Starch-Intolerant vs. Gluten-Intolerant?

What’s the difference?

There has been a lot of confusion about these two terms, and they have been used interchangeably and incorrectly. More recently, medical professions and various health-oriented groups are realizing this error in diagnosis and are re-categorizing people, moving many of them from gluten-intolerant to starch-intolerant status.

Shelley Summers found that most people ARE starch-intolerant for the reasons stated above, the low production of pancreatic enzymes and the defense mechanisms of the grains themselves. Starch-intolerant bodies can handle sprouted grains and sprouted flour products. They find that these foods do not create heartburn, gas, bloating, constipation and other body problems the way that these same unsprouted grains will.

Shelley Summers

Even problems like celiacs diseases have a lot of misconceptions around them.

Case in point, here is a story from a sprouted flour user:
“When my son was a year old, he was diagnosed with celiac disease. He was falling off the growth charts …and had horrific eczema…a skin condition, dermatitis herpitiformis, that accompanies celiac disease.  ALL the gluten-free food protocols failed…my son continued to waste and have skin as hard as asphalt…. he either threw up or his skin became tight, rougher and untouchable…it would even crack and bleed. I suspected starchy grains prominent in most gluten-free foods. I was on a mad hunt to find starch-free easy-to-digest foods when I came across Summers Sprouted Flour. Immediately I bought 10# and began to make foods for my ailing, thin son.  Within a month of changing this one food in his diet, I am happy to report my son is a healthy child who maintains a handsome weight for his tall frame. All vomiting episodes stopped and his skin is as soft as butter.  I am 100% convinced that the Summers Sprouted Flour helped him to turn the corner from what was really a major sensitivity to the STARCH in grains and not the GLUTEN!”   –Tonya C. Johnson, Mother of a Celiac Child, Chicago, IL., Founder of Vision’s Sown, An Ancient Vegan Baking Co. that uses Summers Sprouted Flour in all products.
Shelley Summers

True gluten-intolerance is a whole other scenario. Gluten is a protein molecule that is relatively easy for most people to digest….but in bodies that cannot digest it, it can create serious health problems from allergic to immune reactions. And trace amounts of gluten exist in many other plants besides grains!

Most truly gluten-intolerant people are relatively limited in the food choices that work in their bodies. They frequently have health issues that are confusing and hard to nail down. Their immune systems are compromised and they get every cold or flu that crosses their paths.

How do I tell whether I’m Starch-intolerant or Gluten-intolerant?

Bodies are very intelligent. As soon as you put one bite of a food in your mouth, your body knows whether it will be able to digest that food or not. And it acts accordingly.  

If you can digest that food, your body will start getting ready to receive and work with that food by creating the needed enzymes down through the intestinal tract. 

Now, you really can’t tell if this positive action is happening or not…
But, if your body cannot digest that bite of food, a whole different set of reactions gets triggered. The body immediately will go into a defense or immune reaction when it realizes you have put something in it that it can’t handle, that it is allergic to or that it can’t create the enzymes needed to digest it. And at least one of these reactions is very easy to see.

The first line of defense for your body is the creation of mucous. Mucous is a benign substance that surrounds toxic particles to both stop your body from absorbing them and to remove them from your body. And this reaction is swift! It will happen anywhere between 15-20 seconds up to 15-20 minutes!

So, you can use this mucous reaction to test foods in your body. Take one bite of a food and sit back and wait. If you get a mucous reaction, you will experience any or all of the following symptoms: mucous in the back of the throat and you’ll find yourself trying to clear your throat, coating on the tongue, post-nasal drip, sniffing or sneezing, itchy eyes and a twinge of an upset stomach.  

If you don’t have any of these reactions within 20 minutes, then your body is at least saying it can handle small amounts of that food. If you find you are getting mucousy as you eat, it is your body’s way of saying, “Stop. You’ve had enough of this food!”

So, are you starch-intolerant or gluten-intolerant? Use the mucous test to find out. Try a sip of alfalfa tea. Do you get a reaction? Try a bite of barley. Do you get a reaction? Try one bite of any of the totally sprouted breads on the market. If you have a mucous reaction to all of these foods, it is highly likely that you are gluten-intolerant and sprouted flours may still cause you problems.

But, if you don’t have mucous reactions to all of these foods, then it is more likely that you are starch-intolerant and you probably will not have negative reactions to the use of sprouted flours.

What is Different About Spelt?

Spelt is an old genus of wheat. It used to be called the ‘breadmaker’s wheat’ and was prized, at one time, because it made the lightest loaves of bread available. Now, you have to understand that before the 1900’s, loaves of bread were like bricks! If you have ever tried an old-fashioned rye bread, you will know what used to be ‘standard’. Once wheat began to be hybrid, everything changed. Other wheat varieties besides spelt came into favor because they were now higher in gluten and higher in starch and they could made light, fluffy loaves.

Spelt also had another drawback. Wheat seeds grow with a simple hull and chaff surrounding them to protect them. The hull and chaff are easy to separate and remove from the seed itself. Spelt, on the other hand, has a husk around each seed. It is difficult to remove the seed without some damage and it is much more difficult to separate the whole seeds from the husk, stems and broken pieces this separating process can produce. This extra processing and cleaning made spelt more expensive and so also added to its decline as a ‘favorite’.

When people started changing the basic makeup of food, they usually had specific intentions in mind. With bread grains, these intentions were to make a light, white and fluffy product, to raise the gluten and starch levels. Lab anaylsis done on wheat in the 1900’s showed it be to about 50% starch molecules and 50% vegetable protein. By 2000, anaylsis’s showed average wheat to be 92% starch and only 8% protein! Unfortunately, these hybriding intentions didn’t include the maintaining of vitamin and mineral levels or take into consideration that changing the basic makeup of the food might interfere with a body’s ability to digest that food!

You may hear it said that ‘Spelt is easier to digest than wheat’. One of the reasons that this may be true (for certain people) is that spelt maintains the old levels of gluten, starch and protein. Our slowly evolving bodies deal much better with food when it reflects natural chemical structures that we have dealt with for generations. New chemical structures are much harder for bodies to deal with.  We have had our 100% Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour tested for gluten at the U of N, along with a sample of regular organic spelt flour. The test results showed that both the Sprouted Spelt and the regular Spelt contained the same low levels of gluten, 5,000 parts per million (compared to regular wheat levels that tend to begin at 50,000 parts per million and go up.)

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