Wheat Versus Spelt: What Our Guts Are Really Telling Us

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Over the past number of months, I’ve posted about how I’ve cut out gluten and have embarked on a new life without sliced pans and pastries. In case you missed those posts, my stomach was feeling sore and I was generally uncomfortable so the gluten had to go.

After blood tests came back from my doctor to say I’m not coeliac, I decided to keep traveling down the road of diet-discovery (and recovery).

Since Christmas, I’ve started to eat spelt. After I decided to bravely try a spelt scone, I’ve since been known to have devoured endless amounts of spelt Mc Cambridges for breakfast. It’s my new favourite food item (after avocado, of course).

Once something enters my mind, it seems to pop up EVERYWHERE.  Since January, I’ve been met with numerous conversations (both online and in person) of people who thought they were gluten-intolerant yet can eat spelt.

It brought up a bunch of questions. What gives? What’s going on and what can we actually eat these days?

I’ve sussed the basic gist so read on, my friends.

Technically spelt is a gluten product. It contains high amounts of it and scientifically is closely related to wheat therefore sorry coeliacs, this isn’t one for you. The question is though, is gluten really the problem everyone thinks it is? I’ve read on a number of occasions that people who have a wheat intolerance can eat spelt without any issues. This means less sore tummies and all the health benefits it can muster.

This got me researching what’s behind this magic ingredient.

Spelt is recorded to have been around since 5000 BC. With references to it on multiple occasions in the bible, it’s a wonder that it hasn’t become popular sooner. Rather, it has become something away from the mainstream. In fact, it has been classified as a rather specialised product for quite some time, only being made available until recently in health food stores. Thankfully, as it’s becoming more known, products and ingredients (flour) can be picked up in local supermarkets.

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Thanks to increased awareness and informative chats with nutrition experts, people who once thought they were gluten-intolerant are actually wheat intolerant. Therefore, they need to keep away from wheat but can devour as much spelt as they like.

There are many reasons why spelt agrees with many people and wheat doesn’t. Mostly, it’s more gentle and is grown and harvested differently. I’ve found many more benefits of this ingredient as outlined below.

* Spelt is water-soluble. This means that our digestive systems can break it down more easily and therefore, it causes little or zero disruption. When baking, this is noticeable as spelt bread is kneaded for less time compared to other breads.

* There is much speculation that because wheat has become so mainstream, it is mass-produced with little respect for quality. Therefore, to make it grow faster, roundup (chemical pesticides) are sprayed on crops daily. Once harvested, those chemicals are collected alongside the wheat thus ending up in our bags of flour and loaves (read more on this here).

Spelt is grown less because of its tougher makeup (hulls surrounding spelt are harder meaning they take longer to harvest with more processes involved and, higher cost). This is why it isn’t harvested on a huge scale by farmers.

* It is nutritionally better for us. Spelt has many nutritional benefits that far outweigh any of wheat. Some of these are that it is 30% higher in Vitamin B1, 45% higher in Vitamin E and is approximately 10-25% higher in protein.

Thanks to artisan food producers coming on the scene with delicious products in Ireland, we get more options. Sure, you’ll pay a little more but, isn’t your health worth it?

Some amazing products I’ve found are:

* As mentioned above, Mc Cambridges’ spelt loaf has been available for the past number of months. In Tesco, it sells for about 1.59 (euros). I make sure to stock up when it’s on offer and stuff my freezer with it so keep your eyes peeled.

* ‘Cathy’s Spelt For Health’ are delicious ready-made mixes that are available across Ireland and you can buy from her website. They take the pain out of full-on baking too as they’re simple to use.

* If you’re into full-on baking then check out ‘Hildegard Health’ flours. They’re available in health food stores and come in different options. You can purchase on Absolutelyorganic.ie.

Have you tried any amazing spelt products? Be sure to share them with me below. I’m always on the lookout.

***Disclaimer: If you’re not sure about your diet, whether you have an intolerance or are coeliac or are just feeling generally unwell from your diet, then I suggest you have a chat with your doctor. While I have researched immensely and apply this research to my own diet in a positive way, I am not a medical practitioner.