Gluten Intolerant? Are Sprouted Grain Breads OK?

on Jul12
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Does Flourless Mean Gluten Free?

I would like to take the opportunity to clear up a confusion that runs rampant in the gluten intolerant community. If you do an internet search regarding bread made from sprouted grains or Ezekiel bread you will likely feel your head spinning from all the contrary data. When an individual is gluten intolerant any miniscule amount of gluten is dangerous, so knowing the following information could actually increase your life expectancy and minimize your chance of developing certain diseases.

The confusion stems from an understandable source: these breads are promoted as being ‘flourless’. One reads ‘flourless’ and then jumps to the conclusion that no flour equates to no gluten. Not so fast!  Let’s look at what flourless bread actually means.

A Sprouted Grain Still Contains Gluten

Remember gluten is a protein found in common grains such as wheat, rye and barley. When grains are sprouted it means that they begin to grow and sprout their grass. It is thought that sprouting makes them more digestible and more nutritious. While that may be true, it in NO way removes the gluten component from the grain.

What if I “Feel Fine” Eating Sprouted Grains?

It is unfortunate in a way that a sprouted grain IS more digestible because this characteristic is part and parcel of what fuels the confusion. Let me explain: Imagine you are gluten intolerant and you avoid bread products because you get digestive symptoms as a result of eating them. Imagine further that a friend tells you about sprouted grain bread, thinking they’re doing you a favor, and you try it. If the result was that you didn’t feel badly after eating eat you would likely think that this was a safe alternative, would you not?

It certainly ‘seems’ logical but unfortunately gluten has extremely dangerous effects upon one’s health and organs and more often than not that damage occurs silently. For every one person with gluten intolerance who has a digestive complaint, there are approximately eight who have the problem with no digestive complaints.

Therefore using symptoms as your only yardstick is extremely dangerous. If you truly ‘know’ that you are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease, a zero tolerance policy is your only option. If you need to find out if gluten was a problem for you than I can direct you to testing to help diagnose the problem. (Not all tests are the same, by the way.)

Is Wheat Grass Juice Okay?

If you wished to consume wheat grass juice, on the other hand, you could sprout the wheat grain and then cut off the grass (and ONLY the grass) as it grew. The research I’ve seen states that there is no protein component (and thereby no gluten) formed until after the grass is older than 10-14 days. So as long as you know how old the grass is you could consume it (remember only the grass) with no gluten contamination.

Sprouted breads however are utilizing the whole grain plus the sprout and that’s why they contain gluten.

Your Best Defense is to ‘Look’ don’t ‘Listen’ – Read those labels!

A patient sent me an email telling me that she had been consuming Ezekiel bread due to a recommendation from several other gluten sensitive friends (the friends were not patients of mine). She had been suffering stomach pain and was starting to wonder about the validity of her friends’ recommendations. She sent me the exact information from the bread’s packaging which she took to understand was fine for her on a gluten-free diet. This is what it says:

“While sprouting promotes the digestibility of grains through enzymatic activity, this product contains naturally occurring gluten found in whole grains, such as wheat. For gluten free products please visit our website.”

My patient’s confusion stemmed from the term “naturally occurring gluten”. Her friends had told her: “It is not processed, so it is good to eat.”

“Naturally occurring” … of course it’s naturally occurring. Do we harvest wheat and then INJECT it with gluten? It’s a protein in the grain; it couldn’t be anything BUT naturally occurring! And the next sentence is a further hint when it recommends visiting their website for gluten free products: It basically says that if you want something that IS gluten-free visit their website… Why? Because the thing you just bought ISN’T!!! (Sorry, that’s the red head in me getting a bit angry.)

From my perspective, I don’t find the wording confusing. But I’m a doctor who specializes in this area. My patient is highly intelligent and she didn’t understand it. Plus many other patients have had the same confusion. With words like “digestibility”, “enzymatic” and “naturally occurring gluten” all in one sentence, it’s no wonder. So between the confusing descriptions from the companies themselves and other blogs supporting the confusion, it’s no wonder that individuals are remaining ill from consuming this gluten laden product.

Fortunately the awareness of gluten is increasing by the day so while your best defense is reading labels carefully, if there is any doubt consider contacting the company via the internet before eating the product. And if you’re still in doubt, contact me – that’s what I’m here for.

I hope you find this helpful. It saddens me when I meet someone suffering from gluten intolerance who explains how they only eat sprouted grains. They think they are doing the right thing when in truth they are sabotaging their health.

Feel free to contact me regarding any questions that you have. HealthNOW is a destination clinic for the very purpose of being able to treat patients from across the country as well as internationally. We are here to help you, your friends and family.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”

Permission is granted to re-post this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.

The Author

20 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Leonard


    I read an article the other day that mentioned the fact that all commercially processed wheat and gluttens are processed to the the point of royalty or over processed, because it is made to make a better bread and that is what I think is causing the glutten intolerance in people. I may just be speculating here, but it seems to me that people don’t really care what they put into thier body anymore as long as it tastes great so with no mandating on flour, glutten, or perservatives sure add a little more the people won’t know the difference. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) even if they were to get involved, who trust them any more? it’s them and the government that are killing the american people, IE the drug recall campaigns!!!
    not to get off the subject here, but isn’t it a fact that if you could lessen the effects of the glutten in bread to the point of no physical symptoms and maybe offset the side effects with say a good healthy probiotic and maybe a digestive enzyme that sprouted wheat breads would have none and possibly a healthy out look on a glutten intolreable person?

    12 Jul
  2. sharon phillips


    You said you know of a test for gluten intolerance in the article, What if I feel fine eating sprouted grains.” I was eating gluten-free for about 2 years. Main reason: my naturopathic doctor said to so that I could avoid gmo wheat (she said just about all wheat grown in US is gmo).

    Recently, I decided probably “organic bread” does not have gmo wheat in it — I could be wrong, do you know for sure?

    So, I’ve been eating Ezekiel bread. It actually says in ingredients that they add gluten!

    So my questions are (1) What test for gluten intolerance do you recommend? It’s would be great if there’s a simple test available on Internet. And (2) Is organic flour non-gmo.

    Thanks very much!

    12 Jul
  3. 3

    Hello Sharon,
    The best online test for gluten sensitivity is through EnteroLab online. It is a stool test and they will work with you directly. You don’t need to involve a doctor.

    As regards organic grains, one would assume they would be non-GMO but probably best to contact the ocmpany to be sure. Let me know what you find out!

    If you need any further assistance, please feel free to write back or call us at 408-733-0400.

    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul
  4. 4

    Hello Leonard,

    While I agree that our food quality is creating us harm and likely we would have less gluten intolerance if we ate better and had stronger, healthier GI tracts, I cannot say that probiotics is all that it takes to handle the situation.

    Unfortunately, once the immune system has labelled gluten as a toxin, we thus far have seen no reversal. While a healthy probiotic population can go a long way towards prevention, it doesn’t seem to be able to cure the problem.

    So, no sprouted bread for anyone with gluten intolerance – at least not at this time in our history.

    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul
  5. 5

    Can is gluten intolerance symptom be extreme soreness in whole body? I did Paleo last summer and I felt great during the holidays I lost the Paleo lifestyle and now I almost can’t move from my neck to my arms to my back and legs.

    I’m baffeled, I don’t want to go to my GP cause he will prob just give me some pills. I’ve been doing hot yoga and it seems to help. I’ve been tested for arthritis and am negative. i do have degenerative changes (severe) in my neck but I can’t explain my back and legs and arms. Just looking for help anywere.

    12 Jul
  6. Danielle


    Hi Lisa,

    I found I was gluten sensitive because of whole body aches when I ate it (or rather how they disappeared when I stopped eating it, came back when I did, stopped when I stopped, came back after pizza night, etc. Now I know if something I ate had hidden gluten as I’ll get achey in my joints).
    The book Wheat Belly talks about how wheat had been changed genetically 40 years ago. The wheat you get now is nearly impossible to fully digest, causes inflammation = body aches. I understand that Ezekial bread, which uses ancient grains and NOT commercial wheat flour, is digestible which is why it doesn’t cause the same problems as your regular store bread. It would seem we’ve become test subjects for genetically modifed food and if you look at the rising cases of celiac and inflammation, and perhaps auto immune disorders, it failed.

    12 Jul
  7. Barbara


    I have used Ezk. Bread for about 6 years. Now I’ve learned I must go off gluten, but have really
    never noticed that Ezk. Bread causes any problem. Is this true that Ezk. Bread uses only the
    ancient grains & how could I be sure/

    12 Jul
  8. 8

    Thanks for writing Barbara. Gluten can cause many dangerous health problems and often silently. That means that you can eat some gluten and not notice feeling badly. However, and this is a BIG however, the lack of symptoms in no means that gluten is not still creating problems. Eventually you will have symptoms but by that point so much damage can occur to a certain organ or system that it’s not reparable.

    You don’t want that. If you know that you are gluten sensitive, you must stop the Ezekiel bread – it DOES contain gluten! Sorry, but we want you healthy and happy.
    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul
  9. jo-anne


    hi there. what are your thoughts regarding food sensitivities/allergies/intolerances and gut dysbiosis?? i am coming to believe that it is the leaky gut allowing these unprocessed food particles into our systems that is responsible for many/most of our health care problems today. i think we’re still treating the symptoms in all but a relatively small number of cases. i am not a doctor. i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia years and years ago, and have travelled quite the journey. since i started the gaps diet things have been getting better. had to reduce the diet further due to my suddenly clear system over reacting to oxalates and salicylates, but all in all, the eczema, joint pain, brain fog, random excruciating soft tissue pains, super hyper-mobile joints, debilitating vertigo, and a host of other digestive, liver, kidney, adrenal, skin, eye, ear, sinus, and heart problems have slowly begun to clear up. it’s been about 3 months, and sometimes its 3 steps forward and two steps back, but it’s still progress. i no longer suffer from severe depression, social anxiety, “freak outs” and a whole bunch of other nasty psychological problems.

    i can’t begin to say how grateful i am to be getting some kind of life back and i want to let everyone know….i mean, what do any of us have to lose??? i lost everything else, including my dignity….i was bedridden, so i know i didnt have anything left to lose. i couldn’t walk 3 months ago and now i’m playing at the park with my daughter.

    you are a well educated doctor. please tell me what you think? i quit going to doctors years ago. i’m sure you know why. very interested in your reply. thank you!!

    12 Jul
  10. jo-anne


    oh, sorry….i believe it’s not just undigested food particles but also that some of the dangerous substances that live safely in a healthy gut leak into our systems and cause an entire array of toxic reactions.

    also, i consume about a litre of fermented water kefir every day, throughout the day (fermented just until it loses its sweetness and no longer! lol ).

    and we tossed every chemical in the place. no shampoos, deodorants, cleansers, fabric softeners, etc. only dr. bronners soap, baking soda, peroxide, vinegar, and essential oils.

    ok, i’m done now. thanks for being here….still looking forward to your insights

    12 Jul
  11. 11

    Hello Jo-Anne,

    I agree with you and I often speak of the connection between food sensitivities and gut dysbiosis. Regaining a healthy gut is absolutely mandatory in order to achieve good health.

    Please let me know if I can be of any assistance to you.

    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul
  12. Julie


    this may be a stupid question but if I have a wheat allergy csn I eat spouted grains?

    12 Jul
  13. 13

    Hi Julie,

    You can eat sprouted grains from non-gluten grains, but not from wheat, rye, barley nor its relatives.


    12 Jul
  14. Jessica


    What about Organic Sprouted Spelt Bread? I assume this contains gluten? I often thought I had an allergy, so I was avoiding gluten like the plague. In actuality I have parasites and candida overgrowth that were confirmed from a costly TFT (triple feces test) which I believe have caused the leaky gut and food allergies, though commercial wheat is unhealthy and should never be consumed.

    I’d like to make a comment relating to parasites. They are much more common amongst North Americans than people think. This organisms may be able to take over once gut dysbiosis occurs and cause a whole lot of problems, it almost makes you think your crazy because no doctors really can pinpoint the main cause of your symptoms. For those interested you should check out Dr. Clark’s website and free online books.

    12 Jul
  15. 15

    Spelt is a glutinous grain and therefore must be avoided if you are sensitive to gluten. The fact that it’s sprouted doesn’t mean anything.

    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul
  16. Patrick


    Do some vitamin products contain gluten? What ingredients should a gulten sensitive person look out for when reading vitamin product labels?

    12 Jul
  17. 17

    Yes Patrick, they do. Fortunately labeling laws require gluten to be listed. If for some reason it’s not, you can always call or check with the company online. Obvious ingredients such as wheat germ (oil), oats, barley should be checked for.

    I hope that helps.

    12 Jul
  18. Faith


    I’ve noticed for years that I get a tightness in my throat, followed by a sore throat, when eating wheat. The more organic and whole grain it is, the worse my reaction. I have little to no reaction to heavily processed wheat and sprouted bread. I have no observable reaction to spelt or barley but kamut and wheat grass juice DO affect me. So, after some research online recently, I have come to realize that it doesn’t appear that I am gluten sensitive, but that I am allergic to wheat. The tightness in the throat is a very, very mild version of an anaphalatic shock reaction, which in a more sensitive person, would cause noticeable swelling, etc.

    I have tested with an alternative practioner for a number of IGg reactions, wheat and gluten among them, and both came back negative. I’m not sure about IGe as I didn’t test for it and since I did my testing, I have read very conflicting reports of the accuracy of IGg and whether it can be duplicated or not. Many sources say no.

    12 Jul
  19. 19

    IgG tests are fairly reliable, especially the delayed version. In your case I think an IgE for wheat makes a lot of sense. It’s a very accurate test and then you’ll know for sure whether it’s a true allergy or not.

    Let me know if I can assist you.

    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul
  20. Theresa


    Here’s a list of grains and the names of their gluten. As you can see it’s was produced by Glutenology


    12 Jul

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