The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Research on slow fermentation and gluten sensitivity

full quiver farm's picture
full quiver farm

Research on slow fermentation and gluten sensitivity

Some of my children are sensitive to gluten, but I have found that slowing down the fermentation seems to help with this. Currently, I am using Basil's Pain Au Levain recipe from Bread Alone, and getting good results with no special flours or esoteric ingredients.

Can anyone point me to any research that has been done on slow fermentation and sourdough and it's effect on the digestibility of gluten?

Thanks for any help you can give.

Gil at Full Quiver Farm

davidg618's picture

genome mapping of modern bread wheat celiac disease

and you will find a large number of scholarly references reporting findings related to your interest.

I found particularly readable from a lay point-of-view. However, There are more scientific NIH, .gov, and .edu references aplenty.

Although no immediate family members or myself have diagnosed celiac disease, or gluten intolerance I became interested in the the subject when recently reading:

The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz which, as its name implies, is a broad-brush description of mostly home-rendered, food-related fermentations (some commercial too). The author's sub-title states: "An in-depth exploration of essential concepts from around the world." It's a New York Times best seller, but that's frequently negative incentive for me to choose to read a book.

One of the sidebars--there are many in the book--cites a blog, I. N. Cognito's Manifest, that posits an impassioned condemnation of the the "cooks", i.e. the modern bread industry, the culprits they having abandoned long fermentations. No corroborating references are listed, neither by Katz or in the original blog (I looked).

What I gained from scanning a few more scholarly discussions from the Google listing celiac disease and gluten intolerence are very complex, and not well understood phenomena. Some mention dough fermentation reducing the effects, but not eliminating them.

Nonetheless, I think you are on the right track to ease your childrens' discomfort.

Good luck,

David G

Goldengranny's picture

Here is a link to a scientific article, that details a study of long fermented sourdough, and the result that it had on the gluten content in the dough:

Norcalbaker's picture

It's important to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor who specializes in food antigen disorders. One reason being is if it is celiac's disease there are cancer risk factors that must be addressed.

Reseachers have long known that there is an association between T-cell lymphoma of the intestines and celiac's disease. There's also an association with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the larynx, esophagus, and colon with celiac's disease.

Celiacs disease is misdiagnosed, overlooked as a cause of symptom, and/or frequently dismissed as too rare to be a possibility.  It took over 15 years of regular doctor visits for the same set of symptoms before doctors finally ordered a test for celiac.  Even then, I had to ask my doctor to order the test.  After reviewing my file, his exact words, "oh, you can be the poster child for celiacs disease based on your symptoms alone."  That obvious, and the fact celiac runs in my family, yet he never thought to order a test.

Also these silly theories about modern bread production methods and lack of fermentation being the cause of gluten digestive orders is based on absolute ignorance of science and medicine history.

Celiac's disease and gluten intolerance is not a new condition. In fact, humans has been suffering from food antigen conditions since the Neolithic period.

In the case of celiacs disease, it was first recorded and described in 250 A.D. by  the Greek physician, Aretaeus of Cappadocia. Cappadocia called it "koiliakos"; koilia being the Greek word for abdomen.

The translation of Cappadocia' description stated in part: “If the stomach be irretentive of the food and if it pass through undigested and crude, and nothing ascends into the body, we call such persons coeliacs”.

Sadly, the cause was not identified until the 18th Century when Scottish pathologist Dr. Mathew Baillie studied the condition, and developed dietary recommendations to treat it. Still, the world suffered because few took notice to Baillie's work. A hundred more years later, an English physician Dr. Samuel Gee got people's attention. So Gee gets the credit; and people incorrectly think it's a new disorder.

Since gluten antigen disorders predate modern farming practices, modern wheat cultivars, and modern bread making methods by thousands of years, it's medically and scientifically unsound to promote the notion that gluten antigen disorders are caused by modern methods, thus treatable with a return to ancient grains and baking methods. 

Totally baffling to me is your insistence on feeding your children foods that you know obviously makes them sick. There are hundreds of foods naturally gluten free. And there is a slew of gluten free flours readily available to bake gluten free bread.