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  • Shelly Tschupp

Ancient Grains are Healthier for Your Digestion! A Home Sourdough Starter Journey to find out why!

Ancient Grains are healthier for your digestion, give them a try!
There are many Ancient Grains still grown today.

Ever wonder why so many people today are having issues with foods we have eaten for thousands of years like basic bread and wheat products? I did and here is what I found. The wheat we eat today is not the same wheat our ancestors ate. It is not even prepared using the same tried and true methods. Ancient grains are healthier for your digestion, they have a superior nutritional value over modern wheat such as processed bleached All Purpose Flour and even organic whole Wheat grain flour. These newer strains of wheat have 42 chromosomes, an outcome of all of the GMO modifications done to them. That is 300% more chromosomes than the Einkorn wheat our ancestors ate. Einkorn has only 14 chromosomes. In fact, from 7,500 BC to 1840 there was little modification to wheat plants or even how it was grown. Chemical fertilizers were not added to the soil until around 1840. Wheat hybrids began in 1885, then in the 1980's Recombinant DNA techniques were applied to modify the Chromosomes, in 1992 biolistic methods were applied and in 1997 Agrobacterium methods were applied. What!?!

While these GMOs had positive effects such as faster growth times with 30-60% higher crop yields, and greater resistant to plant diseases, plus an ability to grow all year long vs just seasonally... they also had some bad effects on our bodies. Modern wheat has up to 12 times more gluten than the original Einkorn and other varieties, how it is baked also causes considerably higher levels of Phytic Acid, and this is what causes digestion issues for many people. Call me crazy but when you modify food more in the last 200 years than nature has in the past 12,000 years, it is no wonder that the human body is struggling to digest it. 

Baking Sourdough Bread with Ancient Grains
Baking Sourdough Bread with Ancient Grains

Ancient Grains to consider:

  • Einkorn

  • Spelt

  • Emmer

  • KAMUT®

Which Grains should I try? Below is some basic information about each of these grains, what they taste like and where you can purchase them. I decided on using Einkorn for my family because it had the lowest amount of gluten but I hope to try them all eventually.

  • Einkorn has been harvested by humans from at least 12,000 BC, this ancient grain is the purest of the list with only 14 chromosomes, high in protein and antioxidant properties; genetically distinct and potentially easier to digest with much smaller gluten molecules and 1/12th the amount of gluten vs modern Wheat varieties. Causes a lower rise in insulin levels, provides better gut bacteria, higher metabolism and improved absorption, contains 15% less starch, with higher levels of vitamins B6 & A. If you are interested in trying Einkorn Wheat the Jovial family farm is well known and highly rated for their organic products specifically focusing on those with digestive and gluten sensitivities. If you can’t find them locally you can order everything from whole wheat berries, flour, even bread, crackers and pasta online! They even sell gluten free items for those who are allergic. 

  • Spelt is another ancient grain that was a staple in Europe until the early 19th Century. Although it is not recommended for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, many find spelt easier to digest than modern wheat varieties. It has a nutty flavor and slightly sweet taste, high fiber content and protein richness, packed with essential nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. These can be found locally in your health foods stores or online, Great River Milling is a farm in North Dakota highly rated for its focus on growing all organic foods, including gluten free options. 

  • EMMER is an ancient grain that was modified by nature, it has 28 naturally occurring chromosomes that formed when two wild grasses merged into one hybrid around 3,000 years ago in Egypt. This is also a staple wheat used in many Italian foods including pasta, typically semi-pearled with some of the outer bran has been removed; this helps the grain to cook faster while still retaining some of the nutrients. American-grown Emmer wheat is available. You can purchase these in your local stores or online, Grand Teton is an Idaho farm that focuses on bringing back ancient grains to consumers and has great customer ratings! 

  • KAMUT® is an elongated ancient wheat with large kernels that are two to three times the size of modern wheat originating in the historical area of today’s Iran, it was introduced in the US in 1949. The grain has never been hybridized and is both copyrighted and certified organic, it is well known for its rich buttery aroma in salads, sides, and soups in place of wheat berries. You can purchase it at your local health food grocery store or online, Panhandle Milling, located in TX focuses on milling grains, with its roots as a cooperative farm project in 1985, processing gluten-free, organic grains, non-wheat-based flours, cereals, beans, and non-GMO products. I love supporting smaller farmers, especially now that farming work is only done by 2% of our population, we truly can’t survive without them!

Selecting the right flour type is only part of the equation towards having healthier breads and baked items, using the correct yeast makes a huge difference for digestion. Click here to read about why sourdough starter is better for you than dry yeast!

Wheat Grains come in many varieties to make different kinds of flour.
Wheat Grains come in many varieties to make different kinds of flour.

Note: some links are affiliate links and do not cost you more to use them, they just help pay a few pennies on any dollars you spend which help me offset the cost of keeping this website.


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