Today, we’re talking about the benefits of sourdough. Sourdough is a culinary staple dating back thousands of years. It’s inexpensive to make, absolutely delicious, and provides so many wonderful health benefits.
What is sourdough?
Sourdough is a traditional type of artisan bread leavened without the use of commercial yeast. Instead, the dough goes through a slow fermentation process and rises from wild yeast.
In former centuries, capturing and nurturing wild yeast was the only known way to make dough rise for the production of breads.
Fermentation is a naturally occurring process where “friendly” bacteria break down the sugars in food to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid gives sourdough it’s characteristic sour tang and ability to stay fresh longer.
What are the benefits of sourdough?
Sourdough offers improved digestion for many who have difficulty processing regular foods that contain gluten.
Sourdough stays fresh much longer than other baked goods and contains zero added preservatives. The enzymes produced friendly bacteria act as natural preservatives to prevent the growth of icky molds and fungus.
Sourdough is better for blood sugar control and diabetic meal plans because the carbohydrates are broken down during the slow fermentation. This means less blood sugar spikes and dips.
Nutrients are much more readily available for our bodies to absorb in sourdough than white or whole wheat breads.
Sourdough is also a prebiotic which helps to develop and maintain the healthy bacterial colonies within the intestines. These colonies are crucial for protection against illness and infection.
Sourdough can be entirely made from scratch with few ingredients – especially for those who have a grain mill. With a little planning, you can have fresh sourdough products at all times saving money and trips to the store.
Why is sourdough easier to digest than commercial bread?
Regular wheat and flour contain high levels of phytic acid. Although phytic acid is a protective mechanism for grains, it is problematic for humans.
Phytic acid is classified as an anti-nutrient. It blocks the absorption of calcium, iron, and zinc promoting mineral deficiencies.
Bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, and that gross “heavy” stomach feeling experienced after eating regular gluten products such as bread and pasta are common complaints.
The ancient tradition of soaking grains and culturing wild yeast was a natural way to combat the known negative effects wheat had on humans.
During the fermentation process, the gluten is pre-digested. Because lactic acid (produced by friendly bacterial colonies) breaks down the gluten, sourdough has the benefit improved digestibility for many people who suffer from generalized gluten intolerance.
Why isn’t this more well known?
When food production switched from local to industrial, lost became so many of the protective mechanisms our ancestors had depended on for many, many generations.
Digestive, autoimmune, oncology and degenerative disorders – which weren’t even really a thing 50 years ago – are now rampant in most parts of the West.
Is store bought sourdough bread the same?
Not likely. The flavor may be there but the benefits of locally cultured wild yeast were probably lost through many added ingredients and preservatives.
In some areas, you can find a legitimate artisan bread maker at local farmer’s markets.
Is sourdough only used in bread?
No! Sourdough is SO versatile. Any recipe that uses flour can be converted to sourdough with a few minor adjustments.