What is Nutrient Density 1 :: Why Sourdough?

One of the things we love to do (at home and at our member-based/family-run bakery-cafe, Te Amo) is find creative ways to make the most delicious and comforting foods (the ones we feel guilty about consuming) more healthy. In fact, we aim to make them downright nutritious and health giving. Whether it’s greasy-goodness (yes, there IS a way to eat greasy and fatty foods in a healthy way!), sugary-sweetness (did you know that consuming fat with sugar is protective?), or carbohydrate-cravings (yup, sourdough isn’t just for fun . . . it’s for our health), we are committed to serving up healthy alternatives to the foods you love – guilt free.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to be creating and sharing some articles on a few of the main ways we do this, whether it’s incorporating bone-stock, increasing healthy fats or eliminating toxic ones, OR fermenting much of what we consume to make it more nutritious.

This week we’re talking about sourdough and its magical ability to turn addictive carbs into life supporting nourishment.

The first thing we’ll have to do is talk a bit about Weston A. Price:

Weston A. Price:

Weston A. Price was a dentist in the early 1900s who noticed a sudden increase in levels of tooth decay in his practice. He had the idea that this shift was related to diet and he traveled the world for 14 years -visiting the world’s healthiest people. Here’s what he found:

  • They all used at least some animal products in their diet
  • Their diets were four times higher in calcium and other minerals
  • They included foods with high enzyme content like cultured and fermented foods.
  • They sprouted their nuts and fermented/naturally leavened their grains
  • He found that fat content was between 30% and 80% of total calories – higher in colder climates.
  • He found there was a ratio of omega fatty acids of 3 to 6.
  • All diets contained unrefined salt
  • They all made use of bones either by grinding or slow cooking for consumption.

He found that when people made the change from their ancestral diet to the Foods of Modern Commerce, as he called them, they quickly showed signs of physical degeneration  – which corresponded to what he was seeing in his dentistry practice. In his travels, whenever Dr. Price showed up, he would meet people and, with permission, examine their teeth. He then documented the diets of people in communities with the best. Why teeth? Well, we all know that if you’re going to buy an animal, one of the best ways to check for overall health of the animal is to look at its teeth – good teeth are a sign of good physiology in general. In his investigation, Dr. Price carefully found and documented the things all these communities had in common in their diets – and outlined in the list I shared above.

The next few articles, over the next few weeks, are going to cover a few examples of traditional culinary preparation methods that increase nutrient density either by releasing more nutrients into the food and/or by inhibiting elements that block proper absorption by the human body or that steal nutrients from the body.

Let’s get started:

Whole Grain vs. Sourdough:

I was talking to a wonderful member at our regular Friday Bakery event a few weeks ago about why we do all the extra work to offer sourdough bakery items . . . We explained how we spend practically a whole extra day to include sourdough magic in our baking: tending the starter, getting to know it and its environment, learning to predict and catch it right at the right time, mixing it slowly and watching it rise again, and again . . . before it finally makes it into the oven. Sourdough is about more than flavor . . . It’s medicine

Our first example of increasing Nutrient Density in our food is all about carbs. In particular, we will be talking about untreated whole grain bread vs. traditionally prepared sourdough bread. A traditional foods mentor of our’s once said: If I had the choice of eating unfermented whole grain bread or processed white-flour sourdough bread, I would choose the white sourdough every time. We all know that we shouldn’t eat foods made with white flour, but what is far less understood is that even the best whole grain baked goods are major nutrient robbers and we would be better off eating sourdough – even if it were made from totally processed white flour.

Now this isn’t a recommendation for you to eat white flour . . .

but what if . . . we were to do our best to consume sourdough (or soured – this is another related method for increasing nutrient density on baked goods) whole wheat flours. You see, when you use traditional sourdough baking techniques, and let your dough naturally ferment for hours and hours (usually about 24 hours) what happens is the sugars in the bread are pre-digested so the final loaf is lower in sugar. What’s even cooler is that sourdough neutralized the phytates, or mineral blockers, in the loaf. This is a really important one – many whole grains contain phytates which are substances that block mineral absorption, but keeping them bound up. If there are mineral blockers in our food, they will block our absorption of minerals, but they also steal minerals from our bodies that we would have gotten from other foods we eat. Another thing that happens during the sourdough fermentation process is much of the gluten found in grains (that make bread delicious) are also pre-digested so your final loaf contains far less gluten that a regularly baked loaf. The over-consumption of gluten is leading to gluten intolerance. The over consumption of sugar is leading to type 2 diabetes, and the under consumption of minerals, or lack of mineral balance, is causing all kinds of issues, from dental carries to other kinds of bone loss and even neurological issues.

So, you want to switch to sourdough? Join us at Te Amo Bakery-Café & Supper Club or maybe join our traditional foods cooking class or find a source of sourdough near you – just make sure it’s true sourdough. You can tell if it’s real sourdough if there is no yeast listed in the ingredients. If you bake with real sourdough you won’t need yeast – and if there’s yeast in it, the loaf will not have the health benefits of sourdough!

Good luck and buen provecho!

  1. Claire says:

    Thanks for distilling so much dense nutritional information into an easily digestible format!

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