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Allergy to Sourdough Bread

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Allergy to Sourdough Bread
An allergy to sourdough bread may due to the flour or the yeast. Photo Credit: Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

Its distinctly sour taste makes sourdough a tasty bread. But if eating it makes you sick, you may be allergic to one of the ingredients. Only a doctor can diagnose a food allergy. If you suspect sourdough bread is making you feel sick, consult your doctor.

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What's in Sourdough Bread

Like most bread recipes, sourdough bread consists of flour, salt and water. However, what makes sourdough different from other bread is the sourdough starter, which helps the bread rise and is used in place of dry yeast. The starter uses flour, water and a warm environment to help grow the yeast naturally found on the flour. The yeast ferments the flour and water, creating a bubbly, sour paste that's incorporated into the bread-making ingredients to make it rise.

Allergy to Flour

If you have an allergic reaction after eating a slice of sourdough bread, it may be due to the flour used to make it. Sourdough bread is typically made from wheat flour. Wheat is one of the eight most common food allergens in the United States, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Symptoms you may experience from a wheat allergy include hives, itchy mouth or ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, coughing, sneezing or difficulty breathing. If you're allergic to wheat, you can still enjoy sourdough bread if it's made with other flours, such as rye, rice or amaranth.

Gluten Allergy

A reaction to sourdough bread may also be due to an allergy to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Symptoms of a gluten allergy are similar to an allergy to wheat. However, there is a more serious illness related to gluten allergy called celiac disease. When people with celiac disease eat foods with gluten, such as sourdough bread, their immune system reacts by attacking the digestive system, causing damage that leads to malabsorption. If you have an allergy to gluten, you can make your sourdough bread using gluten-free flours such as amaranth, corn or quinoa instead of wheat, rye or barley.

Allergy to Yeast

You may also be allergic to the yeast used to make the sourdough bread. If you're allergic to the yeast in the bread, you may experience the same symptoms as with an allergy to wheat or gluten. If it's a yeast allergy, you may not be able to eat any types of sourdough bread, or any food containing yeast, which includes all leavened bread, wine, beer and vinegar.

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