An anti-inflammatory grain

Wheat promotes inflammation

When you gain abdominal fat, known as visceral fat, it triggers, or is part of the body’s inflammatory response mechanism. This, in turn, makes you both more likely to become intolerant or allergic, and to develop inflammatory symptoms, the classics being headaches, eczema or dermatitis, asthma, irritable bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, rhinitis, arthritis and just about any ‘itis’.

While the general view is that ‘gluten’ is the culprit I am beginning to revise this simplistic opinion due to a series of experiments carried out on Kamut brand khorasan wheat. Technically it does contain gluten proteins and, as such, should promote inflammation. However, it doesn’t. In one rat experiment a series of well conducted studies now published in 3 papers have shown that Kamut brand grain is not only anti-inflammatory but it is also has a powerful antioxidant effect.

I am starting to think that the main problem with wheat is not gluten or gliadin per se, but the fact that we are eating a food that is considerably different genetically and chemically, to that which we may have adapted to eat in reasonable quantities. The solution for ‘wheat intolerant’ people may not always need to be a strict avoidance of wheat and other gluten or gliadin grains, but rather the avoidance of modern wheat.

Gluten is present in wheat, rye, barley and oats, although oats contain no gliadin. Spelt is probably a less adulterated form of modern wheat, but is quite different and genetically much more complex than the original ancient grain, such as kamut. Kamut is also higher in antioxidants and polyphenols, which are generally anti-inflammatory, as well as magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc and other important minerals. Kamut, unlike spelt, is only grown organically, with no exposure to modern chemicals, in other words in conditions that most closely represent those we may have adapted to over the thousands of years of wheat consumption, from the early days when mankind moved from hunter/gatherer to peasant/farmer.

Ancient Kamut brand wheat is anti-inflammatory

In another a randomised double-blind study on people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), carried out by researchers at the University of Florence in Italy, the participants were given foods (bread, pasta, biscuits, and crackers) made from either modern wheat or Kamut. They didn’t know what kind of food they were eating and were randomly assigned to eating either modern wheat products or kamut products for six weeks at a time and then after a 6 week wash out period the type of wheat they were eating was switched and they continued to eat the new diet for another 6 weeks. During the modern wheat weeks they had no improvement, and continued to suffer from abdominal pain, bloating, tiredness and irregular and unhealthy bowel movements. However, when they were unknowingly eating kamut everything got better. They reported significantly less bloating, abdominal pain, irregularity and tiredness, with a much higher overall measure of quality of life.

Also, convincingly, markers of inflammation known as pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-7, INF-gamma, MCP-1, VEGF), which are usually raised in people with IBS, all reduced. This is exactly the opposite of what one would expect with conventional wheat, high in gluten proteins. This effect as seen in blood markers reaffirms the results from a study on healthy humans published last year.

Where can you get it?

Kamut wheat, which is fast becoming a fashionable superfood in the US (it is grown primarily in Montana for the US market) and has become well known and popular in Italy is gradually becoming available in the UK.

There’s a growing range of Kamut products available in both health food stores and supermarkets. Go to and select ‘products’, then search by country, to find what’s available in your country. In the UK, Marks and Spencers, for example, have a Kamut spaghetti and Tescos have introduced a quick cook grain that you cook for 10 minutes and eat like rice. Doves Farm have kamut flour if you want to make your own bread, and a growing number of bakeries are making Kamut bread. Infinity Foods also sell a Kamut muesli.

To find out the latest about Kamut khorasan read this article Is Kamut a Supergrain