A study conducted at the Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark investigated the physiological effects of ancient wheat whole grain flour diets on the development and progression of type 2 diabetes, specifically to look at the glycemic responses. An intervention study was conducted, involving the consumption of five different diets, including emmer, einkorn, spelt, rye flour and refined wheat, for a period nine weeks.
Testing revealed a downregulation of hepatic genes, the process by which a cell decreases the quantity of a cellular component in response to an external variable. The spelt and rye induced a low acute glycemic response. The wheat group had higher HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. The study concluded that ancient wheat diets decreased cell production relating to glucose and fat metabolism, equivalent to prevention or delay of diabetes development. (8) Thus, it’s a good idea to include ancient grains and flours like einkorn flour in any diabetes diet plan.
The relationship between diet and health has become well documented. Some of the ancient wheats have a unique composition of secondary components or minor compounds such as carotenoids which may have potential as functional food ingredients. For instance, einkorn was found to contain significantly high level of lutein compared to other wheat species. Lutein is the major yellow pigment in wheat grains, and the elevated level of lutein in einkorn wheat may pave the way for the development of function wheat market. Lutein is found to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts and provides protection against heart disease and cancer. In North America, the daily intake of lutein (1.5-2.0 mg) is below the suggested level (6 mg) and is declining due to a decrease in the consumption of the dark green vegetables, the main source of lutein. This indicates a need for the development of other dietary lutein diets.
Einkorn differs from modern wheat in 3 important ways, all of which may contribute to gluten intolerance:
Most modern wheat is a hybrid of many different grains and grasses.
Einkorn has a 14 chromosomes , whereas modern wheat has a 42 chromosomes which changes the gluten structure
Einkorn is considered more nutritious than modern wheat, based on the higher level of protein, essential fatty acids, phosphorous, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene.