Is Sourdough Bread Low FODMAP? - The Kefir King

Is Sourdough Bread Low FODMAP?

FODMAPS can be incredibly irritating to someone coping with IBS, and to search for food that is low in FODMAPs can be a true challenge. Today we’ll discover if sourdough can be categorised as a low FODMAP food. Is sourdough bread low FODMAP?

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAP is short for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols” (Healthline).

sourdough bread low FODMAP
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

They are short-chain carbs resistant to digestion.

Instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream like most food we consume, they will reach the end of your intestine, where most of your gut bacteria reside.

There, they get fermented and used as fuel by your intestine’s naturally occurring gut bacteria.

When gut bacteria feed on FODMAPs, they produce hydrogen, a type of gas, which may give rise to bloating, stomach cramps, tummy pain and constipation.

FODMAPs are also osmotically active. This means that they can draw water into your intestine and stimulate diarrhea.

Although not everyone is sensitive to FODMAPs, this is very common among people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

So for people with IBS issues, it would be helpful to gravitate toward a diet with lower FODMAPs.

Is regular bread a high FODMAP food?

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

Bread is typically made with high FODMAP ingredients, namely wheat flour or rye flour. These are ingredients high in FODMAP fructans. (Healthline)

So while bread is generally considered high in FODMAPs, there are exceptions to the rule.

The first exception is gluten-free bread, and the reason for that is because they don’t contain wheat. 

The second is sourdough bread. But sourdough bread is made with wheat, how does it not remain in the high FODMAPs food category? We’ll find out below.

Why sourdough bread contains lower FODMAPs?

sourdough bread low FODMAP
Sourdough bread

This is because traditional sourdough bread undergoes a completely different baking method.

This method involves a long fermentation period, often times up to 10 times or more longer than the fermentation of regular bread.

Now why is this fermentation so crucial in reducing the FODMAPs in bread?

When sourdough bread is made, a culture of yeast and bacteria (also known as sourdough starter) is added to flour, water and salt as the raw ingredients of the bread dough.

Sourdough bread ‘starter’

This dough is then left to ‘prove’ for an extended period of time, usually more than 12 hours.

During this time, the yeast and bacteria feed on the carbohydrates in the flour (including the FODMAPs), and begin to digest them, breaking them down, thereby remove most of the fructans.

The end result is a loaf with reduced FODMAP content.

The Kefir King’s sourdough bread

And generally with sourdough bread, the longer the fermentation process, the lower the FODMAP content.

Alright, now that we’ve explained the low FODMAPs characteristics of sourdough bread, there’s just one more thing we need to disclose.

Not all bread labelled as sourdough possesses these characteristics and we’ll learn how to differentiate and pick out bread that is more suited to your digestive needs.

How to select sourdough bread that is low in FODMAP?

There are many things to look out for. Here are some examples.

Degree of ‘leaven-ness’.

Sourdough bread can be fully or partially leavened naturally.

Regular bread is leavened with yeast, but real sourdough bread is leavened completely and naturally with sourdough starter, which is the live culture of bacteria and yeast.

Sometimes, bread can be leavened by both starter and yeast for many reasons, from shortening fermentation time to altering the taste of the bread.

If you’re consuming sourdough bread for digestive health purposes, then look for sourdough bread that is fully leavened by sourdough starter.

Number of fermentation hours.

Sourdough starter rising

To class as low FODMAP, the sourdough loaf must undergo a long fermentation process that is at least 12 hours long.

Most of the time, opt for sourdough bakeries rather than off the shelf from supermarkets, due to several factors like bread freshness and baking technique.

Call to enquire about their baking methods and if they carry out overnight leavening with their loaves to prolong the fermentation period.

Full ingredient list

Sourdough baking ingredients

Real sourdough bread should contain just 4 ingredients, which are water, flour, salt and sourdough starter.

There should be no additives or preservatives.

Also, there should be no yeast in the ingredients list, because that would make it a high FODMAP food. This is because adding yeast speeds up the fermentation process. As a result, fructans will remain high. 

Other ingredients to avoid include FODMAP sweeteners, such as fructose.

Flour types

To go the extra mile to reduce even more, the FODMAPs content in bread, spelt sourdough bread combines the low FODMAPs content resulting from fermentation and the low FODMAPs content of spelt as a raw ingredient.

sourdough bread low FODMAP
Spelt sourdough bread

Spelt is nutritionally very similar to common modern wheat but has a notably lower fructan content and is also lower in gluten, both characteristics of which contribute to a lower FODMAPs content.

There is sourdough bread that contain high FODMAP flours like wheat and rye flour. These flours contain their own nutritional benefits, but if they have not undergone traditional sourdough processing, they are most likely still high FODMAP and might not be suitable for those with IBS.

sourdough bread low FODMAP
Rye sourdough bread

However, if the dough has undergone traditional sourdough fermentation, one serving (1-2 slices) should still be low FODMAP.

I hope you found this article informative! Feel free to leave a comment or question.

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