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Is Sourdough Bread Gluten Free?

Is Sourdough Bread Gluten Free?

The internet is full of information – and misinformation. When you have a  gluten sensitivity or have celiac disease, It can be difficult to identify which claims and sources are valid, particularly when it comes to health information. Your health is important and it is critical that you have the most accurate information to support your journey. At Gluten Free Society, we always provide unbiased, research-backed information and work to be a trusted source of information for your health journey.

One common claim across the internet is that sourdough bread is safe for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Essentially, the basis for this claim is that the fermentation process eliminates gluten from sourdough bread. Is sourdough bread gluten free? Through our extensive research, we know this isn’t true.

In this article, we are evaluating this claim and discussing the following:

  • What is gluten (a refresher)?
  • Does fermentation break down gluten?
  • How to know if your sourdough bread is gluten free

What is Gluten and Why is It Bad?

Gluten is a protein found in grains.  While most sources point to wheat, barley, and rye as the gluten-containing grains, the reality is, other grains, like oats and corn, also contain gluten.

While gluten is present in a huge variety of foods, it is not an essential component of any diet. In fact, there are no nutrients in gluten that are not better obtained through other healthier food sources, like whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as pastured meat and eggs, and wild-caught fish. In fact, not only is gluten not essential, it is actually detrimental. Gluten can cause a variety of health related issues, especially if you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease.

Gluten is damaging to people who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. When gluten is ingested, it causes an autoimmune reaction, which causes Inflammation in the intestinal tract and other parts of the body. Systemic inflammation then contributes to further autoimmunity and health concerns.

Does Fermentation Break Down Gluten?

One of the biggest claims found on the internet is that the fermentation process of making sourdough bread  actually eliminates the gluten within the bread. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Sourdough bread relies on a sourdough starter to help bread rise. A sourdough starter consists of wild yeast and lactobacilli bacteria that stimulate a fermentation process in bread. While the fermentation process does break some of the gluten down, there is still a considerable amount of gluten that remains. The gluten left after fermentation does not reach a level of gluten low enough to consider it gluten free, and can do considerable damage to the health of those with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. Unfortunately, the percentage of gluten that remains in sourdough bread is well above the level defined by the United States to claim a product gluten free.

One study found that people with IBS had increased fatigue, joint symptoms and reduced mental alertness after eating sourdough bread.

Though fermentation can reduce the quantity of gluten in bread, it does not make it gluten free. However, there are some breads made with both gluten free starter and gluten free flour that may be considered gluten free and tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity.

How To Know If Your Sourdough Bread is Gluten Free

Unfortunately, the vast majority of sourdough bread available for purchase is not gluten free. As always, it is important to read labels carefully and evaluate the type of flour used, as well as the facility in which it was baked, in order to prevent cross contamination. Cross contamination is common, even if a brand labels their product gluten free. It is important to be aware of their ingredients to ensure this problem doesn’t arise. Any bread that contains wheat, barley, rye, oat, or other gluten-containing grain-derived flour is not gluten free and will cause discomfort and intestinal damage if you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. In addition, it is always recommended to check bread labeled gluten free for other additives that may contain gluten.

Gluten Free Bread Recipe

There are times when nothing will satisfy like a good piece of bread. Unfortunately, this is hard to come by when you have gluten intolerance. To help take care of that craving, we’ve put together this easy recipe for delicious gluten-free bread.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 bag Warrior Bread Mix
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Cup Egg Whites (or whole eggs for a denser loaf)
  • 3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

How to Put It All Together

  • First, make sure your oven is preheated to 400 degrees F.
  • Next, whisk together water, egg whites (or whole eggs), and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl.
  • While whisking, slowly add the Warrior Bread Mix to the water, egg, and apple cider vinegar mixture. As it thickens whisk briskly until fully incorporated. After completely mixing, allow it to sit for one minute.
  • Dampen your hands and take the dough out of the bowl. Begin kneading the dough together and shape it into an oblong loaf that will fit in the bread pan.
  • Place pan on the center rack in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. If the bread gets too brown you can loosely cover it with aluminum foil for the last 15-20 minutes to prevent burning. 
  • Let the gluten-free bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes. If necessary, run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the bread.
  • Using oven mitts, transfer the loaf to cool on a rack.
  • Enjoy!

Conclusion

Is sourdough bread gluten free? While many people are led to believe that sourdough bread is gluten free, we want to debunk this common but incorrect claim. The fermentation that occurs while making sourdough, does not eliminate the gluten in sourdough bread. Unless the sourdough bread is made with certified gluten free flour, sourdough bread is not gluten free and should be avoided if you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease.

3 Responses

  1. What if it is homemade, slow 15-18 hour fermented, and made with Einkorn wheat that is glyphosate-free? Is there a way to lab test it?

    1. This will still most likely contain gluten in higher than acceptable quantities. Research to date has been pretty clear on this. Using sour dough does not eliminate gluten.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  2. I had some questions…. On the gaps diet, it allows homemade fermented dairy but no gluten at all. It is said it breaks down or denatures the casein so easier to digest. Can you still react to the casein even if fermented? Would sourdough not denature the proteins as well

    I also thought just because gluten increases zonulin in everyone, like Dr Fassano said, he did not think it is toxic to everyone if not gluten sensitive. That the gut closes back up fast… but many things online say wheat is thought to be toxic and can break down the lining? Although figured since most would have leaky gut these days, wouldn’t more people react to gluten? Yet it is said only 30% are sensitive? So is it damaging to everyone or not?

    Thank you!

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