What is this craze about sourdough breads and long-fermented breads? Is sourdough really better for us?
The truth is it's not a craze. It's actually the way we made bread for thousands of years. Only recently was commercial yeast invented and therefore the beginning of gluten sensitivity. People who suffer from gluten sensitivity can usually eat sourdough, but why? Sourdough literally has the strongest form of gluten. When we make it, it's all we think about. How can we get the perfect amount of gluten strength mixed with the perfect amount of fermentation to give it the best flavor? It involves time, not speed or mass production. True sourdough can't be made now, or even in the next 12 hours. It requires patience. Which honestly cannot be found at any major grocery store. You must buy it locally or make it at home. That's it.
So why is it so "digestible" and other breads aren't you might be wondering. Well, that's where the magic happens. Sourdough is made by fermenting water and flour, no processed yeast is added. The yeast is collected naturally and built up over time. Yeast occurs everywhere. It is in the air we breathe and it covers everything we touch, including the grains the bread is made out of. The yeast is collected and a sourdough starter is born. The starter is a combination of yeast and lactobacillus bacteria. This bacteria in turn makes lactic and acetic acid from the sugar in the flour and yeast-produced alcohol. These then produce CO2 which helps leaven the bread, but the bacteria also benefit us in other ways besides making bread rise. The lactic and acetic acids have tons of benefits, starting with bread preservation. Sourdough breads stay fresh longer and don't mold as fast as other fresh breads. They also predigest carbohydrates and proteins which makes the bread easier on our digestion. Another example is that Wheat grains contain a molecule called phytate. This molecule actually blocks our body from absorbing the nutrients and minerals found in the grain itself. The acids break down this molecule, allowing us to absorb minerals such as calcium, sodium, zinc, and magnesium. Yeasted breads, even with the highest quality organic flour, block you from getting the benefits from that flour. The bacteria also contain probiotics and prebiotics, which feed our gut bacteria allowing us to produce nutrients for helping with digestion. There are also studies showing that the acids in sourdough help prevent blood glucose and insulin levels from rising too fast by inhibiting enzymes that metabolize starch.
So as you can see, sourdough is just plain good for us. It's almost as if the grain was meant for it. I mean, it naturally contains yeast which when fermented works together with lactobacillus bacteria which creates acids that help break down an enzyme that protects the plants, but blocks us out, and then creates microorganisms that help us digest and absorb minerals. I would say that's all that needs to be said. Plus it tastes awesome!