don't eat anything with corn or white potatoes either for the same reason. I'm an O blood type and that is typical for us.

Now, I can talk about spelt. It is a "wheat", an ancient wheat originally from the Mediterranean area and now grown here in Montana and other states. It is not hybridized, that I know of, so it has it's difficulties like, being more subject to grain pests, it is not as easy to harvest, and it is more expensive to hull and preserve....but it is easier to digest. It still has gluten but not as much or as intense as today's wheat. It also has starch and that is why even with fermentation, I still eat only small amounts. I promote spelt because of those reasons. Prairie Grain Bread Co. in Salt Lake City, makes a good spelt bread, not fermented, and sold in many stores along the Wasatch Front and I buy that for my husband. We have spelt berries and whole spelt flour in our food storage which I make sourdough bread out of. I do have regular wheat in storage and I won't throw it out. I haven't done this yet, but if I need to use wheat, I would either sprout it then cook it or dry the sprouted berries and then grind them into flour, or use the flour and sour or ferment it. The only good wheat is sprouted or fermented. The same with spelt. All grains should be handled very carefully and soaked or soured before cooking. This comes from Sally Fallon who wrote "Nourishing Traditions" and an article she wrote on the Weston J. Price Foundation website, titled "Be Kind to your Grains, and they will be kind to you". I also have purchased sprouted spelt and wheat flours online from 2 different companies and I have those flours in storage and make my sourdough bread and other baked goods from that.

If a person hasn't yet developed sensitivites for wheat the possibility is just around the corner and can be avoided if diet and life style is changed. If a person has celiac it is probably too late and all wheat should be avoided, however, sourdough bread may be tolerated. I have heard of some celiac persons tolerating a sourdough bread if made at home. It has been promoted that fermenting not only breaks down the carbohydrate starch in wheat flours but the gluten as well.

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