ANCIENT GRAINS AND WHY WE NEED THEM
1. In 1940’s wheat was chosen as the crop to feed a growing population. It has been genetically modified to contain more gluten and to be suitable for large-scale farming, which does not focus on the nutritional health of the soil. So, our food supply contains less nutrients than it once did. It may also be adding to the gluten intolerance seen today.
2. What are ancient grains? Wheat, grains and pseudo-cereals that have been around for thousands of years and have not been genetically altered.
a. Wheats include spelt, Khorasan (kamut), einkorn, and farro/emmer.
b. Grains: millet, barley, teff, oats and sorghum.
c. Pseudo-cereals: quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and chia.
3. In general, ancient grains contain protein and more vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients than modern wheat, rice and corn.
a. The vitamins, minerals and micronutrients in ancient grains help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, reduce cholesterol, improve the density of bones, are used to make collagen, improve immunity, assist with neurological activity, reduce inflammation, assist in making and repair of DNA, regulate blood sugar, increase blood flow. They also contain chemicals that reduce inflammation, which leads to many disease processes, including arthritis and cancer. Many contain antioxidants that reduce cellular damage and disease, including cancer, and help the body to heal.
b. Some grains contain specific nutrients and chemicals that provide other health benefits.
4. While these grains contain many nutrients, we only list those that are significantly high. Values given are for one cup cooked grain. Let’s begin with:
5. Ancient wheat
a. Spelt: 10.6 grams of protein, high in manganese, phosphorus, niacin, magnesium, zinc and iron. It does contain phytic acid which can reduce absorption of iron and zinc. Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting reduces phytic acid, so it is good to at least soak the grains over-night and before cooking. Our guides have recommended spelt three times a week to help with energy levels. Spelt contains a lot of good carbs for energy.
b. Kamut (Khorasan): 10 grams of protein, 100% of daily value of selenium! Also high in zinc and niacin (B3). Selenium and zinc both help in avoid worse-case scenarios with the current C-V outbreak. Selenium is best absorbed from food sources, rather than supplements.
c. Emmer/farro: 13 grams protein, high in niacin (B3), zinc, magnesium. Also high in antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
d. Einkorn: 16-18 grams of protein! 213% DV of lutein, 76% manganese, high in riboflavin (B12), zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin (B1), niacin, iron, vitamin (B6). Lutein is good for preventing cataracts and macular degeneration of the eye. Manganese regulates blood sugar, increases blood flow to the brain, and is used to make thyroid hormone. It is a powerful antioxidant that reduces risk of heart disease, inflammation and cell damage.
e. Freekah: A green wheat: 16 grams of protein! This figure has been corrected from the previous reporting of 20 grams. High in iron, lutein and zeaxathin, which help protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration.
6. Ancient Grains:
a. Millet: Contains high amounts of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and thiamin. Contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Contributes to bone, heart and blood vessel health, helps muscle contractions and nerve function. Contains phytic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc, but is mitigated by soaking in water over-night.
b. Barley: contains high amounts of selenium, iron, thiamine (B1) and magnesium.
c. Teff: 13.3 grams of protein, 402% DV of manganese, 90% DV of copper, 98%DV of vitamin C, 44% magnesium, 43% iron, 34% phosphorus and 33% zinc.
d. Oats (not quick-cooking): 191% DV of manganese, 41% phosphorus. Also high in magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and thiamin. Contains antioxidants and polyphenols. Reduces blood pressure and dilates blood vessels, reducing risk of heart attack and stroke. Also has anti-inflammatory and anti-itching components, used in oat baths, plus probiotics for good gut health.
e. Sorghum: Guides recommended “durra variety” of sorghum and said, historically, those who understood its value promoted it as fodder for animals so commoners wouldn’t eat it. It is eaten a lot in Africa and other countries. Do buy it from a cool-weather grower as heat may produce a toxin (we buy from mygerbs.com out of Rhode Island). Apply ½ tsp ground, uncooked, sorghum to your other cooked grains three times a week. Follow with a full glass of water. Contains protein, high in potassium, thiamine (B1), B6, copper, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
7. Ancient pseudo-grains (seeds used as cereals):
a. Quinoa: 8 grams of protein, contains all 8 amino acids to make a complete protein. High in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, zinc. Also contains quercetin, which reduces inflammation and binds to ACE 2 receptors in lungs, heart, blood vessels, and more, blocking attachment of SARS and C-V, reducing spread of disease. Has some anti-cancer properties too.
b. Amaranth: 9 grams of protein, high in manganese. iron and magnesium. Anti-inflammatory properties.
c. Buckwheat (not really a wheat): 14 grams of protein. Contains 29% DV of manganese and 96 % DV magnesium. Also high in niacin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium. Contains quercetin and rutin, which strengthen blood vessels. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory. Fights some cancers.
d. Chia seed: High in calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Plus, contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
8. Gluten free? Quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth, teff, and buckwheat are recommended.
9. What do these nutrients do?
- Zinc: Participates in gene expression, making of enzymes and improves immunity. Within the cells, zinc interferes with viral replication, which is why it is recommended for C-V. It is needed to make DNA and protein, helps with healing, growth and development of children. Grains high in zinc: teff, emmer/farro, quinoa, spelt, kamut, oats. Also found in shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, and garlic.
- Iron: Found in the red blood cells, carries oxygen from the lungs to all tissues of the body. Also found in the muscle cells. Found in teff (42%DV), barley, amaranth, oats, sorghum, buckwheat, and spelt. Also found in beans, lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, cashews, dark green leafy vegies.
- Vitamin B1/thiamin: Involved in of the movement of electrolytes in the functions of the nervous system, heart and muscles. Found in sorghum, oats, millet, and barley. Also found in dried milk, nuts, oranges, eggs, seed, legumes, peas and yeast.
- Vitamin B3/niacin: Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing risk of heart disease and narrowing of the arteries that restrict blood flow. Grains high in niacin: spelt, kamut. Also found in chicken breast, tuna, turkey, salmon, anchovies.
- Vitamin B6: Found in sorghum. Also found in salmon, tuna, chicken liver, eggs, potatoes, carrots, bananas, spinach, sweet potato.
- Vitamin B9/folate/folic acid (synthetic): Needed for the production of red blood cells and the formation of a baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord. Deficiency can cause a type of anemia, especially in women. Quinoa is high in folate. Other foods that contain folate include: leafy green vegetables, cooked lentils, broccoli, asparagus, Great Northern beans, cantaloupe, oranges, avocados, okra, nuts and seeds, cauliflower, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), romaine lettuce, mangoes, kiwi, and pomegranate.
- Quercetin: Found in buckwheat and quinoa, it is an antioxidant anti-inflammatory that reduces risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, especially of the lung. Quercetin (and rutin) strengthen blood vessels. Its anti-inflammatory effect is good for arthritis. Quercetin also helps kill cancer cells and controls blood sugar. In the wake of C-V, quercetin has been found to strongly bind to ACE 2 cell receptors, blocking entry of the C-V viruses, helping to minimize infection. Also found in red wine, green and black tea, and the skin of many fruits. Quercetin may react with blood thinners, increasing risk of bleeding, and may reduce the effectiveness of certain antibiotics. Doses over 1,000 mg may damage the kidneys. Quercetin is absorbed better from foods than supplements.
- Selenium: An antioxidant, selenium reduces cell damage and inflammation. Increased levels of selenium in the body are associated with better immune responses. Many hospitalized from C-V infection were found to have low levels of selenium. Also found in turkey, chicken, fish and shellfish, as well as Brazil nuts.
- Manganese: Used to make connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors, and sex hormones. Manganese helps in the regulation of normal blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and nerve function. It also assists in energy production, as well as muscle and nerve function. Chronically low levels are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological problems and seizures. High levels of manganese in the brain can lead to Parkinson-like symptoms, tremors, so, make sure you are not taking too much, which most likely occurs from taking supplements. Manganese can also be found in mussels, firm tofu, sweet potatoes, collards, peas, and okra.
- Magnesium: Is essential for normal nerve and muscular function, especially of the heart. Low magnesium levels can lead to cramps, an irregular heartbeat, numbness and tingling, and even seizures. Too much magnesium (from supplements) can cause nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Magnesium can also be found in avocados, legumes, tofu, pumpkin seeds, salmon, mackerel, and halibut.
- NOTE: We have intentionally left out sources in beef and pork, as our guides are not recommending beef as a food source and are not recommending pork through September 2021.
- We encourage people obtain their nutrition from food sources if at all possible, as they are more-easily absorbed and less likely to contribute to over-dosing.