A professional baker for 30 years, Andrew Whitley, believes it may be, and explains why in his new book Bread Matters.
He says that the bread we eat has changed, and that this has given rise not only to the rise in diagnosis of coeliac disease, but also of wheat intolerance and even candidiasis, which is a yeast problem.
50 years ago people started making white bread, and fixed any problems with the product with chemistry. In 1961, apparently a new breadmaking method (known as the Chorleywood process) was developed using lower-protein wheat, additives and high-speed mixing to reduce time and costs, and over 80 per cent of UK bread is now made using these techniques. He writes:
“The standard breadmaking manuals of the pre-war period (Kirkland, Bennion etc) give recipes for sponge and dough fermentations using a ratio of compressed yeast to dough weight of around 0.5%. The Master Bakers Book of Breadmaking, published in the 1980s, prescribes up to 1.75% yeast in doughs made by the Chorleywood process. Could it be that by trebling yeast dosage and greatly reducing fermentation time, modern bakers have unwittingly laced their loaves with undesirable yeast residues?”
Interestingly, he says that a home breadmaking machine can make a decent loaf with stoneground flour for less energy than the making and distribution of the industrial version consumes. So there’s the green argument for the breadmaker – get it out from the cupboard under the stairs right now!
I am concerned that the article in the Yorkshire Today about this says that diagnosed coeliacs could eat Mr Whitley’s organic bread made with traditional varieties of wheat – because even if a coeliac didn’t demonstrate immediate symptoms, there would be hidden intestinal damage, with increased risk of other unpleasant diseases. I hope most diagnosed coeliacs would have more sense than to deliberately eat wheat …