In this article, I will discuss whether sourdough contains probiotics like other fermented foods. If not, why? And if yes, which ones?
Did you know Sourdough bread is fermented by gut-friendly bacteria?
But, unfortunately, it won’t supply you with any probiotic strain because they are all killed in bread making process. However, it is still nutritious and supports the gut microbiome, improving gut health.
In the following sections, I have explained in detail what happens to sourdough probiotics and, without that good bacteria, how it benefits the gut.
So, stay connected till the end to see what this rich-texture bread has to offer;
Does Sourdough Help Gut Bacteria?
Sourdough bread lacks probiotics and does not add new strains or CFUs to the gut microbiome. Still, it helps friendly bacteria grow and flourish in your gut.
Initially, the Sourdough starter and dough mixture are rich in probiotics. However, these microbes cannot survive the high temperature in the oven.
It takes from 1 to 3 weeks to prepare sourdough bread from scratch. Most of this time goes into fermentation processes which makes sourdough different from regular bread both nutritionally and flavor-wise.
Its starter is prepared by fermentation of flour by wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria that naturally occur in flour and air.
These microbes keep growing on wheat components also during the proofing phase (when the dough is set aside for some time after kneading), but most are killed until the bread is ready to eat.
So, baked bread is devoid of probiotics, but it is scientifically proven that gut microbiota still gets some benefits from sourdough bread which I have listed here;
1. Prebiotic Supply
Though not a good source of probiotics, sourdough supplies much prebiotics to gut microbiota.
The fermentation in starter preparation (for weeks) and proofing (4 to 24 hours) increases the bioavailability of fibrous components in grain flour. Many of these fibers are used by gut-friendly bacteria as food.
Moreover, microbial fermentation also produces prebiotics like β-glucan and exopolysaccharides.
Chemical analysis shows that sourdough bread can supply about 30% of the daily prebiotic requirement of a healthy person.
These molecules provide growth material for gut microbiota and also prevent many diseases.
For example, gut microbiota produces butyrate by metabolizing β-glucan.
And increased butyrate production in the intestines reduces the chances of colon cancer.
2. Protect the Gut Microbiome
Sourdough bread provides phytochemicals that protect the gut microbiota from pathogenic activities and make healthy bacteria grow faster.
Lactobacillus activities increase the amount and bioavailability of phytochemicals in bread.
Phytochemicals act as microbial modulators in the gut. On one side, these molecules stimulate the multiplication of health-friendly bacterial colonies. And on the other side, they prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract.
These Phytochemicals include polyphenols, carotenoids, alkaloids, glucosinolates, etc. According to the Journal of Food and Function, these molecules help gut microbes in the following ways;
- Gut microbes use polyphenols as prebiotics.
- Carotenoids increase bacterial colonization.
- Other phytochemicals prevent bacterial degradation by gut mucosal secretions.
Is Sourdough Bread Good For Your Gut?
Yes, it influences gut health positively.
Sourdough bread is healthier than regular yeast bread in many ways, as it is more nutritious and helps in keeping blood pressure and glucose level in check. Also, it benefits your gut in the following ways;
Lactobacillus bacteria in sourdough starters release lactic acid and other organic acids, making pH acidic. It gives sourdough its characteristic sour taste.
Acidity weakens the bonding of complex ingredients like gluten, making them digest faster in the gut.
Consequently, the sourdough toast will digest sooner in your body than a regular bread slice. If slow digestion is the reason for your gut distress, switching to sourdough bread may help.
Increases Mineral Absorption
As I said before, fermentation over weeks makes sourdough more nutritious than regular bread. One way it does so is by increasing minerals’ bioavailability.
Whole grain flour is naturally rich in minerals, including Zinc, Magnesium, and Phosphorous.
However, these micronutrients have limited bioavailability as they are fixed in complex molecules. Usually, these minerals bind to phytate compounds that gut tissues cannot absorb.
Lactobacillus bacteria secrete lactic acids and lower the pH of bread, making it taste “sour.” This acidity breaks down phytates into simpler mineral compounds which are then readily absorbed from the gut lining.
A comparative study on bread fermentation processes confirms the lowering of phytic content and increased bioavailability of Magnesium and Phosphorous minerals using prolonged sourdough fermentation.
Researchers found that almost 90% of phytate molecules decompose when the sourdough mixture is given an appropriate time for fermentation.
Helps With IBS
Lactobacillus enzymes break down grain FODMAPs during fermentation to extract energy. Consequently, FODMAP content significantly decreases in the bread.
That is why the risk of IBS symptoms is reduced by consuming bread. Low IBS probability is also confirmed in this research.
It states that sourdough and other types of long-fermentation bread are less likely to cause IBS symptoms compared to bread fermented by instant baker’s yeast.
IBS patients also share their positive experiences with sourdough to relieve the symptoms, as in this Reddit thread.
Fermentation modifies the dietary fiber complexes, enhancing their functionality in sourdough bread. As a result, it has a higher fiber content which helps the stools pass more easily.
Hence, adding sourdough to your diet will reduce the chances of constipation, especially if you opt for Rye flour sourdough.
Feeds And Protects Microbiome
Sourdough bread improves gut microbiome by providing the following;
- Prebiotics to fulfill the energy requirements of bacteria
- Phytochemicals (microbial modulators) inhibit pathogens and stimulate growth.
(Complete details on sourdough, probiotics, and gut microbiome in the section above).
Why is Sourdough Bread Bad For You? (HOW?)
Though the gluten content of sourdough bread is reduced and modified by fermentation activities, it is not an entirely gluten-free product.
Gluten percentage varies with the flour type used for bread making and the time allowed for the starter and kneaded dough for fermentation.
Usually, the more time it takes, the higher gluten fermentation happens.
Sourdough is a hot study topic in microbial research. Some researchers found it tolerable by a celiac patient, while the majority conclude that its gluten content is not as low as to be considered safe for Celiacs.
Therefore, folks with gluten allergies or any such underlying medical conditions should best avoid sourdough.
A middle way here is to find sourdough made with gluten-free flour at a reputable bakery. However, you would likely need a big grocery budget for this option.
May Cause Acid Reflux
Sourdough bread is an acidic food containing organic acid molecules produced by Lactobacillus bacteria.
That is why some people experience acid reflux or heartburn after consuming it.
However, like Celiac disease, the chances of acid reflux vary from person to person depending upon their gut health.
Although sourdough bread is a healthier bakery option for gut health improvement since it contains prebiotics and increases digestive efficacy, mineral absorption, and bioavailability, it still lacks probiotics.
Therefore, if you’re looking for something to add to your diet that would make up for your daily dose of both pro & prebiotics, I would recommend the following supplements;
My Recommendations For Your Daily Probiotic Dose
Yourbiology’s Gut+ is a probiotic focused on women’s gut health. I love it personally because of its all-rounder formulation.
Firstly, it contains both probiotics and prebiotics. Secondly, the microbes are packed in Makterk polysaccharide capsules that are pH-sensitive and not affected by stomach acids. This seaweed-based capsulation takes away the risk of acid reflux or probiotic nausea.
Third, it is a multi-strain probiotic containing 40 billion CFUs of the following strains.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus paracasei
Lactobacillus strains relieve IBS symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Lactobacillus acidophilus prevents and cures vaginal inflammation by killing infectious bacteria with its acidic secretions.
Another benefit of this pill is virtually everyone can use it, even if they are sensitive to gluten, soy, or dairy.
Gut+ is available at YourBiology Gut+ website at $59.99 per bottle. You will also get free shipping and a 60-day money-back guarantee.
2. Biotics 8
Biotic 8 is formulated to keep men’s health in view. It gives you up to 20 billion colonizing units with each dose, providing 10 probiotic strains belonging to three genera. Here is the complete list;
- Saccharomyces Boulardii
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
Bifidobacteria are also part of your natural gut microbiome. Hence, this probiotic pill replenishes any deficiencies in the microbial colonies daily. Metabolism in these strains produces many vitamins (folate, vitamin B12, biotin, thiamine, riboflavin, etc.), significantly improving immunity.
B. breve also helps with lean muscle growth and fat burn.
This supplement contains 6 Lactobacillus strains. Hence, you get all the friendly bacteria that make sourdough so nutritious. These microbes will settle inside your gut and produce all beneficial products of sourdough fermentation, as listed above in the article.
Besides bacterial strains, Biotics 8 also contains the yeast Saccharomyces Boulardii.
As yeast is ten times bigger than a bacterium, it secretes larger amounts of vitamins and enzymes. Hence, positive results from probiotics are visible sooner than a bacteria-only product.
To feed all these microbes, it contains chicory root prebiotic fiber.
And this is not all!
Biotic 8 also has an enzymatic blend (to aid digestion) and vitamin D (a co-factor involved in male hormone production) packed in pH-sensitive Hypromellose capsules.
You can purchase it from the Biotics 8 website without paying any shipping fee. The price starts at $59.9 per bottle (90 capsules).
Does sourdough bread have gluten?
Regular sourdough made with all-purpose flour contains gluten. However, it is gluten-free when gluten-free flour is used to knead the dough.
Does sourdough bread have protein?
Yes, sourdough bread contains better protein content than regular bread.
Fermentation by Lactobacillus strains makes grain proteins more bioactive. Also, it produces new peptides and amino acid derivatives.
Does sourdough bread have prebiotics?
Yes, sourdough bread contains prebiotics.
Natural prebiotic fibers in whole grain flour become more bioavailable in fermentation during starter preparation. Microbial metabolism also produces new prebiotic components like β-glucan and exo-polysaccharides.
Does homemade sourdough bread have probiotics?
No, sourdough bread (both homemade or store-bought) does not contain probiotics, as microbes are killed at high temperatures while baking.
Wrap-up – Does sourdough bread contain probiotics?
Sourdough bread is a tasteful and healthy boost to your diet, but it won’t supply you with probiotics. However, it still supports the gut microbiome by providing prebiotic polysaccharides and phytochemical modifiers.
Besides microbial growth, it improves gut health through fast digestion, low gluten and FODMAP content, increased mineral absorption, and prevention of constipation.
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