Who is this course for?
The course will appeal to anyone with an interest in understanding the impact of bread on gut health and the subsequent impact on physical and mental health. Past attendees have included general practitioners, hospital specialists, nutritionists, dieticians, nutritional psychiatrists and serious bakers.*
*Please note that although this course is designed for professional-level health practitioners, bakers may also apply if they have a keen interest in understanding bread and health.
The programme is run by Vanessa Kimbell and the team at the Sourdough School, sharing her research and unique approach to the nutrition and digestibility of bread, and nourishing the gut microbiome. The syllabus, which is delivered to you each month, is a living syllabus made up of lectures, guided learning, tutorials, tasks and live videos. It is taught by some of the world’s leading experts and includes recipes, studies, supporting materials and a Sourdough Clinic.
The diploma is a combination of one year of structured online learning and one week of in-person experiential learning.
Bread and its impact on the gut microbiome is central to the course throughout. We will be studying every aspect of bread, covering everything from the industrialisation of agricultural systems and the rise of monoculture to the impact of a diet high in refined, processed carbohydrates on both physical and mental health.
We will take a close look at the evidence around organic systems, whole grains and the importance of diversity in supporting gut health. We will also examine the mechanisms of how sourdough transforms bread, and discuss the ways in which this impacts health. You will learn how bread can reduce bloating, support gut health, help manage weight, balance blood sugar, improve mood and positively impact other aspects of health and wellness.
How does the course run?
The course follows an Oxbridge term structure comprising three terms between September and June. It consists of the parts:
- The RCGP Certification in Bread, Gut Microbiome & Mental Health
- A one-year supported Online Baking Schedule, where we apply the research to the recipes.
- One week attending the Sourdough School in person to bake with the team, consolidate the course and cement the learning
Please note that this is a living syllabus – we will review the syllabus each quarter as new research comes out, and update it with the latest findings.
1) The RCGP Certification in Bread, Gut Microbiome & Mental Health
‘Vanessa’s work on sourdough and the gut microbiome is changing the way we think of food, health and baking.’
– Professor Tim Spector OBE, King’s College London
- September – The basics of the gut microbiome.
- October – How sourdough works to aid digestion and improve nutrition. How does baking sourdough help support mental health? Metabolites and brain function. The gut–brain axis.
- November – Diabetes. Controlling blood sugar and supporting mood. A closer look at salt.
- December – How you can use sourdough to support the body’s core systems?
- January – Heritage grains. A deeper look into the mechanisms of how fermentation makes bread more nutritious. Coeliac disease and when it is vital to avoid gluten. Is non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) real? How can you control your starter to increase the breakdown of gluten?
- February – Allergies to flour, including baker’s asthma, food allergy to wheat, and Wheat-Dependent Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis (WDEIA).
- March – The role of fibre in reducing the risk of bowel cancer.
- April – IBS. The role of FODMAPS and phytic acid. The impact of stress on digestion.
- May – Why increasing polyphenols and flavonoids may be the key a healthy gut.
- June – The psychology of sharing bread. Hardcore research on ‘lifestyle.’ How to eat sourdough to optimise your health.
2) The Online Baking Syllabus overview
‘This is a journey. And these aren’t just courses. Kimbell wants to change the bread we eat, one loaf at a time. She’s the real deal: a total inspiration.’
– Diana Henry, The Telegraph.
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3) One week at the School
‘Vanessa’s approach to baking nourishes both the gut and the mind.’
– Dr Michael Mosley
- Vanessa will actively lead the week, with participative demonstrations on how to make the bread that is central to to the discussions we’ll be having.
- We will be tasting various types of breads, ranging from supermarket breads to Diversity Bread™ made with our Botanical Blend Flour.
- We will test the breads to see which ones are assimilated by the body more slowly. We will see their impact on blood sugar levels, and use a FreeStyle Libre to measure the participants’ blood sugar responses to various breads.
- Discussion points: 12 weeks before the week-long course, each participant will be sent an Atlas Biomed Gut Microbiome Test. Each participant will have a one-hour session of feedback and discussion with our in-house Nutritional Therapist, Venetia Mitchell.
- We will explore why sourdough is uniquely easy to digest and for whom this is relevant.
- We will examine in the mechanisms of how and why long, slow fermented bread is more nutritious.
- We will enjoy a tasting session and in-depth discussion of how various flour differ from others and how they can affect digestibility.
- Participants will learn how to create their own blends and mill their own flour.
- You will have a chance to explore the Sourdough School library and dive into its unique collection of original bread history, spanning over 500 years.
- We will enjoy sampling a range of lower-gluten flours and heritage flours, including sourdough bread made with Neolithic and medieval flours.
- We will look at sprouting grains and learn about Diversity Bread™ and Botanical Blend Flour ®.
- We will explore prebiotic and probiotic relationships and how these can be used to boost the gut microbiome through symbiotic eating.
What else is included?
- A choice of one of three signed sourdough books.
- A Sourdough Diploma kit with an exclusive starter set, including a ceramic jar, flour and some of our starter, as well as a set of sourdough record cards that you will be gifted at the school.
- All the teaching materials and supporting documentation needed to complete the diploma.
- A personalised embossed diploma certificate upon completion of your test.
- Lunches at the School.
- Wild swimming as part of the lifestyle module.
- We also provide continued inspiration and support for your baking by including an extra one year’s standard membership to the Sourdough Club, rated 5 stars by the Telegraph
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE DATES TO FOLLOW
We are currently working on re-accrediting the main gut microbiome section of this course with the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners). We will release this course once we have finalised accreditation.
- Applications will open in January 2022.
- We anticipate running up to three in-person courses; these will take place in May, June and September 2023.
Applications are subject to our Terms and Conditions – please read them thoroughly before applying. as we review each individual application before accepting students on the course.
*Please note that the Diploma-level membership to the Sourdough Club is for 12 months ONLY, (September 2021– August 2022). While you may keep the course materials provided on the course, access to the course lectures and live sessions will close upon completion of the course. Your membership will then be moved over to the standard Sourdough Club 12-month membership ready for the next academic year’s intake for the Online Diploma. You will still be able to access all Sourdough Club content, recipes and the Club Forum.
We look forward to you joining us!