Fact Or Fiction?: Celiac Patients Tolerate Hydrolyzed Wheat

January 26, 2011 · Filed Under Hydrolyzed Wheat 

Researchers are attempting to modify grains with the hope that it will eliminate immune reactions to the gluten within it. The belief is that a new modified product, such as hydrolyzed wheat, might give people who are diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, another option for food. A switch to a hydrolyzed wheat diet for others might also help to decrease the risk of developing a gluten intolerance. This research sounds promising and the end product may be beneficial.

Hydrolyzed wheat has been receiving some publicity lately. A new study found that patients with celiac disease appeared to tolerate hydrolyzed wheat for 60 days [5]. The participants that ate fully hydrolyzed wheat protein didn’t have symptoms or intestinal changes, according to the study. Wheat was fully hydrolyzed (fermented) with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases. This fermentation process lowered the gluten concentration in the final product (by digesting and breaking it into micro molecules) to 8 ppm. 

This study is fascinating and might open the door for possible primary prevention, possible treatments and extra dietary options for people with gluten intolerance if it is proven to be safe in further studies. While this all sounds very exciting for the future, I think it is important to examine possible concerns associated with the use of hydrolyzed wheat protein as well.

One concern is that the findings evident in this study are based on a 60 day trial with a small group of people. I feel that a long term study (a decade or more) would give a more accurate picture of the results. Sometimes, the symptoms and damage associated with the ingestion of gluten can take many years, even decades, to cause enough damage to be picked up with the current tests. As well, the tests that are currently available, can have false negative results, especially in the early stages of the disease process. This study used anti–tissue transglutaminase antibodies and small bowel biopsies to test for a reaction. Both of these tests can have false negative results. In my book, I discuss 12 different tests that can be used. I worry that the use of only two tests may not be enough to accurately conclude that there was no reaction. Another concern, it may take years for such a low amount of gluten (8 ppm) to cause a problem. Therefore, I believe that a long-term study using multiple types of tests is needed to accurately conclude whether hydrolyzed wheat is safe.

Keep in mind that a completely gluten-free diet is ideal and recommended. I personally don’t want any gluten in my diet, not even 8 ppm.

A second concern, this study only examined patients with celiac disease, how would hydrolyzed wheat protein affect people with non-celiac gluten intolerance. I think people with various types of gluten intolerance should be tested, not just Celiacs.

A third concern, hydrolyzed wheat is an altered protein. How safe is this for people who may be consuming large doses of it for many years? If you find some studies (perhaps, I’ll do a future post on this topic), I suggest asking yourself a few questions. Are there studies available that have tested large groups of people over a long period to verify it’s safety? How accurate was the testing and the studies? Did the scientists have any conflicts of interest?

A fourth concern, the fermentation process involves the use of sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases. People who ingest the final product may need to be tested for allergies prior to using this product or periodically with any symptoms. For example, there may be an immune response to one of the fungal proteases (ie. aspergillis) or to the lactobacilli. As well, IgE mediated reactions to wheat can be heightened with the use of hydrolyzed wheat. The simple peptides, called wheat protein hydrolysates can expose antigenic sites that were buried in the proteins and this increases the risk for an IgE mediated allergic reaction to wheat (gluten intolerance is IgA and IgG antibody mediated). Theoretically, the luxury of having an extra food choice (hydrolyzed wheat) may increase the risk for IgE antibody mediated reactions to wheat (Hypothetically, it might even progress to anaphylactic reactions, in some).

A fifth concern, most of the gluten is removed in fully hydrolyzed wheat (8 ppm), however, there may be other antigenic proteins in wheat that may pose a problem and compromise health (ie. lectins, etc). Further research will help to reveal other problematic proteins in wheat and will help to clarify their effect on our health. As well, research will help to clarify if 8 ppm of gluten in the hydrolyzed wheat is enough to cause damage over a long period of time. Many patients still have intestinal immune related activity despite the maintenance of a gluten-free diet. This could be due to trace amounts of gluten in foods.

As with any new future option, it is important to consider the pros and cons carefully. More research is needed to fully review the pros and cons associated with consuming hydrolyzed wheat protein and help to review whether it’s safety is fact or fiction. For now, I’m happy to say that I’m symptom-free, eating gluten-free and paleolithic.

What concerns, suggestions, or information do you have to share or to inspire further discussion? Please leave a comment, I would love to hear your view:)

Hydrolyzed wheat hasn’t been proven to be safe for gluten intolerant people yet. More studies with large groups of gluten intolerant people over a long period of time need to be done to verify whether hydrolyzed wheat is safe. Currently, I believe it is safest to eat a strictly gluten-free diet with no hydrolyzed wheat:)

News Articles (While Reading These Articles, Keep In Mind That More Research Is Needed To Verify Whether Hydrolyzed Wheat Is Safe)

1. Fermented wheat flour may be safe for celiac patients, suggests study. 

2. Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour Suitable For Celiac Patients, Study Finds.

3. Study Finds That Celiac patients Can eat Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour 


1. Luigi Greco, Marco Gobbetti, Renata Auricchio, Raffaella Di Mase, Francesca Landolfo, Francesco Paparo, Raffaella Di Cagno, Maria De Angelis, Carlo Giuseppe Rizzello, Angela Cassone, Gaetano Terrone, Laura Timpone, Martina D’Aniello, Maria Maglio, Riccardo Troncone, Salvatore Auricchio. Safety for Patients With Celiac Disease of Baked Goods Made of Wheat Flour Hydrolyzed During Food Processing. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Volume 9, Issue 1 , Pages 24-29, January 2011. 

2. Akiyama H, Sakata K, Yoshioka Y, et al. (2006). "Profile analysis and immunoglobulin E reactivity of wheat protein hydrolysates". Int. Arch. Allergy Immunol. 140 (1): 36–42.

3. Laurière M, Pecquet C, Bouchez-Mahiout I, et al. (2006). "Hydrolysed wheat proteins present in cosmetics can induce immediate hypersensitivities". Contact Derm. 54 (5): 283–9.

4. Nathan Gray. Fermented wheat flour may be safe for celiac patients, suggests study. www.foddnavigator.com

5. Study Finds That Celiac patients Can eat Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour. American Gastroenterological Association. Public release date: Jan. 19th, 2011.


8 Responses to “Fact Or Fiction?: Celiac Patients Tolerate Hydrolyzed Wheat”

  1. Tweets that mention Fact Or Fiction?: Celiac Patients Tolerate Hydrolyzed Wheat : CeliacNurse -- Topsy.com on January 26th, 2011 2:26 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GlutenFreeGuerrillas, Shelly Stuart. Shelly Stuart said: Fact Or Fiction?: Celiac Patients Tolerate Hydrolyzed Wheat http://tinyurl.com/69uhpvq #celiac #gluten […]

  2. Renee on January 28th, 2011 8:09 am

    hmmm… interesting. I have had some packaged rice products that I thought were safe for me. Slight gastro intestinal problems post meal, followed by skin eruptions a few days later. Those products contained Hydrolyzed wheat, I don’t think it is something I can include in my diet.

  3. Shelly on January 28th, 2011 1:03 pm

    Thank you for your comment Renee. As you concluded in your comment, hydrolyzed wheat hasn’t been proven to be safe for gluten intolerant people yet. More studies with large groups of gluten intolerant people over a long period of time need to be done to verify whether hydrolyzed wheat is safe. Currently, I believe it is safest to eat a strictly gluten-free diet with no hydrolyzed wheat:)

    Sorry to hear about your accidental ingestion of hydrolyzed wheat and your reaction. I hope you are feeling better now.


    Extra note: If hydrolyzed wheat is proven to be safe in future studies then people will have to be careful to buy the right type of hydrolyzed wheat. In the recent study mentioned above, it was FULLY hydrolyzed wheat that was fully hydrolyzed with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases. There are different types of hydrolyzed wheat. More future studies are needed and will help to clarify which types are safe, if any.

    You can see information about the study at http://press-news.org/20107-study-finds-celiac-patients-can-eat-hydrolyzed-wheat-flour.html

  4. shauna on April 8th, 2011 10:59 pm

    One thing worth investigating is if this study has the same 2 bias issues that seems to exist in so many of the ‘safe gluten’ studies for celiacs.

    1. Is the selection of participants an issue? All other studies I have seen on safe gluten levels required the participants to have achieved a certain level of health before being allowed into the study. But the way we achieve good health is eating gluten free products, which are currently 20ppm of gluten or less, in most places. Anyone who is still ill when eating, say, 15 ppm of gluten daily, would be automatically excluded from this study. It’s automatically biased toward people who DON’T have as much issue with 8ppm of gluten. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have healed on their GF diet – if this study has this bias, that is.

    2. What qualified as a symptom that the researchers looked at? I have noticed that all studies I’ve found on what is ‘safe’ only looked at gut symptoms and damage. I have yet to find a study on what level of gluten can still cause neurological symptoms and possibly damage.

    I come from a family of 4 diagnosed Celiacs (so far), and we have figured out that 2 of us cannot tolerate the same levels of gluten that the other two have. We will all eat the same food, made in the same gluten free kitchen, and two of us will have gluten reactions within minutes, while the other two are perfectly fine. Both of the more sensitive Celiacs are also the two who have neurological symptoms from gluten ingestion.

    Having experienced this, I have grown very concerned over the problems with studies on what is safe for Celiacs, considering that these amounts are most definitely not safe for all of my family. I grow even more concerned when I think about how this type of information may be used in creating any drugs that we might need to use in the future. 🙁

  5. brian on May 28th, 2011 10:36 pm

    Studies showed that dead probiotics benefit the immune system maybe it explains why eating sourdough bread have little or no symptoms. But we don’t even need gastrointestinal symptoms before our other organs are attacked.
    Even trace gluten exposure from contamination or accidental ingestion causes inflammation to last 6 moths.

  6. Nona ruth carroll on September 25th, 2011 2:13 pm

    I am celiac, have been given a shampoo product to help with dry itchy scalp etc. The product contains hydrolyzed wheat protein, is it safe to use, is this wheat gluten free.

  7. Shelly on October 7th, 2011 9:39 am


    Since there are different types of hydrolyzed wheat (and with little research Re: with CD), I would be very reluctant to use it.

    As well, I personally don’t like to use a skincare product or shampoo with wheat in it (even though I’m not eating it) because there will be traces left on my skin (potentially my lips) and this can present a cross contamination issue. I personally avoid any skincare or shampoo product with any type of wheat in it 🙂

    People with celiac disease can also have an IgE mediated allergic reaction to wheat and this can pose an additional risk for a reaction topically and perhaps systemically if any is ingested (anaphylaxis could occur if the allergy is severe in nature).

  8. Peter on March 1st, 2016 8:55 pm

    I am a baker. And I would like someone to explain something to me please. If you remove 80% of gluten from flour and bake a bread with it it will come out as a brick. Gluten creates structure in dough which then captures the gasses during fermentation. Once in the oven these gasses expand and make the bread soft and fluffy. Remove the gluten and the dough can’t hold the gasses and collapses.

    It might look like great news but what is actually the advantage of hydrolized wheat? Because you will have to use the same additives in bread as they already use mainly guar gum or xhanthan gum. Which are emulgators and suspected to cause irritable bowel syndrome.

    Do I miss something?

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