Revive your loaf life!

Remember Real Bread? You know, back in the days before some voice from somewhere was nagging at you to go all low-carb, gluten free or some other fad for no sound medical reason but that they promised would change your life? Miss the crust and the crumb and the chew of the real thing? Of course you do!

Well, good news because it’s becoming clear that not all loaves are created equal. Genuine sourdough Real Bread is true clean eating: additive-free, nutritious and delicious. Better still, evidence suggests it could have lower GI and might even be the answer for some people who have issues eating speedily made industrial loaves.

What is sourdough?

Sourdough is the oldest method of making leavened bread. Historians generally seem to agree the first leavened loaf probably came out of an oven in Egypt, sometime between 6000 and 3500 years ago. Genuine sourdough bread is leavened (i.e. made to rise – like lever, it comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to raise’) using only a culture of yeasts and probiotic (aka ‘friendly’) lactic acid bacteria, which live happy and harmonious lives on the surface of cereal grains.

Occurring in lower concentrations, and not the results of a century and a half of baker’s yeast breeding programmes, these ‘wild’ yeasts take longer to get their mojo working than the commercially produced stuff. During these hours, all sorts of weird and wonderful things go on, some of which might be beneficial health wise, including:

  • A change in the parts of gluten responsible for triggering the coeliac response and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.
  • A reduction of phytic acid, an ‘anti nutrient’ found in bran, that binds with certain nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron, meaning that the body can’t make use of them.
  • An increase in levels of available B vitamins.
  • LAB can lower the glycaemic index (GI) of bread, which can be handy for people challenged by diabetes and obesity.

…and when you find out that LAB are essential to preserved foods including cheese, salami and kimchi, it should come as no surprise to learn that genuine sourdough loaves tends to last longer than commercially yeasted ones… if you don’t eat them first.

One of the motivations behind the Real Bread Campaign’s creation was people saying that they found industrial loaves hard to digest but that they could enjoy genuine sourdough, and in some cases a wider range of long-fermented Real Breads. But why might that be the case?

Despite a few compelling studies and a chorus of voices, there has been far too little research to say any of these things for sure. The Campaign continues to call for adequate investment into research that could lead to these and other fundamental differences either being proved beyond reasonable doubt, or ruled out.

In the meantime, why not just simply enjoy baking and eating genuine sourdough for its fantastic flavour!

Written by Chris Young, coordinator of the Real Bread Campaign realbreadcampaign.org.

Adapted from Slow Dough: Real Bread by Chris Young, published on 15th of Sourdough September by Nourish Books. Purchase the book here

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