Should you eat kamut?


An Italian group just published the below study comparing ancient wheat, kamut, to modern wheat in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

J Nutr. 2014 Feb 13:1-8.
Effect of Triticum turgidum subsp. turanicum wheat on irritable bowel syndrome: a double-blinded randomised dietary intervention trial.
Sofi F1, Whittaker A2, Gori AM3 et al.

The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of a replacement diet with organic, semi-whole-grain products derived from Triticum turgidum subsp. turanicum (ancient) wheat on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and inflammatory/biochemical parameters. A double-blinded randomised cross-over trial was performed using twenty participants (thirteen females and seven males, aged 18-59 years) classified as having moderate IBS. Participants received products (bread, pasta, biscuits and crackers) made either from ancient or modern wheat for 6 weeks in a random order. Symptoms due to IBS were evaluated using two questionnaires, which were compiled both at baseline and on a weekly basis during the intervention period. Blood analyses were carried out at the beginning and end of each respective intervention period. During the intervention period with ancient wheat products, patients experienced a significant decrease in the severity of IBS symptoms, such as abdominal pain (P< 0·0001), bloating (P= 0·004), satisfaction with stool consistency (P< 0·001) and tiredness (P< 0·0001). No significant difference was observed after the intervention period with modern wheat products. Similarly, patients reported significant amelioration in the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms only after the ancient wheat intervention period, as measured by the intensity of pain (P= 0·001), the frequency of pain (P< 0·0001), bloating (P< 0·0001), abdominal distension (P< 0·001) and the quality of life (P< 0·0001). Interestingly, the inflammatory profile showed a significant reduction in the circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, IL-17, interferon-γ, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor after the intervention period with ancient wheat products, but not after the control period. In conclusion, significant improvements in both IBS symptoms and the inflammatory profile were reported after the ingestion of ancient wheat products.

It’s a modest experience, but a persuasive one. IBS has become nearly synonymous with “non-celiac gluten intolerance” (NCGI), i.e., celiac disease-like symptoms but without the accompanying small intestinal destructive changes. (In a recent consensus document, for instance, it was suggested that IBS and NCGI were one and the same.) But, as the assessment of inflammatory markers in this study and others suggest, it does not mean that IBS/NCGI are benign nor does it mean that they are a matter of mind over matter–they are very real and have very real health implications, not to mention putting yourself at risk for endoscopy by a revenue-hungry gastroenterologist.

We know that the gliadin proteins, glutenins, wheat germ agglutinin, trypsin inhibitors, alpha amylase inhibitors, and gibberellin genes are different in modern semi-dwarf strains of wheat compared to kamut and other ancient strains of wheat. Does this mean that, because kamut, emmer, einkorn, and spelt–all ancient traditional strains of wheat–are less harmful, they are therefore harmless? No, it does not, any more than low-tar cigarettes are healthy because they have less tar.

When humans consumed such ancient strains of wheat, tooth decay exploded, crowded teeth and changes in childhood facial structure appeared, and iron deficiency developed (“porotic hyperostosis”). A vivid and brilliant illustration of what happens to non-grain consuming humans when they begin to consume grains (and sugar) of the early 20th century was provided by Dr. Weston Price in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, a compilation of observations and photographs made 80 years ago by studying cultures who first began consuming the food of “the white man.”

Grains, i.e., the seeds of grasses were never meant for human consumption, part of the human diet for less than 1/2 of 1% of our time on earth. There is unquestionably a range of adverse effects, from poisonous to chronic low-grade toxicity. The worst: modern semi-dwarf wheat; the least: rice and millet. Traditional and ancient strains of wheat are somewhere in between.

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Comments & Feedback...

      • chanah stillman

        if you have celiac, and you are buying ground flax for baking, check to be sure the same company isn’t producing wheat germ. we had this problem…wasn’t fun.

  1. Neicee

    Great article and should carry a warning for those that suffer from any of the debilitating affects of consuming something you know you should leave alone. Friends that have adopted the no wheat/low carb lifestyle seem to all be in search of anything that will give them the temporary ‘fix’ of eating grains again – thus the rise of non-gluten chips/cookies on every store’s shelves. Those of us that have endured the feel of explosion in our guts know better. I don’t even try to search out a reasonable substitute for replacing them. It’s too easy for me to end up crossing the line somewhere and spending hours of misery.

  2. Anne Rhodes

    Very enlightening! Have not encountered the label NCGI before, but the label seems very appropriate. I understand that the seeds of grasses are not for human consumption, but what about corn? Is that a grass/seeds of grass? Why is it harmful?

    • Doug

      Google “why was “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize.” retracted” for the alarming effects shown by this study.
      “Somebody” had it removed from pubmed and most of the internet.
      Alarming the power of one corporation.

  3. Neicee

    Corn “Why is it harmful?” Let me count the ways. Most all corn on the market today is GMO. I would have to assume it is a Roundup Ready seed. If Roundup in your garden makes you nervous for the health, birds, even your pets, do you really want to ingest it? How about the fact corn is very high in GI index. Will drop a glycemic load that is right up there with wheat and other grains. Yes, if you’re celiac or gluten intolerant your doctor has probably told you it’s OK to eat – along with potatoes, rice, legumes, and any starch besides wheat. Mexico has taken over as #1 for diabetes in the world, and are trying to blame it on soft drinks alone. Corn/rice/beans seems to be the perfect combo to ruin your health. Throw in a six-pack a day of soft drinks and you’re cruising toward a health nightmare.

    • Dr. Davis

      No, but they contain lectins that have adverse gastrointestinal effects, as well as insulin mimicking effects.

  4. Kris

    This is very interesting. About a year and a half ago I went to the doctor because I was feeling bloated and lethargic all the time. They did some tests, the usual, checked if I was anemic, gluten intolerant etc, but all results showed that there was nothing wrong with me and basically I should just suck it up. I then took the decision to stop eating wheat anyway and I will admit that I did feel slightly better, but still not good and I’ve also started developing eczema on some of my fingers and have migraines more often. I’m starting to think that perhaps I’ve been “lazy” about the whole thing – is it really that different to replace gluten with the supermarket’s high-starch, non-organic bread? I will try to find organic kamut wheat and make my own bread, but can anyone tell me if spelt and rye is ok or not? I know I can’t eat barley, that’s for me even worse than wheat, almost like giving me a valium because I fall asleep in an instant…


      Did you read what was written? Dr. Davis says no to kamut,organic or not. No to spelt. If you bake,then try wheat free flour. You can also buy his cook book.

    • Dr. Davis

      Be careful, Kris: Modern wheat is the worst. But I would not interpret this to mean that traditional strains, rye, or barley are benign.

      All are seeds of grasses, never meant for human consumption.

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      “Is it really that different to replace gluten with the supermarket’s high starch, non-organic bread?”

      Yes! It really is that different. If you read the book or even this blog you will begin to understand about all the many reactions various grains and sugars cause. Most of the supermarket breads or other products are very high in carbohydrates which keeps your body in burning sugar for energy mode. Most of these items have sugar contents in various forms too.

      Eating these ready made items just provides you with the same high glycation reactions that wheat causes. Destructive and inflammatory. No wonder your joints still hurt. Don’t expect any improvement as long as you continue to eat all the foods that are causing you problems. It isn’t just gluten.

      Dr. Davis and many of the paleo sites provide recipes for a healthier bread and baked goods. You can try Wheat Free Market Foods too.

  5. Grammie Vi

    Thirty years ago I enjoyed grinding my own wheat berries and other grains to make flour for bread bread. Any rye bread on the market – if you read the label – has wheat in it. Rye needs another grain with more gluten to use for bread. Best to use gluten free baking mixes in Dr. D’s book.