The daily life of humans – our daily lives – are dictated by needs of sustenance: food, water, air, love, some sense of spirit, meaning, and life-purpose, however consciously people realize this. Our physical requirements for input, however, are food and water, among the most important.
Our early agricultural successes ensured the rise from the hunter and gatherer ten thousand years ago to the present. The discovery of growing our own food grains (grasses) was the innovation needed to allow a secondary discovery that these grains need to be fermented prior to consuming them. As has been archeologically proven, leavened sourdough bread and beer both developed quickly, and side by side.
Sourdough bread played an integral part from day one in our march into history and quickly became a revered and sacred food that nourishes and provides. No wonder it was known as the ‘Staff of Life’.
Fermented foods play a major part of our dietary food intake, such as cheese, yoghurt, kefir, miso, beer, wine, and of course, bread. Modern changes to these foods that exclude traditional preparation methods are having drastic negative impacts on our health. Specifically, I want to highlight the recent change to exclusively yeast fermented breads verses sourdough breads based on bacterial-wild yeast fermentation. It's my hypothesis that we are seeing an unprecedented rise in health complications as a direct result of excluding sourdough bacterial cultures from our bread-making.
Classic sourdough provides a bacterial-based milieu prior to baking that starts the breakdown (digestive) process of the key element of grains/flour: its protein, gluten. Modern yeast-only breads do not have the essential bacteria present in sourdough cultures, which are necessary for helping the human digestive system. Yeast-only based mono-fermentation processes inadvertently leave the gluten untouched (not pre-digested). When the protein in flour is mixed with water, it attains a rubbery consistency. Without the aid of bacteria and wild yeast from the traditional sourdough fermentation process, the gluten becomes a burdensome lump that is very difficult to digest and puts tremendous strain on our gastrointestinal system.
Excluding beneficial bacteria and enzymes (probiotics) from our grain derived foods via fermentation, spells major disaster to our health. Mild indigestion leads to bowel irritation, leads to chronic inflammation and sooner or later to a newly diagnosis disease called Celiac disease: a complete intolerance of any gluten-containing grains, such as wheat, rye, and spelt. A once nourishing sustenance food for thousands of years is suddenly a health risk within a very short period of time.
For ten thousand years people across the planet thrived on traditional fermented sourdough breads. What our ancestors unwittingly understood from observation, namely the necessity to ferment grains/flour prior to human consumption, we belatedly are witnessing ourselves.
Let us dig into our past and reconnect to the magic of traditional sourdough fermented bread. The latest scientific discoveries substantiate the connection of mandatory requirements of traditional fermentation practices and health. The benefits of probiotic bacteria in yoghurt have been recognized, but for some reason, the same benefits have not yet been recognized in sourdough bread (though perhaps this is the case because the market is overrun with yeast-only based breads).
For a healthy lifestyle it is essential to use traditional fermentation practices which assist in the digestion process of gluten-containing breads. Sourdough bread was the only way we consumed these grains in the past. Our modern daily diet includes many gluten-containing foods that just weren’t on the carte du jour 150 years ago. Cookies, pastries, pastas, cakes, pizza etc. As we know them today, are all new foods. Since they do not contain the critical sourdough-bacterial culture, they should be consumed in limited amounts only. Do yourself a favour: next time your sweet tooth aches, have a slice of our sourdough bread with your favourite jam or honey.
Sourdough bread offers superior flavour, crumb structure and taste. It is the way to go. My observation is that our taste-buds instantly recognize the ‘Sourdough Difference’; therefore, be warned: it can be quickly addicting.