Most breads labeled as “sourdough” on the market today are anything but.
These fake sourdough breads typically contain yeast and/or a sweetener. This is an easy giveaway clue that the bread is a phony and should be avoided if one seeks a traditionally baked loaf.
True sourdough bread does not contain bakers yeast and instead utilizes a lactobacilli based starter culture. True sourdough bread is also baked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time which protects the integrity of the cereal grains and preserves the nutritional value. Not only is the nutritional value maintained, but anti-nutrients such as phytic acid are eliminated and gluten, that very difficult to digest plant protein, is broken down.
When baker’s yeast was first introduced as an alternative to sourdough starters in 1668 in France, it was strongly rejected because scientists at the time already knew that it would negatively impact people’s health.
While yeast is used almost universally for baking breads anymore, the skyrocketing cases of gluten intolerance and celiac disease are causing many to look backwards at how nonindustrialized peoples consumed gluten containing breads with no digestive difficulty.
One study that examined how celiacs tolerate true sourdough bread was conducted in Europe. 17 people suffering from celiac disease were given 2 grams of gluten containing bread risen with either baker’s yeast or a normal lactobacilli culture. 13 of the 17 showed negative changes in intestinal permeability consistent with celiac disease. 4 people did not show any negative changes.
Then, the 17 study participants were given true sourdough bread risen with a special lactobacilli culture able to hydrolyze the 33-mer peptide which is the primary amino acid building block that causes an immune response in people with celiac disease. None showed any negative changes in their intestinal permeability after consuming the bread which was made up of 30% wheat flour and a mix of oat, millet, and buckwheat flour.
The researchers’ conclusions were summarized as follows:
These results showed that a bread biotechnology that uses selected lactobacilli, nontoxic flours, and a long fermentation time is a novel tool for decreasing the level of gluten intolerance in humans.
What I find interesting about the study is that even when the people who consumed the gluten containing bread risen with either baker’s yeast or a normal lactobacilli culture, 4 did not show any negative changes to their baseline values of intestinal permeability. Did these 4 consume bread raised with a normal lactobacilli culture? If so, perhaps even a normal sourdough culture would be sufficient for many celiacs to consume.
Certainly, most with simple gluten intolerance would find true sourdough bread to be easily consumed with no digestive distress.
Clearly, more study on this needs to be done, but the results are incredibly promising.
It seems that the noblemen in the court of Louis XIV of France back in 1668 had it right all along. Abandoning the traditional methods of bread preparation in favor of baker’s yeast would have disastrous effects on people’s health. Little did they know that their wisdom several centuries later would be termed “novel” by scientists in the biotechnology industry!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sources and More Information
Study Finds Wheat-based Sourdough Bread Tolerated by Celiac Patients
Einkorn Sourdough Crackers with Nut Butter
No-Knead Einkorn Sourdough Bread
The Good Gluten You Can Probably Eat Just Fine
The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (It’s Not the Gluten)
Im looking for a historical reference for your statement about the french nobleman and scientists saying that the introduction of commercial yeast would be an ill on mankind.
I would love recipes for sourdough bread. I am gluten intolerant and these gf breads do a number on my gut.
Sarah Pope MGA
Here’s one to try. https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/no-knead-einkorn-sourdough-bread/
I’d be happy to share mine with you ????
Please provide a link to the research article quoted in the story.
The link is provided in the article. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14766592
And, a more recent study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20975578
Back in the 1600’s the bread had less gluten to begin with. Over time modifications increased gluten. This junk science that sourdough bread is somehow gluten free is like saying a Rubics cube is plastic when it’s a square but not plastic if you take it apart.
To say that sourdough bread does not contain yeast is completely incorrect. It is the fact that it contains yeast (that produce CO2 that get caught in a developed gluten matrix) that has allowed it to leaven bread for thousands of years. The difference is that it contains one or several “wild” yeasts found on the surface of the flour itself as opposed to the single strain of commercially produced wheat. These yeast proliferate and feed on the flour added to “feed the starter.” True, it does also contain lactobacillus bacteria that are partially responsible for affecting and transforming the gluten. These bacteria are also part of the equation in developing that delicious sourdough flavor.
The other aspect of making good sourdough bread that differentiates it from wonderbread, et al is the exceptionally long fermentation/rise/proofing times. Amylase converts more starch into sugar, the yeast eat more of the sugar, multiple acidic compounds are produced, and yes, the gluten is partially broken down. That is why sourdoughs tend to have a lower glycemic index and pose less of an issue for some with gluten-related conditions. However, long fermentation is not limited to sourdough though–many good breads use long-fermented doughs and pre-fermented dough components.
I truly feel for people suffering from celiac disease, and I cannot imagine the implications of living with an autoimmune condition. However, I would argue that the rest of the recent gluten mania is likely more attributable to eating terrible, hyper fast-fermented breads/pretzels/whatever that include ADDED gluten that makes bread faster, less good, and less healthy. Also, frequently the initial cut of gluten from the diet is accompanied by more attention paid to all aspects of the diet–no wonder folks feel better!
Even though this is an older post, I am glad I found it. I bought Purbread gluten neutralized winter wheat bread at a farmer’s market. I had a slight sinus reaction, but goes away quickly. I normally get a headache immediately after encountering any wheat. I did not have that. I also gain weight literally over night, and get a wheat or grain belly. This did not happen. I am hoping this will be the answer. I did find a website where a woman did an experiment with soaking grains from 12 to 24 hours in either buttermilk or sourdough. The ones soaked in sourdough worked best. It didn’t seem to help soaking longer than 12 hours. I have tried spelt, einkorn, and sprouted wheat (Ezekiel), and got a headache with all of them. I plan to make my own sourdough starter as it’s hard to find sourdough bread that says “sourdough starter” on the package.
I tried this last year and it was DISASTEROUS! Celiacs beware! I think that once the damage is done even sourdough can be just as bad as “regular” bread.