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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Could Sourdough Bread Help Conquer Wheat Sensitivity?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      To determine if sourdough bread help conquer wheat sensitivity, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) is funding research to see if the sourdough fermentation process can reduce or eliminate wheat components that trigger wheat sensitivity.


    Caption: Image: CC-- aimee rivers

    Celiac.com 05/15/2018 - There is a good amount of anecdotal evidence that people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity can tolerate sourdough bread, but there is no good science to support such claims. To determine if sourdough bread help conquer wheat sensitivity, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) is funding a team of researchers to see if the sourdough fermentation process can reduce or eliminate wheat components that trigger wheat sensitivity.

    The project will study the way the sourdough bread fermentation process breaks down proteins and carbohydrates in wheat flour.

    Chair of the AWC Research Committee, Terry Young, said new research suggests that wheat protein may not be the cause of gluten sensitivity in people without celiac disease. Longer fermentation, aka sourdough fermentation, is more common in Europe. Young says that reports indicate that “incidents of non-celiac sensitivity…are actually lower in Europe." He adds the current research will focus on the fermentation, but the future may include the development of wheat varieties for gluten sensitive individuals.

    The research will be led by food microbiologist at the University of Alberta, Dr. Michael Gänzle, who said the use of sourdough bread in industrial baking reduces ingredient costs and can improve the quality of bread as well.

    Dr. Gänzle wants to assess anecdotal claims that people with non-celiac wheat or gluten intolerance can tolerate sourdough bread. His team wants to “determine whether fermentation reduces or eliminates individual wheat components that are known or suspected to cause adverse effects.”

    The team readily admits that their project will not create products that are safe for people with celiac disease. They may, however, create products that are useful for people without celiac disease, but who are gluten sensitivity.

    The AWC is collaboratively funding the project with the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, and the Minnesota Wheat Research Promotion Council, which will contribute $57,250, and $20,000, respectively. The research team will issue a report of its findings after the project is completed in 2021.

    Studies like this are important to shed light on the differences between celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Stay tuned for more developments in this exciting area of research.

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    I find it disturbing that wheat interest groups are funding this.  What will they do with the resulting data? I fear it will be skewed in favor of wheat promotion.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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