Most of us have been raised on wheat bread. It has often been touted as the “healthier” whole grain compared to other types. Thinking back, we can all probably remember our parents making us sandwiches and grilled cheeses with bread from this grain. Let’s also not forget those comforting morning cereals that are also loaded with this stuff.
But is the grain really as good as it is suggested to be? And are there other whole grains that can work as a wheat alternative?
The Truth About Wheat
Are you comfortable? Because you’re in for quite the story. You see, while you might grab a bag of bread in the store or add it to your online cart without question, there’s actually a huge debate happening between nutritionists and experts.
To begin, wheat comes in many different varieties, much like our favorite ice creams. With that being said, the grain we know and love (or despise) has not always been the same throughout the years. In fact, it is quite different than it used to be.
Que the conspiracy music! Okay, maybe we’re drumming this up a bit, but that’s only because this is important.
The processes used to create the grain nowadays are different from, let’s say, the 1950s. Obviously. But that actually yields a totally different, more refined wheat — one that varies nutritionally from older grains.
That’s not all bad. Refined wheat can be created cheaply and at a greater quantity, which means it’s easy attainable. We don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it either.
However, the older grains, like Emmer, Enkorn and Kamut, are all more nutritious than the grain used today. Healthline reports that the most popular wheat grown today is high-yield dwarf wheat.
And that makes us a little sad. Why? Because this type of grain is a weird hybrid. It was developed using crude genetic manipulation and cross-breeding.
Just how nutritious is modern wheat compared to older grains? One study published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology suggests that grain produced from 1968-2005 is 19-28% lower in concentrations of minerals, such as zinc, copper, iron and magnesium. Coincidentally, that’s around the time modern grains were being crafted. Another study suggests older grains also contained more Selenium. These minerals and nutrients are essential to total body function.
Some nutritionists also point out that because the genetic compositions are different, modern grains can do much more damage to those with Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a harsh form of gluten intolerance that causes many people to adhere to a strict, non-gluten diet.
Additionally, one study found that older grains caused less adverse reactions than modern strains, that may be due to specific gluten proteins.
While gluten-intolerance is pretty widely known these days, not many people know that gluten is more than just one protein — it’s actually several. One of these proteins, Gila-α9, seems to be the biggest trouble-maker, potentially wrecking havoc on the body.
And guess what modern wheat is filled with? Yup, Gila-α9!
Because of this protein, it is theorized that modern grains have contributed to the growing cases of Celiac disease and gluten intolerances among the general population. More study is needed, but it’s definitely an interesting perspective.
Barley: The Wheat Alternative
If you want to give wheat a break, there are a few options. You can still find older grains thanks to the wonders of the Internet and in some specialty health stores. But we’d like to spotlight one of our favorites.
We’re talking about barley!
Barley happens be to an older cereal grain and one of the most cultivated. But what makes it different from wheat?
Well, it’s minimally processed. Considering wheat could be highly processed, we’ve already leveled up here.
On top of that, it contains natural minerals and antioxidants that aren’t present in refined and enriched grains. With a small of fat and calories, this is the perfect swap.
This grain can offer an array of benefits. According to Healthline, Barley can help support:
- Healthy blood pressure, with potassium, calcium and magnesium
- Bone health, with vitamins and antioxidants
- Heart health, by helping reduce cholesterol and fat
- The body’s response to inflammation, with choline (a phytonutrient)
- Weight Management
We love barley, which is why we use it for our Organic Just Barley juice blend. Specifically, we use the leaf (not the grain), grown in pristine, mineral spring water. But don’t worry, the leaf still holds chlorophyll, B-Vitamins and minerals.
This green juice can help support energy, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Ready To Make the Switch?
Like what you’re hearing? Try using switch out wheat for barley. Plus, try our Organic Just Barely Juice, which can be integrated into any daily health regimen.