The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

100% Whole Wheat and Sourdough Science

trial and errorer's picture
trial and errorer

100% Whole Wheat and Sourdough Science

I've taken interest in the different types of breads on the market and what they do to your body.  It is interesting to see that studies are being done showing whole wheat breads to be less of a good thing for the body than what has been drilled into our heads.  However, these studies are all being done on market breads leaving me to assume you have no idea what's been done to the bread.  Sourdough is a common consensus to be the healthiest. 

Am I wrong to assume that the science is very different of what takes place when you take a natural sourdough and combine it with a 100% whole wheat flour as opposed to what you may find in stores labeled as whole wheat sourdough?  I have seen no studies done on the health benefits of homemade whole wheat sourdough and it seems that would be extremely high in nutritional value.


Yerffej's picture

I would agree with your assessment.  Most studies are done on commercial products that many of the readers of this site would not buy.  Sourdough made with a health conscious eye is a different and superior product.


TorontoFlour's picture

The 'Wheat Belly' book has been discredited and is not based on any studies that would pass scientific muster. What studies do you know of that 'are being done showing whole wheat breads to be less of a good thing for the body than what has been drilled into our heads'? (other than to those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, which is less than1% of the population). 

dabrownman's picture

are paid for by those who will reap the monetary rewards for the supposed findings of the studies.  Like gluten will make you fat or insane or more likely to rob banks or to drop digits when you least expect it into a running garbage disposal.  People have been consuming grain for thousands of years in beer and bread... the 2 and only two staples  of life worth mentioning and i'm not sure bread is worth it :-).  Pay no attention to phooey science and those promoting it for their own financial interests.

Just my 2 cents

Xenophon's picture

...especially in the health/nutrition 'science' field.  Even if the study itself is well-conceived and independent (and that's a very big 'IF', I've peer reviewed a couple  in a previous job) there are simply too many unknown variables, individual variance and interrelated physiological processes in play.  In most cases a correlation is demonstrated but correlation does not imply causation.  Other factors that have not been taken into account could play a major role.

I personally believe in balanced nutrition; eat of everything, don't exaggerate with your calorie intake and take it easy on booze, simple sugars and'll be fine.


trial and errorer's picture
trial and errorer

I have been making my own bread for about 5 years now but they were white yeast breads.  In the last year I have started making sourdough and I LOVE it.  My husband is missing the yeast bread. Recently, I was blown away by the amazing depth of flavor when I made a sourdough and used 100% whole wheat.  I've never been a fan of wheat but this was given to me.  I've been working on getting to a perfect recipe but have recently encountered a soapy flavor in my starter so that is another drawback.  My husband's impatients gave me drive to find how this bread that I am making could benefit our health (his health, he only eats with us 2 nights a wk).  I can't find any health info on the bread I make.  I find info on wheat or sourdough but not together and the things I'm finding just can't be comparable to a bread with no preservatives or artificial ingredients.  My husband wants to lower his cholesterol and loose wheight.  I would love it if I could find information that tells me how this may effect him.

As for the whole wheat being crammed into our heads, I wish I could just omit that.  I was referring to the way we are constantly being told how to eat and it is always contradicting.  Perhaps our food has been tampered with so much that they just don't know what is good anymore.  My preference is to make my own food from scratch with as little processed foods as possible.  And here was one of those links that I was able to find right away on why they are telling us now that wheat is bad

Thanks for all the feedback.  Hope this explains a little better what I'm looking for.  I am way to simple to really be interested in science other than my husband would relate to a scientific explanation if I could find some then he would be more patient with me experimenting with my sourdough wheat until I find one he can't live without.

Xenophon's picture

are very simple:

Weight loss:  if you ingest less than what you consume in calories then you'll lose weight, simple as that.  Get there by either eating less or exercising more (or best of all, a combo).  There's no magic about it, every single diet ever conceived is about this.  What makes this hard is that a successful diet means a lifestyle change and people are very resistant to that, especially where food is concerned.  Whole wheat or white bread will not make a difference there.  Bread has its place in a diet but is relatively calorie-rich so you shouldn't overdo it.  Purchase a calorie list and cook for yourself as much as possible, then you have best control of what goes in.  BTW:  5 years ago I changed my way of eating/living and lost a whopping 40 kg, managed to keep it that way and my job requires eating in restaurants 3-4 times/week so it can be done...but requires a fundamental change and some discipline.

Cholesterol is tricky because a large part of it is endogenous (your body produces it by itself, independent of food intake).  This is beyond control, I know rail-thin vegans whose LDL-cholesterol is through the roof.  Food cholesterol uptake can be lowered via nutrition, some fibres e.g. absorb cholesterol.  It also helps to lose weight and cut down on the fat.


ericreed's picture

that I've seen reports on does not say what most people seem to think it says. (This is the study:

It says absolutely nothing about the safety of eating sourdough bread if you have celiac or the general healthiness of sourdough. What they did is ferment flour using a culture of lactobacilli and fungal protease to break down the protein. They had baked goods using flour that was not treated this way, partially treated, and fully broken down and people with celiac were able to tolerate goods baked with the fully hydrolyzed (broken down) flour. (Although it was too small a sample size to draw conclusions for the general public.) The flour that was tolerated only had 8 parts per million residual gluten after treatment vs. 80,127 ppm for regular flour or 2480 ppm for the partially hydrolyzed flour.

The other claim I've seen is people who think some healthy bacteria from the sourdough culture survive the baking process, which seems pretty unlikely given the internal temperatures bread reaches.

Now I don't know but I suspect for those who are "gluten sensitive", sourdough might be better tolerated. In all likelihood it's not the gluten people are reacting to, but something else, and the improved digestibility of grains that happens from long fermentation times may make these breads easier to eat in that case.

MostlySD's picture

... you will find some information at these links:

Hope this helps. Cheers!

trial and errorer's picture
trial and errorer

I appreciate all of your input and references. Thank you.   

When I first began cooking from scratch, it was actually to save money but when I ended up losing 20 lbs that had been hanging on since after college (11 yrs), my reasoning for cooking the way I cooked shifted.  I decided that if processed food was making it impossible (with a seemingly healthy diet and regular exercise) to lose weight then what else was it doing to my body? 

My husband has always had high cholesterol even when in his prime in the military and he is in pretty good shape but worries about his slight belly. Being a deputy, he does not get to eat his dinner at home and can't count on being able to reheat his food so he eats out 5 days a wk.  He makes the healthiest choices available.  With as bad as he would like to lose 10 lbs, I know he would take sandwiches on sourdough whole wheat or any homemade breads if I found evidence that this may help 1 or both of these problems.  Unfortunately, the studies are only being done on the processed foods which I am completely convinced there is no apples to apples when you add in the chemicals and preservatives. 

Thanks again

jpatterson's picture

I recently read the book, the art of baking with natural yeast, and they talk about the history of wheat.  I had always thought that just by eating homemade bread that I was doing awesome for my health.  As it is better than store bought bread, the problem is commercial yeast.  Natural yeast breaks down all the stuff inside the wheat that allows our bodies to digest it properly so that we get the benefits the way that God intended.  Its a very interesting book and it's my go to guide. As I am new to the natural yeast baking,  I can't offer much than that bit of information.

trial and errorer's picture
trial and errorer

Sounds like just the kind of book I'm looking. Thanks!