Incorporating sourdough into the early stages of a gluten-free diet may help reduce inflammation in the intestine for celiac disease patients, suggests preliminary data from Italy.
Scientists from the University of Bari report that gluten-free sourdough products made from corn, rice and amaranth may reduce levels of pro-inflammatory marker compounds like nitric oxide in the intestine by over 30%.
“Although preliminary, the results of this study suggested that sourdough fermentation for making gluten-free baked goods may enhance the rate of recovery of the mucosal injury of celiac disease patients at the early stage of gluten-free diet,” they wrote in the European Journal of Nutrition.
Great hopes for sourdough
Sourdough has already been identified as an ideal gluten-free food. Only recently, Professor Arendt co-authored a review in the journal Food Microbiology on the how sourdough could help solve the gluten-free issue.
Prof Arendt told FoodNavigator in 2010: “Sourdough has a lot of potential, particularly from a flavour and structure perspective. The strains used are also anti-fungal and that can extend the shelf-life of bread without the need of chemical preservatives.”
But employing sourdoughs requires a detailed knowledge of the strains and starter cultures for each grain. Sorghum sourdough would need a specific strain, like Lactobacillus reuteri or Lactobacillus fermentum, while buckwheat flour would require other starter cultures.
“I have great hopes for sourdough in gluten-free bread,” said Prof Arendt.
And with global market reported to be worth $2.6bn by 2012, up from $1.56bn last year, according to Packaged Facts, there is clearly the financial incentive to produce new foods for this category.
Led by the University of Bari’s Raffaella Di Cagno, the researchers prepared sourdoughs of corn, rice, and amaranth using a range of lactic acid bacteria start cultures, including Lactobacillus alimentarius, L. brevis, L. sanfranciscensis, and L. hilgardii.
The sourdoughs were compared with chemically acidified doughs and doughs started with baker’s yeast alone.
Biopsies were taken from eight people with positive tests for celiac disease but not currently consuming a gluten-free diet. The researchers focused on the release of nitric oxide and the production of the pro-inflammatory interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma).
Results showed that the biospies still released NO and IFN-gamma when exposed to the non-fermented sourdoughs, while the lactic acid fermented sourdoughs produced significant reductions in NO and INF-gamma levels.
The greatest effects were observed for the corn and rice sourdoughs, added Di Cagno and her co-workers.
“The biological acidification and, especially, proteolysis by sourdough lactic acid bacteria were responsible for this effect,” they concluded.
Source: European Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0303-y
“The sourdough fermentation may enhance the recovery from intestinal inflammation of coeliac patients at the early stage of the gluten-free diet”
Authors: M. Calasso, O. Vincentini, F. Valitutti, C. Felli, M. Gobbetti, R. Di Cagno