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Three Ancient Grains to Avoid for Gluten Intolerance


I’ve fallen in love with ancient grains for their unaltered genetic make up as well as their high concentration of essential nutrients. We’ve introduced ancient grains a while ago and provided some basic info on each of them. Then we dedicated some space to the ancient grains that are safe if you’re suffering from Gluten Intolerance. Today we’re going to talk about some ancient grains that are NOT safe if your body hates gluten and if you have celiac disease.

Let’s start with Spelt. Spelt is a funny one because it is not part of the WBRO (Wheat, Barley, Rye & Oats) that celiac sufferers must avoid. The concern with it is that genetically it resembles wheat very closely. The debate goes on to say that some with a gluten intolerance to wheat can eat spelt without a problem, and in doing so would also gain access to a broader spectrum of nutrients than wheat.

Celiac Sprue Association, however, has another view. “Spelt is a subspecies of wheat.  The genus-species of modern bread wheat is simply ‘Triticum aestivum.’  Spelt wheat is a subspecies belonging to, ‘Triticum aestivum speltoides.’  Thus, there is no basis to say spelt is different from ‘wheat.’ The proteins in spelt are essentially identical to those in modern bread wheat; only the amounts are slightly different.  Protein sequences known to be toxic to persons with celiac disease have been identified at the gene level in spelt wheat.”  says Scott Bean Ph.D., Research Chemist for the USDA-ARS in Manhattan.

Barley is one of the more obvious ones to keep your eye on. My wife is so thankful that she’s not blessed with the challenges of gluten intolerance because her favourite type of bread is rye. Rye is also one of the ancient grains simply packed with nutrients, including selenium (an antioxidant), phosphorus, copper and manganese. So, I suppose if you want to live vicariously through your friends that are free of gluten difficulties, suggest barley to them as an alternative to wheat.

For you however, remember to check labels of these types of foods as they will often contain barley or malted barley:

  • Beer – (Very upsetting)
  • Breads & Bread Crumbs
  • Crackers, Potato Chips and Pretzels
  • Cereals
  • Instant Cereal mixes
  • Cakes and some pie crusts
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Cocoa mixes
  • Soup

The last one we’re going to pick on today is Rye. Unfortunately, rye is not a good choice if you have gluten intolerance as it contains a storage protein called secalin. It’s classified as “not consistent with a gluten free diet at this time,” by the Celiac Sprue Association. It’s used as flour and, of course, it is so wonderfully fermented to produce alcoholic beverages.

One benefit you could pass on to your non celiac friends is that whole rye bread is a good choice for diabetics. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that a greater insulin response is triggered with wheat breads than rye breads.

So remember that when you’re replacing the usual WBRO with other grains, use some ancient grains for their rich nutritional value and diverse non-genetically modified properties and flavours. Avoid, however, the three ancient grains mentioned above. Also, remember that wheat and oats are also to be avoided as you maintain celiac awareness and live with gluten intolerance. We only excluded them from this article because they are not ancient grains.

To your gluten free health.

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