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  • Gryphon Myers
    Gryphon Myers

    Research with Sorghum Could Yield Better Gluten-Free Food

    Caption: Photo: CC -- Swathi Sridharan

    Celiac.com 07/25/2012 - While a great deal of progress has been made with gluten-free food over the last ten years, many celiacs still feel that they are 'missing out' on gluten-containing foods. Fadi Aramouni, professor of food science at Kansas State University is working to change this through extensive research and testing on sorghum, as well as other wheat alternatives.

    Photo: CC -- Swathi SridharanSorghum is an appealing alternative to wheat because it is already widely produced in the United States (it is primarily used as feed). The problem is that sorghum is different from wheat, and requires different processing methods to yield food products that are comparable to their wheat counterparts.

    Aramouni and his team of students and researchers began their search for a non-gluten wheat substitute by carefully inspecting the six varieties of sorghum that are grown in Kansas. Qualities such as grain hardness, dough quality, stretching and rolling qualities, protein, carbohydrates and fiber content as well as taste and look of the finished product were all considered.

    According to Aramouni, this stage of their research yielded an important discovery: the milling stage dramatically alters the properties of sorghum flour. Different particle sizes yield different results, so the consistency and taste of sorghum-based foods can be modulated before they are even prepared or cooked.

    In addition to the taste and consistency, Aramouni's team also found that particle size alters sorghum's glycemic index, so it is possible that a very specific milling practice could make products healthier, perhaps even compared to other gluten-free wheat alternatives like corn and rice.

    Along with the grain science and industry department at Kansas State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas, Aramouni and his team have developed a variety of sorghum-based tortillas, waffle ice cream cones, breads and Belgian waffles. Time and many taste tests will tell whether Aramouni's research will pay off in the form of more appetizing gluten-free products, but at the very least he and his team are helping us understand that is not just about what grains you use, but how they are processed.

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    Very encouraging that this work is being done, and with some positive findings! My greatest concern, however, is that so many of the gluten-free flours/products are wanting in nutritional value. At the least, the sorghum has the potential for a low-glycemic effect. Making progress!

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    Before sorghum becomes all the rage in gluten-free foods, its potential as an allergen should be studied. I've worked with several celiacs who thought they were getting gluten in their diet despite great vigilance. All of them turned out to be reacting to sorghum, and when that was removed, their symptoms stopped. There has been no research at all on how prevalent allergy to sorghum might be.

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    I consider it still a grain and so far all grains I can't eat. Let me know when something that is suitable that does not contain grain be used for grains. Now I got only a few things like almonds and coconut.

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    Interesting article. However, if products made with sorghum have the same additives, dough conditioners, chemicals, etc. added they will be no better than what is on the market now. I find that most gluten-free products are no better than their flour counterparts because of the adulteration. I don't eat them. I want my food to be as natural as possible.

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    The hotdog and hamburger buns I buy right now contain sorghum as one of the flours, but it does not affect the color because the bread looked bleached white. Sorghum has a distinct flavor (which is unpleasant) when I use it to cook with, even in tiny quantities mixed with mostly rice flour, but I cannot taste it in the premade breads I buy... so I think they have access to much higher quality sorghum.

     

    Thanks for the article, now I am positive the big companies are hoarding the good stuff for their own products and selling the crappily milled kinds to the public...

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  • About Me

    Gryphon Myers recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, research emphasis in art, society and technology. He is a lifelong vegetarian, an organic, local and GMO-free food enthusiast and a high fructose corn syrup abstainer. He currently lives in Northern California. He also writes about and designs video games at Homunkulus.

  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    Scand J Gastroenterol 1999 Feb;34(2):163-9
    Kaukinen K, Collin P, Holm K, Rantala I, Vuolteenaho N, Reunala T, Maki M
    Dept. of Medicine, Tampere University Hospital, Finland.
    BACKGROUND: We investigated whether wheat starch-based gluten-free products are safe in the treatment of gluten intolerance. METHODS: The study involved 41 children and adults with coeliac disease and 11 adults with dermatitis herpetiformis adhering to a gluten-free diet for 8 years on average. Thirty-five newly diagnosed coeliac patients at diagnosis and 6 to 24 months after the start of a gluten-free diet and 27 non-coeliac patients with dyspepsia were investigated for comparison. Daily dietary gluten and wheat starch intake were calculated. Small bowel mucosal villous architecture, CD3+, alphabeta+, and gammadelta+ intraepithelial lymphocytes, mucosal HLA-DR expression, and serum endomysial, reticulin, and gliadin antibodies were investigated. RESULTS: Forty of 52 long-term-treated patients adhered to a strict wheat starch-based diet and 6 to a strict naturally gluten-free diet; 6 patients had dietary lapses. In the 46 patients on a strict diet the villous architecture, enterocyte height, and density of alphabeta+ intraepithelial lymphocytes were similar to those in non-coeliac subjects and better than in short-term-treated coeliac patients. The density of gammadelta(+)cells was higher, but they seemed to decrease over time with the gluten-free diet. Wheat starch-based gluten-free flour products did not cause aberrant up-regulation of mucosal HLA-DR. The mucosal integrity was not dependent on the daily intake of wheat starch in all patients on a strict diet, whereas two of the six patients with dietary lapses had villous atrophy and positive serology.
    CONCLUSION: Wheat starch-based gluten-free flour products were not harmful in the treatment of coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis.

    Danna Korn
    This article originally appeared in the Spring 2003 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity.
    -Yes, there’s more to life than rice and corn!
    Variety, it’s been said, is the spice of life.  So what’s a person to do when they’re told to eliminate wheat and/or gluten from their diet?  Most turn to rice, corn, and potatoes—an adequate set of starches, but ones that are sorely lacking in nutrients, flavor, and imagination.
    The superheroes of gluten-free grains are often referred to as “ancient” or alternative grains, which are loaded with nutrients and unique, interesting flavors.  The following is a condensed excerpt from my newly published book, Wheat-Free, Worry-Free: The Art of Happy, Healthy, Gluten-Free Living.
    “Alternative” Grains: The Superheroes of Gluten-Free Grains
    If you’re an adventuresome eater, you’re in for a treat.  In searching for alternatives to wheat, rye, or barley, you’ll discover a variety of wheat-free/gluten-free grains that you may never have heard of before, many of them loaded with nutrients and robust flavors not found in typical grains like wheat and rice.  If you’re not the adventurous type and you just long for the ease of a few tried-and-true favorites, you’ll find them here as well.
    Perhaps you fall into still another category—you’ve been eating a wheat or gluten-free diet for a while and you think you already know everything there is to know.  Okay, what’s quinoa, and how the heck is it pronounced?  Is teff wheat-free?  Do Job’s Tears have religious significance?  If you don’t know the answers to these questions, or if you think ragi is a spaghetti sauce and sorghum is what you get when you have your teeth cleaned, it’s time to move on to lesson one.
    Alternative Grains and Non-Grains
    Even if you can’t eat wheat, rye, barley, or oats, there are several other grains, fruits, and legumes that are not only acceptable alternatives to them, but they also happen to be loaded with flavor and nutrients.  Here are some of the many choices available to those on a wheat and gluten-free diet (WF/gluten-free):

    Amaranth (WF/gluten-free) Buckwheat/groats/kasha (WF/gluten-free) Cassava (arrowroot) (WF/gluten-free) Chickpea (garbanzo) (WF/gluten-free) Job’s Tears (WF/gluten-free) Millet (WF/gluten-free) Montina (WF/gluten-free) Oats (WF/gluten-free, but oats can be contaminated with wheat and other grains) Quinoa (WF/gluten-free) Ragi (WF/gluten-free) Rice (WF/gluten-free; only brown rice is whole grain) Sorghum (WF/gluten-free) Soy (WF/gluten-free) Tapioca (WF/gluten-free) Taro root (WF/gluten-free) Teff (WF/gluten-free)
    Many of the proteins found in these alternatives are a great source of complex carbohydrates.  The fuel from these carbohydrates, found in plant kingdom starches, produces what nutritionists call a protein-sparing effect, which means the body can meet its energy requirements without dipping into its protein reserves. Several of these alternative grains and non-grains are high in lysine, an amino acid that controls protein absorption in the body.  Because this amino acid is absent from most grains, the protein fraction of those grains is utilized only if eaten in conjunction with other foods that do contain lysine.  All high protein grains are better utilized by the body when they are eaten with high-lysine foods such as peas, beans, amaranth, or buckwheat.
    Amaranth (WF/gluten-free): Loaded with fiber and more protein than any traditional grain, amaranth is nutritious and delicious, with a pleasant peppery flavor.  The name means “not withering,” or more literally, “immortal.”  While it may not make you immortal, it is extremely healthful, especially with its high lysine and iron content.
    Buckwheat (groat; kasha) (WF/gluten-free): It sounds as though it would be closely related to wheat, but buckwheat is not related to wheat at all.  In fact, it’s not even a grain; it’s a fruit of the Fagopyrum genus, a distant cousin of garden-variety rhubarb, and its seed is the plant’s strong point.  The buckwheat seed has a three-cornered shell that contains a pale kernel known as a “groat.”  In one form or another, groats have been used as food by people since the 10th century b.c.
    Nutritionally, buckwheat is a powerhouse.  It contains a high proportion of all eight essential amino acids, which the body doesn’t make itself but are still essential for keeping the body functioning.  In that way, buckwheat is closer to being a complete protein than any other plant source.
    Whole white buckwheat is naturally dried and has a delicate flavor that makes it a good stand-in for rice or pasta.  Kasha is the name given to roasted hulled buckwheat kernels.  Kasha is toasted in an oven and tossed by hand until the kernels develop a deep tan color, nutlike flavor, and a slightly scorched smell.
    Be aware, however, that buckwheat is sometimes combined with wheat.  Read labels carefully before purchasing buckwheat products.
    Millet (WF/gluten-free): Millet is said by some to be more ancient than any grain that grows.  Where it was first cultivated is disputed, but native legends tell of a wild strain known as Job’s Tears that grows in the Philippines and sprouted “at the dawn of time.”
    Millet is still well respected in Africa, India, and China, where it is considered a staple.  Here in the United States, it is raised almost exclusively for hay, fodder, and birdseed.  One might consider that to be a waste, especially when considering its high vitamin and mineral content.  Rich in phosphorus, iron, calcium, riboflavin, and niacin, a cup of cooked millet has nearly as much protein as wheat.  It is also high in lysine—higher than rice, corn, or oats.
    Millet is officially a member of the Gramineae (grass) family and as such is related to montina.
    Montina (Indian Rice Grass) (WF/gluten-free): Indian rice grass was a dietary staple of Native American cultures in the Southwest and north through Montana and into Canada more than 7,000 years ago, even before maize (corn) was cultivated.  Similar to maize, montina was a good substitute during years when maize crops failed or game was in short supply.  It has a hearty flavor, and is loaded with fiber and protein.
    Quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) (WF/gluten-free): The National Academy of Science described quinoa as “the most nearly perfect source of protein from the vegetable kingdom.”  Although new to North Americans, it has been cultivated in the South American Andes since at least 3000 b.c.  Ancient Incas called this annual plant “the mother grain,” because it was self-perpetuating and ever-bearing.  They honored it as a sacred food product, since a steady diet appeared to ensure a full, long life; and the Inca ruler himself planted the first row of quinoa each season with a gold spade.
    Like amaranth, quinoa is packed with lysine and other amino acids that make a protein complete.  Quinoa is also high in phosphorus, calcium, iron, vitamin E, and assorted B vitamins.  Technically a fruit of the Chenopodium herb family, quinoa is usually pale yellow in color, but also comes in pink, orange, red, purple, and black.
    Quinoa’s only fault is a bitter coating of saponins its seeds.  The coating comes off with thorough rinsing prior to cooking, and some companies have developed ways to remove the coating prior to delivering quinoa to stores.
    Sorghum (milo) (WF/gluten-free): Sorghum is another of the oldest known grains, and has been a major source of nutrition in Africa and India for years.  Now grown in the United States, sorghum is generating excitement as a gluten-free insoluble fiber.
    Because sorghum’s protein and starch are more slowly digested than that of other cereals, it may be beneficial to diabetics and healthy for anyone.  Sorghum fans boast of its bland flavor and light color, which don’t alter the taste or look of foods when used in place of wheat flour.  Many cooks suggest combining sorghum with soybean flour.
    Soy and Soybeans (WF/gluten-free): Like the ancient foods mentioned at the beginning of this section, soy has been around for centuries.  In China, soybeans have been grown since the 11th century b.c., and are still one of the country’s most important crops.  Soybeans weren’t cultivated in the United States until the early 1800s, yet today are one of this country’s highest yielding producers.
    Soybeans are a legume, belonging to the pea family.  Comprised of nearly 50 percent protein, 25 percent oil, and 25 percent carbohydrate, they have earned a reputation as being extremely nutritious.  They are also an excellent source of essential fatty acids, which are not produced by the body, but are essential to its functioning nonetheless.
    Teff (WF/gluten-free): Considered a basic part of the Ethiopian diet, teff is relatively new to Americans.    Five times richer in calcium, iron, and potassium than any other grain, teff also contains substantial amounts of protein and soluble and insoluble fiber. Considered a nutritional powerhouse, it has a sweet, nutty flavor. Teff grows in many different varieties and colors, but in the United States only the ivory, brown, and reddish-tan varieties can be found. The reddish teff is reserved for purveyors of Ethiopian restaurants, who are delighted to have an American source for their beloved grain.
    A Word About Sprouted Grains
    Some people believe that “sprouted grains,” even ones that contain gluten such as wheat, are gluten-free—not true!  The sprouting process sparks a chemical reaction that begins to break down gluten, so some people who are slightly sensitive to gluten may find that they can tolerate sprouted grains better, but too many of the peptides that are reactive for celiacs are still present, so sprouted grains are not safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.


    Tina Turbin
    Celiac.com 08/31/2010 - In my work as an author, researcher, and gluten-free advocate, I know how challenging the gluten-free diet can be. One of the most vital and tricky parts of the diet is learning what foods have gluten and which are "naturally" gluten-free as well as learning how to read labels. Unfortunately, these aren't always enough. Just because a grain is supposed to be "naturally" gluten-free, doesn't mean that it is. In fact, a recent study tested 22 so-called "inherently" gluten-free grains and found that over thirty percent of them had gluten.
    Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye, and is inherently lacking in grains such as oats, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, soy, sorghum, flaxseed, rice, and amaranth seed. A study tested 22 of these "naturally" gluten-free grains, and 7 of them had a gluten amount higher than 20 ppm, which would disqualify them from being labeled as gluten-free under the proposed FDA guidelines.
    One type of soy flour tested had nearly 3,000 ppm of gluten, two millet flour products had an average of between 305-327 ppm, and the sorghum flour had a mean average of 234 ppm. Four of those seven products didn't have allergen advisory statements.
    What's the reason behind these alarming research results? Dr. Mercola, an osteopathic physician and board-certified family medicine doctor, attributes the cause to cross-contamination during the processing of these grains and also to a lack of testing of final products for gluten.
    Dr. Mercola, who is trained in both traditional and natural, or holistic, medicine, raises the question, however, about whether not only celiacs but people in general should even be consuming grains in the first place.
    According to Dr. Mercola, "Most people need to avoid grains." On his website, he states that several autoimmune disorders, not just celiac disease, can be "significantly improved by avoiding grains," and eliminating grains from your diet can also decrease your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes, and cancer.
    This is due to the fact that, as Dr. Mercola explains, "grains and sugars are inherently pro-inflammatory and will worsen any condition that has chronic inflammation at its root – and not just inflammation in your gut, but anywhere in your body." In his experience, about 75-80% of all people benefitted from going grain-free.
    According to Grain Free Living, the health benefits of going grain-free have been proven "through the personal experience of hundreds of people worldwide who have experienced significant relief from symptoms of Crohn's disease (and many other illnesses of the digestive system) and also for chronic fatigue." The mainstream medical community has been critical of the "anecdotal evidence" from the testimonies of those who have reported an improvement in health. Clinical studies on the matter have yet to be carried out.
    A grain-free diet doesn't have to be boring. In fact, grain-free cookbooks have come out with grain-free recipes for favorite American foods such as pancakes, muffins, lasagna, cakes, and cookies. For those who have a digestive or other condition or who wish to eliminate health risks, I would recommend talking to your healthcare practitioner about a grain-free diet.
    For the gluten-free community who wishes to continue to eat grains, this study of the gluten content of "naturally" gluten-free grains can be startling. Look for grain products that are certified gluten-free by such organizations as the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) or make sure to do thorough company research before you try "inherently" gluten-free grains.
    References:

    Thompson T, Lee A, Grace T. Gluten contamination of grains, seeds, and flours in the United States: A pilot study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110:937-940.  Abstract available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20497786 Thompson, T. Contamination of Naturally Gluten-Free Grains. Living Gluten-Free. June 1, 2010. Available at: http://www.diet.com/dietblogs/read_blog.php?title=&blid=19524
     

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 08/28/2013 - Researchers at Washington State University are 'very close' to developing celiac-safe wheat strains, says lead project researcher Diter von Wettstein.
    Rich Koenig, associate dean and director of WSU Extension, says the wheat project involves removing the gluten material that causes the adverse reaction in people who have celiac disease.
    Von Wettstein says that his team has developed wheat hybrids that have 76.4 percent less gluten proteins than conventional strains, and that the next step is to eliminate the remaining percentage.
    Von Wettstein is working two distinct angles on this project. The first approach uses genetic modification, while the seconds does not. He acknowledges that doing it without genetic modification "would be better…But in the end, if the only way to do this is through genetic modification of wheat, it could still be a major advancement for people who suffer from that disease."
    The projects may still take a while as von Wettstein works to identify, selectively silence and remove the responsible genes.
    One caveat is that even if the project is successful, the wheat may not produce flour suitable for baking, though Koenig says that producing wheat suitable for people with celiac disease would be, nonetheless, an "important subsection of wheat production"
    Funding for von Wettstein's research is coming from The National Institutes of Health and Washington State's Life Science Discovery Fund.
    Source:
    http://www.capitalpress.com/content/mw-Barley-071913-art

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    All of Schars products are gluten-free.  They don’t make any that are not.
    Yes, I had to stop eating Schar bread because I was getting sick on it all the time. I believe if I am not mistaken (it has been a long time) the Artisan line does not. I received this tip from someone else, and I don’t know if it is accurate but it seemed to help me, at least. 
    @Alaskaguy With regard to the timing, I think that everyone is a bit different! I used to have a shorter time to onset when I was first diagnosed (within 24h). As time has gone on, and I've glutened myself less and less, I have noticed that the time gets a bit longer.  Recent history seems to matter a bit too - if I've been glutened recently and then get glutened again, the rash will show up faster on the second round. For example, in the last 3 weeks I got slightly glutened by inadvertent
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