Let’s talk about sourdough bread & FODMAPs!

Hello FODMAPers & Friends.

I am back from my European tour, talking about FODMAPs at two amazing events: Gastro Diet 2015 in Prato, Italy, a fantastic scientific meeting including the latest research pertaining to the low FODMAP diet and the FODMAP Around the World conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands a day of learning for dietitians geared more toward the practical approach to implementing the low FODMAP diet.

Here are the speakers at the Gastro Diet.  I am honored to be in this group!
Gastro diet speakers

Being invited to speak in Italy comes with a few perks….the food, the wine and the scenery!

Tuscany landscape

<Picture of the beautiful Tuscany landscape>

In my talk at Gasto Diet 2015, I spoke about the challenges of implementing the low FODMAP diet in the US with a particular focus on food portion sizes and food additives commonly used in US foods, particularly, high fructose corn syrup.

Today’s post includes another topic that I discussed in my Gastro Diet presentation…and that is the use of sourdough wheat bread during the low FODMAP elimination diet. Yes, sourdough wheat bread has been shown to be low FODMAP! (See tips below to choose best options.)

We have known for a while that sourdough spelt bread (analyzed by the Monash University team) was found to be low FODMAP.  More recently, Monash University analyzed breads from around the globe, including some US breads! Food analysis revealed that US wholemeal wheat sourdough and white sourdough met the criteria for a low FODMAP food choice for two slices! Did you know that?Iggy's

Why might some sourdough breads be lower in FODMAPs? The sourdough culture (a mixture of wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria) added to the grains will actually consume some of the carbohydrates, including some of the FODMAPs in the process of fermentation. Sourdough bread is leavened by the gas produced by the microbes as they consume the carbohydrates in the bread, reducing the FODMAP content.

Tips to help you select the most likely low FODMAP sourdough bread option:

  1. First, check ingredients! Some sourdough bread products contain FODMAPs such as high fructose corn syrup or honey.  Though most of the sugar in these sweeteners would be consumed by the yeast and bacteria in the sourdough culture, check the nutrition fact label to evaluate for the present of any residual sugar. Try to select bread with zero sugar on nutrition fact label.
  2. Call the company and ask if their sourdough bread is a slow rise product. Do they allow it to naturally leaven for 1-2 days?
  3. Look for yeast in the list of ingredients–which is often used to speed up the leavening–and the best option to allow for the greatest reduction in FODMAPs is a slow leavening process. In other words, it is the slow rise or slow fermentation that allows for the reduction of FODMAPs.  Yeast is often added to speed up the process, so less time to reduce the FODMAPs.
  4. Of course, we don’t know for sure what the FODMAP content of a bread is without analyzing it! Hopefully more companies will have their products evaluated by Monash University low FODMAP Certification program.

One of my favorite sourdough bread is Iggy’s Francese loaf. It tastes great dipped in a little olive oil, Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.olive oil and sourdough

I have always tolerated Iggy’s Francese bread, it is a family favorite and it makes a mean grilled cheese! 🙂 Interestingly, Iggy’s breads are made in Massachusetts and also in Australia! 

Iggy’s staff was very helpful providing some information about their sourdough bread products. My favorite Iggy’s breads include the Francese and Country loaves, both of which are made using natural leaveners, i.e. sourdough starters. The process spans over two days. Starters are made the night before and allowed to ferment overnight, then incorporated into the dough, fermented and shaped during the day, to be baked at night.

Iggy’s bagels are made with a sourdough starter and a yeasted preferment. The process to make the desirable bagel texture is a bit different than how Iggy’s makes their other sourdough breads–but based on the information they provided, I suspect the bagels have some reduction in FODMAP carbohydrates. The sourdough starter and yeast ferment overnight, for anywhere between 12 and 16 hours, then the dough ferments for about an hour before shaping, and then bagels are retarded for another 12 to 18 hours, again to enhance flavor and texture. Since the bagel dough is very dense, a touch of yeast is added, though minimal to the final dough. 

Nashoba Bakery also has a slow rise sourdough white bread made w/o yeast. Breadsmith also has a white sourdough that looks like it might be slow risen and therefore potentially low or lower FODMAP too!

You might be saying…But I thought wheat was not allowed on the low FODMAP diet?  

Well, wheat does contain fructans, a source of oligosaccharides (the “O” in FODMAPs).  But, the low FODMAP diet does not have to be free of wheat…just reduced in wheat.  If you look closely at the Monash University app, you will find that small amounts of wheat based pretzels and crackers are ‘green lighted’ or considered low FODMAP in reasonable serving sizes. Of course, individuals with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten would require a wheat free, gluten free diet.

Work closely with your dietitian to explore different foods to your personal tolerance and desires. Consider calling your local bread companies to inquire if they produce slow rise breads made with sourdough culture.  Of course, if you don’t want to consume wheat, you certainly do not have to. Personally, I like the option of enjoying sourdough bread at a restaurant or a tasty chewy sandwich at home every now and again.

And if you are creative in the kitchen, King Arthur Flour sells the sourdough culture, perhaps try making some slow rise bread on your own!

And if you have found a nice sourdough bread that you tolerate and enjoy….please do share!

It is good to be home…but I have to admit, I miss Italy!