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Einkorn Wheat Bread: Why Older Wheat is Better for You

Updated on July 2, 2014
Freshly-baked einkorn bread
Freshly-baked einkorn bread | Source

Einkorn wheat is an ancient grain, first grown when humans transitioned from hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists.

This estimated 12,000 year-old strain is higher in nutrients and lower in gluten content than the common wheat that is used today.

The cultivation of einkorn wheat can be physically traced back to around 3300 BC. Ötzi the Iceman, a naturally-preserved mummy found in the Italian Alps over two decades ago, provided evidence that einkorn grain was part of his final meal.

It's All in the Genes

Biologically, einkorn is a diploid, making it the purest form of wheat available. It consists of two sets of chromosomes--one from each parent plant.

Wheat has been hybridized tens of thousands of times, adding new sets of chromosomes each time. This affects the genetic structure of the plant, resulting in mutations that can affect the person or animal who eats it.

Genetic alterations introduce and increase toxins and diminish nutritional content. Wheat gluten proteins change significantly with each hybridization. A recent experiment discovered 14 new gluten proteins in hybridized wheat that weren't present in either of its parent plants.

Gluten Overdose

When compared to wheat strains of even one century ago, researchers found that modern wheat contains a greater number of genes for gluten proteins that are associated with celiac disease. Einkorn is even lower in these toxic wheat proteins than the hundred-year-old strains. According to Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, "Small changes in wheat protein structure can spell the difference between a devastating immune response to wheat protein versus no immune response at all."

In the past, only baked goods contained gluten. Today, wheat gluten is contained in a virtually all processed foods. Even toothpaste can contain gluten! Researchers and specialists in the fields of gluten sensitivity and food allergies believe that this overexposure to gluten, along with changes in the protein itself, are the main reasons for the growing number of celiac and gluten intolerance sufferers.

In light of this fact, limiting gluten exposure by sticking to a real-food diet can prevent the development of food allergies and digestive disorders. Baking your own bread at home using ancient grains can also improve your health and lower your risk of disease.

Why Don't We See More Einkorn Today?

The supply of einkorn has diminished over the years due to the fact that it produces a yield less than half that of common wheat. When new strains are created, the goal is to increase production and gluten content.

According to Jovial Foods, newer varieties of wheat are free-threshing and require less labor after harvest. Ancient grain wheat types are hulled with a protective layer that stays intact after harvest, which adds another step before it can be milled.

A Quick Slideshow on Baking Einkorn Bread

Einkorn Makes a Tasty Bread

About a year ago, I chose to follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons. Before going gluten-free, I used to bake a variety of fresh breads regularly. There's nothing like the aroma of fresh bread wafting through the house!

After learning about the benefits of einkorn, I decided to try it out. This ancient grain flour creates a crusty bread with a light nutty flavor. It doesn't rise as much due to its low gluten content, but it still has a nice, hearty texture. Einkorn bread pairs well with soups, stews, and other comforting cool-weather meals.

© Liz Davis 2012 Einkorn | Ancient Grain

Have you ever tried bread made with ancient grains?

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    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      It's sad that we've gotten to the point that we don't know what to eat anymore. Even worse, agribusiness and big pharma have convinced most people that healthy foods are going to kill them (like animal foods and natural fats) while products that are making people sick are going to save them (like vegetable oils and refined grains). But don't decompose! We need you! LOL Anyway, that would be amazing if you would grow some einkorn, or even other ancient varieties. I would love to see your hubs on that! Thanks, Rachel :) --Liz

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

      I've had "ancient grain" bread before - but I tell ya what, this hub makes me want to grow a little quarter-acre patch of Einkorn and hand-mill it for bread. I'm going to look into doing it, seriously. I wonder if it's a winter or a spring wheat? Anyway I'll figure out a planting date for it :) Awesome hub, Radcliff. I love your whole food lifestyle. I'm learning more about gluten these days and have finally decided to seriously reduce my intake of it. I'm not a fan of any commercial crop that is a hybrid, first of all, because it's unsustainable. And at this point modern wheat might as well be a GMO... Sometimes when I have to shop at the grocery store, I find myself looking around at everything and thinking, "What can I eat??" If I'm in the wrong mood, this depressing question will make me want to just lay down in the grass and decompose! But we've got to keep fighting for a real, natural, normal, human life on this earth. Keep up the good work :)