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    Although topical skin treatments can be effective for treating skin conditions such as acne, the most influential method to target these conditions is through the food we eat. In essence, as cliché as it sounds, it is true that we are what we eat. So, in today’s “Eat Your Skin Care” blog series, we’re going to tackle the powerhouse that is sourdough bread, and why choosing sourdough over any other bread type is beneficial for your overall health, and undoubtedly, also your skin health.

    What is sourdough bread?

    Sourdough bread is probably the most ancient and elegant method of bread baking, and it has been consumed by humans for thousands of years. The main component to sourdough bread is its sourdough starter, which gives the bread that distinct sour taste and also provides the bread with most, if not all of its benefits.

    Sourdough starter is composed of water and high-protein, high-quality, unbleached flour, and (here’s the kick) the micro-organisms from the environment that find their way into the water and flour mixture and feed on it.

    Why is that beneficial for us?

    When making sourdough bread, the fermentation happens with the sourdough starter, which houses the micro-organisms, including yeast. Essentially, instead of using active dry yeast or any other yeast to give rise to your bread, you’re using the sourdough starter. The advantage here is that the wild yeast and bacteria that reside in the sourdough starter will help break down wheat proteins and carbohydrates, which are responsible for non-celiac wheat sensitivity that a 15% of people experience when we eat bread. In fact, one study found that wheat protein activity decreased significantly after the bread dough was fermented with sourdough started compared to bread that was chemically fermented (Huang et al., 2020). Another study showed that sourdough bread consumption resulted in improved gut microbiome, another factor that is implicated in skin health and disease (Dimidi et al., 2019). In healthy adults, eating sourdough resulted in significantly lower abdominal discomfort, nausea and bloating compared to brewer’s yeast croissants (Polese et al., 2018). As well, those that ate sourdough croissant felt less hungry and more satiated compared to those that ate brewer’s yeast croissants as shown in Figure 1.

    Consuming sourdough croissants helped healthy people feel less abdominal pain, nausea, bloating and hunger compared to brewer’s yeast croissants. Data taken from Polese et al., 2018 (see reference list).

    Sourdough bread has more antioxidant capacity and releases less inflammatory cytokines

    One study found that sourdough bread had higher radical scavenging activity, or in other words, it has higher anti-oxidant capacity, as shown in Figure 2 (Coda et al., 2012). So, not only is it able to reduce (or sometimes resolve) wheat sensitivity from consuming bread, but it also provides the body with a way to defend against harmful molecules through its antioxidant capacity. This can be a game changer for those that suffer from acne, and can be a helping hand on the road to recovery. Another study found that bread fermented with sourdough starter have lower contents of pro-inflammatory molecules (Huang et al., 2020). So, not only does sourdough bread have lower inflammatory potential in the body, it also helps resolve resident inflammation within your body. Sourdough bread has even been shown to be more tolerable in patients with inflammatory bowel syndrome.

    Antioxidant activity of sourdough bread (grey bars) is much higher than other kinds of bread (black bars). Data taken from Coda et al. (check reference list)


    Sourdough bread is an excellent replacement for any other kind of bread that you can consume. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and reduces discomfort after eating bread. So, if you feel that your skin breaks out every time you eat bread, you may be experiencing non-celiac wheat sensitivity (check with your doctor that it’s not celiac or anything else that may be of concern), and sourdough may be your answer. Feeding your body with the best ingredients and mindfully selecting foods that serve you best is the best skincare regimen anyone can ever suggest to you.


    Coda, R., Rizzello, C.G., Pinto, D., and Gobbetti, M. (2012). Selected lactic acid bacteria synthesize antioxidant peptides during sourdough fermentation of cereal flours. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78, 1087–1096.

    Dimidi, E., Cox, S., Rossi, M., and Whelan, K. (2019). Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics , Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients 11, 26.

    Huang, X., Schuppan, D., Tovar, L.E.R., Zevallos, V.F., Loponen, J., and Gänzle, M. (2020). Sourdough Fermentation Degrades Wheat Alpha-Amylase/Trypsin Inhibitor (ATI) and Reduces Pro-Inflammatory Activity. Foods 9.

    Polese, B., Nicolai, E., Genovese, D., Verlezza, V., La Sala, C.N., Aiello, M., Inglese, M., Incoronato, M., Sarnelli, G., De Rosa, T., et al. (2018). Postprandial gastrointestinal function differs after acute administration of sourdough compared with brewer’s yeast bakery products in healthy adults. J. Nutr. 148, 202–208.

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