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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Study Finds Wheat-based Sourdough Bread Started with Selected Lactobacilli is Tolerated by Celiac Disease Patients

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Feb;70(2):1088-1096

    Celiac.com 02/26/2004 - Please note that the sourdough bread used in this study is not your garden-variety sourdough bread, and as far as I know it is not commercially available. Even though this study had very promising results, it was conducted on a relatively small number of people, and larger studies need to be carried out before reaching any conclusions about the long-term safety of celiacs consuming this type of sourdough bread. -Scott Adams

    Researchers in Europe conducted a novel study which utilized a highly specialized sourdough lactobacilli containing peptidases that have the ability to hydrolyze Pro-rich peptides, including the 33-mer peptide, which is the main culprit in the immune response associated with celiac disease. The sourdough bread in the study was made from a dough mixture that contained 30% wheat flour and other nontoxic flours including oat, millet, and buckwheat, which was then started with the specialized lactobacilli. After 24 hours of fermentation all 33-mer peptides and low-molecular-mass, alcohol-soluble polypeptides were almost totally hydrolyzed.

    For the next step in the study the researchers extracted proteins fro the sourdough and used them to produce a "peptic-tryptic digest" for in vitro agglutination tests on human K 562 subclone cell. The agglutinating activity of the sourdough proteins was found to be 250 times higher that that of normal bakers-yeast or lactobacilli started breads.

    A double blind test was then conducted in which 17 celiac disease patients were given 2 grams of gluten-containing bread started with bakers yeast or lactobacilli. Thirteen of them showed distinct, negative changes in their intestinal permeability after eating the bread, and 4 of them did not show any negative effects. The specially prepared sourdough bread was then given to all 17 patients and none of them had intestinal permeability reactions that differed from their normal baseline values.

    The researchers conclude: "These results showed that a bread biotechnology that uses selected lactobacilli, nontoxic flours, and a long fermentation time is a novel tool for decreasing the level of gluten intolerance in humans."


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    I am NCGS. I read the articles on sourdough a couple of years ago and tried it. If it is truly sourdough, It does not give me the same symptoms as any other bread. Also, and this is IMPORTANT, some commercially-prepared sourdough is actually white quick bread with lemon added to give it that flavor. If you do try sourdough, in the states try Panera sourdough first (if you don't have the luxury of being in San Francisco). Panera's starter is quite ancient.

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    I am NCGS. I read the articles on sourdough a couple of years ago and tried it. If it is truly sourdough, It does not give me the same symptoms as any other bread. Also, and this is IMPORTANT, some commercially-prepared sourdough is actually white quick bread with lemon added to give it that flavor. If you do try sourdough, in the states try Panera sourdough first (if you don't have the luxury of being in San Francisco). Panera's starter is quite ancient.

    We at Celiac.com would definitely NOT recommend that any celiacs try a wheat-based sour dough bread, no matter what this study shows. Cross contamination at the bakery would occur no matter the outcome.

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    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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