In the study ‘Does bread cause bloating’ recently published in the British Nutrition Association’s Nutrition Bulletin, researcher Elisabeth Weichselbaum investigated whether media reports linking the commonest bread making process Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) to bloating were fact or myth.
She conducted a literature review and determined that the evidence linking bread to bloating was inadequate.
The research was funded by the National Association of British and Irish Millers and the Federation of Bakers, which was cited as a possible conflict of interest.
“For the average healthy consumer, there is no evidence that regular consumption of bread causes bloating or gastrointestinal discomfort and there is no evidence that the way in which bread is produced, by CBP or traditionally, affects the gastrointestinal system,” said the study.
There had been suggestions that bread produced using the longer more traditional bulk fermentation process (BFP) or sourdough fermentation maintained nutrients and was not linked to bloating, whereas the shorter CBP fermentation method was thought to decrease the digestibility of bread leading to bloating.
However, Weichselbaum said there were limited studies in support of these claims and the dough samples used in these studies could not be compared to commercial bread.
She added that there was no evidence to support claims that yeast in bread was associated with gastrointestinal symptoms.
Flatulence is good
Though Weichselbaum found no link between bread and bloating, she indicated that high fibre diets could be linked to increased flatulence.
“Bread, particularly the wholemeal variety can provide a substantial amount of fibre in our diet,” she said.
Breaking wind, however, was not something she said we should be ashamed of.
“Professor Glenn Gibson from the University of Reading, an expert in gut microbiology, has claimed that we should be proud of the gas we produce as this indicates a functioning gut flora,” she said.
Weichselbaum added that high fibre intakes were associated with health benefits including regular bowel habit, lower cholesterol levels and reduced cancer and heart disease risk.
Study: Weichselbaum, E. (2012), Does bread cause bloating? Nutrition Bulletin. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-3010.2011.01943.x