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How old bread baking techniques can reduce irritable bowel disease


The University of Hohenheim in Germany has issued a press release stating that there is still hope for patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

What is irritable bowel syndrome and what are its symptoms? David Warmflash, M.D., a scientist from Portland, USA, describes this in his article published in ChemMatters: 

«Irritable bowel syndrome is a common colon disorder that causes abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea. This is due to fermentable sugars. However, intolerance to FODMAP's depends on which FODMAPs are consumed».

David Warmflash, M.D

What do the letters F, O, D, M, P mean in the acronym FODMAP's?

  • F stands for fermentable; it refers to what happens to O, D, M and P when the small intestine doesn't provide enough enzymes to digest them. The letter F refers to the process of fermentation that causes the problems.
  • O stands for oligosaccharides; they are a type of carbohydrate. All undigested oligosaccharides pass through the small intestine into the colon before they are excreted from the body. When they reach the large intestine, they cause discomfort such as flatulence and diarrhea.
  • D stands for disaccharide; Disaccharides are carbohydrate molecules. As with oligosaccharides, there are many types, but enzymes break down only a few of them. Any undigested disaccharide that reaches the colon, like oligosaccharides, causes complaints such as bloating and diarrhea.
  • M stands for monosaccharides. Although most people have no problems with the intake of ordinary monosaccharides, such as glucose, some people do not ingest other monosaccharides that are found in food. A typical example is fructose, which can be made from sucrose, granulated sugar or fruit.
  • P stands for polyols; these compounds are also known as sugar alcohols. Three common examples of polyols are sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol, which are added to chewing gum, for example, because they have a sweet taste. However, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol are not absorbed into the bloodstream and reach the colon from the small intestine before they are excreted.

By fermenting carbohydrates, the bacteria extract energy from our colon by producing gas. The gases that form together with small undigested traces of oligosaccharides cause a so-called osmotic effect. As a result, the stool becomes more watery than normal, and this whole process leads to bloating, diarrhea, and pain.

This is the explanation for how irritable bowel syndrome is caused, and now we want to see what the University of Hohenheim has to say about it:

The fact that every German consumes 80 kg of bread a year was reason enough for the Hohenheim researchers Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Reinhold Carle and PD Dr. Friedrich Longin and their teams to find out how many FODMAPs the different types of grain contain. The analyst of plant foods and the plant breeders determined the proportions of the low-molecular sugar in the respective whole grain flours in a complex (so-called chromatographic) analysis process.

The surprising result: Einkorn contains even more FODMAPs than common wheat. They are present in smaller quantities in emmer, spelt and durum, but not to the extent that this explains the relief reported by many patients with irritable bowel disease.

In the next step, the researchers examined the preparation of the dough because the basic components of the flour were not known to determine the FODMAPs content in the baked goods made from them. They analyzed doughs made from the flour after rising for one, two, four and four and a half hours.

The dough showed the highest levels of FODMAPs in all grains after one hour, in the ancient grains emmer and spelt less than in common wheat, however also there more than at the beginning of the dough preparation. After four and a half hours, even the common wheat dough contained only 10 percent of the low molecular weight sugar. The types of grain themselves are therefore not decisive, but above all the type of dough preparation.

Dr. Longin of the State Plant Breeding Institute says: 

«It is not the wheat itself that we find to be incompatible, but rather the way we bake bread. Slower dough preparation increases the quality of the bread and improves its taste».

Dr. Longin


  • Ziegler, J.U., Steiner, D., Longin C.F.H., Würschum, T., Schweiggert R.M., Carle, R. (2016): Wheat and the irritable bowel syndrome – FODMAP levels of modern and ancient species and their retention during bread making; in: "Journal of Functional Foods" 25 (2016), 257–266, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2016.05.019.


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Sunday, 10 December 2023

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