This is the Q & A for The Nutrition and Digestibility of Bread Course.
Is there any more detailed information about the course?
Yes. You can Download the full Sourdough Prospectus 2022–23 here.
Who is this course for?
The course appeals to healthcare professionals and bakers who are interested in understanding the impact of bread on the gut microbiome, and the subsequent effect this has on physical and mental health. Past attendees have included general practitioners, hospital specialists, nutritionists, dieticians, nutritional psychiatrists, and bakers who teach or who are community-focused and want to change their approach to the products they bake and sell.
Who teaches this course?
The Course Director is Vanessa Kimbell, but the course itself is taught by our multi-disciplinary team and by guest lecturers who have specific expertise in certain areas, including Professor Tim Spector, Professor Felice Jacka and Dr Micheal Mosley, to mention a few.
Can I speak to Vanessa about my circumstances?
Yes. In fact, Vanessa chats with all students before they are accepted on the course as part of the application process, but you can also book an informal chat with Vanessa in her open clinics, which are held on Friday afternoons, by filling out this form. You may need to wait a week or two, but it is really important to make sure that your personal needs are aligned with what we teach and the way we teach it before you commit.
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.
Why is this course so different?
It is interactive.
You become part of a community when you enrol, receiving a Community Membership to the Sourdough Club as a part of your course. Not only that, but you will also study and understand the science behind baking and nutrition, and then put it into practice with our sourdough method and recipes. This course is deeply engaging, as the knowledge you learn will be applied to and embedded in your lifestyle, resulting in an innate understanding of the ways in which we are impacted by the food we eat every day.
It is revolutionary.
This course is part of our Systems Change Programme. It doesn’t just teach you; it empowers you. The syllabus includes built-in tasks that will change the way you bake, eat and connect to your bread and food for life. Furthermore, if you are a healthcare professional, then upon completion, you will be issued with a Practitioners’ Prescription Licence, enabling you to prescribe our short courses to your patients as a free social prescription in preventative medicine.
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, wholegrains 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 academic term structure comprising three terms between September and July. It consists of two modules that run side by side. Live sessions are held on Thursday evenings and recorded, allowing you to catch up later if you live in a different time zone. One-to-one sessions are bookable on Friday afternoons, and the whole syllabus is online.
How do I learn?
There are many different ways to learn on this diploma course. There is a timetable of different self-guided topics, and we run weekly clinics, as well as holding live lectures that accompany the self-guided part of the course. There are also guest lecturers, ‘in conversation’ video features, in-depth articles, tasks and, of course, baking, for which you will use the studies that underpin our Bread Protocol as you make your bread and baked goods.
The diploma consists of the following modules, which are explained in more detail below:
- Bread & Guts: The Impact of Bread on the Body & Mind
- The Bake for Health Certificate, where we apply the research learned on the Bread & Guts module to our recipes
- Optional – A One-Week Nutrition & Digestibility of Bread Workshop at the Sourdough School, which offers you the chance to attend the School in person to bake with the team, consolidate the knowledge you’ve learned on the course and cement the learning.
Please note that these are living syllabi – we review the syllabus each quarter as new research comes out, and update it with the latest findings.
How much time will this course take?
The course requires a minimum of two hours a week, but if you engage fully with the recommended baking and reading, then you should expect to spend about six hours a week on the course.
Is the course accredited?
We are currently working on re-accrediting the Bread & Guts module of this course with the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners). We will update this information when we have finalised accreditation.
Are there any discounts available?
Yes – please see The Sourdough School Awards Programme.
Bread & Guts: The Impact of Bread on the Body & Mind
‘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, bread and blood-sugar balance, and its impact on mood. A closer look at salt.
- December – How can you 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.
- 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, and bread as a lifestyle. Symbiotic and sequenced eating planning, and how to eat sourdough to optimise your health.
- July – How can you control your starter to increase the breakdown of gluten? Coeliac disease and when it is vital to avoid gluten. A deeper look at non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
A 52-week course that will take you from learning to make your sourdough starter to baking long, slow retarded sourdough boules. With over 400 posts in the community library, the Bake for Health Certificate is accompanied by a weekly live clinic with Vanessa.
‘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, Telegraph.
‘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 own 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 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 types of flour differ from others and how different flours 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 explore prebiotic and probiotic relationships and how these can be used to boost the gut microbiome through symbiotic eating.
What else is included in the in-person workshop?
- 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.
- 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
- 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 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. When you enrol on the course, you are gifted a 1-year community membership, after which you will be moved over to the standard Sourdough Club 12-month membership. After this, you will be invited to stay on as a member of the club with an alumni membership. You will still be able to access all Sourdough Club Community Library recipes and the Club Forum.
We look forward to you joining us!