Naturally Leavened Bread Deserves All the Praise It’s Getting!

I went to a class a few years ago taught by nutrition researchers and authors of ORIGINAL FAST FOODS, Jim and Colleen Simmons, on the benefits of and how to make naturally leavened bread. Six years later, natural leavening is a hot topic. Here’s some of what I learned as to WHY it’s a hot topic (and I’m quoting Jim and another researcher, Dr. Matthew McClean):

“A study published in February 2000, in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, describes the results of a research team who sought to overcome the toxic effects of grain for celiac victims. After preparing bread using Old-World natural leavening techniques [think sourdough starter, for example], the scientists fed it to 17 celiac victims without their experiencing any ill effects.

“The natural leavening employed at least four known strains of beneficial bacteria to leaven the bread. Researchers suggest that the bacteria feed upon certain elements in the grain which cannot be digested by human digestive enzymes, thus neutralizing various harmful effects associated with grain, leading to stable blood sugar levels, higher nutrient availability and absorption, and better tasting bread.”

I was so thrilled to learn about this process, because I know whole wheat packs a LOT of benefits and frankly, I miss it when I’ve tried to either eliminate or minimize it. What I learned in this class was that they just need to be prepared properly. Jim and Colleen explained that if we suffer from grain intolerance or blood sugar issues, we should:

  • avoid all processed and refined grains
  • be sure to include leafy greens and other vegetables with our meals when eating grain
  • limit caloric intake of animal-based foods to 10% and consume at least 70% to 90% of our caloric intake from whole fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains—possible when our bread is naturally leavened.

In addition to attending their nutrition classes, I’ve also been studying the Simmons’ website,, where I’ve gotten more important information, found great recipes, and have been able to watch really helpful videos on the many things they teach in their classes.

Now for the finale: Shortly after the class I made my first batch of naturally leavened bread dough with starter I got from Jim and Colleen. I made a stuffed pizza braid, two loaves of gorgeous and yummy bread, and a pan of focaccia bread. We had the pizza braid for that week’s Sunday dinner, I made lots of toast, and even had a sandwich here and there. NO ill effects—NO cramping, NO tummy aches, NO spiked blood sugar, NO NUTHIN’ except satiety and joy ever since! I’m convinced natural leavening deserves all the praise it’s getting!

If you are struggling with grain issues, I highly encourage you to look into naturally leavened bread. And consider studying the Original Fast Foods website, chat with the authors, and seriously consider trying this idea out. You never know, natural leavening might eliminate your grain issues as well.


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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