Eating instead of wheat: why einkorn is the better alternative for many people

Eating instead of wheat: why einkorn is the better alternative for many people

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Einkorn for people with wheat intolerance better than durum wheat and co

Anyone suffering from abdominal cramps or bowel problems after eating bread, pasta or other cereal-containing foods often thinks quickly of celiac disease (gluten intolerance). But behind the complaints can also be a wheat intolerance. For those who suffer from it, it is advisable to resort to einkorn.

Celiac disease or wheat intolerance?

People who suspect that they cannot tolerate wheat often quickly think that they have celiac disease (gluten intolerance). But wheat intolerance can also be responsible for complaints such as abdominal cramps or diarrhea. According to experts from the Bavarian Consumer Information System (VIS), those who suffer from this should best live "wheat-free". However, those affected do not seem to have to do without einkorn, as has now been shown in a study.

Einkorn contains less problematic protein molecules

Both modern and original wheat types such as einkorn, emmer and spelled naturally contain a group of protein molecules that are suspected of causing symptoms of wheat intolerance.

"The symptoms of wheat allergy may appear in the mouth, nose, eyes and throat (swelling, itching or scratching sensation), the skin (atopic eczema, urticaria), the lungs (shortness of breath, asthma, baker's asthma) or the gastrointestinal tract (convulsions, nausea, vomiting, Bloating, diarrhea), ”explains the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) in a guideline.

A new study by the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) now shows for the first time in a direct comparison that unlike bread wheat, durum wheat, spelled and emmer, einkorn contains no or significantly lower amounts of these proteins.

The researchers' results were recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Protein molecules inhibit digestive enzymes

As the institute writes in a communication, the protein molecules are alpha-amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATI), which are found in particular in the grain.

According to scientific knowledge, they serve to protect plant seeds from predators.

The ATI inhibit the digestive enzymes (alpha-amylase and trypsin) of insects and humans and are also difficult to digest due to their special molecular structure.

In addition, recent studies have shown that, depending on the dose, they stimulate the release of inflammatory messenger substances and thus the innate immune system.

Medical data indicate that the enzyme inhibitors don't just cause bowel problems.

The symptoms described also include drowsiness, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, skin changes and depressed moods.

Last but not least, the inhibitors are known to trigger wheat allergies.

40 types of wheat in comparison

The level of the enzyme inhibitors in the respective grain is determined on the one hand by the genetic makeup of the plant and on the other hand by environmental influences.

So far, meaningful studies that have directly compared the ATI content of different wheat types and varieties have been lacking.

“In our study, we compared a total of 40 modern and original varieties. Eight varieties per type of wheat, ”explains lead author Sabrina Geisslitz from the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology.

"The special thing is that all the grains examined grew under the same geographic and climatic conditions."

Therefore, all of the differences measured were mainly due to differences in the genetic makeup of the plants, which made a direct comparison of wheat types and varieties possible in the first place.

The scientists examined all grain samples using the latest analysis techniques.

With an average of about four to six milligrams of ATI per gram of sample material, the spelled and Emmer samples contained even larger amounts of ATI than in the bread wheat and durum wheat samples.

On the other hand, none of the enzyme inhibitors were found in five of the single-grain samples examined, or only very small amounts in three of the samples.

Einkorn seems to be the better choice

“The result surprised us a little. Because compared to conventional wheat, all three original types of wheat are considered to be equally digestible, ”says Katharina Scherf, who heads the Functional Biopolymer Chemistry working group at the Leibniz Institute.

"Regarding the amylase trypsin inhibitors, however, einkorn appears to be the better choice for people with wheat intolerance," says Scherf.

The team of scientists agrees that there is still a great need for research - not only in medical terms.

For example, one has to examine to what extent the selection of grain types or processing methods could help to improve the tolerance of grain products such as bread. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: William Davis - Wheat: The UNhealthy Whole Grain (August 2022).