Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is Gluten in Sprouted Grains? Truth Revealed

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A reader asks: “Do sprouted or germinated grains contain gluten? I am gluten sensitive and want to know if they can affect my health.”

I’m very glad this question was asked.  I address it one on one with patients frequently and there definitely seems to be some false information out on the internet that is likely propagating the confusion.

So here you go; the definitive answer:
Sprouted glutinous grains (wheat, rye, barley and contaminated oats) still have the protein gluten present. I believe the confusion comes from the fact that the act of sprouting begins some enzymatic breakdown of the protein and for those who are not gluten intolerant but merely have difficulty digesting certain grains, sprouting can make that process of digestion easier.  These people notice that they don’t have the same symptoms from eating sprouted bread as they do from eating non-sprouted regular bread.

But in NO WAY does sprouting eliminate gluten from the grain and these sprouted grains are NOT SAFE for anyone with gluten intolerance – celiac nor gluten sensitivity.

Do realize that one of the major problems associated with gluten intolerance is the “silent”, insidious nature of it.  While many people notice immediate symptoms when eating gluten, about 75%  notice no digestive symptoms, and some notice very little symptoms at all.  Unfortunately that doesn’t lessen your chances of developing autoimmune diseases, nervous system damage and intestinal cancer, to name a few.  Some of these serious conditions do develop silently and your first knowledge of the damage comes with the diagnosis of a disease. 

I’m not trying to scare you but the theme of early diagnosis rings out in much of the scientific research being performed during the last decade.  We know the association with gluten and autoimmune disease.  What’s the recommendation?  Diagnose the problem with gluten early in life so as to prevent its development. 

We know the association between gluten and depression in children and adults.  What’s the recommendation?  Diagnose the problem with gluten early in life so as to prevent the needless suffering and use of dangerous anti-depressants.

To you see the theme?  It goes on and on.  From osteoporosis to infertility, from psoriasis to obesity - the list of symptoms is very long and the recommendations are always the same. 
So please do not fall into the trap of eating gluten (even in a slightly predigested fashion) and thinking it’s okay because it doesn’t initiate certain symptoms.  If you’ve already determined that you are gluten intolerant then don’t play Russian roulette with your health.

And lastly, not to confuse the matter, but the grass of the grain is gluten-free for approximately the first 10-14 days of growth.  Beyond that point “jointing” occurs which is the development process whereby the grain forms and gluten becomes present. This means that if you drank wheat juice made from the grass only (and it was less than 10 days old – pre-jointing phase) it would be a gluten-free product.  But I must emphasize that would be consuming the grass only, NOT the grass PLUS the rest of the grain such as what is used in sprouted breads.

I would recommend that if you do choose to ingest a greens drink that you ensure that the company tests their products thoroughly to ensure that they are gluten-free. 

I hope that helps. I am bound and determined to clear up this misinformation!

Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Yours in health,

Dr Vikki Petersen

11 comments:

William Trumbower said...

Vicki God bless you for your work. I am an ob in Columbia Mo. My sister has celiac, so I have a real interest in gluten disorders. Art who writes on cooling inflamation.blogspot.com states that the gliadin molecule has several key aminoacid sequences that it shares with several human tissue proteins. The tissues that contain the highest amount of these proteins include gut, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, nervous system, but the highest was in uterus and placenta! I believe that gluten sensitivity may be a risk factor in pregnancy contributing to complications such as miscarriage, preterm labor and even stillbirth. Have you seen anything to support this concept?

pdrago said...

I am currently in my fourth pregnancy. First three pregnancies each resulted in preterm labor beginning at 14 weeks and bed rest (ranging from 3 weeks to 4+ months). I had two preemies and the third was 2 weeks early. After these babies, I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance and began a gluten-free diet. A year later, I became pregnant. I am now in my 22nd week and have had no contractions or issues with the sole exception of four days of contractions following ingestion of a meal at a restaurant that was supposed to be gluten free, but I later found out was not. I am very excited at the prospect this pregnancy and delivery might end up so much healthier and easier than my previous three, but I continue to be perplexed that none of my doctors seem particularly interested in the connection. Is anyone studying this issue???

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Dear pdrago,

I am thrilled to hear about your current pregnancy, congratulations! There is a tremendous amount of research showing an association with infertility and premature labor, not to mention amenorrhea, early menopause and the like as it relates to gluten intolerance.

The research data is there but unfortunately it is not yet common knowledge among obstetricians.

I am trying to do something about that so that women like you can have easy, enjoyable pregnancies.

Frankly I'd like to visit every OB-GYN, gastroenterologist, dermatologist, neurologist (you get my point!), sit them down and present all the research. It is truly abundant in all these areas and if all these practitioners would start screening their patients for gluten intolerance they would be amazed at the results.

Here at the clinic we of course do such screenings, but it isn't enough. We need to keep spreading the word broadly.

I'll continue to fight the good fight and while slower than I'd like, we are making progress.

Congratulations again!

To your good health,
Dr Vikki

Anonymous said...

British isn't my main language, yet I can fully understand it while using google translator. Excellent article, keep them coming! Say thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr Petersen from the UK.
Thank you for your very good article that we took the liberty of reproducing on the "Gluten section"" of our web site at : http://www.breadlink.co.uk

link and credit were given.

Paul - The Organic Life said...

Thanks for posting this, I am trying to go gluten free for about a month to see if it helps my stomach ails, I was about to eat some organic sprouted grain bread and wanted to check out if it had gluten or not.

I've been using Beyond Organic products and they have really helped with my stomach ailments, especially the cultured whey and cultured dairy products . God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Since gluten is found in all grains, i have been following a grain free diet and was wondering about sprouted grains and grasses. thank you for your information and clarification. i will just continue grain free, no sprouts etc. i've been feeling much better and losing weight like crazy anyways. some of my pain is going away as well. the first time i tried gluten free, i ate other grains such as corn and rice and didn't feel any better. this time, without any grains, i haven't felt as good in a long time. it could be gluten, phytic acid, or lectins, or all three that have been causing my problematic symptoms of chronic fatigue, body pain, weight gain, depression, pms, brain fogginess and inability to exercise with muscle improvement. within a week of not eating any grains, i have lost weight, gained strength and energy, feel happier, and thinking more clearly and organized. do you know if meat from animals eating grains also affects our bodies?

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

While there are many reasons to be concerned about eating meat in this country - the poor diet they are fed, hormone consumption, antibiotics,etc - you don't need to be concerned about gluten contamination from eating the meat of an animal that consumed gluten. They have broken it down and there is nothing left of the protein in the meat itself.

Thanks for the great question!
Best,
Dr Vikki

Ray Foucher said...

What about the use of gluten flour to make various meat substitutes? Some people use lots and wouldn't that just give a concentrated dose of the problem protein?

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Yes Ray,

There is gluten in many meat substitute products. Fortunately they are well labeled these days, so a careful read of the ingredient list should prevent any mistakes.

Best,
Dr Vikki

Judith said...

Suggest you read Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type by James d'Adamo. I found so many answers. It helped me a lot.