Welcome to this four part series on sourdough. Here is an overview of the entire series and what to expect from each one.
Part 1: Why I've Decided to Keep Gluten in My Diet
Part 2: What Type of Flour I Use, Supplies, and How I Feed My Starter to Make Bread
Part3: How to Make Bread
Part 4 How to Make Pizza Dough, Cinnamon Rolls, Flatbread/Tortillas, and Waffles
Why I've Decided to Keep Gluten in My Diet
Gluten Free diets have become incredibly popular in recent years and unfortunately they have also become a one-size-fits-all approach to managing a wide range of health issues. On my journey towards better health and healing I have, for the most part, tried to avoid popular dietary trends and always ask myself if the problem is with the food or with the way the food is produced and processed. Here are the reasons why, after a lot of thought, consideration, medical testing, and dietary experimentation I have decided to keep gluten in my diet, despite the recommendation to remove it as a way of managing my Hashimoto's disease.
1. I have not been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance/sensitivity, or a wheat allergy. Whole grains, including the gluten grains of wheat, barley, and rye, are health promoting and help lower the risk of diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It is important to not remove these healthy grains unless you have been diagnosed with one of these condition because you might end up doing more harm than good. If you would like to learn more about this, I highly recommend watching Dr. Michael Gregor's 3-part series on gluten found at nutritionfacts.org. In particular, his video Gluten Free Diets: Separating the Wheat from the Chat is very informative.
2. Not all gluten products are created equal. This is such an important distinction to make when discussing gluten free diets, and one that I feel is missing in the medical community. Eating prepackaged and highly processed forms of gluten (enriched white flour) such as crackers, pretzels, tortillas, cookies cupcakes, doughnuts, bagels, etc. is not the same as eating whole food sources of gluten, such as a barley soup, or a minimally processed form of gluten such as whole wheat sourdough bread. I make the distinction in my diet and so far have not had any issues.
3. My blood work shows a continual decline in inflammation despite eating sourdough bread daily. In fact, when I told my doctor that I was still eating sourdough bread she replied with "well I guess your body doesn't have an issue with gluten." In my book, recommending a gluten free diet is a one-size-fits-all approach to improving overall health. Unfortunately this can be problematic because it can fix the symptom, but not the cause. I actually found through trial and error that removing diary was actually the root cause of my leaky gut and inflammation rather than gluten.
4. Gluten free products are expensive, full of fillers, and hard for my body to digest. I did give a gluten free diet a try for a while, but found gluten free products gave me intense digestive pain. Sourdough bread is amazing because it is three simple ingredients: flour, salt, and water, and the fermentation process helps to make the wheat more easily digestible. It is also inexpensive to make.
5. Sourdough bread is delicious. Seriously, who doesn't love fresh bread? Why would anyone want to give it up if they didn't have to? I love eating sourdough bread, my family loves eating sourdough bread and after two and a half years of making it on a regular basis, the novelty hasn't worn off yet!
One final thought is that eating sourdough bread, although a bit time consuming to make, has simplified my cooking and my pantry. It is what my kids eat if they need a snack. I try to always have a loaf of bread on the counter for my kids to eat as well as a bowl of fruit. My pantry is no longer filled with a million different snack items and I feel like I am doing something good for the planet because we've eliminated single-use plastics from things like granola bars, fruit snack, and all of the additional packaging that accompanies processed food! Its really amazing!