Is einkorn the answer?

People ask: "What if I would like a piece of bread or other baked product just once in a while? What is safe?"

Eli Rogosa, Director of The Heritage Wheat Conservancy, believes that a return to the wheat of our ancestors in the Fertile Crescent, circa 10,000 years ago, is the answer.

Former science teacher, now organic farmer, farm researcher, and advocate of sustainable agriculture, Eli has been reviving "heritage" crops farmed under organic conditions, some of her research USDA-funded.

In particular, Eli has been cultivating original 14-chromosome ("diploid") einkorn wheat. Although einkorn contains gluten (in lesser quantities despite the higher total protein content), the group of proteins that trigger the immune abnormalities of celiac disease and other immune phenomena, Eli tells me that she has witnessed many people with a variety of wheat intolerances, including celiac disease, tolerate foods made with einkorn wheat. (The variety of glutens in einkorn differ from the glutens of the dwarf mutant that now dominate supermarket shelves.)

Eli travels to Israel every year, returning with "heritage" seeds for wheat and other crops. She formerly worked in the Israel GenBank as Director of the Ancient Wheat Program. She has written a brochure that describes her einkorn wheat.

Eli sent me 2 lb of her einkorn grain that nutritionist, Margaret Pfeiffer, and I ground into bread. Our experience is detailed here. My subsequent blood sugar misadventure, comparing einkorn bread to conventional organic whole wheat bread is detailed here, followed by the odd neurologic effects I experienced here.

Anyone else wishing to try this little ancient wheat experiment with einkorn can also obtain either the unground grain or ground flour through Eli's website, Most recently, einkorn pasta is being retailed under the Jovial brand at Whole Foods Market.

If anyone else makes bread or any other food with Eli's einkorn wheat, please let me know:

1) Your blood sugar response (before and 1 hour after consumption)
2) Whether you experienced any evidence of wheat intolerance similar to what you experienced with conventional wheat, e.g., rash, acid reflux, gas and cramping, moodiness, asthma, etc.

But remember: Wheat effects or no, einkorn is still a grain. My belief is that humans do best with little or no grain. The einkorn experience is an effort to identify reasonable compromises so that you and I can have a piece of birthday cake once a year without getting sick.

Comments (14) -

  • JohnR

    1/11/2011 5:39:46 PM |

    Speaking as someone with celiac, I wouldn't go NEAR einkorn and I don't understand why it continues to hold your interest. On the rare occasion that I really need a grain product of some kind, rice and corn are entirely adequate.

  • Anonymous

    1/11/2011 9:07:47 PM |

    Have you heard of that study?

  • Travis Culp

    1/11/2011 10:37:38 PM |

    The problem is that even if you mitigated the inflammatory effects of the gluten, you're still eating a (relatively) high glycemic, pre-masticated food. The pulverization and reconstitution of food, especially grain, is going to make the blood glucose response far greater. That then could be addressed, I suppose, with physical activity timed to coincide with the spike. At that point, however, it seems like you're going through great pains to eat something of no great nutritional value just for nostalgia's sake.

    However, if we're talking about getting one's intractable relatives to save their lives through small steps, then this could be a legitimate option.

  • Anonymous

    1/11/2011 10:44:05 PM |

    I have never been tested for celiac but can tell you within an hour if a food had gluten in it. Headache and abdominal pains as digestion starts followed by days near the bathroom. I have had the jovail pasta twice since your post about it. It was very nerve wracking to eat but ended up being very pleasant. The second time I checked my blood sugar before and every 15 min after eating.  89, 96, 109, 116,132, 116, 98, 92

    I'm happy I read about it on your blog. On a side note now if I'm exposed to gluten by accident I take a product called gultenease and it seems to shorten the severity and duration.

  • Martin Levac

    1/12/2011 5:27:44 AM |

    Or declare grains not suitable for human consumption. After all, without fortification, it's not suitable for human consumption.

  • TWF

    1/12/2011 6:28:14 AM |

    I go through periods of eating wheat and not eating it. My habits are very hard to break and I find bread products "comforting".

    I have to say that when I eat a lot of breads, chips, etc., I find myself with a lot of belching, listlessness and bloating. I don't think I'm completely intolerant, just a little.

    Oddly though, I can't eat oats. If I do, I get major cramping and all the fun that comes with that type of GI situation. My parents used to tell me I had a "nervous stomach". It turned out I ate too many Cheerios and granola cereal.

    Can anyone tell me what's so bad about oats? Do they have similar affects as wheat?

  • Kevin

    1/12/2011 6:03:00 PM |

    I get no symptoms subsequent to eating bread or other wheat products.  But I do develop canker sores soon after a high-wheat meal.  That alone is enough motivation to avoid bread, pasta, etc.


  • shutchings

    1/13/2011 8:14:59 PM |

    I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried the Zone bread products and then measured your blood sugar with a glucose monitor. They claim that their products won’t raise your blood sugar more than a strawberry would. I couldn’t figure out if they used anything like Einkorn, but they say there’s a lot more protein in their products than normal bread products.

  • Tiffany Jewelry

    1/14/2011 9:52:49 AM |

    I am the first time on this site and am really enthusiastic about and so many good articles. I think it’s just very good.
    Always yours

  • Einkorn Wheat

    1/14/2011 2:49:35 PM |

    Your interest in einkorn as a via ingredient for an birthday cake is interesting.  I'm thinking that whatever is used to sweeten the birthday cake will have a bigger effect on glycemic response than the wheat.  No?

    At any rate, the value of einkorn comes not only in the form of a lower glycemic impact(compared with normal wheat) but also it's nutritional qualities.

  • Larry

    2/3/2011 12:39:23 AM |

    I was able to buy Jovial Einkorn Fusilli at WF.
    My FBG this morning was 82.
    I tested myself right before I ate dinner at 6PM..
    My BG - non fasting - was 90.
    The wife made pasta, with sweet sausage(2) and broccoli rabe.
    I had three ounces of the pasta.
    I also had a small piece - 2"x2" of home made corn bread afterwards.
    My 1 hr BG was 142.
    That's the highest BG reading I've ever had.
    Back to no pasta and primal eating tomorrow.
    For me that's a scary number.
    Even if it's an abberation.

  • mary wier

    10/29/2011 9:09:16 AM |

    Dear Dr. Davis, I just bought your book and my spouse and I are trying gluten free to help with type 2 diabetes and BP-----we already had slashed carbs and sugar, and spouse has normal glucose if he stays on this strict lo carb diet, but we want to lose weight, lower my BP and reverse diabetes. IT is 6 weeks now and we are getting out of the detox.  We are noticing we are leaning toward low sugar foods to fell that 400  calorie gap, but we are wanting to try this way as long as we can, your book is great.  I also saw a new tv show on that frozen mummy from the alps, they did a second thing of exams on it and found einkorn wheat product in his stomach AND also calcification of the arteries, he is said to have been in his forties, this was 5 thousand years ago!  Looks like einkorn was affecting humankind even then???Thanks for your book.
    Bill and Mary Wier in Chattanooga TN,

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/29/2011 10:47:06 PM |

    Hi, Bill and Mary--

    Yes, I fear that, while einkorn is better, it may not be great. We don't want to repeat the flawed logic of the wheat lobby: replace something bad with something less bad, and the less bad thing must be good.

  • Kristi

    2/17/2013 2:33:20 PM |

    We don't have wheat every day, in fact, most days we do not.  Having the Jovial Einkorn makes things bearable for those days when we do have wheat.  We have their pasta about once per month.  I use the flour for baking cookies or other treats where I can't use almond meal or coconut flour.  It's a nice trade-off.  I'm never going to be as die-hard as some of you who never eat anything that isn't raw, or isn't whole, but it certainly makes making the changes better.  We really should try to be more loving about other's food choices, even if you don't find them to be the best for you.