Is KAMUT khorasan wheat a supergrain?

  • 24 Jul 2015
  • Reading time 7 mins
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KAMUT® khorasan, which is the very early form of wheat eaten by the Pharoahs, is amassing some pretty amazing positive research results that are completely contrary to what you would expect from modern wheat. Unlike wheat it is proving to be have a very low allergic profile, with beneficial effects on people with wheat sensitivity and strong anti-inflammatory effects. For example, in a study of people with IBS and bloating, who got worse on wheat, all symptoms improved when eating KAMUT quality khorasan. (Khorasan is the name of the species of wheat, KAMUT® is a regis-tered trademark which guarantees that the grain is 100% pure ancient khorasan wheat, high in protein and minerals and is always grown organically, with no pesticides or herbicides, and no genetic alteration via GMO biotechnology).

Also, markers for inflammation, which are an objective measure of a negative health effect, were reduced. Similar results are being reported in other studies. A study earlier this year exploring KAMUT khorasan effects on cardiovascular health, reported a remarkable 25% decrease in insulin levels when volunteers switched from modern wheat to ancient KAMUT khorasan wheat.

Researchers at the Italian University of Bologna, Firenze, Urbino and Parma, have been investigating why KAMUT khorasan wheat behaves so differently to modern wheat. One theory is its unique profile of antioxidants and polyphenols.

Polyphenol power

In 2009 a study about the phenolic profile of KAMUT khorasan was published 1. Polyphenols are secondary metabolites of plants characterized by an-tioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and with an important role in preventing chronic disease.

Although the quantity of polyphenols and flavonoids didn’t differ that much be-tween ancient and modern varieties, the results showed that KAMUT khorasan had one of the richest content in bioactive compounds, with 19 different phenolic com-pounds identified and a high number of isomers for each compound. The peculiar phytochemical profile of KAMUT khorasan confirmed that the ancient wheat varie-ties represent a rich source of biodiverse polyphenols with antioxidant benefits. By studying blood markers2, the results showed that a diet based on ancient KAMUT khorasan bread increased the antioxidant protection and this effect was cor-related to the higher content in both Selenium and polyphenols compared to the mod-ern durum bread. The second part of this research3, published in 2012, studied both the antioxidative stress markers and antioxidant enzymes in the liver. A diet based on ancient KAMUT khorasan wheat showed a higher activity of the liver’s key antioxidant enzymes than a diet based on modern wheat.

Genetically Unmodified

Another possibility is that modern wheat has become so genetically altered through numerous hybridizations that our immune systems just react against it. KAMUT khorasan wheat is, in any event, much simpler genetically than spelt and modern wheat. KAMUT khorasan, along with emmer, another ancient grain, has 28 chromosomes while spelt and modern wheat has 42. Also, KAMUT khorasan is guar-anteed to be grown organically and also without any traditional crossing or modifica-tions due to hybridization and of course, as mentioned earlier, no GMO modification is allowed. All these factors combine to mimic the way grain was grown several thousand years ago.

Pro-inflammatory effects of modern wheat

A recent study published in 2015 tested its effects on people with non-celiac glu-ten sensitivity (NCGS)4. The study involved 48 NCGS patients and 30 healthy subjects and from each of them blood cells were isolated and exposed to pro-tein extracts of modern and ancient wheat varieties. Both in NCGS patients and healthy subjects, protein extracts of modern wheat varieties, compared to ancient wheat varieties, induced a higher production of CXCL10, an inflammatory cytokine found in celiac and IBS patients. In conclusion, pro-inflammatory characteristics of wheat proteins are much more prominent in the protein extracts of modern wheat va-rieties compared to ancient KAMUT khorasan.

Anti-inflammatory effects of ancient wheat

Both the simpler, unaltered genetic profile of KAMUT khorasan and its unique polyphenol profile might explain the most positive and consistent finding that KAMUT khorasan is a profoundly anti-inflammatory food.

In the study I mentioned earlier with IBS sufferers there was a significant reduc-tion of circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin 6 (-36,2%), Interferon g (-33,6%), Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 (-39%) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (-23,7%). There was no reduction in those eating modern wheat.

A study published earlier this year involving people with cardiovascular disease showed a significant improvement of key markers for the cardiovascular risk, such as total cholesterol (-6,8%), “bad” cholesterol LDL (-8,1%), glucose (-8%) and insulin (-24,6%), and, in addition, an improvement in their oxidative status and a significant reduction in the master pro-inflammatory cytokine marker called TNF-alpha (-34,5%). This confirmed an earlier study in 22 healthy adults that had reported a reduction of measures associated with metabolic syndrome, hence cardiovascular risk, with a reduction in total cholesterol (-4%), “bad” cholesterol LDL (-8%) and a high improvement of mineral levels, in particular, potassium and magnesium. Additionally, people eating KAMUT khorasan products had an improvement in their oxidant status (reduction of both lipid peroxidation and protein oxidation) and in their inflammatory status by a decrease of inflammatory cytokines levels such as TNF-alpha (-35%) and Interleukin 6 (-24%).

Good for the gut

Another possibility is that KAMUT khorasan wheat’s fibre profile is quite differ-ent from modern wheat, with more soluble fibre. Soluble fibres help to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut and, as such, are called prebiotics. A study in 2012 exposed healthy gut bacteria to soluble fibres extracted from ancient KAMUT khorasan wheat versus modern wheat. KAMUT khorasan showed promising prebiotic potential, with a Prebiotic Index significantly higher compared to the Prebiotic Index of the other vari-eties.

A later study investigated the effects on gut health and bacteria of feeding KAMUT khorasan products to healthy volunteers5. Results showed that a KAMUT khorasan ancient wheat-based diet compared to a modern wheat-based diet, was mainly characterized by the release in the gut of Short Chain Fatty Acids and phenol compounds, both key elements for gut health, consequently improving the gut microbiota in comparison to whole durum wheat adopted as a control diet.

I have not seen any negative effects, only positive, in all studies on ancient KAMUT khorasan wheat and have met many people, sensitive to wheat, who have noticed a clear improvement. Mary W is a case in point. She had suffered for years with bloating, wind, and urgent trips to the loo, for the past four years, which are clas-sic signs of IBS, seemingly after wheat.

“I assumed it was gluten intolerance, but it wasn’t because I even reacted to some gluten-free flours, ......

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