Is Sourdough Bread Gluten Free?

In bread-making, sourdough cultures reduce FODMAP content, which are carbs poorly absorbed by the digestive system. European and Australian studies have found sourdough fermentation breaks down gluten too. Clinical trials indicate thorough sourdough fermentation could potentially make wheat bread safe for people with celiac.

Because they are hard to digest, a temporary low-FODMAP diet can benefit people with irritable bowel syndrome. Some studies of non-celiac gluten sensitivity blame FODMAPs in wheat products rather than gluten. Even in newly-diagnosed celiac patients with digestive problems, a temporary low-FODMAP diet might aid recovery by restoring gut function. While those with celiac must eliminate gluten, FODMAPs only need to be reduced to a safe lower level for a few weeks.

While sourdough could theoretically provide a nutritious, high-fibre addition to the gluten-free diet, such commercial products do not yet exist. Some North American artisanal bakeries falsely advertised sourdough breads as being safe. Gluten Free Watchdog tested three such products and found they contained gluten many times the level considered safe for people with celiac.

“Folks with celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder can’t eat commercially available sourdough wheat bread, including those made by artisanal bakers,” says Tricia Thompson, RD, founder of Gluten Free Watchdog. “Bakers must stop thinking that somehow their bread is special and has magical powers that somehow allow folks with celiac disease to eat it. They can’t.”

If technology could render wheat bread safe by thorough fermentation of gluten, note that it would lack the popular texture of gluten-containing sourdough.

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