Fermented Foods and the Health Benefits of Sourdough

Fermented Foods and the Health Benefits of Sourdough

Sourdough and other fermented foods,have been a part of human diets for centuries. And there is a growing body of evidence worldwide to suggest that these foods offer a number of health benefits. But by intentionally allowing microorganisms to break them down, fermented foods are both delicious and nutritious.

"But what are the heart health benefits and should you be including them in your diet?"

That is the question the New Zealand's Heart Health Foundation posed in August, 2018 before posting: 

"Fermented foods and beverages are becoming increasingly popular. You can now find kombucha on tap in bars, sourdough bread in cafes and more varieties of yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi in your local supermarket…
"Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries, and were initially produced as a way to preserve foods, improve flavor and eliminate food toxins. Today, more people are turning to these foods for their potential health benefits…1, 2.
"Most foods can be fermented from whole foods like vegetables, fruits, cereals, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds. While these foods are nutritious in their original form, through fermentation, they have the potential to carry additional health benefits – especially when they contain probiotics and prebiotics.

Fermented Foods, Including Sourdough, Can Improve Gut Health.

One of the most well-known benefits of fermented foods is their impact on gut health.  Collectively known as the gut microbiotathe human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that play a vital role in digestion, immunity, and overall health.

Gut Composition

Image from Biocodex Microbiota Institute

Happily, fermented foods can help to improve gut health by increasing the diversity of the gut microbiota and by producing beneficial compounds such as short-chain fatty acids. 

Here are some of the specific health benefits of fermented foods:

  • Improved gut health: Fermented foods can help to increase the diversity of the gut microbiota, which is important for digestive health, immunity, and overall well-being.
  • Boosted immune system: Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that can help to boost the immune system and protect against infection.
  • Reduced inflammation: Fermented foods can help to reduce inflammation, which is a risk factor for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Protection against chronic diseases: Fermented foods have been shown to have a protective effect against chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Improved mental health: Fermented foods may also help to improve mental health by reducing stress and anxiety.

How Does Sourdough Improve Your Gut Health?

Among the most popular fermented foods is sourdough bread, which is made from a fermented dough that contains wild yeast and bacteriaSourdough bread is made with a sourdough starter, which is a mixture of flour and water that has been fermented by wild yeast and bacteria. The fermentation process helps to break down the gluten in the wheat flour, making the bread easier to digest.

While the starter and unbaked dough are both loaded with more than 50 species species of LAB (lactic acid bacteria), these prebiotic bacteria die when the internal temperature of the baked dough reach a temperature of 135°F (57°C). However, after baking the prebiotic properties of the dough are intact. 

Prebiotics are the other half of good gut health, which survive the heat of baking. And baked sourdough products have plenty of  this specialized plant fiber that cultivates good gut bacteria already in the gut.  


Other examples of fermented foods:

The foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso. All of which are rich in beneficial bacteria and offer a variety of health benefits. For example, they can help to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

    If you are looking for ways to improve your health, fermented foods are a great option. They are delicious, nutritious, and easy to find. And there are many different types of fermented foods available, so you can find one that you enjoy.

    Tips for incorporating more fermented foods into your diet:

    • Start with small amounts: If you are new to fermented foods, start with small amounts and gradually increase your intake.
    • Look for variety: There are many different types of fermented foods available, so you can find one that you enjoy.
    • Read labels: When choosing fermented foods, be sure to read the labels to make sure that they are not pasteurized. Pasteurization can kill the beneficial bacteria in fermented foods.
    • Store fermented foods properly: Fermented foods should be stored in the refrigerator. This will help to keep them fresh and prevent them from spoiling.

    By incorporating more fermented foods into your diet, you can boost your gut health, boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect against chronic diseases. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring the world of fermented foods today!


    • Candela, M., et al. "The potential health benefits of sourdough bread." Microorganisms 9.1 (2021): 123.
    • De Vrese, M., et al. "Probiotics and prebiotics in the modulation of the gut microbiota: effects on health and disease." Beneficial Microbes 1.1 (2010): 5-20.
    • Salminen, S., et al. "Probiotics: a definition." International Journal of Food Microbiology 174.2 (2013): 161-164.
    • van der Werf, S., et al. "Sourdough bread fermentation and its effects on bread quality parameters." Food Microbiology 27.8 (2010): 1083-1090.
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    1 comment

    Last week at #ProvoFarmersMarket I bought a fresh cabbage and I am fermenting as sauerkraut to make Rueben sandwiches on our Jewish Rye!

    Darryl Alder

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