By Leslie Vandever
This is a guest post provided by the fine folks at Healthline.com. For more about their website and resources visit their website provided in a link at the bottom of the post.
Picture it: home-baked bread, fresh out of the oven, the golden brown loaf cut into thick slices, each one releasing a rich, homey aroma that fills your senses, making your mouth water and your stomach growl in anticipation.
For most people, fresh-baked bread is only a fond memory. Today, most of us eat bread from the supermarket, bread that is so unlike the home-baked version that they’re almost two different foods. A growing number of us can’t eat most supermarket bread at all because we’ve developed gluten intolerance or celiac sprue disease.[R2]
These unpleasant and possibly dangerous conditions are thought to be the body’s immune response to wheat gluten, although more studies are needed. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and other grains. In people with gluten intolerance, gluten may damage the inner lining of the small intestine, causing gas, diarrhea, bloating, constipation and abdominal discomfort. It may also cause headaches, “brain-fog,” rashes, and fatigue. Undigested fiber may cause further irritation.
Celiac sprue disease can be much more serious. Along with causing the symptoms above, it can also cause osteoporosis, anemia, and even lymphoma or cancer of the small intestine.
Both are treated by eliminating gluten from the diet. But bread hasn’t always made people sick. What’s the difference between today’s home-baked bread and the bread we get at the grocery store?
The yeast, for one thing. Yeast is a fungus, a single-celled organism that’s found almost everywhere on Earth. It’s on our skin, in the baking flour, on the leaves of plants, in the soil, floating on the wind. In commercial bread factories, they use laboratory-bred and grown “active dry” or “instant” yeast that cuts the dough’s crucial rising time down to size. Just an hour or so after the dough is mixed, it’s ready to bake. A similar type of yeast for home use can be found at the grocery store.
Bread made in the early 20th Century, on the other hand, was made using wild yeast. They didn’t call it that, though. They called it their “starter,” “sourdough” or “levain” (pronounced “le-VAN”). You can capture wild, or “natural” yeast right out of the air wherever you are. It imparts varying, subtle flavors and adds important nutrients to the dough as it does its job slowly but surely. And it consumes and pre-digests the gluten and breaks down much of the indigestible fiber. The resulting bread is far less hard on the human digestive system. In fact, some people who are normally gluten-intolerant may be able to eat it without any resulting discomfort.
A study published in the academic journal Interdisciplinary Toxicology in November of last year suggests that crops sprayed with Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup may still contain glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, after desiccation and harvest. Monsanto has also genetically modified some food crops, including soybeans and corn, to be “Roundup-ready,” allowing farmers to use more of the herbicide on them. These genetically modified organism (GMO), Roundup-ready foods have been grown, harvested, and consumed in the U.S. for a number of years.
The study asserts that glyphosate may have a negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria and increase the possibility of gluten intolerance and celiac disease. The research points out that glyphosate remains in the food after it’s processed. Once in the human digestive system, the chemical may have a negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria—and a positive effect on harmful bacteria, potentially leading to leaky gut syndrome, gluten intolerance and celiac disease, among a long list of other negative health effects.
So far, the effects of glyphosate have only been studied in tests on animals: fish, chickens, pigs, and cattle. Its actions in the animal studies suggest a human parallel.
The bottom line: It’s smart to learn all you can about GMO foods. It’s also smart to learn about the benefits of eating natural, organic, whole foods rather than processed foods, which may contain glyphosate residue. And while you’re at it, try some wild yeast (you can catch your own with a mixture of flour and water).[R7] Your bread will taste better and be more nutritious. And by eating bread that has been made with wild yeasts, you may be less likely to fall victim to the intestinal distress of gluten intolerance and celiac disease. For more information on these or other health matters, click here.
Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.
- Di Cagno, R. et al. Sourdough Bread Made From Wheat and Nontoxic Flours and Started with Selected Lactobacilli Is Tolerated In Celiac Sprue Patients. (2004, Feb.) American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved on March 24, 2014 from http://aem.asm.org/content/70/2/1088.abstract
- Role of FDA in Regulating Safety of GE Foods. (2013, Nov. 15) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved on March 24, 2014 from http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm352067.htm
- Sourdough or Levain? Debunking the Myths and Mysteries of Harnessing Wild Yeast. Joy of Cooking. Retrieved on March 24, 2014 from http://www.thejoykitchen.com/ingredients-techniques/sourdough-or-levain-debunking-myths-and-mysteries-harnessing-wild-yeast
- Harmon, W. The Differences Between Quick Yeasted Bread and Wild Yeasted Sourdough Bread. Gnowfglins. Retrieved on March 24, 2014 from http://gnowfglins.com/2009/08/10/the-differences-between-quick-yeasted-bread-and-wild-yeasted-sourdough-bread/
- Samsel, A. and Seneff, S. Glyphosate, Pathways to Modern Diseases II: Celiac Sprue and Gluten Intolerance. (2013, Nov. 12) Interdisciplinary Toxicology. Retrieved on March 24, 2014 from http://sustainablepulse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Glyphosate_II_Samsel-Seneff_Toxicology_FNL-1.pdf
- Roundup Linked to Global Boom in Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance. (2014, Feb. 19) Sustainable Pulse. Retrieved on March 24, 2014 from http://sustainablepulse.com/2014/02/19/roundup-linked-global-boom-celiac-disease-gluten-intolerance/#.UzCmloWsRW-
- What Are Yeast? (2013, Oct. 7) Saccharomyces Genome Database. Retrieved on March 25, 2014 from http://wiki.yeastgenome.org/index.php/What_are_yeast%3F
- Gluten-free Diet: What’s Allowed, What’s Not. (2011, Dec. 20) Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 26, 2014 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530
- Roundup-Ready Crops. (2013, Dec.) Sourcewatch. Retrieved on April 29, 2014 from http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Roundup_Ready_Crops