NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)Myth: It’s the genetically modified wheat that causes inflammation and GI issues in the US, versus the non-GMO wheat used in Europe and other countries.

It’s a commonly held belief that wheat in the US is genetically modified – and that this GMO wheat is the culprit behind inflammatory issues like rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain, and GI issues like irritable bowel syndrome, gas and bloating.

The reality, however, is that no genetically modified wheat is sold commercially in the United States.

In fact, according to the FDA and the National Wheat Foundation (503(c)3, there is no genetically modified wheat currently commercialized anywhere in the world.

Digestibility – why the difference?

There can be a tremendous difference in digestibility, however, between regular ‘grocery store’ bread here in the US, and artisan breads like those commonly available in Italy, France and the like.

Fermentation time is one of the key factors.  Traditional artisan bread-making processes – like those in Europe – ferment the dough for a long time, allowing yeast and bacteria to activate enzymes that serve to “digest” the gluten for us.

Most commercial baking practices in the US only partially ferment dough, instead adding sweeteners and commercial baker’s yeasts to speed the process. And shorter fermentation time typically means a higher glycemic index, as well as more undigested gluten.

The solution:

Artisan-style bread is available locally from bakers such as Breads on Oak and Bellegarde Bakery. And traditional sourdough bread is naturally fermented, resulting in greater digestibility compared to baker’s yeast breads.

Want more?

  • Read Molly’s article, Everything You Need To Know About Bread, link here.
  • FDA’s guide to what GMO crops are grown and sold in the US, link here.

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Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com, and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter, here.

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