Research

Our research focus is based on one of the ancient teachings of Hippocrates that “Medicine should be our food and food should be our medicine” and two modern observations.
  1. An ever increasing number of people can no longer enjoy eating modern wheat as a staple in their diets because of some type of sensitivity or malady.
  2. Since we first introduced our grain to the market, many consumers have told us that the problems they experienced after eating modern wheat simply did not occur when they ate KAMUT® khorasan wheat products. 
We do not believe that we should simply medicate the symptoms of poor health and discomfort created or aggravated by eating modern wheat. Rather, we should look directly to our food for not only the potential cause, but also the potential cure for some of the diseases and problems plaguing modern society.
 
We created a research program to understand why most people who have trouble eating modern wheat have no trouble eating our ancient grain and to confirm the health benefits of KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat.
 
 
ASSESSMENT OF ALLERGENIC REACTIVITY OF KAMUT® KHORASAN WHEAT VERSUS COMMON WHEAT (International Food Allergy Association, Illinois, USA, 1991)
This clinical study was conducted over a six month period enrolling 100 people suffering from significant wheat sensitivities. Nearly 70% showed a less negative reaction caused by KAMUT® khorasan wheat than they did for modern wheat. A subset of 10 out of the 100 who had significant problems eating modern wheat were then given a diet of KAMUT® khorasan wheat products. Again seven out of the 10 had either no negative reactions or a very mild reaction. The results of these studies led the author to conclude, “KAMUT (brand khorasan products) can be an excellent substitution for common (modern) wheat if eaten on a rotational basis.”
 

Glycemic Index (GI)
Between 2002 and 2007 we studied the glycemic index (GI) on several finished KAMUT® khorasan products in the U.S., Canada and Italy. GI gives an indication of how fast the carbohydrates in a food will be broken down and enter the blood stream as glucose as compared to eating 100% glucose. We found the results for different KAMUT® brand products tested to be quite mixed. On the one extreme, we found the GI quite low (43) for the coarsely ground grain designed to be cooked and eaten as hot cereal. At the very high end of the GI was the puffed grain (83). The variety of breads (57-68), pastas (61-71) and cold cereals (62-70) which were tested fell mostly in the medium range. The results may depend more on the particle size of the flour used than the biochemical composition in the end products. A recently published study conducted in Australia confirms this hypothesis. 
 
Digestibility Studies
Many of our customers reported that KAMUT® khorasan wheat products were easier to digest which led us to look at the process of digestion. We initiated a study under the direction of the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, UK, using their artificial stomach. We compared cooked pasta made from modern wheat and the KAMUT® khorasan wheat to see if there was any measurable difference in the digestive process. The results were inconclusive as no significant difference in break down products in this test was observed.
 
Based on findings of these initial studies on wheat sensitivity, glycemic index and digestibility and ongoing reports of consumers we developed our current research program strategy.  



 
In a 2009 study, the phenolic profile of KAMUT® khorasan wheat was published (read abstract). Polyphenols are secondary metabolites of plants characterized by antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have an important role in prevention of chronic disease. Although the content of polyphenols and flavonoids didn’t differ quantitatively between ancient and modern varieties, the results showed that KAMUT® khorasan wheat had one of the most diverse content of bioactive compounds. This rich source of biodiversity, especially the functional properties, provides unique nutraceutical value.
The first part of a research focused on the antioxidant properties of KAMUT® khorasan wheat was published in 2011 (read press release and abstract). By studying blood markers, the results showed that compared to durum wheat, a diet based on whole grain KAMUT® khorasan bread increased the antioxidant protection. This effect was correlated to the higher content of Selenium and polyphenols in KAMUT® khorasan wheat bread compared to the modern wheat bread.
 
The second part of this research, published in 2012, studied both the antioxidative stress markers in the blood and the liver antioxidant enzymes (read press release and abstract). A diet based on whole grain KAMUT® khorasan bread showed a higher activity of liver antioxidant enzymes than a diet based on modern wheat bread. This confirmed the results obtained in the previous paper.
 
The third and last paper related to this study was published in 2014 and evaluated a diet of KAMUT® khorasan wheat pasta compared to a diet based on modern durum pasta (read press release and full-text article). Besides the confirmation of its antioxidant protection, KAMUT® khorasan wheat pasta showed, for the first time, significant anti-inflammatory properties. These effects could be due to its higher content in antioxidant compounds. Consumption of modern durum pasta, not only offered a lower protection against the oxidative stress, but caused a high degree of inflammation in the organism. This study helped us understand why most non-celiac people suffering from modern wheat sensitivities can tolerate KAMUT® khorasan wheat.

A recent paper published in December 2015 tested cookies made with KAMUT® khorasan wheat, “non-KAMUT®” khorasan wheat cultivated in Italy and modern wheat (read full-text article). The aim was to assess if health-beneficial properties are attributed only to wheat variety or also to its geographic origin. The highest total antioxidant capacity, the richest content of total polyphenols and carotenoids and the highest anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties were showed by cookies made with khorasan flours, particularly when grown in North America under the KAMUT® brand. Although the type of wheat used for cookies making (modern vs. ancient) appeared to be the main factor of the observed protective effect, the geographical origin of khorasan wheat also played a key role.
 
A paper published in 2012 evaluated the prebiotic potential of soluble fiber extracted from KAMUT® khorasan wheat and from a series of ancient and modern wheat varieties (read abstract). Prebiotics are chemicals that can induce the growth and/or activity of healthy gut microorganisms which, limits the growth of potentially harmful microorganisms.
The soluble fiber extracted from each variety was used as the sole carbon source in the growth medium of 2 human gut bacterial strains. KAMUT® khorasan wheat showed promising prebiotic potential, with a Prebiotic Index significantly higher compared to the Prebiotic Index of the other varieties. This means a diet of KAMUT® khorasan wheat products may enhance gut health.
 
A human clinical trial published in 2014 evaluated the impact of diet on gut microflora and metabolic profile in healthy volunteers (read abstract). Results showed that a whole grain KAMUT® khorasan wheat-based diet, compared to a whole grain modern wheat-based diet, was mainly characterized by the release in the gut of more Short Chain Fatty Acids and phenol compounds, both key elements with a positive impact in the human physiology, as well as by an increase in health-promoting synergy of the gut bacteria. These results support previous published findings related to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of KAMUT® khorasan wheat-based cereal foods compared to foods made with modern wheat.
The first study related to the effects of a KAMUT® khorasan wheat-based diet on people suffering from a non-infectious chronic disease was published in 2014 (read press release and full-text article).  The study involved 20 subjects suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a chronic gastrointestinal disorder with recurrent abdominal discomfort or pain, in combination with troublesome bowel habits, affecting approximately 10 – 20 % of the general population in industrial countries. For the majority of individuals suffering from IBS symptoms, conventional treatment is often ineffective and patients often report a significant reduction in the quality of life.
 
After consumption of ancient wheat products, patients experienced a significant improvement in the extent and severity of symptoms related to IBS such as intensity and frequency of abdominal pain, bloated stomach, satisfaction with bowel movements and tiredness with a  improvement in the quality of life. The inflammatory profile was also improved, with a reduction of those molecules circulating in the blood, called cytokines, which are responsible for the inflammatory levels of the body. In particular, there was a decrease of the following cytokines: Interleukin 6 (-36,2%), Interferon g  (-33,6%), Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 (-39%) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (-23,7%). No significant differences were noted after the modern wheat intervention period. This study demonstrates that KAMUT® khorasan wheat offers a healthy alternative to those IBS patients who have completely eliminated modern wheat in order to have some relief from their symptoms. They now can enjoy wheat-based products again.
Cardiovascular disease comprises a variety of diseases affecting the heart and blood system, and is responsible for approximately one third of all deaths globally in both developed and developing countries.
 
The first study, showing the impact of a diet based on KAMUT® khorasan wheat in 22 healthy adults with no prior clinical manifestation of cardiovascular disease, but with some risk factors for the disease, was published in 2013 (read press release and full-text article). A diet based on KAMUT® khorasan wheat products showed a significant reduction of metabolic risk factors in the blood such as total cholesterol (-4%), “bad” cholesterol LDL (-7.8%), glucose (-4%) and a increase of mineral levels, in particular, Potassium (+4.6%) and Magnesium (+2.3%). Additionally, people eating KAMUT® khorasan wheat products had an improvement in their oxidant status and in their inflammatory status as indicated by a decrease of levels of inflammatory blood markers, called cytokines, such as TNF-alpha (-34.6%), Interleukin 6 (-23.6%), Interleukin 12 (-28.1%) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (-10.5%). These changes were not observed, in the same volunteers, after the consumption of modern wheat products.
 
The promising results obtained in the previous study were confirmed also in patients with clinical manifestation of cardiovascular disease (read press release and full text article). A diet based on KAMUT® khorasan wheat products showed a significant improvement of key markers for the cardiovascular risk compared to a diet based on modern wheat, such as total cholesterol (-6,8%), “bad” cholesterol LDL (-8,1%), glucose (-8%) and insulin (-24,6%), and, in addition, an improvement in their oxidative status and a significant reduction in the master pro-inflammatory cytokine marker called TNF-alpha (-34,5%). Therefore, a diet based on the ancient KAMUT® khorasan wheat, in patients suffering from Acute Coronary Syndrome and under stringent drug therapy, can offer additional protection against cardiovascular events (secondary prevention).
Our study published in 2015 focused on non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), which has rapidly increased in recent years (read full-text article). The study involved whole blood cells from 48 NCGS patients and 30 healthy subjects that were exposed to protein extracts of modern and ancient wheat varieties. Both in NCGS patients and healthy subjects, protein extracts of modern wheat varieties, compared to ancient wheat varieties, induced a higher production of CXCL10, an inflammatory cytokine commonly found in high levels also in celiac and IBS patients. In conclusion, pro-inflammatory characteristics of wheat proteins are much more prominent in the protein extracts of modern wheat varieties compared to ancient wheat genotypes.
 
Our more recent study published in 2016 focused on type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a chronic condition characterized by excessive glucose levels, resulting from insulin resistance and/or decreased insulin secretion (read full-text article). Although generally viewed with concern by diabetics, benefits are attributed to carbohydrates (also derived from cereals) and these benefits are dependent on the quality of the source. In this study two different sources of cereals were tested: products made from KAMUT® khorasan wheat and from modern wheat.
Despite ongoing traditional medicinal therapies in all the participants, a positive impact of KAMUT® khorasan wheat products was reported on blood insulin (-16.3%), glucose (-9,1%) and insulin resistance (-24,3%). Moreover, there was a significant decrease in risk factors of vascular complications in T2DM patients, such as total cholesterol (-3.7%), LDL-cholesterol (-3,4%), the pro-inflammatory cytokines VEGF (-33,6%) and IL-1ra (-27,2%) and a significant increase of total antioxidant capacity (+6.3%). This study further corroborates previous research demonstrating the health-promoting benefits of ancient KAMUT® khorasan wheat, not evident in the studied modern wheat.

We are about to begin a study on volunteers with fatty livers to investigate the effects on obesity and dementia.

We have learned much about the difference of the effects of ancient and modern wheat on health. In the future we hope to better understand the mode of action producing these differences.