The Best Bread For Gut Health, According to a Gastroenterologist

Read on for the details and how to make it at home.

What happens in your gut doesn't stay in your gut, study after study is finding.

While antibiotic use, stress levels and other factors can contribute to our gut health profile as well, a July 2019 review in the journal Nutrients, found that what we eat directly affects the quantity and type of bacteria in our guts (AKA our microbiome). ICYMI, a diverse, thriving array of healthy gut bacteria has been shown to help reduce risk for stress, anxiety and depression while supporting digestion, decreasing blood pressure and even improving sleep.

As we continue to get more and more clued in about the systemic impacts of a happy gut, we're doubling down on stoking our menu with foods that can help improve gut heath. So far, we've tapped gastroenterologists and dietitians to help us share the best fruits, the best vegetables and the best dairy foods for gut health.

And this week, thanks to Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., a Charleston, South Carolina-based gastroenterologist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, we can add another superlative to the list: The best bread for gut health.

"Let's talk about my favorite bread for digestion and gut health: Sourdough bread. Sourdough is incredible because these microbes are transforming the flour," Dr. Bulsiewicz explains in the Instagram Reel, referring to the way the wild yeasts react with the flour and water in the sourdough starter. "They're slowly fermenting it; releasing vitamins, additional nutrients, new forms of fiber, believe it or not."

The magical thing about sourdough is that you can harness the power of native yeasts that are naturally present in our air to make a remarkably gut-friendly product that can then be used for everything from bread to pizza crust to pancakes.

In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits of these microbes, they're also simultaneously "reducing some of the things that can cause trouble for people with digestive issues. There's less gluten and there's less fructans in sourdough," Dr. Bulsiewicz adds. "So what that means is that if you have gluten intolerances and you struggle to eat regular bread, you [should] be trying sourdough. Because this may work for you." (No wonder it made our list for the healthiest types of breads and the top carbs to eat to debloat!). However, if you have celiac disease or diagnosed gluten intolerance, always talk to your doctor before trying something new as wheat-based breads, including sourdough, do still contain gluten.

Sourdough Bread

The health benefits of sourdough don't stop there. Thanks to the unique natural fermentation process, sourdough-based foods are also packed with prebiotics, probiotics and fall fairly low on the glycemic scale (a measure of how much a food spikes blood sugar).

For all of those reasons, Dr. Bulsiewicz tells EatingWell that he eats sourdough as part of dinner most days as part of his menu for a balanced microbiome. His new cookbook comes complete with 15 pages about sourdough as well, including five sourdough-based recipes and some FAQs if you're intimidated by the process.

In the caption for the Reel, Dr. Bulsiewicz walks us through the five-day process to turn plain ol' flour and water into the start of some incredible (and incredibly gut-friendly) creations. If you're not keen on using all all-purpose flour, check out our Whole-Wheat Sourdough Starter that's made with a mix of AP and whole-wheat to offer a tiny bit more fiber, other nutrients and a slightly nutty flavor.

Now that you're well-versed in the many reasons why you might want to make sourdough your home slice, get started on that starter (or go feed the one you've got!) and bake a loaf to enjoy alongside the other tasty recipes in our 30-day healthy gut challenge.

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