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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Can People with Celiac Disease Eat Baked Goods Made of Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour?


    Caption: New CGH study on safety of hydrolyzed wheat flour for celiacs.

    Celiac.com 11/15/2010 - Fermentation of wheat flour with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases decreases the concentration of gluten in wheat. Depending on the level of hydrolyzation, gluten levels can be reduced as low as 8 parts per million.

    A team of researchers recently conducted a small study to assess whether people with celiac disease can eat baked goods made with wheat flour that is hydrolyzed via sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases during food processing.

    The team included L. Greco, M. Gobbetti, R. Auricchio, R. Di Mase, F. Landolfi, F. Paparo, R. Di Cagno, M. De Angelis, C. G. Rizzello, A. Cassone, G. Terrone, L. Timpone, M. D'Aniello, M. Maglio, R. Troncone, S. Auricchio.

    They are affiliated with the Department of Pediatrics and European Laboratory for the Study of Food Induced Diseases, University of Naples, Federico II in Naples Italy.

    The team evaluated the safety of daily administration of baked goods made from this hydrolyzed form of wheat flour for patients with celiac disease.

    Patients who volunteered for the study were assigned at random to consume 200 grams per day of baked goods from one of three groups. The did so every day for 60 days.

    The first group of six patients ate natural flour baked goods (NFBG), with a gluten content of 80,127 ppm gluten.

    The second group of 2 patients ate baked goods made from extensively hydrolyzed flour (S1BG), with a residual gluten content of 2,480 ppm.

    The third group of patients ate baked goods made from fully hydrolyzed flour (S2BG), with just 8 ppm residual gluten.

    In the first group, two of the six patients consuming baked goods made with natural flour (NFBG) discontinued the challenge because of adverse symptoms. All six patients in this group showed increased levels of anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies and small bowel deterioration.

    The two patients who ate baked goods made from extensively hydrolyzed flour (S1BG) had no clinical complaints, but biopsy showed intestinal damage in the form of subtotal villous atrophy.

    The five patients who ate baked goods made with made from fully hydrolyzed flour (S2BG), at just 8 ppm residual gluten had no clinical complaints. Also, they showed no increase in anti-tTG antibodies, and Marsh grades of their small intestinal mucosa showed no adverse change.

    Evidence with this small 60-day dietary study shows that people with celiac disease can safely consume baked goods made from fully hydrolyzed wheat flour, manufactured with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases. This flour shows no toxicicity to patients with celiac disease.

    The team notes that a combined analysis of serologic, morphometric, and immunohistochemical parameters is the most accurate method to assess new therapies for this disorder.

    The results need to be borne out by further study, but, in the future, baked goods made with fully hydrolyzed wheat flour, manufactured with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases may become another option for people with celiac disease.

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    I cannot say how disappointed I am in the poor quality of interpretation of this research article. I am a cereal grains chemist and I have read this study in entirety. This article does an incredibly poor job of explaining that this was an introductory study with negligible statistical power and in no way should be interpreted that sourdough items are safe for all celiac patients. Since this article has been published I have received five emails from celiac patients telling me the "good news" that we "can eat sourdough again", citing this article and claiming to have no ill affects when they have eaten wheat-based sourdough items. In future articles written on this site a stronger emphasis that studies like this are highly experimental, considered to be unethical in the United States (due to the control group's treatment), and should be in no way interpreted that eating these items is safe for the general population.

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    It's 2018 and the HuffPo just posted an article on safe for celiac disease patients based on this research.  The author confused regular sourdough with the "fully hydrolyzed" sourdough prepared with added fungal proteases. How many bakers bake with added fungal proteases anyway? Note that the study authors analyzed all 3 sourdoughs for total gluten and that is something bakers and home sourdough makers will NOT be doing. At best your home sourdough will be of the "extensively hydrolyzed" sourdough type but without analysis after baking, how will you know if it has reduced gluten to levels acceptable for you to consume. In other words, this research does NOT translate into a safe baking schedule for home or commercial sourdough bakers as each individual sourdough culture and batch of flour will respond differently. Also the "fully hydrolyzed' sourdough is completely depleted of intact wheat protein and gluten so it will not rise or have a crumb. It is just like using wheat starch in your baking, no different than corn starch or potato starch baked good.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams 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 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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