Written By: McKenna Garrison & Meg De Jong
Welcome to the 4th and final article of the ‘Getting Grounded with Grains’ Series! To finish things off, we’re diving into arguably the best way to put grains to use – BREAD!
Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a good slice of bread?
But before we get into it, we wanted to give a quick recap of what we’ve covered in the ‘Getting Grounded with Grains’ series thus far:
- Article 1: An Intro into Grains: Should we eat them? What to look out for? And special considerations for when consuming grains.
- Article 2: Grains & Anxiety: Breaking down on the info you need to know about IF grains are beneficial for anxiety – or triggering?
- Article 3: Grains & Gut Health: Learning all about when grains are good for gut health – and when they’re not. We also talked about one of the most important components of grains for gut health support – fibre!
In this article, we’ll be sharing on everything you need to know about BREAD including:
- What’s the best kind of bread to consume?
- A brief history of bread preparation – and where we’ve gone wrong in modern day?
- What to avoid in bread products?
- The difference between commercial yeast & wild fermentation?
Be sure to read all the way through for our special announcement! You’re not going to want to miss it!
Ancient Bread Preparation:
Before we get into all the juicy details of what to look out for when consuming bread, we wanted to take a second to hi-light the prevalence of bread all around the world! It’s really no secret that bread is a beloved diet staple in MANY countries.
Different Ways Various Countries Consume Bread (1):
- Injera: Ethopian fermented teff
- Baguettes: a classic French loaf
- Bammy: cassava-based flatbread from Jamaica
- Focaccia: Italian derived sheet pan bread
- Chapati: Indian flatbread
- Pita: Greek/middle eastern flatbread
- Khobz kesra: thicker, round bread from Morocco
- Tortillas: thin Mexican flatbread
- Rewena paraoa: New Zealand, potatoes and sourdough-like starter ferment
- Lefse: Norwegian flatbread
- Sourdough: oldest documented loaf was in Switzerland but origins unknown!
Now the question is, what do all of these have in common – that most modern day North American bread is missing?
The answer is: Fermentation!
Yes, it’s true! From the earliest of days, bread has been made with those 3 simple ingredients – flour, salt, water, then left to sit for quite some time (aka ferment thanks to the bacteria).
These naturally occurring bacteria are known as a leavening agent– it’s what causes the dough to rise! With a little patience, and a few folds, you’ll eventually get a delicious loaf of sourdough!
The process of fermentation not only improves the bread’s flavour but it also makes the nutrients more bioavailable, reduces the prevalence of anti-nutrients, increases fibre content, and can significantly ease digestion!
Unfortunately, the use of wild bacteria in bread making has become more of a traditional method. Instead, chemicals and baker’s yeast have taken over as the newest leavening agent. And sadly, their popularity has left wild fermentation in the shadows.
This begs the question as to why? Why have we put fermentation on the back burner?
Changes in Modern Bread Preparation:
Well, fermentation isn’t exactly a quick process. On average, a loaf takes just over 24 hours to prepare and bake (time varies significantly depending on how sour one wants their bread- becoming more sour the longer it ferments).
In today’s fast-paced society, that time frame is often not considered conducive. These modern leavening agents easily cut the preparation time of bread by more than half, while also lengthening its shelf life. When producing massive quantities of bread, this is highly efficient.
However… efficiency can sometimes come at a cost.
Over consumption of conventional yeast found in most commercial bread products can contribute to gut dysbiosis. When too much yeast is consumed along side refined grains, it can limit the scope of diversity within the microbiome. This can encourage yeast overgrowth which can manifest as Candida or other digestive issues. Not only this, but some conventional yeast has also been found to be loaded with anti-foaming agents and other synthetic ingredients (2).
The short cut taken with commercial yeast also negates all the wonderful benefits the slow fermentation process provides. This means that bread made with baker’s yeast is often much harder to digest, contains anti-nutrients, and the vitamins and minerals found within the flour are much less bio-available.
On top of this, unless organic, wheat used to make commercial bread products has a high risk of being contaminated with glyphosate. As we mentioned earlier in the series, wheat can be sprayed with glyphosate to act as a desiccant before harvest (3).
So, What’s the Best Type of Bread to Consume?
To cut to the chase; our top recommendation is to consume a whole grain containing, organic, sourdough (also known as wild-fermented or naturally leavened) bread.
However, before you buy any sourdough you see at the store, it’s important to know that there are a lot of breads that might be labelled as ‘sourdough’ however are not actually wildly fermented. A lot of these imitation sourdoughs contain commercial yeast, sugar, additives, preservatives, and other not so good for you ingredients! To avoid this, we recommend ALWAYS read the ingredient labels, or ask for them if they’re not posted.
Fermentation helps to both deactivate anti-nutrients and really helps to ease the digestion of grain consumption! It truly is considered the gold standard when it comes to grain consumption.
Interestingly, some people who have issues digesting gluten, find that they don’t actually have a problem with sourdough! (4) However, this is not always the case – and is still not recommended for those who are celiac.
What to AVOID when Purchasing Bread?
- Non organic (conventional) breads: as we mentioned earlier, wheat can be a highly contaminated crops. We recommend always opting for organic bread as much as possible
- Bread that contains commercial/ Baker’s yeast
- Bread with sugar, additives, or preservatives
- Bread labelled as sourdough that still contains commercial yeast and/ or sugar
Believe it or not, the ONLY ingredients in your bread should be flour, water, salt – and maybe some seeds or nuts if you like a little crunch 🙂
If you’re lucky enough to have a local sourdough bread bakery around you – it’s definitely worth making the extra trip for some fresh bread! Alternatively, you can make your very own sourdough at home! If this sounds appealing to you, you’re going to love our announcement below!
Alright, this concludes our ‘Getting Grounded with Grains Series’! We hope you have enjoyed reading and have a new found understanding and perhaps appreciation for grains!
Like most things in nutrition, grain consumption comes down to quality and consideration. Whole grains are loaded with nutrients, and when prepared properly can be a great addition to your diet to not only help support with anxiety but to provide your gut with the fibre it needs to thrive.
Lastly (and best of all) to end this series off – we are SO excited to share a special announcement:
On Tuesday, June 22nd, ‘‘The ultimate Guide to DIY Sourdough & Grains’ will be available (by donation)!
The guide includes both an e-book and a recorded demonstration on how to make your very own sourdough – starting with your own starter! Mark your calendar and be sure to stay tuned for the release of this!