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Palestinian Chemist Creates Gluten-free Magic From the Chaos of War 09/03/2015 - Imagine being stuck in a war zone and not having access to food or medicine. For Palestinians stuck in the occupied Gaza Strip, such realities are a daily occurrence. For Palestinians with celiac disease, and other gluten sensitive conditions, simple access to gluten-free flour can mean the difference between health and disease, between living and dying.

Gaza by MP5. Image CC--MP CinqueA Palestinian chemist in Gaza worked against long odds to develop gluten-free bread, which is proving to be a lifeline for local patients suffering from celiac disease, as well as those with autism and phenylketonuria (PKU).

After a 22-day Israeli military offensive in 2008/9 left at least two local celiac children dead, chemist Mohamed Al-Asqalani worked with minimal equipment, no outside financial support, and very little foreknowledge of the process to develop gluten-free flour "that is suitable for making all kinds of meals so that patients are able to eat different kinds of food, like those without the disease."

His earliest effort was a corn-based flour that provided sufficient dietary nutrition, but made a weak substitute for wheat for baking and other uses.

In 2010 Al-Asqalani began the second stage of his research, in which he used "a number of gluten-free food materials in addition to licensed e-number additives, I produced the new gluten-free flour, which is usable in all kinds of meals and by all bakeries; it has the same flavor as normal wheat flour."

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After five years of research, Al-Asqalani's new product has been tested and approved by the Saudi Food and Medicine Centre and the Egyptian National Centre for Food Research.

For his part, he is happy that his success will bring both health and good taste to many sufferers of celiac disease and other gluten-sensitive conditions. Al-Asqalani is currently applying for the necessary licenses to produce and sell his flour commercially.

I don't know about you, but if there were a celiac disease medal for going above and beyond the call of duty, and for courage, bravery and persistence under fire, Al-Asqalani would be my nominee.

Share your thoughts on his accomplishments below.

Read more at: Middle East Monitor. welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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7 Responses:

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said this on
07 Sep 2015 7:27:00 AM PDT
If Palestinians and Israelis alike spent more time working on creating gluten free food options and less time on killing each other, the world would be a better place. That would go for the rest of the world too ... fewer bombs and more gluten free bread!! Idealistic, yes, but isn't it a nice idea?

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said this on
07 Sep 2015 11:01:40 PM PDT
"Fewer bombs and more gluten free bread!! Idealistic, yes, but isn't it a nice idea?" Do you think under fire and occupied and also, killing Palestinians every second will make gluten free foods? Is this an idealistic idea? Palestinians want freedom, dignity, peace, and to live like all people in the world. Go out from Palestine.

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said this on
07 Sep 2015 10:46:22 AM PDT
Kudos to Mohamed Al-Asqalani for developing GF flour in Gaza, where he had minimal resources NOT because of Israeli retaliation for rocket attacks on Israeli towns, but because the government in Gaza, run by Hamas, invests all its resources in those rockets and its cement in building tunnels into Israel for terror purposes rather than for building much needed homes in Gaza.

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said this on
07 Sep 2015 6:11:19 PM PDT
Thank you for clarifying the issues in Gaza. It seems that any issue can be and is twisted to blame the Israelis, and it seems that the world is trying very hard to do just that.

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said this on
07 Sep 2015 5:27:16 PM PDT
This article would have a lot more merit if it would concentrate on the achievements of Mr. Al-Asqalani rather than politicizing the issue. Palestinian kids suffered and Israeli kids suffered and this is not the forum to use words such as "occupation" or "Israeli Offensive" because for the Israeli kids it can be easily seen as a "Palestinian barrage of rockets and kidnapping of Israelis". Celiac disease does not differentiate between people and lets use this forum to unite rather than create division.

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said this on
07 Sep 2015 7:24:47 PM PDT
More power to Mr Al-Asqalani for achieving so much under such great odds! I hope he gets monetary rewards for his efforts as well as accolades. And as a potential user of his flour, I say, "Thank You very much! "

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said this on
08 Sep 2015 7:28:14 AM PDT
Amazing man doing so much with so little. History will judge us all. Great article, thanks for the balanced perspective, rare to see that.

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