Updated: May 27, 2020
Gluten-sensitivity, gluten-intolerance, and Celiac Disease have all become an exponential problem. Gluten-sensitivity affects about 6% of the U.S. - to put that into perspective, that's about 18 million people. Signs and symptoms of gluten-sensitivity include bloating, acne, mood swings, low energy, low immune system, and headaches. This is just a short list of problems that can arise from gluten exposure to those that are sensitive. The question you may ask is, "why is this such a problem now?". I mean, wasn't bread the staple food in many populations for thousands of years? Why are cases of Celiac Disease suddenly dramatically rising? Well, it looks like it's not necessarily gluten that's the problem, but the type of wheat that most Americans are consuming.
Let's take a look at the wheat we have today...
Today's modern wheat has been genetically to bred produce higher yields of wheat. This was beneficial for mass scale productions. The problem is that part of the breeding process also chose wheat with much higher percentages of gluten. This type of gluten is also a lot different than gluten of ancient times. Modern gluten has a different genome and set of chromosomes than ancient grains, making it a completely different type of gluten than one that our ancestors were used to consuming. This change to gluten and gluten percentage is a fairly new one with modern agriculture - which could explain the sudden raise in gluten related conditions and diseases.
Versus "ancient grains" such as Einkorn
Einkorn, on the other hand, is a grain that was first cultivated and used since 7500 B.C. This wheat was preferentially used up until around World War II when mass amounts of wheat was needed to feed many at once - hence the breeding of high yield, high gluten modern day wheat. Einkorn contains less gluten and more beneficial compounds such as carotenoids that assist with eye health. Studies show that einkorn is also significantly less allergenic for those who have wheat allergies. Einkorn also contains high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals such as phosphorous, thiamine, riboflavin, iron, and zinc.
My own story ~
I'm not particularly gluten-sensitive, but I would experience breakouts after eating bread and pasta. When I studied the Mediterranean Diet abroad in Italy, I expected to have massive breakouts due to the high intake of pasta and bread that I was eating while there. BUT I was extremely surprised to find that I didn't experience a single breakout. Literally - not a SINGLE one for the entire summer that I lived there. This is explained by the fact that most of Italy still uses healthier ancient grains such as Spelt and Einkorn.
Where can you get Einkorn?
Unfortunately, finding Einkorn can be a little difficult, but with increased awareness, it's becoming more accessible. You can order it online HERE and swap it for traditional uses of whole wheat flour. You can also use farro and spelt flour - both of which are ancient grains as well with much a lower gluten percentage than modern wheat. Just make sure that whatever flour you choose is organic and non-GMO.
One more note on flour...
Overconsumption of flour, even the better ancient grain varieties, can lead to nutrient deficiencies by replacing foods that provide different vitamins and minerals. If you choose to use flour, I recommend using ancient grains. However, make sure to still eat plenty of veggies, healthy fats, and protein to get a wide variety of nutrients to support your health and wellness journey.