Digestive Health

Best Breads for Healthy Digestion

Can you eat bread and still feel good? Is this doughy delicacy actually the root of all your digestive ailments?

As much as low-carb advocates will tell you about the harm bread can do to your digestion, there is something they neglect to mention – and that’s real bread.

Real bread is that which has no processing aids, or any additional additives.

This is “back to basics” bread: just flour, water, yeast and a little salt, nothing else.

While this might sound unlikely to all the Hovis and Warburtons lovers out there, it really is possible, and that’s what Real Bread Week is all about.


Every 24th Feb, all butchers, bakers and candlestick makers get together to celebrate the unadulterated majesty of good bread. Gone away are pre-sliced store-bought varieties, replaced by self-kneaded hearty loves crafted with love.

So, this Real Bread Week, it’s bye-bye to white bread, and in with sourdough, rye, pita, and flaxseed. Check out which delicious breads you should be trying this week, below!

Flaxseed bread

Naturally high in fibre, low in carbs and high in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are nature’s answer to digestive ailments. In fact, the polyunsaturated fats in the seeds help to reduce inflammation, which can be a real saviour for those with severe bloating. Also – it’s gluten-free, meaning coeliacs can still enjoy this delish loaf. Mix into granola too, for a hearty, low carb breakfast.

Flaxseed bread recipe


  • 2 cups of ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup of oats
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup of milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/347ºF fan and prepare loaf tin with parchment paper.
  2. Add ground flaxseeds, oats, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, salt and baking powder to a bowl. Mix until combined.
  3. In a measuring jug measure ¾ cup of milk, add 4 eggs and whisk with a fork until eggs are combined with milk. Add mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add batter to loaf tin, sprinkle with additional sunflower seeds and oats.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes (test to see if it’s done by flicking the bottom of the loaf – it should sound hollow and feel strong).

Sourdough bread

Often, the bran part of wheat – called the phytic acid – is the cause for much digestive discomfort, and can be the reason you feel bloated after heavy bread overdoses. Luckily, sourdough’s slow fermentation process manages to reduce the amount of phytates by up to 90 per cent, making sourdough a real favourite amongst IBS sufferers. Not only is it super good for your gut flora, it’s also incredibly tasty – rustic and nourishing, this is definitely one of my favourites.

Sourdough bread recipe


  • 375g/13oz strong white flour
  • 250g/9oz sourdough starter
  • 5g salt
  • 130-175ml/4-6fl oz tepid water
  • olive oil, for kneading


  • Combine the flour, starter and salt in a bowl. Add the water, a little at a time, and mix with your hands to make a soft dough which stays sticky.
  • Coat a chopping board or work surface with olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough forms is smooth and elastic.
  • Tip the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for several hours, or until at least doubled in size.
  • Knead the dough until it’s smooth, knocking the air out. Roll into a ball and dust with flour.
  • Tip the dough into a well-floured round and leave to rise for 4-8 hours.
  • Put a tray half filled with water on the bottom oven shelf and preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
  • Gently tip the risen dough onto a lined baking tray. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes at this heat, then reduce the heat to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.


Rye bread

An ancient grain, rye seed is packed full of fibre, vitamins & minerals thanks to its wholegrain nature (the endosperm, the outer hull of the rye berry, remains intact).

However, one of its most beneficial properties is how it prevents insulin spikes in the blood. For instance, have you ever wondered why a slice of white bread sends your sugar cravings off the Richter scale? That’s because the processed grains are quickly digested, entering into the pancreas quickly and producing insulin. Rye, on the other hand, keeps insulin in check, which can help with over-eating (and subsequent bloating).

Rye bread recipe


  • 200g rye
  • flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 200g strong white or wholemeal flour
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 1 tbsp honey


  1. Tip the flours, yeast and salt into a bowl.
  2. In a jug, mix the honey with 250ml warm water, pour the liquid into the bowl and mix to form a dough. If the dough looks too dry add more warm water until you have a soft dough.
  3. Tip out onto your work surface and knead for 10 mins until smooth. Rye contains less gluten than white flour so it won’t feel very springy.
  4. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hrs, or until roughly doubled in size. Dust a 2lb/900g loaf tin with flour.
  5. Tip the dough back onto your work surface and knead briefly to knock out any air bubbles. Shape into a smooth oval loaf and pop into your tin. Cover the tin with oiled cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm for a further 1 – 1.5 hr, or until doubled in size.
  6. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Remove the cling film and dust the surface of the loaf with rye flour. Slash a few incisions on an angle then bake for 30 mins until dark brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and leave to cool for at least 20 mins before serving.

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