Sour Dough Bread

SOURDOUGH BREAD                from Rosemary Bonney, Dietitian

It was with some surprise that a recent dietetic review indicated that consumption of sourdough bread compared to yeast risen bread could have long term health benefits.

In France the baguette is the most popular bread eaten made from a sour dough starter. Here, in the United Kingdom, yeast is used as the leavening agent. The article cited the French population have a lower incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and coeliac disease compared to the United Kingdom. The question raised is the simple French baguette part of the reason, to explain this enigma?

In France, many people still buy their bread from the local boulangerie where the baguette is made following the traditional slow method of production, using a starter bacterial culture dough mixture called levain. The translation of levain into English is sourdough. Fructans, gluten and phytates in the flour are broken down and B vitamins, including vitamin B12, as well as lactic acid, are released in the process. During baking the cultured bacteria is killed and the final product is a sour-dough tasting bread, the same process as used to make the French baguette. The French therefore are eating baguettes which are low in fructans and lower in gluten, which may prevent dormant genes for coeliac disease from being expressed or the Sourdough bread is low in fructans and lower in gluten.

The incidence of coeliac disease in England is thought to be about 1% of the population. The development of coeliac disease is thought to be partly triggered by gluten in the environment and partly due to hereditary factors. In recent times, more people are being diagnosed with coeliac disease and seeing dietitians to help follow a strict gluten free diet to support their condition. The incidence for coeliac disease in the French population is lower than here, at only 0.24% of the population. Could this low incidence be due to the French baguette having lower amounts of gluten in it? The article suggests that the French are eating baguette which is low in fructans and may reduce indigestible fibres that they consume, lower in gluten which may prevent the dormant genes from coeliac disease being expressed or the symptoms associated with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

The low FODMAP (fermentable Oligo di monosaccharides and polyols), designed in Monash University, Australia, in 2005 has helped many people with irritable bowel syndrome to combat their symptoms of bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and constipation. The principle of the diet is to avoid a list of foods and ingredients for around eight weeks and then these foods are reintroduced, group by group to find out which foods may be causing the symptoms. One of the products to be excluded includes wheat bread products which contain fructans and gluten free bread is advised as an alternative.

In May, 2018, the low FODMAP diet list was updated with two slices of sourdough bread made from wheat flour added to foods that can be eaten. It is not yet recommended by dietitians in England as there is no equipment available to test breads for fructans in the UK. There is clearly a need to continue research as to whether sourdough bread can help patients to treat their disease especially if they are considering a gluten-free diet when they are not coeliac and as a possible preventative measure to reduce incidence of coeliac in the general population.

For those of you who want try eating more sour dough bread instead of yeasted bread why not make your own sour dough. For those of you with less time Penny’s bread is always available to order for delivery on Friday from our local village shop.

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