Sourdough. A gift that Covid gave.

by | Apr 4, 2023 | Gut Health

My journey with sourdough began during covid….some people got puppies, I made Stella – our sourdough starter. And while time isn’t as plentiful now as it was then, I still continue to make sourdough bread regularly. It’s a pastime that has been rewarding in many ways.

What is sourdough bread?

Rather than bakers yeast, sourdough bread is leavened with a combination of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria.   The process of making sourdough bread begins with a sourdough starter.  Simply, a mixture of flour and water that is left to ferment.  Fermenting the grains in the flour breaks down the sugars and proteins and produces lactic acid. This is what produces the slightly tangy flavour that is characteristic of sourdough. Unlike regular bread, there is about 100 times more bacteria than yeast in sourdough. But there are still wild yeast strains present, its the yeast that helps bread rise and produces an airy texture.

The benefits of sourdough bread

The fermentation process makes sourdough easier to digest and more nutritious.  The enzymes and beneficial bacteria produced, help digest the grains making the nutrients in the bread more available to your body.  Fermenting the flour also adds B vitamins that were not there before the fermentation occurred.

Sourdough bread is beneficial for people with gluten sensitivity, because the proteins are already partially broken down.  These proteins can be challenging for some people to digest.  Even if you are unaware of a potential gluten sensitivity, switching to sourdough may help to reduce unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, joint pain, low energy, and brain fog.

In addition to better digestibility, sourdough supports gut health because it has probiotics and is a good source of pre-biotics that feed the beneficial microbes in the GI tract.

Finally, another great reason to switch to sourdough is that research shows it to have a lower glycemic index than other types of bread.  This means it may help to control your blood sugar levels which is great for your metabolic health.

The difference between sourdough and other types of bread

The fermentation process is the key. Other types of bread are made using quick-acting yeast, while sourdough is made using a slow cultured starter that is made with water and flour. The starter is left to ferment for several days, which is what gives sourdough its unique flavour and texture. You can buy sourdough at local bakeries and grocery stores, and even starting with a store bought variety will offer some health benefits.

How to make your own sourdough bread

Making your own sourdough can be intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple. Start by making a sourdough starter. Once you have an active starter, you will feed it regularly so that you can bake with it at anytime.   Experiment with different flavours, fours and bread baking techniques. Your starter can be used for many different baked goods – pancakes, breads, muffins, cakes and more. It will increase the digestibility and nutrient availability in whatever you bake with it.

Slow down. Connect with your food. Pet your puppy.

Sourdough bread is a nutritious and delicious bread that can be beneficial for digestion and gut health. Making sourdough bread may seem daunting, but with a little practice it can be a rewarding experience. I have been making my own sourdough for more than two years, and each time I am reminded of how rewarding slowing down, and connecting with my food can be. Stella, my starter, has become a family pet who is cared for and nourishes her family in return.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I did get a covid-puppy too…Two actually – Rosie and Hazel – who also happen to enjoy a nibble of sourdough here and there as well!

Amanda Janes, Natural Nutrition Clinical Practitioner is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist practising in Conception Bay South, NL. As a cancer survivor and busy Mom of 4 she knows how vital (and challenging!) good nutrition can be. Her passion is helping her clients overcome obstacles to healthy eating in ways that are practical and delicious. Contact her today: amanda@conceptnutrition.ca

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