The Nation's Health + Wheat

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Einkorn now in Whole Foods

I just saw this at Whole Foods: einkorn pasta.

In my einkorn bread experience (In search of wheat: We bake einkorn bread), I was spared the high blood glucose and neurologic and gastrointestinal effects of conventional whole wheat grain (dwarf Triticum aestivum). I shared the einkorn bread  with four other people with histories of acute wheat sensitivities, only one of whom experienced a mild diffuse joint reaction, the other three not experiencing any symptoms.

Anyone wishing to try einkorn can now obtain commercial pasta from Jovial, an Italy-based manufacturer. It comes in spaghetti, linguine, rigatoni, fusilli, and penne rigate shapes.

Eli Rogosa, founder of The Heritage Wheat Conservancy, tells me that, in her experience, celiac suffers seem to not experience immunologic phenomena triggered by conventional wheat.

However, we've got to be careful here. The so-called ("diploid") "A" genome of einkorn shares many of the same genes as the ("hexaploid") "ABD" genomes of modern wheat, including overlap in the sequences coding for the 50-or so different glutens and glutenins. Most of the genes that code for the glutens that cause celiac and related illnesses reside in the "D" genome that are absent in the einkorn "A" genome. However, the "A" genome still codes for glutens. So there is potential for activating celiac disease in some people. Insufficient research has been devoted to this question. It is a question of extreme importance to people with celiac and other immune-mediated conditions, since re-exposure to the wrong form of gluten can increase risk of intestinal lymphoma 77-fold, as well as risk of other gastrointestinal cancers.

So einkorn should not be viewed as a cure-all for all things wheat, but as something to consider for a carbohydrate indulgence. Yes, indeed: It is a carbohydrate, with 61 grams ("net") carbs per 4 oz (uncooked) serving.

Should anyone give it a try, please be sure to report back your experience, especially if you have a history of wheat intolerance. If you have a glucose meter, pre- and 1-hour post values are the ones to measure to gauge the blood sugar effects of consumption. Because pasta tends to cause long sustained blood sugar rises, another value at 2-4 hours might be interesting.

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