Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Sourdough Bread Bad For You?



Short answer

Sourdough is good for you in moderation. It’s easier to digest, has more available minerals, and is gentler on your blood sugar than other varieties of bread.



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Long answer

Sourdough bread is made from a dough that's more fermented than usual. The bacteria and yeast found in sourdough starter feed on the flour in the dough. The bacteria are called lactobacillus - they eat the flour and convert it into lactic acid. This process of fermentation takes much longer with sourdough than it does with other breads.

Because of the long fermentation process, sourdough has some unique qualities. The good stuff in sourdough is more accessible to your digestive system. That's in part because sourdough is acidic; chemicals called phytates are reduced as the more lactic acid is produced and the pH of the dough drops. This is a good thing - phytates bind with minerals, making them harder for our bodies to digest and use. Fewer phytates mean more zinc, magnesium, and iron for you.

Sourdough fermentation also breaks down gluten. Those unfortunate enough to suffer from Celiac's disease can't digest much gluten at all; it locks up their digestive system with pain, gas, and irritation. For those of us without Celiac's, digesting gluten takes effort on the part of the microbiota in our gut; it's a long molecule that can take several hours to digest. Studies have shown that the lactobacillus in sourdough bread can slash that time considerably, making the energy and nutrients from gluten available quicker.

The hardworking lactobacillus also softens up the starches in sourdough. This makes them easier for the body to digest and delivers their sugars to the blood more slowly. This may be why sourdough has a relatively low glycemic index - when it hits your bloodstream, it doesn't trigger a massive spike in blood sugar. That makes sourdough a more viable option for bread lovers who deal with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. One study published in Acta Diabetologia found that insulin response and blood glucose levels in subjects with diabetes were actually improved after eating sourdough.


  • minerals more available
  • starches softened by fermentation process
  • fermentaion breaks down gluten, making it easy to digest
  • relatively low glycemic index

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Mestemacher Whole Rye Bread

  • Rich in fiber
  • Whole-grain benefits
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  • Convenient pack of 6
  • No added preservatives
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources | Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 12-07-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources
Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 12-07-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

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