New Study on Sourdough Bread and Celiac Disease - Celiac Disease
Mar 15 2011

New Study on Sourdough Bread and Celiac Disease

Last week, posted about a recent Italian study by the University of Naples and the University of Bari about the possibility that people with celiac disease may be able to safely eat sourdough bread.  Please do not take the study and article as the green light to go out and eat sourdough bread, but it is always good to keep updated on what is going on with research and celiac disease.  At one time we were told not to eat vinegar or blue cheese and now those things have changed, so who knows what will be discovered in the future.

According to a new study in Italy, slow-fermented bakery goods, such as sourdough bread, could be safe for coeliacs to eat.

The study, by the University of Naples and the University of Bari, Italy, looked at whether the processing of wheat used for bakery products reduced gluten percentage, and found that fermentation significantly decreased the amount of native gluten present.

Thirteen patients with coeliac disease were divided into three groups. The first group were required to eat 200g per day of natural flour baked goods, the second were given baked food made from partially hydrolyzed wheat flour, while the third received baked food from fully hydrolyzed wheat flour.

The study found that a 60-day diet of baked goods made from hydrolyzed wheat flour, made with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases, was not toxic to patients with coeliac disease.

Two patients from the first group had to abandon the study after developing clinical symptoms. Patients from the second group had no clinical complaints but a biopsy examination showed that their intestinal lining had changed. However, the third group had no clinical complaints, their blood levels of markers of immune reaction and their biopsies showed no changes to the intestinal lining.

What are your thoughts?


Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!


  1. Mary Louise says:

    This is a very small study – but a promising one…especially because the third group “no clinical complaints, their blood levels of markers of immune reaction and their biopsies showed no changes to the intestinal lining.”

    However, from otehr studies, I believe the recipe is not yet ready to be duplicated in celiac homes:
    “hydrolyzed wheat flour, made with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases,”
    So people should be careful. We need to know the specific formulation…

    “Don’t try this at home, kids!”


  2. Tiffany Janes says:

    I agree – I wouldn’t “try this at home” either, but I personally think this is very exciting news. I remember reading it on Google alerts and thinking that many of the most interesting studies on celiac are being done outside the U.S. That’s unfortunate, I think.

  3. Vic says:

    We have an internal medicine physician in our Bay Area group. Here is what she said:
    Re: New article about celiac disease and the possibility of sourdough bread

    Hi there

    I thought I’d chime in a brief clinical/scientific voice. This is a very small
    study, but in searching the PubMed databases, there have been several similar
    types of studies done w/ various fermentation processes. They all seem to come
    to the same conclusions: that with “extensive” fermentation with bacteria that
    are good gluten hydrolyzers (this is a chemical process in which the toxic
    gliadin protein is changed such that it doesn’t trigger the immune reaction),
    most or all of the participants had no known clinical symptoms; but, if measured
    in the particular study, their antibody levels &/or biopsies showed an
    inflammatory response. Very likely, after a period of time, they would then
    develop symptoms, but regardless, asymptomatic persons w/ inflammatory responses
    is not a good thing for the body. The “super” fermentation process which
    included these bacteria along w/ fungal proteases (enzymes which break down
    proteins) seemed to hydrolyze the gluten down to miniscule concentrations, at
    which neither symptoms nor inflammatory markers were detected.

    I think the overall take-home point here is not whether or not we should try
    this (we’ll leave that up to each individual!), but that all fermentation
    processes DO break down gluten/gliadin and other proteins. That is an
    established fact. The loss of fermentation as a food preparation technique is
    another reason why gluten intolerance and other such inflammatory processes of
    the digestive tract is so prevalent and on the rise now. We have abandoned
    traditional ways in which food has been prepared for centuries. Fermentation is
    a big part of not only breads, but of vegetables and fruits, to help our simple
    digestive tracts deal w/ undigestible proteins and also to make nutrients much
    more bioavailable to us. The reason we have trouble w/ foods that animals
    traditionally don’t is b/c they have additional organs like gizzards or multiple
    stomachs to help them churn and break down hard-to-digest proteins. SO, from a
    chemical/physiological standpoint, this study makes complete sense. To
    determine what precise method would consistently produce sourdough bread to be
    non-immunogenic will require further investigation. Humans (even non-celiacs)
    need microorganisms to help with digestion. That’s also why probiotics are such
    an important part of human health.

    For those of you who are not completely inundated w/ information ont his, here
    is a blog that has a very good summary of previous studies, done by the same
    group out of Italy. She explains each study and what they found very clearly:

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