We often hear the question: “is spelt gluten free?” Although the answer to that question is “no,” we’ve found that spelt represents a reasonable alternative for those with grain sensitivities. According to CeliaAct, spelt does not cause sensitivities in many people who are intolerant of wheat.
There are many reasons for the differences in how people react to spelt as opposed to wheat including, appearance and DNA structure, genetic and nutritional profile, gluten content and makeup, and fiber content.
Even though the FDA has classified spelt as wheat, this pure, ancient grain is significantly different – and much better for you – than its modern commercialized cousin. Even whole wheat, which has not yet been stripped of its fiber and nutrients, is nutritionally inferior to spelt.
Is Spelt Gluten Free? Well, no, but…
Although spelt contains gluten, the content and character of the gluten in spelt has not been modified from its natural state. The gluten in spelt has a different molecular make-up than the gluten in modern wheat. It is more fragile and more water soluble, which makes it easier to digest.
Among the many spelt benefits, spelt is higher in fiber than most forms of wheat, which aids in the digestion of the gluten. Modern wheat has been bred to contain high gluten content for the production of high-volume commercial baked goods. If you’ve ever tried baking with gluten free flours you have certainly noticed the beneficial aspects of gluten in terms of stability, leavening, and texture.
While gluten is present in spelt, and thus those with severe gluten allergies or sensitivities may not find spelt to be a realistic replacement for wheat, for most people, including those with mild sensitivities, spelt just might reunite you with the occasional bread, cereal, or baked goods you have been missing.