Wheat – to Eat or Not to Eat?

A few words on what’s wrong with conventional wheat and what can we do about it.

  1. Conventional wheat is a highly hybridized completely new product which made for a faster growth, for bigger seeds, and higher bacterial resistance, etc. Many of these changes plus depleted soil leaves little to no nutritional value in the seed.
  2. Pesticides are used very heavily for pest and weed control which makes it chemically “not clean” product. Pesticides work by disrupting the multiplying cycle in insects and bacteria. What do you think this will do to us? Besides being endocrine disruptors and toxic chemicals which accumulate in endocrine organs such as thyroid or adrenal gland, pesticides stop multiplying our own friendly gut flora, basically acting like an antibiotic! Our bodies have more bacteria in us than our own cells! We love bacteria, we need them to thrive, we rely on them – our gut flora protects our intestinal gut lining from external bacteria invaders, and viruses. Our gut flora digests for us those complex carbohydrates we consume everyday and don’t even produce our own enzymes for. Our gut flora releases as a byproduct of their lifecycle essential vitamins almost not available from foods such as vitamin K2. If we don’t have the right gut flora – bacterial disbalance, yeast overgrowth, and eventually disease comes in.
  3. All grain designed by nature to have a protective outer layer from being consumed. That layer consists of a small molecule called phytic acid. It acts as an enzyme inhibitor, and unfortunately stops digestion. That is if a bird swallows the whole seed it will likely to come out the same way it came in but will be fertilized by the bird’s waste for a better chance to produce a new life… Conventional harvest and storage of the grain keeps phytic acid intact and so it will negatively partition in our digestion upon consuming it.
  4. Everyone is talking gluten nowadays. Gluten is a member of prolamins (glutenoids) family of storage proteins in grains. It is rich in the amino acid proline. Due to its high content gluten protein cannot be fully digested by our enzymes, which is further complicated by enzyme inhibitors present in the grain such as phytic acid. Those large partially digested or not digested protein fragments travel through the digestive tract and are able to damage intestinal lining of the gut causing “leaky gut”.

What was different about traditional sourdough baking?

  1. The grain was always soaked and sprouted, which would make it a completely different product. When water gets into the seed it revives! The seed itself is a vault of storage molecules needed for the new life to grow – vitamins, minerals, storage complex carbohydrates and storage proteins. They are called storage because they have a very tight and complex conformations to be stored until needed. Right conditions such as water and warm temperature is a signal or a switch which launches a cascade of biochemical reactions in the seed. That is storage proteins and complex sugar chains change confirmation to be accessible by the enzymes present in the seed as well (also activated by this process). Those enzymes chop and cut complex molecules into building blocks – amino acids and sugar molecules, which now can be utilized to create a new life.
  2. The preparation of a sourdough is a very important step in traditional baking. Briefly, flour is soaked to create a starter where symbiotic to the seed colony of microorganisms further digests complex carbohydrates and proteins so there is practically no more gluten fragments left.

The problem is there is no sourdough preparation in modern industry – it takes too long time and too much effort. It is way cheaper and faster to just add baking yeast and some taste enhancers to the flour and the product is ready for consumption; unfortunately it is not as easy on our digestive tract.

If you enjoy grain based cooking I would look for a locally grown heritage variety such as organic sprouted spelt flour. Luckily we have that available and don’t have to soak, spout and mill it ourselves. If you would like to learn more Weston A Price Foundation has classes and brochures on how to make properly prepared sourdough breads.

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