What’s good about gluten?
We always hear in the media what’s bad about gluten, but what is good about gluten? Gluten-free diets are popular amongst dieters and people who are trying to improve their health, but gluten isn’t the devil it’s made out to be. In fact, gluten has a lot of health benefits, if sourced correctly.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat that’s function is to provide a structural mechanism to foods. For example, the gluten in bread helps it to hold its shape so the nutrients can be consumed by the body. But something needs to be clear: not all gluten is the same.
The gluten structure in einkorn wheat vs regular wheat is completely different. Einkorn has 14 chromosomes, whereas regular wheat has 42 chromosomes, which means that the gluten structure is not comparable. As it is not hybridized, the original DNA structure of einkorn remains unadulterated, which helps your body to digest it without causing digestive issues common with regular wheat.
Einkorn is nutrient-rich, offering a range of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber and is a great addition to any diet. A long term, large scale study in 2017 published in the British Medical Journal looked at gluten consumption and the risk of developing heart disease. The study concluded that gluten-free diets increased the risk, whereas a gluten-containing diet did not.
This is partially assumed to be as a result of the reduction of healthy whole grains in a gluten-free diet, which are integral to good health due to the nutrients they contain. Another reason is because gluten-free alternatives are heavily processed and rarely fortified with the nutrients present in regular wheat like B vitamins and iron.
Gluten-free alternatives are often made with white rice flour or other gluten-free starches and contain fat and sugar to make them more palatable. Despite being similar calories to wheat products, they contain more chemicals and fewer nutrients, so can lead to poor health.
A recent study conducted in Denmark looked at the role of gluten in the diet. The study found that eating a low gluten diet leads to the greatest improvement of health, compared to a diet high in gluten. This was not because of the reduction of gluten intake, but actually the increased consumption of better quality grains that increase fiber and nutrients which leads to better health.
One particular grain that is nutrient dense is einkorn. It contains gluten but is a completely different gluten structure to regular wheat. This means that it does not cause a gluten reaction for those with sensitivities and thus are a great addition to your diet due to the fiber and nutrients it contains.
Completely cutting out gluten is not recommended if you do not suffer from celiac disease, and studies have shown that gluten contains key nutrients that are difficult to source elsewhere in gluten-free alternatives. Switch to einkorn today, to get all the benefits of gluten but better quality and less processed than regular wheat.