Gluten-Free Wheat Bread- Possible?

As the number of individuals suffering a form of gluten sensitivity has increased, so has the emergence of gluten-free food staples, such as gluten-free bread. Researchers in this area have begun to study the alteration of gluten-containing foods, attempting to detoxify foods and render them suitable for consumption by gluten sensitive individuals. As gluten is the most important functional component in wheat flour, attempts to detoxify it often affect the texture, colour and taste of the bread- this is why it can be so hard to find decent gluten-free bread!

Natural ingredients have been particularly promising- researchers have been utilising natural digestive enzymes to detoxify gluten in many different ways. In a 2014 study, researchers assessed the ability of the enzyme, Caricain– found in the fruit oleoresin of papaya- to detoxify gluten particles in whole wheat flour. Caricain had previously shown to be an effective active enzyme component for a digestive supplement– GluteGuard- assisting with the break down of dietary gluten in the small intestine.

The particular fractions within gluten that cause the symptoms of intolerance have been identified as the prolamin group of proteins, notably gliadin in wheat. The study utilised previous work that indicated that certain enzymes could be used to ‘complete the digestion of small amounts of gluten proteins ingested inadvertently’, moving forward to investigate the effect of these enzymes on the detoxification of bread (Cornell et al, 2014). By incorporating partially purified Caricain into a wholegrain bread formulation, the study intended to measure the extent to which the enzyme could detoxify the gliadin in the bread. The results of this study indicated that, by including the enzyme of Caricain in wholemeal bread, extensive protein hydrolysis occurred.

By reducing the gliadin content of the bread by over 96%, it can be said that this bread would be reasonably fine to consume for those on the lower end of the gluten intolerance spectrum. However, according to Australian and International standards, the bread would still contain enough gluten to cause symptoms in those who are highly intolerant- completely gluten-free bread continues to elude us! This study demonstrates the potential that lies behind the power of specific digestive enzymes in their ability to break down gluten. Although there is much more research to be done, examples such as this study, or the digestive purposes of products such as GluteGuard, highlight Caricain’s life-changing properties, both inside and outside of the body.

The hunt for perfect gluten-free bread continues!

Contributor: Georgie H. Scientific writer


Buddrik, O, Cornell, H & Small, D 2014, ‘Reduction of toxic gliadin content of wholegrain bread by the enzyme caricain’, Food Chemistry, 170, pp.343- 347.

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