Crazy as it sounds…new research published in this month’s Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology says indeed Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour may be okay for celiac patients to consume!
Wouldn’t it be great to cross another ingredient off the “forbidden” list for celiacs? In 10 years, we’ve done it twice. Shortly after Emma was diagnosed 10 years ago, it became official that we could take distilled vinegar off the list (let’s all have a collective “whew” on that one), and then the “okay” of oats came a few short years later. While I’m not exactly endorsing hydrolyzed wheat flour yet (it did take me about 3 years to buy gluten-free oats after they were deemed safe as long as they were certified gluten free), this is a topic that is definitely worth keeping up on.
What is Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour?
Well surprisingly there isn’t a lot of information about this available. During my research I found it is often used in cosmetics. And it is there that I actually found a definition: “Hydrolyzed wheat protein is a natural protein derived from wheat or wheat flour with the starch removed.” Hydrolysis is “A chemical reaction in which the interaction of a compound with water results in the decomposition of that compound,” as defined by Biology.com.
In this study, researchers interchange the terms of fermented wheat flour and hydrolyzed wheat flour. The study explained, “Fermentation of wheat flour with sourdough lactobacilli [bacteria] and fungal proteases [groups of enzymes that hydrolyze (breakdown) peptide bonds of proteins] decreases the concentration of gluten” thus making it more tolerable by celiacs. Researchers set out with their study to prove this.
What Researchers Found that May Help Celiacs
“A 60-day diet of baked goods made from hydrolyzed wheat flour, manufactured with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases, was not toxic to patients with CD.” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
A news release promoting this study has made the rounds on the internet, I found it in several places including MedIndia.com. It quoted researchers saying,
“This is the first time that a wheat flour-derived product is shown to not be toxic after being given to celiac patients for 60 days,” said Luigi Greco, MD, PhD, of the University of Napes, Italy, and lead author of the study. “Our findings support further research that explores therapies that could reduce the toxicity of gluten for celiac patients beyond the standard gluten-free diet….
Prolonged trials have to be planned to underscore the safety of baked goods made by applying the rediscovered and adapted biotechnology of hydrolysis. In the future, cereals made through such biotechnology could also improve the nutritional and sensory properties of baked goods containing hydrolyzed gluten compared to products made of naturally gluten-free ingredients.”
So no, you probably shouldn’t go out right now and eat anything with hydrolyzed wheat flour in it. But it is an interesting first step that maybe some day could lead us to cross it off the “unsafe” ingredient off the list.
Update from University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research: Statement on their Facebook page: “…the CFCR and Dr. Fasano believe it is too early to make treatment decisions based on this [hydrolyzed wheat flour research]. This is preliminary data and more in-depth studies need to be done. The data is not conclusive.”
Thank you to CFCR for making a statement on this subject.