Facts about
Naturally Leavened Sourdough Bread

Absolutely Incredible Bread!

Home-baked bread is truly a gift from the heart and sourdough bread is an especially satisfying and healthy choice. Free of commercial yeast, sourdough breads have an aroma and a distinctive flavor all their own and are naturally leavened by a fermented starter.

Bread was first leavened by the Egyptians around 2300 BC.  They discovered that a mixture of flour and water left uncovered for several days bubbled and expanded. If mixed into unleavened dough and allowed to stand for a few hours before baking, it yields a light sweet bread. This kind of natural leavening remained the basis of Western bread baking until the 20th century when bread made from commercially prepared yeast was introduced.

Naturally leavened breads rise over time (6 to 8 hours) by the action of wild yeast spores drawn into the sourdough starter from the air. Mixing the starter with more flour and water and a little salt forms bread dough. As the unique and complex family of friendly bacteria thrives on the nutrient-rich whole grain flour and mineral-rich salt, they produce carbon dioxide gas. Fermentation continues, and the leavening or expansion of the bread dough creates a fine-grained, moist texture.

In addition to being naturally leavened, home-baked sourdough breads offer other nutritional benefits because it contains only the highest quality ingredients such as organic whole-grain flours, purified water, and unrefined mineral-rich Celtic Sea Salt®. With great-tasting flours, the addition of oil and sweetener is unnecessary because the grain itself tastes rich from the oil in the germ, and sweet from the natural complex sugars in the grain, especially when it is freshly ground.

Why Naturally Leavened Bread?

The fermented quality of naturally leavened bread has several healthful advantages over yeasted breads. Yeasted breads are risen very quickly by a refined yeast strain that has been isolated in a laboratory under controlled conditions, using a process we could never duplicate in our kitchens.

In the process of making sourdough bread, during the rising time (called proofing), bran in the flour is broken down, releasing nutrients into the dough. In particular, the phytic acid (phytin) in grain needs to be 90% neutralized in order for the minerals, concentrated in the bran, to be absorbed by the human body. According to the experiments done in Belgium, phytin can be neutralized by natural bacterial action and to a lesser extent, by baking. In naturally leavened bread, the combination eliminates all phytin, while in yeasted bread about 90% remains.

Furthermore, with sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates are broken down into more digestible simple sugars and protein is broken down into amino acids. Enzymes develop during proofing which are not lost in baking since the center of the loaf remains at a lower temperature than the crust.

It’s the fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, that makes eating good quality bread an aid to digestion of all complex carbohydrate foods including other grains, beans, and vegetables. It helps restore the functioning of the digestive tract, resulting in proper assimilation and elimination. These beneficial bacteria help control

candida albicans, whereas baker’s yeast is a pro-candida organism. This is a brown bread that truly is "the staff of life" as it enhances the whole immune system.


People with allergies to commercially yeasted breads may not have the same sensitivities to naturally leavened whole grain sourdough bread. The cause may be either the wheat and/or the yeast. Often, people who are sensitive to yeasted white bread do not react to whole wheat bread. Others, who are sensitive to whole wheat bread, do not react when the leavening used is natural sourdough starter, and especially when the flour is freshly ground. Another approach is spelt flour instead of wheat flour. Spelt is the original strain of bread wheat from Europe, and it has not been hybridized. Rye flour is another choice that is nice used in small amounts.


Bread and grain-based diets, especially at the beginning, give the illusion that they do not readily digest. Natural leaven bread, because of its inherent beneficial ferments, slowly recreates the population of friendly lactobacillus digestive bacteria in the absorption tract. The end result is a recovery of digestion and proper elimination by the effective action of friendly bacteria. Natural leaven bread provides more stable nutrition than that obtained mechanically by non-fermented (and thus non- pre-digested) bran and other raw or cooked roughage diets, since these only succeed in physically abrading and irritating the colon.

Modern Breads as a Potential Cause of Cancer

You may be surprised to learn that conventionally yeasted breads have been linked to cancer. True sourdough bread is naturally fermented. It is yeast free and requires several hours to rise before baking. In contrast, conventionally yeasted bread uses a high concentration of an isolated yeast strain to make bread rise within minutes. In an article, published in 1984 in East-West Journal, Ronald Kotsch describes why conventionally yeasted bread contributes to disease.

"In (conventional) yeast fermentation, the starch cells of the bread actually explode. The patterns they form are identical to those of cancer cells. According to French researcher Jean Claude Vincent, the bio-electrical energy of the dough also is identical to that of cancer cells."

German and Swiss researchers concur with Vincent that this fast-acting yeast sends an electrical message to the body for the cells to mimic this exploding replication. This is cancer. Beyond these facts, sourdough bread may win you over by its taste alone. It is wonderful, chewy, old-world bread.

See our EarthStar Recipe for naturally fermented bread at    http://earthstar.noaus.org/sourdoughrecipe.htm

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