Good Morning! You may be wondering why some people can eat some grains but not others. That is a fantastic question, lets dive into that. There are several aspects that cause people to be able to tolerate one grain over another. That is the genetics of the specific grain, processing of the product itself, and how it is grown.
The Genetics of the Grain
As I mentioned yesterday there is one variety of wheat that I can actually tolerate, that is called Einkorn. It is a very ancient variety so the genetic makeup is totally different from most of today’s modern wheat. I have also heard from some people who are able to eat Kamut (another ancient variety of wheat), though I myself have not tried it. Some people can have spelt or barley but not wheat. The list goes on! I hate to go back to the reason of “the body is weird”, but each and every person is different. I have a friend who is specifically allergic to wheat, not gluten in particular. So she can eat barley, but anything with wheat in particular causes issues. The human body is so specific that you really have to listen to your body and find out what works for you.
How the Grain is Processed
Processing can affect the digestibility of the grain as well. Until recent years most all wheat flour found in the store was both bleached and bromated. The bleaching was simply to get that pure white appearance, and faster, that so many have come to expect and desire out of a grocery store loaf. Think about what a typical loaf of sandwich bread looks like. The bleaching caused a weakening of the gluten structure, though. So processors also started “bromating” the flour, or adding potassium bromate. This was to counteract that and just help the flour stand up better to processing and give it a better gluten structure. For a further short read on bromated flour check out this article by King Arthur Flour.
Obviously as with any additive or chemical there are always concerns. I for one am not a fan of bleach in my food to begin with, even if they say it’s all been processed out. As I’m sure you can imagine some people’s bodies are not the most happy with chemical residue left behind. So once again there are people who are able to eat regular wheat flour so long as it is unbleached and unbromated. While processing is not as clear when it comes to other grains such as corn or rice, this can certainly hold true for these as well. If you are looking for a new product it will never hurt to find the highest quality processor possible to get your food from.
How the grain was grown and harvested
The final aspect we will look at today that could affect the digestibility of the grain is how its grown. Most of this (as I’m sure you can imagine) relates to the use of herbicides used in the growth and harvesting of the grain. I’m not going to dig too deep into this because many arguments arise over the exact uses, quantities and time when herbicides such as glyphosate are applied. Glyphosate (better known as Roundup) is approved for use on various grains (wheat, corn, soy) for various applications. One use for Roundup is as a weed killer. It’s specifically used in conjunction with varieties of grains that have been bred or genetically modified to resist being killed by roundup. The farmer sprays for weeds without being concerned about killing his crop. Roundup kills off the crop and allows it to dry out some before harvest. Other herbicides are used this way.
As I mentioned there is much argument over exactly how this is done. Herbicides are always used, though in differing amounts and at different times during the growing process. I do know people who, if they consume cheap supermarket wheat that has been processed in “normal” ways, they have fairly major issues. King Arthur, or other high quality brands, doesn’t cause the same issues.
Hopefully that answers some of your questions about why some people can eat some grains but not others. Remember at the end of the day each person is different. Take the time to learn your body and find out what does and does not work for you. Maybe you don’t need to go totally grain free, and you can have something that’s processed better. Maybe it’s just easier to go whole hog and get rid of it all so you don’t have to worry about the intricacies of things. Remember: food is to be enjoyed, so eat well, be healthy, and have fun with it!
Have a tasty day,