Why You Can Eat Bread In Europe But Not In The United States


Maybe you once struggled with joint and muscle pain, or perhaps chronic bloating or diarrhea. Perhaps you used to feel fatigued all the time. Everybody you knew was talking about going “gluten free,” and said how much better they felt when they did. But you hesitated—after all, bread is delicious! Could you really go the rest of your life without eating “real” pasta or pizza crusts or fresh-baked bread? You Googled it and found that all kinds of “reputable” sources said gluten sensitivity wasn’t real.

But still… could everyone you knew be wrong?

At last you just tried it, and you were amazed at how much better you felt without gluten as a staple in your diet. But that still didn’t totally make sense to you. Our ancestors have been eating wheat for thousands of years, after all! 

Then maybe you went on vacation in Europe, and thought, what the heck… I’m going to eat what I want. It’s vacation! To your surprise, the Italian pasta and the French pastries caused you no problems whatsoever. You wondered if maybe you’d imagined gluten sensitivity after all… until you came back to the States and tried to maintain your new diet. Quickly, all the old symptoms returned.

So are you allergic to gluten, or aren’t you?

I’d heard this story many times from my patients before it happened to me personally. Bread is one of my favorite things, but I learned the hard way that eating gluten makes my gut very unhappy. It’s just not worth it. Yet while vacationing in Southern Ireland, the hearty brown bread served at nearly every meal looked too good to pass up. I ate it at every opportunity (it was vacation, after all)… and I felt just fine. But when I tried to eat the brown bread in Northern Ireland (part of the UK), I felt sick again. We crossed over to Southern Ireland again (part of Europe): no problems. Then in the States: sick again.

After investigating this upon my return, I found that there are three main possible causes of the disparity between gluten in the US (and the UK potentially), and gluten in Europe.

Differences in Gluten Abroad vs At Home

  • Wheat has higher gluten content in the States than in Europe. In the states, our wheat is roughly 15% gluten. In Europe, it’s more like 10%.
  • Conventional wheat in the US is often soaked in Round-Up prior to harvesting. Round-Up, the pesticide at the center of the GMO controversy, contains the active ingredient glyphosate. This acts as a pesticide by perforating the intestines of insects. While Monsanto, the parent company, claims that ingestion by humans is safe, the data suggests that it leads to inflammatory diseases as well as gluten sensitivity specifically. In Europe, while Round-Up is not completely prohibited, usage is far more restricted.
  • Cooking with buttermilk. I noticed many European bread recipes call for buttermilk. Buttermilk is made from introducing lactic acid bacteria to milk, which ferments the lactose into lactic acid. Lactic acid serves to break down the gluten protein, rendering the gluten content in the bread lower than it might be with other ingredients. This is the same reason why gluten sensitive individuals can often consume sourdough bread without a problem.

Can You Have Your Bread (and Eat It Too?)

If you are gluten sensitive (not Celiac) in the US, but you don’t want to move to Europe OR give up your bread, here are a few approaches to try.

  1. Choose 100% Sourdough. As mentioned here, sourdough pre-digests the gluten protein for you, so that most people who are gluten sensitive can eat sourdough bread without a problem. If you buy sourdough from the grocery, though, it’s likely been mixed with regular flour. The safest way to do it is to buy a sourdough starter and make your own.
  2. Choose sprouted grains. The sprouting process also breaks down the gluten proteins. It does not render the bread completely gluten free, but it does lower the gluten content enough that some people who are gluten intolerant can eat it without a problem. It is possible to sprout your own grains, or you can choose some of the sprouted brands already on the market.
  3. Choose organic wheat. The organic label means non-GMO, and no synthetic pesticides. This is a good way to avoid the Round-Up content in your wheat. While you’re at it, consider baking recipes that include buttermilk as well.

(To find out what else might be causing your gut health issues, take the Gut Health Quiz. It’s free!)


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC126681/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC126681/
  3. https://www.ecowatch.com/eu-bans-glyphosate-co-formulant-monsanto-1917259116.html
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/?_ga=2.220239832.1315543400.1498830070-1474313323.1478370897
  5. http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416?_ga=2.44225764.1315543400.1498830070-1474313323.1478370897
  6. http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/small-grains/harvest/preharvest-management/
  7. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/06/11/think-youre-sensitive-to-gluten-think-again
Dr Lauren Deville, NMD on BloggerDr Lauren Deville, NMD on FacebookDr Lauren Deville, NMD on Twitter
Dr Lauren Deville, NMD
Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Nature Cure Family Health

  • GunzRloaded

    How about the gluten in Europe doesn’t have glyphosate…!!

    • insightz

      Glyphosate is one of the active ingredients in “MonSatan’s” Roundup.

      • GunzRloaded

        Sickening isn’t it……the stuff should be outlawed.I see in California they have the cancer alert on Glyphosate,and Monsatan is pissed…!!
        Cheers,…have a good day..!

  • Photomaineac

    Every Country is a Chemical and Pharmaceutical Laboratory!

    Yet every laboratory,(country) is being tested upon with different chemicals and different combinations of chemicals. YOU ARE ALL LAB RATS!

    • yafiah

      Cute how you say “you all” like you are not part of us.

    • Michael

      These chemicals are not part of a research program. The research has already been done by our Illuminist enemies long ago. This is field deployment of proven, tested chemical weapons.The lab rats died long ago……

  • Peg

    Traditional wheat does not have round up applied to it. It is not round up ready. The version they tried to roll out was unsuccessful. Yes – there are herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides but not round up.

    • Sci-reader

      Wheat is not genetically modified to withstand Roundup, that version failed in the market. However, non-organic conventionally grown non-GMO wheat, oats, barley, and rye are not sprayed with Roundup during the sprouting and growing season, but just before harvest, the crops are sprayed with Roundup to speed up the drying out process for harvesting. Allowing the crops to dry out naturally takes several weeks, but drying out by spraying with Roundup speeds up the process to just several days. This is a faster method, good for farmers but bad for consumers. Best to eat organic and fight any attempts by corporations to compromise the organic standards by allowing any toxic herbicides and pesticides in organic agriculture.

      • Truth4All

        Thank you for setting Peg straight.
        See the misconceptions out there?
        Keep fighting until right is made right again.

  • Peg

    I forgot to mention too that Round up is a herbicide, not a pesticide.

    • HappyCoconut

      All herbicides are pesticides. The word pesticide includes all herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, antimicrobials, and other families of products design to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest.

  • Scrollock

    This article seems to be incomplete. For example, “Wheat has higher gluten content in the States than in Europe. In the states, our wheat is In Europe, it’s more like 10%.” There are other incomplete sentences like that in the article, and the list of references only has the numbers 1 through 7. Did something get lost in the translation somewhere?

  • pacman

    “Sourdough” does NOT pre-digest gluten. Most “sourdough” is made with yeast and a fast ferment. Only naturally fermented sourdough “predigests” gluten.

  • Curious reader

    With all due respect, you forgot to mention the transglutaminase (but mentioning “use sourdough only” advice counterbalanced that). WGA might be noteworthy, but that one happens in Europe too… 🙁

  • RenegadeProphet

    American bread is full of fake sugar and mostly glyphosate. The “gluten intolerance” is really glyphosate poisoning! or Round up poisoning!