Sourdough bread is known for its health benefits such as boosting immunity, improving digestion, and weight loss. Fermented foods have never gone out of style, thanks to their health benefits such as an infusion of healthy gut bacteria, weight loss, extended freshness and immunity improvement. One such fermented food is sourdough bread. But even with its numerous health benefits, some people believe that sourdough bread has certain side effects such as bloating and gas. So, does sourdough bread make you fart? Let’s discuss if there is any science behind the relationship between eating sourdough and excessive wind!
As much as sourdough bread is healthy, too much of it can bloat your stomach and make you gassy, which isn’t a good thing when there are other people around! But any food can make you gassy if you eat too much of it, so is there something special about sourdough bread?
Wheat products as well as onions, barley, cabbage, broccoli, pistachio, artichoke, chicory root, and asparagus are high in fructan, a fructose polymer. Excessive consumption of fructan means we’re likely to get gassy, as a large percentage of people are not able to produce enough of the enzyme that can break it down in the small intestine. As a result, only 5-12% of these long fructose chains are broken down and absorbed in the small bowel. The majority of fructan digestion occurs in the large intestine. Here, they are fermented, however, to do this, the colon draws large amounts of water which can cause diarrhoea, and bloating which can make you fart.
If you didn’t know, a sourdough starter contains lots of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB), which ferment the fresh flour in the dough, which, alongside cultivated wild yeasts, produces gas to make the dough rise. To produce enough gas to make a fully-risen loaf of sourdough it takes much longer than bread risen with bakers yeast, but this is where sourdough has an advantage. See, the extra-long rising time allows more products to be fermented and cereal enzymes that exist in the flour are able to break down starches and substrates. The benefits of texture and flavour are discussed in detail in the sourdough fermentation process article, but it’s a vast topic, so let’s stick to farting (can’t believe I’m writing this!).
In tests, it has been proven that consumers eating sourdough produce less gas from their rear end than yeast-leavened bread. The total gastric volume was significantly reduced by 11% and hydrogen production by 30% following sourdough croissants compared to brewer’s yeast croissants. Sourdough bread consumers can enjoy a higher intake of bifidobacteria, which are probiotics that digest food and protect us from harmful bacteria.
Experiments also show significant decreases in δ-Proteobacteria and Gemmatimonadetes in people who eat sourdough bread over white bread. These are potentially harmful bacteria, so best reduced.
The digestive system takes a long time to digest sourdough bread when compared with yeasted bread, likely due to containing probiotics. And to some extent, sourdough bread can help with gas, especially when compared to white bread. The long fermentation process of sourdough bread is also of great importance in ensuring the insoluble glutens are naturally converted to digestible sugars, which then makes sourdough easy to digest, thereby reducing gas, although not enough for celiacs to enjoy wheat bread.
Sourdough bread is rich in nutrients that your body can easily absorb. Because of the way lactic acid bacteria interact with these nutrients by destroying certain types of acids while increasing the availability of healthy nutrients such as magnesium and potassium. It’s not a “superfood”, but it can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and is most definitely better for us than white bread.
It’s important to note that our bodies might react differently after eating sourdough bread. For example, some people are known to digest sourdough bread without any problems while others have difficulties digesting it. If you belong to the latter category, it would be a good idea to consume sourdough bread in moderation. Instead of eating it every day, you can consider eating it once a week as a special treat.
You can as well pair sourdough bread with foods that can help absorb the byproducts of sourdough bread. This can help in reducing stomach bloat and will make you feel less gassy. Foods that are rich in protein such as sour cream, cheese, or beans are known to perfectly absorb the byproducts of sourdough bread.
Another idea is to eat sourdough bread made from a different type of flour such as spelt. These types of flour have fewer fructan content and are unlikely to cause bloating, so you won’t feel gassy.
Needless to say, too much of anything is unhealthy. An average slice of sourdough bread will weigh around 1 once, containing 12-18 grams of carbohydrates. Of course, these amounts vary depending on several factors, including the flour you are using, and how thick you cut your slices!
Depending on how active you are, you can eat between 5 and 8 slices a day. But really, you should be consuming calories and fibre from various sources, so 2-4 slices of sourdough bread a day is a more sensible maximum.
Of course, sourdough bread isn’t the only bread that’s known to cause bloating. You’re likely to experience bloating if you excessively consume other types of bread such as white bread, rye bread, and pumpernickel bread. You have to keep in mind that you can feel bloaty if you eat any type of bread if you suffer from digestive disorders such as IBS, Celiac disease or are sensitive to wheat.
So today, we’ve covered how bread makes you fart, how sourdough reduces how much you fart and how much sourdough you should be eating! What an interesting article it was to write! Let me know what you found interesting in the comments.
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baking coach, head baker and bread-baking fanatic! My aim is to use science, techniques and 15 years of baking experience to help you become a better baker.
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