How Sourdough Bread Changed the Way I Think About Carbs

sourdough
Photo Credit: Suzi Marshall

January 1, 2021

Gretchen Lidicker

I’d always had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with carbs. We’d been on-again-off-again for years: When I tried cutting them out completely, I felt cranky, weak, and tired. When I ate too many, I felt sleepy, bloated, and generally not-so-well. I tried swearing off gluten in favor of oats and rice, which didn’t seem to do anything at all for me. And I tried carb cycling, eating a high-carb diet or a low-carb diet depending on where I was in my cycle.

Finally, I thought I had found the right balance. Until a trip to Australia and a daily habit of scrambled eggs on thick slices of sourdough bread changed everything.

How a Trip to Oz Changed My Relationship with Carbs

You see, I’d discovered that, for me, the perfect combination of macronutrients involved a high-protein breakfast, a low-carb dinner, and a lunch that incorporated some type of healthy carbs (like sweet potato or quinoa). It was great news for my energy levels and digestion. But it also meant I missed out on a lot of delicious breakfast foods, mainly scrambled eggs and toast. It may seem humble, but it is one of my all-time favorite meals.

Which is why, when I moved to Australia for three months, I decided I would eat all the eggs on toast I wanted. And I didn’t do it halfway, either. I ate scrambled eggs with sourdough toast and either a slice of avocado or a few pieces of smoked salmon every morning.

And guess what? I felt great. There wasn’t a hiccup in my digestion or my energy levels and I have sourdough bread to thank. It’s got health benefits above and beyond those of normal bread. Here’s a deeper look at what it is that makes this bread so different.

Why Sourdough Is Healthier than Other Bread

Sourdough bread begins with a starter that contains both yeast and a bacterium called Lactobacillus. As the starter ferments, more healthy bacteria colonize the dough until it’s essentially a probiotic-rich food. This is what gives the bread that famously tangy flavor that’s also characteristic of Greek yogurt, kefir, and other bacteria-heavy foods.

It makes sense then, that studies have shown that consuming sourdough has a beneficial effect on the gut microbiome. Experts also suggest that the prebiotics and probiotics in sourdough help degrade the gluten, which makes it easier to digest for those sensitive to the gluten protein.

It’s not just your gut that benefits: Additional studies have shown that sourdough bread is associated with improved glucose balance — in other words, eating it doesn’t create a spike in blood sugar like other types of simple carbs — that sourdough can release antioxidants during fermentation, and that the fermentation process makes nutrients in the bread more easily available to your body.

As you can see, there are more reasons than one to opt for sourdough bread over your favorite rye, honey wheat, or brioche. I learned a lot about healthy living in my months in Oz, but consistently choosing sourdough is the one thing I’m doing differently on the regular.