Let me be clear. Weston Price the man was a giant in nutrition and had many brilliant insights.
For some reason, though, some members of the Weston A. Price Foundation have a peculiar attachment to gluten grains. This attachment is strong enough that I frequently find myself admonished by them for recommending that all gluten grains be avoided as unfit for human consumption.
One reader, commenting off topic on another post, takes me to task at length for saying I don’t like the cavalier attitude towards gluten grains that I have found on the WAPF website.
Complainant’s comments in italics and indented, mine in standard font:
The article by the WAPF that you referenced, written by Katherine Czapp can be found here:
Perhaps you should take a second look at it.
There is no mention of re-introducing gluten grains as a part of the celiac healing protocol, as you claim, aside from the anecdotal bits about Czapp's father being able to eat sourdough bread seemingly without harm:
“... can those who have suffered from celiac disease enjoy genuine sourdough bread, properly prepared from rye or Kamut®? My father's experience suggests that the answer is yes, at least for some.”
Isn’t that anecdotal suggestion and the cheerful speculation that it may yet prove to be safe enough? It is enough for me to conclude that the writer is ignorant of the medical physiology of celiac disease.
If you're (sic) think that she's suggesting this for others to try, think again:
“While some critics may argue that long-rise sourdough breads could be doing silent damage beneath such apparent success, researchers are currently investigating the effects of long-term consumption of sourdough breads on recovered celiacs, and in coming years will be able to answer this question with enough certainty to satisfy the skeptics. For now, we know that properly prepared non-gluten grains can be safely introduced as wholesome additions to the diets of people who have recovered from celiac disease, and anecdotal experiences and preliminary research both indicate that breads traditionally prepared from gluten grains, even wheat, may also in time serve as wholesome additions to the diets of many people who have recovered from celiac disease.”
She says “anecdotal experiences and preliminary research both indicate that breads traditionally prepared from gluten grains, even wheat, may also in time serve as wholesome additions to the diets of many people who have recovered from celiac disease.”
That is not suggesting that it is possible for others? The descriptor for those who think eating gluten if you are celiac, by those who think it is possible is “skeptic”, yet the person doing the describing is not an advocate? I differ with your characterization of the author's stance.
By her own description, I am a skeptic and she is an advocate.
And regarding the breakdown of gliadin and glutenins, I didn't ask whether or not "soaking and cooking" wheat would accomplish this, as in your reply. I specifically asked about sourdough bread being able to change the nature of these proteins. Apparently this does happen through bacterial fermentation.
It happens to a varying and incomplete degree in controlled laboratory experiments, and may or may not occur to the same degree in everyone's kitchen.
Czapp references research about this, as well as fermented wheat's effect on celiacs:
“Their experiment included 17 subjects, all celiac patients who had been consuming gluten-free diets for at least two years and no longer exhibiting symptoms. The experimental bread was made from a combination of wheat (Triticum aestivum), oat, millet and buckwheat flours, 30 percent of which was wheat. The flour was mixed with a "broth" of four lab-obtained lactobacilli, a dose of baker's yeast and tap water in a continuous high-speed mixer. When the dough was allowed to ferment at about body temperature for 24 hours, almost all of the toxic peptide fractions in the wheat protein had been hydrolyzed. The bread was then baked and fed to the celiac volunteers (who also bravely ate breads made with plain baker's yeast as "controls"). After consuming the simple yeasted bread, analysis of the volunteers' gut permeability was made, which showed a change in permeability normally associated with celiac response. No such response was noted when the volunteers ate the 24-hour fermented sourdough bread.”
The author is very clear throughout the article that sourdough bread may be okay for celiacs to consume.
Yes, she is and that is what I take issue with. That claim has an inadequate basis if you know anything about celiac disease.
WAPF does not recommend re-introducing gluten-grains after healing from celiac. They merely suggest that sourdough might in the future, be discovered to be acceptable for people with such a condition.
I am aware of what they are saying and I maintain that it is irresponsible and pointless to say that it may be possible to eat small bits of gluten if you are known to have celiac. To say so reflects a lack of understanding of how hard it would be to prove lack of harm in celiacs, many of whom have clinically silent pathology that may not be manifest for many years
“anecdotal experiences and preliminary research both indicate that breads traditionally prepared from gluten grains, even wheat, may also in time serve as wholesome additions to the diets of many people who have recovered from celiac disease.”
I feel that this is important to bring to the table because one of your big contentions with the WAPF appears to be that they recommend eating gluten grains again after healing from celiac. As far as I can tell, this simply is not true.
You have quoted an article by a non-physician, non-scientist with an anecdotal account of eating sourdough bread with no obvious recrudescence of Celiac disease with the contention that this might be safe to do for celiacs. Did her father have a jejunal biopsy or assays for TTG or IGA or IGG? Was he followed clinically for many years for autoimmune diseases?
Perhaps you should clean the slate and retract this particular argument against the organization ...
Show me where WAPF states that no one alive should eat gluten grains whether they have celiac disease or not and I will “clean the slate”. That is my position on gluten grains and it is one of the three pillars of my approach.
Until then, the slate will have to remain dirty.
The larger point is this - The whole exercise of finding a way to justify eating gluten grains is beyond pointless.
We have here a class of plant proteins derived from the seeds of plants that do not want to be eaten and that we did not evolve eating – cereal grains. These gliadin proteins (glutenins and gliadins) have known effects on gut permeability even in those without celiac disease via the innate immune response. These effects are in addition to those of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), a secondary plant compound found in wheat germ that is elaborated solely to discourage consumption of seeds by animals.
The WAPF position is that, rather than simply avoiding eating things with gluten, we should soak, sprout and ferment these noxious plant seeds and eat them anyway, in hopes that our preparation has hydrolyzed enough of the gluten to make short enough peptides that the immunogenicity is diminished.
I suggest wheat advocates who worship tradition pay for access to this short report published in GUT – I did - and then explain why a celiac, or indeed anyone with a gut should expose themselves to even microgram amounts of incompletely hydrolysed gluten when 5 out of 6 people without evidence of CS (Celiac Sprue) have evidence of an abnormal innate immune response using a highly sensitive assay.
Here is a link to Peter's discussion of same.
Try to visualize this:
The smallest circle in the Venn diagram contains ones with diagnosed clinically evident celiac disease – less than .01% of the population.
The next circle includes the first plus those with undiagnosed celiac disease, many of whom have vague or no symptoms (perhaps like the father in the anecdote above!) yet are at increased risk of cancers like lymphoma and various autoimmune diseases – this is about 1% of the population.
The next biggest circle is the 30% who have the HLA haplotypes that tend to get diagnosable celiac - a good portion of these will show evidence of an adaptive immune response if tested serologically.
The biggest circle in the Venn diagram encompasses 83% of the population –all the smaller circles plus those who might show evidence of an innate response but in whom testing for antibodies may show nothing, and who therefore would never be known to have been damaged by gluten consumption, even if they had MS, schizophrenia, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease. Lupus, Type I diabetes, Sjogren disease, etc. or any other of the many diseases that travel with celiac as a consequence of leaky gut and ensuing molecular mimicry that occurs when you damage your gut with wheat.
You are acknowledging that gluten damages so many people that you have only a 16% chance of being impervious to gluten yourself, but celiacs who are known to be affected by it to the point of villous atrophy on biopsy should not avoid bread, but eat sourdough because “most” of the gluten might be hydrolyzed?
I just don’t get it.
You can live fine with zero gluten grains in your diet. Wheat flour is vitamin poor, has no nutritious fat that isn’t rancid, and the proteins in it are incomplete in their amino acid complement. There is absolutely no upside to eating wheat if you are not starving
So why engineer some convoluted preparation ritual in order to eat it? Why not just avoid it?
Weston Price studied traditional cultures, many of whom were healthier than those on the SAD, and none of whom were pre-neolithic cultures. That they were healthier than modern folks eating biscuits and sugar does not mean that every foodway these traditional cultures practiced is by definition healthy or desirable for everyone or even anyone. That is just one giant non sequiter, and for reasons I can’t fathom I see that all the time when I argue with some WAPF members.
WAP the man was cool.
You could do worse than to follow some of the advice on the WAPF website, but not when it’s about eating grains. I don’t care if the Swiss got away with it just like I don’t care if the Kitavans get 70% of calories from tubers.
Tolerated is not optimal. Why is that hard to understand?
Someday eating corn oil and soy protein will be a “tradition”, too. Then what will you do? Say that only sugar is bad because it’s the most obvious?
Pick the traditional practices that have a good foundation in modern medical science and that comport with evolutionary reasoning and toss the rest.
Don’t practice blind empiricism.