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Research

SPONSORED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PROGRAM

Our research focus is based on one ancient teaching and two modern observations:

The teaching: Twenty-three hundred years ago among the many teachings of Hippocrates was the idea, loosely translated: “Medicine should be our food and food should be our medicine.” We are starting with this idea and applying it to two modern observations.

The 1st observation: 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 caused by consuming wheat.

The 2nd observation: Over the past 25 years many KAMUT® brand khorasan grain customers have told us countless encouraging anecdotal stories. The problems they experienced after eating modern wheat simply did not occur when they ate KAMUT® khorasan ancient wheat products. These reports continue to increase as the number and availability of KAMUT® khorasan products on the market continues to grow.

Many clinical observations, especially by naturopathic doctors, and at least one clinical double blind study in 1991, have added to these consumer testimonials. This clinical study was conducted over a six month period by the International Food Allergy Association under the direction of its president, Dr. Eileen Yoder, PhD. Her results documented that in her tests of 100 people suffering from significant wheat sensitivities; nearly 70% showed a lower test score for KAMUT® brand 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 challenged with a diet of KAMUT® khorasan  products. Again seven out of the 10 had either no reactions or a very mild reaction. The results of these studies led the author to conclude, “KAMUT® khorasan products can be an excellent substitution for common (modern) wheat if eaten on a rotational basis.” This report substantiated the anecdotal reports we had been hearing for years. Unfortunately Dr. Yoder was seriously injured in a car accident shortly after finishing her report which prevented her from preparing a manuscript for publication.
 
It is not only those suffering with sensitivities or health problems that have experienced positive results eating KAMUT® brand khorasan products. On the opposite side of the spectrum, very healthy and fit professional and amateur athletes who know of no sensitivities or other problems related to eating modern wheat have reported enhanced athletic performance and quicker recovery after strenuous workouts when they have integrated KAMUT® khorasan products into their diets. We have already seen at least four major soccer teams in Italy replacing some or all of a modern wheat diet with a diet of KAMUT® khorasan foods. There are also reports from many countries that those training for and participating in marathons and triathlons as well as a myriad of other endurance sports feel a difference in their training and performance when they are eating a KAMUT® khorasan wheat based diet.
 
We do not believe that we should medicate the symptoms of poor health and discomfort sometimes created or aggravated by eating modern wheat. Rather, we should follow the advice of Hippocrates and look directly to our food for not only the potential cause, but also the potential cure for some of the diseases and digestive problems plaguing modern society. Having seen the success of this approach, we know Hippocrates was teaching a correct principle. But for us the next step was to understand why KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat was producing this positive effect. We wanted to know the mode of action and how our ancient grain differed from the modern wheat. We set out to create a research program which tried to answer these questions and allowed us to understand the reasons for the health benefits of KAMUT® khorasan wheat. Our goal was to discover how KAMUT® khorasan ancient wheat differs from modern wheat chemically, physically and in function when it is eaten and assimilated into the body. Most of all we wanted to understand why most people who have trouble eating modern wheat have no trouble eating this ancient grain and understand where modern plant breeding went wrong in its quest for higher yields using high levels of chemical inputs and qualities which improved manufacturing efficiency.
 
Besides the first successful study conducted by the International Food Allergy Association mentioned above, we looked at several other areas for information either with our own sponsored research or by following the work of others. The major topics of study and interest for us were the following: A. Nutritional analysis of the grain, B. Glycemic Index (GI) of bread, pasta and cereals, C. Gluten characterization studies and D. Digestibility studies of pasta.
 
In 1988, we had an exhaustive nutritional analysis done by Medallion Laboratory in Minnesota on the grain grown on the Quinn farm in Montana and compared the results with the USDA averages for wheat published at that time. The results showed some striking nutritional advantages of our ancient wheat over the U.S. average for modern wheat. The most striking difference was the concentration of proteins and amino acids. The protein was 40% higher and the concentrations of 16 of the 18 amino acids normally found in wheat were higher. Twelve of those 16 amino acids were found in levels 21% to 67% higher than those found in modern wheat. Nine out of 10 minerals measured were higher in the ancient grain with four of those nine being 31 to 90% higher including important ones such as selenium, zinc and magnesium. The concentrations of all four of the fatty acids normally found in wheat ranged from 78% to 257% higher in the ancient grain compared to modern wheat. Only the vitamins gave mixed results. Of the seven vitamins normally found in wheat, KAMUT® brand khorasan grain had higher concentration of four and the only one of those which was significantly different was Vitamin E which was 42% higher. Each year we have a complete nutritional analysis done from a representative sample of the grain coming from each of our farms where the grain is grown so that we can report to our customers the nutritional quality which they can expect for the coming year. We use blending techniques to make more uniform lots of grain which reduce the variability to the end user throughout the year. An average of these nutrient values data can be found on our web site. Even though the numbers, which are now averaged over hundreds of organic farms and tens of thousands of acres of grain, are not as high as the first values seen on 20 acres from the Quinn farm in 1988, they still show a significant increase over average values for wheat grown in North America.
 
Between 2002 and 2007 we studied the glycemic index (GI) on several finished KAMUT® brand 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. Generally, a low GI (less than 55) means that the food will give a low or insignificant blood glucose response. A high GI (more than 70) means that the food produces a high blood glucose response which may lead to challenges for those with diabetes and other blood sugar concerns. We found the results for different KAMUT® khorasan products tested to be quite mixed. The results seemed to depend more on the manufacturing process than the biochemical composition in the end product which should have remained quite stable. 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. This variation may have been due to the particle size of the flour being used to make these products. However, we did not have the resources at that time to test this hypothesis.
 
Other reports were published stating KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat had gluten so we know that the difference people experienced eating it, as compared to modern wheat, could not be explained by something as simple as the presence or absence of gluten. Even more mysterious to us was the report from a baker of KAMUT® khorasan bread who put vital wheat gluten in their bread. They claimed that their customers who said that they could not eat modern wheat could eat this KAMUT® khorasan bread with vital wheat gluten added without difficulty. Recent unpublished research discovered that although the protein of the ancient grain was higher, the gluten which normally represents about 80% of the total protein in modern wheat was only about 66% of the total protein found in the ancient KAMUT® khorasan wheat. The gluten index is a measure of the quality of the protein and is dependent upon the type of gliadin and glutenin found in the gluten. We have found that the gluten index is much lower in our KAMUT® khorasan wheat than modern wheat. This index is often used by pasta manufacturers as an indicator of expected pasta quality or adjustments which might need to be made in the production of the pasta. As a result of modern breeding programs, modern durum wheat has a relatively high and consistent gluten index. In ancient grains, such as KAMUT® khorasan wheat, the gluten index is not only much lower, but also much more variable and unpredictable from year to year. This of course is a disadvantage to pasta markers and makes their job more difficult. Although a high gluten index leads to easier and more predictable pasta manufacturing, many believe this increase is due to higher concentrations of certain types of gliadin that also may be responsible for many of the sensitivity problems now experienced by many people. We will be pursuing this hypothesis in our future research activities.
 
Many of our customers have reported that KAMUT® brand khorasan products were easier to digest so we decided 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 ancient KAMUT® khorasan wheat to see if there was any measurable difference in the digestive process. The results were disappointing as no significant difference in break down products in this test was observed.
 
When the majority of our sales growth shifted to Italy in about 2000, we found that scientists there had a keen interest in what we were doing. Preceding the interest of the scientific community, was the interest of the Naturopathic Doctors who were early adopters as they discovered the beneficial effects of KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat on many of their patients, especially those who had health problems due to the consumption of modern wheat. One of these professionals was Rossana Matrella of Vasto, Italy. We met her in 1999 during the first food show we attended in Italy. Thanks to her interest in helping us and her organizational and professional talents, the core of our current research team was assembled at the University of Bologna. The team consisted Dr. Andrea Gianotti and Dr. Alessandra Bordoni from the Department of Agri-Food Sciences and Technologies (DISTAL) and they were later joined by Prof. Giovanni Dinelli from the Department of Agricultural Sciences (DipSA) at the University of Bologna.
This core has now expanded to include other scientists from the University of Urbino (Dr. Serena Benedetti and Prof. Franco Canestrari from the Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Section of Clinical Biochemistry). Recently, Dr. Anne Whittaker and Prof. Stefano Benedettelli from the Department of Land Management (DISPAA) at the University of Florence and Dr Andrea Carnevali from the Surgical Pathology and Citology Unit, USL 8 San Donato Hospital, Arezzo have also joined our group. Since 2010 the coordination of these research efforts has been under the direction of Dr. Caterina Trozzi and Dr. Emanuela Simonetti who work with an outstanding group of researchers at BioAesis, a privately owned lab in Jesi (AN), Italy. As a result of the early efforts of this team, we put together a four part program.
 
6A(I). The first paper, Determination of phenolic compounds in modern and old varieties of durum wheat using liquid chromatography coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Dinelli G. et al., Journal of Chromatography A, 1216 (2009) 7229-7240), discussed the qualitative phytochemical profile between old and modern varieties of wheat. They were remarkably diverse with significantly higher numbers of total compounds and total isomers (in both free and bound fractions) in old wheat genotypes, including KAMUT® brand ancient khorasan wheat, than in modern cultivars. Results highlighted that investigated old wheat cultivars like KAMUT® khorasan wheat may offer unique nutraceutical values for their peculiar contents in bioactive phytochemicals, suggesting their uses into a wide range of regular and specialty products naturally enriched with health-promoting compounds.
 
6A(II). The second paper, Prebiotic effect of soluble fibres from modern and old durum-type wheat varieties on Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains (Marotti I. et al., J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Feb 1.), discussed the soluble dietary fibers (SDF) extracted from seven modern durum wheat cultivars, two old durum wheat cultivars and an ancient wheat cultivar used in KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat. The extracts were compared for their ability to stimulate the growth of certain bacteria strains as a prebiotic. Out of the total of 10 genotypes tested, the KAMUT® khorasan wheat and the modern variety Solex have the best performance as a prebiotic.
 
 
6B(I). Our first and only animal feeding study which was done on rats produced three papers. Our first paper, Role of cereal type and processing in whole grain in vivo protection from oxidative stress (Gianotti A. et al., Frontiers in Bioscience 2011 Jan 1;16:1609-18) ( Read Press Release ) described the effect of whole grain durum wheat bread and whole grain KAMUT® brand khorasan bread on the oxidative status in rats. Two different bread-making processes were used for whole grain KAMUT® khorasan, sourdough and baker's yeast. After seven weeks on the experimental diets rats were divided into two subgroups, one receiving an oxidative stress by doxorubicin (DOX) injection and the concentration of the resulting free radicals produced was compared as an indication of the response to oxidative stress. Results showed that ancient KAMUT® khorasan bread fed animals had a better response to oxidative stress than modern durum wheat fed animals. This response was even better when KAMUT® khorasan wheat sourdough bread was given instead of yeasted KAMUT® khorasan wheat bread.
 
6B(II). The second paper, Counteraction of oxidative damage in the rat liver by an ancient grain (Kamut brand khorasan Wheat) (Benedetti S. et al., Nutrition 2012 Apr;28(4):436-41) ( Read Press Release ) reported a similar result by analysis of marker enzymes in the liver of the rat. In addition to confirming the results of the first paper, however, a huge surprise was observed: rats fed the KAMUT® brand khorasan bread had no inflammation which is normally seen in hepatic tissue as a result of the injection of DOX as described in the last paper, while the rats on the modern wheat diet had the inflammation that is normally expected. This observation indicates that there may be significant anti-inflammatory properties present in the ancient grain.
 
6B(III). The third paper, Role of Kamut® brand khorasan wheat in the counteraction of non-celiac wheat sensitivity and oxidative damage (Carnevali et al., Food Res Int. 2014, in press) (Read Press Release), described research where pasta was used instead of bread again with the aim to show the protection against oxidative stress produced by a diet of ancient grain products compared to modern grain products fed to rats. This study not only confirmed the previous results but also showed that modern wheat pasta is causing inflammation of certain organs while there was no inflammation observed in these same organs or any others by rats eating the ancient KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat pasta. These results regarding inflammation were observed in the control group of rats which did not receive the DOX injection. Further histological evaluation of the duodenum morphology showed a flattened mucosa, an unusual shape and shortening of the villi, and a high lymphocyte infiltration, while no modifications were detected in KAMUT® khorasan pasta fed animals.
  
 
6C(I). The first paper studying the effect of KAMUT® brand khorasan ancient grain compared to modern wheat on healthy humans was published as Characterization of Khorasan wheat (Kamut) and impact of a replacement diet on cardiovascular risk factors: cross-over dietary intervention study (Sofi et al., European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (EJCN) (2013), 1-6 ( Read Press Release ). The results of the study carried out at the Careggi University Hospital in Florence demonstrated consumption of KAMUT® brand khorasan products showed a significant reduction of metabolic risk factors such as total cholesterol (mean reduction: -8.46 mg/dL; -4%), LDL cholesterol (-9.82 mg/dL; -7.8%), and blood glucose. Similarly, redox status was significantly improved only after the KAMUT® khorasan intervention phase, as measured by a reduction in both TBARs (-0.17 nmol/mL; -21.5%;) and carbonyl levels (-0.16 nmol/mL; -17.6%). The replacement diet with KAMUT® khorasan products also resulted in a significant increase of serum potassium and magnesium. Circulating levels of key pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-12, TNF-alpha, VEGF) were significantly reduced after the consumption of KAMUT® Brand products. The present results suggest that replacing modern wheat with a diet with KAMUT® khorasan products could be effective in reducing metabolic risk factors, markers of both oxidative stress and inflammatory status.
Those eating KAMUT® khorasan products in the grain portion of their diets instead of modern wheat had lower levels of oxidative stress as well as lower levels of inflammation markers in their systems. For the first time we were able to duplicate the results of our earlier rat study in human beings. You can follow the links below to the press release describing the results of this study and to a link allowing you to request the full text of this study.
 
6C(II). The second human study was published as Impact of Kamut® Khorasan on gut microbiota and metabolome in healthy volunteers (Taneyo Saa et al., Food Res Int. 2014, in press).
The aim of this study was to explore the impact of whole KAMUT® brand khorasan ancient wheat-based diet compared to a modern wheat-based diet on the gut microbial ecology (microbiota) and on the metabolic profiles (metabolome) of 30 healthy volunteers.
In literature there is ample evidence that diet can modulate both composition and functionality of the human gut microbiota, in a complex and dynamic interplay crucial for maintaining the host-microbiota mutualism. In particular, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), the main by-products of dietary fiber and prebiotics fermentation in the gut, are increasingly perceived to play a pivotal role at both colonic and systemic level, positively influencing several aspects of the human physiology.
According to the results of this study, the whole KAMUT® khorasan wheat-based diet was mainly characterized by the release of higher levels of SCFA and phenol compounds, as well as by a slight increase in health-promoting mutualists of the gut microbiota in comparison to modern whole durum wheat control diet.
Together with the high concentration of selenium in KAMUT® khorasan foods, these results may contribute to support the previous in vivo findings related to the anti-inflammatory activity and counteraction of oxidative stress by KAMUT® khorasan cereal foods.
 
 
We have the first paper published and two major projects planned or underway in this important area of research.
 
6 D(I). Effect of Triticum turgidum subsp. turanicum wheat on irritable bowel syndrome: a double-blinded randomised dietary intervention trial (Sofi et al., Br J Nutr. 2014 Jun; 111(11): 1992-1999) (Read Press Release) This study was carried out at the Careggi University Hospital in Florence and was the first human study to be done on subjects with a chronic non-infectious disease. We examined the effect of a diet of semi-whole ancient KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat compared to semi-whole modern wheat on people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). While eating the ancient wheat products, patients experienced a significant decrease in the severity of IBS symptoms, such as intensity and frequency of abdominal pain, bloating, satisfaction with stool consistency, tiredness and over all quality of life. No significant difference was observed after eating modern wheat products. The inflammatory profile showed a significant reduction in the circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, IL-17, interferon-γ, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor after the subjects ate ancient wheat products, but not after eating modern wheat products. In conclusion, significant improvements in both IBS symptoms and the inflammatory profile in the blood were reported after the ingestion of ancient wheat products.
This first human study of chronically ill people is consistent with studies previously reported with healthy people comparing KAMUT® khorasan wheat to modern wheat.
 
6D(II). Heart Disease: This study being conducted by the Careggi University Hospital in Florence will study the progression of symptoms of chronic heart disease comparing patients eating KAMUT® Brand grain and those eating modern wheat. This study is being conducted in 2013 – 2014.
 
6D(III. Diabetes: A study of the effect of KAMUT® Brand grain compared to modern wheat on symptoms and side effects of diabetes. This study is to begin in 2014.
 
We will update this information as additional papers are published or additional research is commissioned. Thank you for your interest in this important aspect of our KAMUT® khorasan project. We welcome any of your comments, questions or personal observations via e-mail, telephone, Facebook or Twitter.