The Science of Sourdough
Diving in to the benefits
There are many reasons why sourdough is the perfect addition to any meal. In addition to the unique and complex flavour, the wild yeast culture in sourdough offers many health benefits. We’re diving in to some of the science of sourdough to learn what makes it such a superfood.
Wheat is a nutritious ingredient and a food staple for the vast majority of the consuming public – it’s life’s simple ingredient. Even those who usually can’t enjoy wheat because of digestion sensitivity can enjoy the satisfying taste of sourdough. The long fermentation process that gives sourdough bread its distinct sour taste also makes it more gut-friendly. This process breaks down the gluten, making it a suitable choice for those sensitive to gluten, and helps to feed our gut microbes that digest food.
“Lactic acid bacteria present in sourdough is particularly beneficial when dealing with whole grains because it helps to deliver minerals and previously protected (by the phytic acid) compounds into our blood circulation for absorption,” says Ashley Peters of Brown Paper Baking Co. Along with a carbohydrate that can be better absorbed by the body, prebiotics enhance our ability to absorb important nutrients and minerals from the grain, lowering the pH in the digestive tract, inhibiting potential growth of pathogens or damaging bacteria, which helps to support the digestive system and gut bacteria.”
Sourdough is made up of just water, flour and salt; three simple ingredients that result in a sensational loaf of sourdough that aids in the complexity of our gut health.
“Adding a variety of grains into your diet through sourdough baking will provide plenty of fiber, a wide variety of microbes, along with proteins, minerals and vitamins previously not available without the acidification and fermentation of the dough,” says Ashley. “Introducing sourdough bread into your food regimen can be an important way to maintain a healthy and diverse microbial gut and healthy diet, a strong immune system, healthy mood and behavior as well as maintaining a healthy weight.”
The Alberta Wheat Commission, in partnership with the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotional Council, is currently funding a research project led by Dr. Michael Gänzle, a food microbiologist at the University of Alberta. The project, which will conclude in 2021, aims to determine whether the process used to produce sourdough bread could lead to a more easily digested food option for individuals who are sensitive to wheat consumption.
To make your own sourdough at home, check out our post on starting your own starter.
Need a little help? Sign up for one of Kaelin Whitaker’s sourdough workshops.