I recently had the opportunity to be on the first episode of the new Small Bites podcast by From Paddock to Plate. The goal of the podcast is to introduce listeners to new food products that they may not have tried before, or may not know how to use. The episode I spoke on was all about spelt, which was a great fit for me since I recommend spelt products to clients (especially pasta) all of the time. I am regularly asked if spelt is good for gut health and is spelt low fodmap? Read on to discover how spelt impacts gut health, including whether it contains gluten, how to use it, and whether spelt products are low in FODMAPs!
To listen to the podcast, click here
Is spelt low FODMAP?
While spelt flour is lower in FODMAPs than wheat flour, it is not a low FODMAP option – it is higher in FODMAPs than the gluten free flours (like rice, corn and oat). Processing has a lot to do with total FODMAP quantity – so spelt flour breads that are made using modern bread making techniques are high in FODMAPs, while spelt flour breads made using traditional sourdough methods are much lower in FODMAPs.
100% spelt sourdough is considered low FODMAP, as microbes released during the fermentation process consume some of the FODMAPs. Spelt sour dough is similar in FODMAPs to a standard gluten-free bread
Both spelt pasta (1 cup serving) and spelt flakes are rated as high FODMAP in the monash app – although spelt pasta in a ½ cup portion is rated low FODMAP.
Is spelt more digestible than wheat?
Spelt is an ancient form of wheat. In whole grain form it is higher in protein, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals than wheat (good source of B vitamins, vit E, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc). However, it is slightly lower in insoluble fiber than wheat.
Spelt is different than wheat in several ways. One of the major differences is that spelt grains are hulled (a hard coating that has to be released before milling the grain). This hard outer hull protects the grain from pests, disease and harsh climate. The hull also adds an extra step in processing, which is probably one of the primary reasons why wheat is so much more popular (easier to process). Ultimately, spelt is very close in composition to wheat and therefore is similar in digestibility.
How much gluten is in spelt?
Spelt is a form of wheat, and like all forms of wheat, contains gluten.
There’s a prevailing perception that ancient grains are lower in gluten than regular (common wheat). In fact, the gluten common in spelt is very similar to that of wheat, with spelt actually being slightly higher in gluten.
There is some belief that the gluten in spelt has a different molecular makeup than the gluten in wheat – it is more fragile and more water soluble, making it potentially easier to digest. However, it is still problematic for those with celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In fact, a study on celiac antibodies showed that spelt was slightly more reactive than regular wheat (meaning that spelt exposure provokes an autoimmune reaction in those with celiac disease).
Is spelt safe to eat during pregnancy?
Is spelt prebiotic?
Spelt is high in fiber and resistant starch which feed our friendly gut bacteria. The reality is that all high fiber foods contain some amount of prebiotics, since our gut bacteria feed exclusively from fiber
Research has shown that fermented spelt (in sourdough bread) increases the short chain fatty acid (SCFA) content in the microbiota. SCFAs are the byproduct of fiber fermentation by the gut bacteria, so we can take this to mean that spelt feeds our bacteria!
Is spelt good for weight loss?
No single food item significantly impacts weight loss. However, a high fiber diet can be very beneficial in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight and since spelt is high in fiber it’s a great choice. High fiber whole grains are digested more slowly than white grains and reduce blood sugar spikes, which can lead to weight gain.
Why does my spelt bread not rise? How do you use spelt instead of flour? What can you make with spelt?
Spelt naturally rises more quickly than common wheat flour, so it needs to be baked as soon as it has doubled in size.
Spelt can be substituted 1:1 for whole wheat flour and up to half of the flour in a recipe using all-purpose flour.
Spelt has a softer and lighter texture than whole wheat flour. The protein in spelt are fragile, so it requires less mixing and kneading than all-purpose or whole wheat flour. Spelt is more water-soluble than wheat, so you may need less liquid than with whole wheat flour. As a general rule, you’ll need to reduce the liquid by about 25% because it doesn’t absorb as much water as common wheat.
Lastly, you can make anything with spelt! Because of it’s taste and texture my favourite spelt products include bread, muffins, loaves, pancakes, biscuits and flatbreads.
What does spelt taste like?
Spelt flour has a mild nutty flavour and a softer, lighter texture than wheat.
Can you cook spelt like rice? Should I soak spelt before cooking?
Whole grain spelt can be served as a substitute for rice. Rinse the grains, soak overnight, drain and rinse again. To cook bring one part grain to three parts water and boil before simmering for about an hour. The grains will be tender but chewy.
Soaking helps to neutralize the phytic acid and release the enzyme inhibitors in the grain, which makes them easier to digest and the nutrients easier to absorb. Note: spelt is high in phytates so should be soaked overnight, whereas other grains that are low in phytates like brown rice, buckwheat and millet only need to be soaked for a few hours