More than two and a half years ago, we blogged about an interesting Italian study we had stumbled upon in our never-ending search for cool info about grains. In this study, researchers showed that it’s possible to render wheat technically gluten-free when it undergoes a slow lacto-fermentation with specific lacto-bacilli and fungi. The wheat started out life with a normal 75,000 ppm (parts per million) of gluten, but after the sourdough fermentation process, gluten levels were only 12 ppm. And remember, under the new gluten-free labeling laws, anything under 20 ppm is considered gluten free.

What’s going on here? In short, gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale) is one of the world’s more difficult-to-digest proteins. For most of us, the fact that we can’t break it down completely isn’t a problem; it passes through our bodies harmlessly. For others it causes medical problems. However, if very specific natural “good” bacteria and fungi have already pre-digested the gluten, its problematic potential seems to disappear.

Still intrigued by this study, we recently checked in by email with corresponding author Marco Gobbetti, Professor of Food Microbiology at the University of Bari in Italy to see what was new in his team’s research — which we’ll share in today’s blog in Q&A form.

You may also be interested to know that Dr. Gobbetti will be a speaker at our Whole Grains: Breaking Barriers conference in November. Join us there, to hear more!

An important note: Dr. Gobbetti’s work has been doing using specific lacto-bacilli and procedures; it does NOT imply that any other sourdough breads will be safe for celiacs. While the research is promising, there are no wheat products yet on the market that are safe for celiacs. 


Whole Grains Council: We were fascinated by your earlier study. Have you continued to learn more on this topic?

 

MarcoGobbetti 1.jpg

Dr. Gobbeti: Yes, many further developments were achieved. After the discovery that a mixture of fungal proteases and selected sourdough lactobacilli degraded gluten to below 20 ppm during sourdough fermentation [study here], we further explained the enzyme mechanism for gluten degradation, including the epitopes responsible for celiac disease [study here].

Whole Grains Council: Sounds like you’ve made good progress in the lab, on the theory behind what you refer to as “digested flour.” But what about in real life? 

Dr. Gobbetti: Based on these encouraging foundations, and in cooperation with physicians, we carried out an in vivo [human/real life] challenge with celiac patients. The patients ate about 200 grams of sweet baked goods daily, made with our [specially fermented] wheat flour. The wheat flour in these baked goods originally contained the equivalent of around 10 grams of gluten, that had been completely digested [by the fermentation process].The trial lasted 60 days, and based on serological, hematological and intestinal permeability analyses, all the patients completely tolerated the sweet baked goods [study here].

After this challenge, a second 60-day in vivo challenge was carried out under almost the same conditions with other celiac patients, only this time intestinal biopsies were also carried out. Again, in this case, we observed 100% tolerance of our baked goods made with digested wheat flour [study here].

Whole Grains Council: Wow. 100% tolerance, in celiac patients, documented by intestinal biopsies. What comes next?

Dr. Gobbetti: Nowadays, a third and final in vivo challenge is running. Celiac patients will ingest baked goods made with digested wheat flour each day for 6 months. The study will conclude at the end of this year but some patients have already finished the challenge – once again showing complete tolerance.

Whole Grains Council: Could you please clarify – did you do your studies using whole wheat flour or using refined flour? We’re guessing you could potentially turn either one into “digested” flour?

Dr. Gobbetti: We got our results both on whole wheat flour and on refined flour; the results are the same with both.

Whole Grains Council: Is anyone using this “digested flour” in commercial baking yet? Either in Italy or here in the US?

Dr. Gobbetti: The approach is not currently available on the market. We are co-inventors of the process with an Italian company (Giuliani SpA), which has patented this nationally and internationally. This company also funded the last part of the in vivo research and developed an industrial plant for the manufacture of leavened baked goods to be made with the sourdough fermented wheat flour. The company hopes to be ready for the market in mid-2015. Obviously, the U.S. market will also be interested!

Whole Grains Council: The work that you and your group are doing is fascinating. Now that you have done two in vivo trials and are partway through a third, longer trial, it seems you are very clearly establishing the safety of this digested wheat for celiacs. Do you mind if we share your emails in a blog?

Dr. Gobbetti: It’s a pleasure to share our results with you. Please feel free to use them!

 (Cynthia)

 

Comments

Anonymous
Who is the author of this article. I would like to cite you in a paper
Cynthia

 Cynthia Harriman wrote this blog -- but it is principally the words of Dr. Gobbetti. If you would like to hear Dr. Gobbetti's presentation at the WGC's November 2014 conference, you can find it here: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/get-involved/whole-grains-breaking-barriers-nov-2014-conference-program

mARIE
MY QUESTION OR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARE, WHY WOULD YOU BUY EXPENSIVE PRE-FERMENTED FLOUR, WHEN YOU CAN JUST USE NORMAL WHOLE GRAIN FLOURS (ORGANIC HOPEFULLY) WHICH WILL THEN GO THROUGH THE FERMENTING PROCESS TO MAKE SOURDOUGH BREAD? I USED TO REACT TO 'ÇOMMON' BREADS BUT NOW THAT I (THANK-YOU GOD) MAKE MY OWN SOURDOUGH BREAD, (DEAD EASY TO MAKE), I HAVE NO MORE PROBLEMS. PROOF ENOUGH WOULDN'T YOU SAY? MARIE NZ.
Cynthia

We're really glad for you that you've found something that works for you. There are many different things that can make someone sensitive to wheat (as is true of other foods too). What made you react to "common" breads may not be the same as the next person, so the solution may not be the same either. Making your own sourdough bread is not the solution for people who have celiac disease, though it may help with some other wheat sensitivities. We do not advise anyone with celiac disease that "ferment it yourself" is a solution. 

Amine
Please can you provide me with more details? I am gluten intolerant and I want to eat gluten free food based on real wheat flour. Best Bmimine@hotmail.com
Cynthia
This bread is apparently available in Italy under the Bontà di Pane brand now but it's not available here, and there's unfortunately no way to duplicate this patented process in your home kitchen. The only good news I can offer is the hope that the bread could be available here if it sells well in Italy.
Haim
Will it be sold commercially?
Cynthia

Dr. Gobbetti says that he is working with an Italian company that plans to sell baked products made with this specially-processed wheat, in the next year or two. Whether those products will be available in other countries is not yet known.  

AnonymousRalph Dow
with wheat starch?
Cynthia

 Not sure what your question is. All wheat flour contains wheat starch.

GSmith
Why will it take 1-2 more years for the flour to be available for baking in the USA? What's holding it up?
Cynthia

We've sent an email to the Italian company, asking if they have plans to make their flour or their products available in the U.S. If we get a reply we'll post it here. Be aware though, that on their website it looks like they may be producing refined grain products, not whole grain ones. :-( 

swati
is your gluten free wheat flour will be available in markets for making chapatis for celiac patients.
Cynthia

 At the moment, this is still just an Italian product and in fact may only be available as finished products made with the flour. It's not available in the US to the bes tof our knowledge.

Margo gouzeas
I would like more info.please of when this wheat will be available
kelly-oldways
Hi Margo, Regarding the gluten free wheat bread that Dr. Gobetti spoke about, it seems like it might be available in Italy, but not in the US. The product (or perhaps brand) appears to be called “Giusto Senza Glutine.” Here is the website: http://www.giustogiuliani.com/celiaci/
Leah
Hello, This was a great article, thank you. Is there a contact list or chance of finding out if this will become available in Australia at some point in the future. Or, has a product or company name become available yet that I could google? Thanks, Leah
kelly-oldways
Hi Leah, Thanks for reaching out. The product (or perhaps brand) appears to be called “Giusto Senza Glutine,” and it seems to only be available in Italy right now. Here is the website (translated to English): https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.giustogiuliani.com/celiaci&prev=search You can find their contact info on this page: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.giustogiuliani.com/celiaci&prev=search
Susan
Shar GF breads now make a crossant that is available in the freezer section of many grocery stores in the US. there is one that has filling and one that is plain. It is made with GF wheat flour. delicious.
kelly-oldways
Hi Susan, I'm not sure that this is using the same sourdough method, but it certainly looks tasty. http://www.schar.com/en-us/products/us-frozen/croissants-plain
Rick Nelson
My 100% wheat based sourdough has been tested and proven to be gluten free with less than 5ppm gluten. Please see the Australian government test results posted and I now have numerous with Coeliac Disease eating my bread with no impact https://www.facebook.com/thepocketstorehouse
kelly-oldways
Hi Rick, Thank you for sharing! I am not familiar with The Pocket Storehouse but am eager to learn more.
Rick Nelson fro...
Hi Kelly, I have a long story but I'll keep it as short as possible, always loved sourdough my whole life and made the plunge 12 months ago to get serious with what was a hobby. I got serious because I found out I had type 2 diabetes when the Dr told me my blood sugar was 25. I was devastated but put myself on a diet lost 20kg in 2 weeks and my sugars were down to 5. I then looked into what foods either assisted blood sugar or had less impact and I was led to fermented products, I changed my diet and the last 12 months by 3 month average blood via the Dr is less than 5.5 so I technically don't have type 2 diabetes any more. I loved bread but carbohydrates are generally not good for controlling blood sugar however my sourdough definately is, I started baking for myself, my family, my friends and then I perfected my own very unique technic of making a fluffy inside and chewy outside sourdough bread made with only wheat flour, water, salt and my own unique to Bundaberg starter. I was encouraged to bake for a local café and I started just for fun but I was getting lots of good comments on how lovely it tasted so I decided that I was going to quit my day job follow a dream and start a sourdough bakery. I has read that an authentic sourdough can digest gluten( but not all of it), so I decided to change a few more things and had hundreds of disaster bread and threw out my sourdough starter numerous times until now. I have consistently produced the 100% white wheat bread I was chasing, a few game gluten intolerant and those with coeliac tried my unique bread......NO IMPACT. So before starting my business next year I sent my 100% Wheat Based long ferment sourdough bread for testing by the Australian Government............THE RESULT......A true wheat based bread that is confirmed GLUTEN FREE with less than 5ppm..........please see the actual report provided for the world to see on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thepocketstorehouse/ I am going to be running a support campaign as I want to test my other breads Spelt, Emmer as well as a range of sourdough pastries and Sourdough Hot Cross buns for Easter, I am not trying to make millions but I am trying to make a difference and provide bread the way it used to be. I have 3 diagnosed with Coeliac eating my breads without impact, that is more proof than even the government test.......CAN YOU GET THIS MESSAGE OUT THERE, after you've looked at the test results. Kind Regards Rick Nelson the Baker
kelly-oldways
Hi Rick, Thank you for sharing! I will look into the links you sent.
Rick Nelson fro...
This may help as all my information and the government test results are in the link for the world to see, the bread tastes fantastic also https://www.gofundme.com/thepocketstorehouse
kelly-oldways
Hi Rick, When you are able to develop a whole grain gluten-free wheat bread, rather than a white one, we'd love to learn more! ;)
Tracy
This is great news. I knew there had to be way to do this on a non industrial scale. Although I am pleased about the Italian company working out a way to deglutenise wheat, I do not want to buy commercial GF products as they are filled with so many dubious ingredients like xantham gum and emulsifiers etc.
Kai Christensen
Does the digested gluten retain its elastic properties which make normal gluten so valuable in baking?
Cynthia
Good question. We get the impression that it DOES retain those elastic properties, as the original study we read (which we blogged about years ago at http://wholegrainscouncil.org/blog/2012/01/research-sheds-light-gluten-issues) mentioned using the "digested flour" in similar ways.
Sunil Apte
Is there a way I can make such bread in Mumbai? Pl guide. On a small scale for personal consumption? My I'd apte.sunil@gmail.com
Cynthia
Unfortunately, there's no way to make this bread on a small scale for personal consumption. You might want to try this recipe for gluten free sorghum bread instead: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/sorghum-bread
Judith
If all wheat has gluten in it, then wouldn't "gluten free" be without wheat? Or is it the "digested flour" that makes it gluten free? (but it still has wheat?). I've read that there are 3 parts to the wheat grain that we cannot digest, therefore all wheat is bad for everyone (sensitive or not) and some get "leaky gut" earlier than others and should go Paleo if they want to heal certain problems and to keep autoimmune disease at bay. I'm just learning, so if anyone has any fact based info, I'm all ears. Not sure what to believe with all the info out there!
Caroline-WGC
Hi Judith – The fermented wheat being researched by Dr. Gobbetti is considered gluten-free despite the fact that it is made from wheat because the gluten in the wheat is transformed by the bacteria and fungi involved in the fermentation process. This fermented wheat has gluten levels of only 12ppm (anything under 20ppm can be labeled gluten-free) and it does not appear to cause any medical problems in celiac patients. It can certainly be challenging navigating all the health advice that’s out there. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about gluten and wheat, but we always point people toward the peer-reviewed research being published in scientific journals. The world’s top gluten researchers and celiac doctors agree that most of us are just fine eating wheat. I encourage you to check out some of the links on this page for more information: https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whats-whole-grain-refined-grain/gluten-free-whole-grains
Reshmi
Can we knead the whole wheat flour at night and use it the next morning to make indian chapptti, will the gluten content decrease under such case.
Caroline-WGC
Hi Reshmi -- The wheat in Dr. Gobbetti's study is being fermented by a mixture of fungal proteases and selected sourdough lactobacilli that consume the gluten in the wheat. Unfortunately, allowing dough to ferment in your own kitchen overnight will not have the same effect and will not decrease the gluten content of the wheat. Dr. Gobbetti is adding specific bacteria and fungi to the dough in his lab that would not be present in the dough otherwise.
farhan ahmed khan
where i can buy deglutenise wheat.
Caroline-WGC
Hi Farhan -- Our understanding is that you might be able to find the product in Italy, but it is not yet available in other countries. You can visit the Italian product website here: http://www.giustogiuliani.com/celiaci/ and you can sign up for updates about this research and product distribution by visiting: http://www.frumentodeglutinato.com/
Constant Depièreux
Hi, i am a Belgian administrator of the "Société belge de la Cœliaquie" (http://vivresansgluten.be), and amongst many other activities, we are distributing yearly several tons of the NoGluten wheat (see composition below), by far the main wheat used by the Belgian celiacs. The product is made as follows : http://revogan.catbuilder.info/catalogs/cat.asp?language=fr&nodnum=REMHJPFM Feel free to get in contact with this company to investigate possibilities of sourcing from Sweden or Belgium to USA.
Caroline-WGC
Hi Constant -- Thanks for the sourcing info. I'm sure our readers will be very interested to know that it is available from Sweden and Belgium, as well as Italy!
Rajesh choudhary
Can i get the no gluten wheat in india please? For my 5yrs old daughter...thanks
Caroline-WGC
Hi Rajesh -- The last we heard, this was the company selling it: http://revogan.catbuilder.info/catalogs/cat.asp?language=fr&nodnum=REMHJPFM We recommend reaching out to them directly for information about their distribution. We'd love to hear what you learn so we can share it with others!
frank ward
hi have they managed to get the flour on the market yet and is it available in the uk thanks
Caroline-WGC
Hi Frank -- We haven't heard any updates about distribution recently, but the last we knew, this was the company selling it: http://revogan.catbuilder.info/catalogs/cat.asp?language=fr&nodnum=REMHJPFM If you reach out to them directly and learn anything new, let us know!
farhan ahmed khan
where i can buy deglutenised wheat flour.
Caroline-WGC
Hi Farhan -- The last we heard, this was the company selling the wheat flour discussed in this blogpost: http://revogan.catbuilder.info/catalogs/cat.asp?language=fr&nodnum=REMHJPFM We recommend reaching out to them directly for information about their distribution.
Samilia Towner
Hello! Is it possible to purchase and have this his deglutenized wheat flour shipped from Italy to my home in the USA? I hope so! Please let me know.
Caroline-WGC
Hi Samilia -- Unfortunately, it doesn't look like distribution has spread internationally yet. You can sign up to receive updates from one of the companies producing deglutenized wheat flour by going to this website: http://www.frumentodeglutinato.com/prodotti/?lang=en They may be able to give you more details about distribution if you contact them directly.
Julcarnain
Gluten is the culprit for celiac disease, IBS, Autism etc.
Caroline-WGC
You're right that those with celiac disease must avoid gluten altogether, but you may be surprised to learn that gluten is not linked to most of the diseases and conditions it is sometimes blamed for. For more information see our Myths Busted page: https://wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/myths-busted

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