The ‘real bread’ pioneer Andrew Whitley says that the rapid fermentation processes used in modern breadmaking could be responsible for surging rates of coeliac disease.
Whitely, founder of the Village Bakery and author of a new book Do Sourdough, told The Times this week that beneficial lactic acid bacteria (LAB) released during traditional long fermentation of yeast can neutralize the protein molecules in wheat flour that are toxic to people with coeliac disease.
Whitley told the newspaper: “Molecular technologists have identified the bits of protein molecules that cause the problem. We know that the longer you ferment wheat dough then the longer the LAB have to do their work. Over time we have moved away from slow fermentation in Britain so more of these toxic elements are getting through into the bread supply and causing health problems.”
Whitley’s comments coincided with publication of a new study by researchers at the University of Nottingham showing a fourfold increase in the number of people diagnosed with coeliac disease between 1990 and 2011.
Whitely stressed that: “(not all) sourdough bread can be eaten by coeliacs because a lot of bread sold as sourdough bread is not really sourdough at all.”