Dan Buettner Says Sourdough Is A "True Longevity Food" & Here's Why
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
If you're familiar with longevity expert, National Geographic fellow, and founder of Blue Zones Dan Buettner, you likely know: He's a fan of beans. So much so, he says 1 cup of beans a day can add around four years to your life expectancy.
But recently, Buettner let us in on another longevity-supporting gem: sourdough. In fact, the healthy bread is a "true longevity food," he notes on the mindbodygreen podcast. Looks like the sourdough craze of 2020 may do us all some good.
Why a longevity expert swears by sourdough.
Simple: Sourdough is technically a fermented food. "Sourdough bread is leavened not just with yeast but lactobacillus, and in the process, most of the glutens are neutralized," says Buettner. And like other fermented foods, sourdough is stellar for gut health; in fact, this fermentation process has actually been shown to assist digestion1—that's why some people with gluten sensitivity might actually have a more favorable reaction to sourdough, as the fermentation transforms the bread and causes the gluten to diminish substantially. A 2012 study even showed that lactic acid bacteria in sourdough can release antioxidants during this fermentation process2.
"And we don't exactly know why, but when you eat a plant-based meal with sourdough bread, the glycemic index of that meal goes down," Buettner continues. "So the sugars in that meal are absorbed more slowly," and your body is more likely to use those sugars for energy (rather than storing them up in your system). So not only does the bread itself have a lower glycemic index than others, but it may have the ability to lower the glycemic index of the entire meal (albeit, we need more research to uncover that benefit).
Science-backed benefits aside, Buettner praises sourdough in true Blue Zones fashion: On his anthropological quest to discover the communities that lived the longest and the healthiest (and notice any patterns between them), he simply found that people who made it to 100 years old were eating more sourdough. That, alone, makes the healthy bread more ideal. "In Sardinia, they are eating sourdough bread with just about every meal for their entire life—and I think it's a true longevity food," he says.
Thanks to its gut-supporting benefits, Buettner regards sourdough as one of his top longevity foods. Plus, those in the Blue Zones have been baking it for ages—granted, there are a number of at-home resources that may add years to your life (like these), but adding a slice of sourdough to your plate couldn't hurt.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.