Friday, February 21, 2014

"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

...that ALL grains are created equal -- and they're BAAAAAD!

Uh -- no.  Not even true when you separate "gluten grains" from the "safe starch" variety.

Ignore what i'm about to say if you actually have celiac disease, or if you're as sensitive to grain proteins as Peter at Hyperlipid.  This is for people like me who, WHEN HEALED, can have an occasional small serving of wheat and not become bedridden.  It's for people like Wooo, who can eat a LC wrap from time to time without overt symptoms.

Truth is, almost everything humans eat have a down-side.  Severely intolerant people can eat very few things without significant distress.  Environmental stresses can add to our bodies' reactive loads, and a small amount of a food can surprise us with how bad we can feel, after eating it with impunity last week.  Nay-sayers don't believe sufferers -- it's gotta be all in their heads! -- but anybody who actually READS isn't in any doubt.

Did you see the latest, about the study comparing heritage wheat to the modern stuff?  It's being admired because of the gold-standard way in which it was conducted, and showed objective evidence that Dr. Wheat-Belly has been right about the toxicity of modern strains, which have been conventionally hybridized, NOT even GMO-altered. 

I wanted to check out something, so ran my own not-very-well-designed trial.  I ordered some emmer flour and some heritage rye flour from the same farm/mill.  I started a sourdough culture from spelt flour that I had around the house.  It took extra-long to get going, because of the cold temperatures here, and the light-bulb in my oven doesn't work (an old-fashioned gas pilot light, OR a functioning lightbulb in an electric oven provide excellent gentle heat for yeast working -- but I currently have neither).  When fit for use, one evening I started a sponge with warmed filtered water, a cup of starter and rye flour -- this provides extra fermenting time to help disable antinutrients.  By morning it had risen beautifully.  I added more flour, salt, molasses and butter, kneaded it in my Kitchenaid mixer, formed a loaf, and set it to rise again.  Several hours later I baked it, then waited for the morning to begin my experiment.

I measured FBG, took my first-thing supplements and had a cup of coffee, and before I got any further I kicked myself for introducing more variables....  Oh well -- i'd just make the exact-same mistake before the next trial!  :-)  So I measured pre-food glucose again (it was a little higher than fasting).

I measured 100g of the bread and heated it in the microwave a few seconds to make up for the fact that I was eating it dry.  It was good, as 100% rye sourdough always is, to me!  With it, I had a second cup of black coffee.  I measured glucose at 1/2-hour, 1/2-hour, 1-hour, and 1-hour intervals.  It wasn't hard to wait till the period was over to have more coffee or anything else to eat.  I noticed no "gluten symptoms."

So far so good!  I replenished my sourdough starter with rye (to make up for "contaminating" my rye bread with spelt in the first round), and when it was ready I prepared the next loaf -- the emmer wheat version.  I took my cup of starter and cup of warmed filtered water and worked in some flour to start the same approximate volume and texture of sponge.  I covered it and left it overnight on the counter.  In the morning, very little had happened.  There were a few bubbles, but not the beautiful uniform rise that the rye sponge had displayed.  I added the molasses early to help fuel the buggies, placed the bowl in a pan of warm water, once ... twice ... finally putting everything in a lightly-warmed oven.  Virtually nothing happened during half a day!  Not wanting to ruin my concoction, when I started mixing the dough in the afternoon, I added some proofed yeast along with my salt, butter and flour.

From the beginning, this loaf was different.  I've been baking bread from scratch for forty years.  FOUR DECADES of hand-kneading of all kinds of different flour combinations.  This stuff was extraordinarily gluten-y!  The rye dough wasn't very glutinous compared to wheat flour -- during the mixing and kneading period, I stopped often to scrape down the bowl and move the dough back into reach of the dough-hook.  By comparison, just as soon as the emmer dough was stiff enough, it didn't want to let go of the dough-hook!  When I stopped the machine this time, it was to move the dry flour into the dough, because the mass had been sliding around on top of the unmixed stuff, not working it in.  When it was worked enough, I made a loaf as before.  Even with the addition of yeast, it took as long to rise as the just-sourdough-leavened rye did.  This stuff was just ... odd!

This morning I ran my experiment with the same "mistakes" as the first trial.  Same supplements, black coffee, blood-sugar reading, 100g of dry warmed bread with another cup of coffee.  BG readings at 1/2, 1/2, 1, 1....

The first thing I noticed after the emmer-bread breakfast -- I was hungry!  The rye stuck to my ribs very nicely, but it's been a temptation to go get another cup of coffee "too soon" today!  I don't remember what we had for dinner the night before the rye trial, but I don't think it was more or less filling/satiating than the soup and fried tilapia we had last night.  I slept well both "night-befores", too.

To my surprise there wasn't a big difference in the blood-glucose rise and fall.  They started at 90+-4, and topped out at 140+-5.  I started the experiment from a higher FBG, because I had chugging along in ketosis before I did all this.  But the differences from one day to the other were well within the known variability of my Reli-On meter.  The BIG differences were subjective and observational -- but they do open up room for speculation and further experimentation!

There's no doubt in the world that heritage dark rye and emmer wheat flours have SIGNIFICANTLY different quantities of gluten in them.  For those individuals who find wheat to be minimally problematic -- ie, the dose defining the toxicity -- this is big.  Yes, rye is a gluten-grain, and making a quality sourdough rye didn't help Peter cope with bread any better.  But to damn rye in the same phrase as damning wheat -- not even the same ballpark!  It's like damning ovo-lacto-vegetarianism in the same breath as veganism!

I have further experiments to try -- I find this FUN!  I plan to compare Bluebird to Bob's Red Mill rye, and home-ground farro to intact-grain to commercially-milled.  But my very first round confirms how much less damaging my body finds "real-sourdough 100% rye" to any other grain-based bread I've eaten. 

... An' i'll tell ya, the Welsh rarebit we indulged in a few days ago, using the rye and Kerrygold cheese, was absolutely wonderful!  (it's even better with some anchovy-paste added....)


  1. Tess, it is more trouble with bread than blood sugar level and hunger, allergies get slowly worse and worse.
    It is fan to bake, I agree 100 percent.

    1. oh, I know. but my argument is that comparing rye to wheat is not reasonable, despite the fact that both are "gluten grains." now, "fun to bake" i'd be less inclined to agree with. ;-) kitchen work is kitchen work -- I don't find it any more fun to bake than to wash dishes. it's just occasionally fun to eat the results.

    2. I like the bread-making process, to watch the dough rise, smells of baking, especially of the rye bread. It is more exiting for me than making soup or baking a pork butt roast.
      I agree with you that for some reasons wheat "sponge" is less robust than the rye one. I think that less gluten is better for sourdough , but worse for the yeast dough.