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.)
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,
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.