Technical Advisor Darrell Clark on Gut Health


About Darrell Clark: Technical Advisor

Darrell is a second-generation baker and began his career at the young age of 19 in Alaska. He returned to Washington and continued baking for several local artisan retail bakeries. He worked for Haggen/Top Foods in Washington State. 

Darrell joined Puratos in 2006 and is currently a Technical Advisor in Washington. Puratos has given Darrell the opportunity to continue his passion for sour dough and artisan breads and has allowed him to expand his knowledge and travel around the world collaborating with some of the most fascinating and skilled bakers. One of his favorite things about baking is the unique use of mixing flavors and breads to create something new and amazing. 

Education: High School Graduate; Puratos University; O-tentic Guild; AIB International: Science of Baking – Breads and Rolls; Foundations; and Cake & Sweet Goods; Bread Baker’s Guild – Cutting Edge Breads with Whole Grain Flour 

Favorite Puratos Product: O-tentic & Sapore


Gut Health

Studies suggest that sourdough fermentation can improve the digestibility and nutritional benefits of breads and other foods and improve overall gut health. Our gut contains over 1000 different bacteria species that help digest things that our bodies can’t break down directly. Our gut microbiome not only helps to regulate our digestion, but it may also help with allergic responses, mental health and overall bodily functions (Taste Tomorrow)

While we are just starting to understand science of sourdough, it’s been a staple in diets for thousands of years. Bakers from around the world have created their own sourdough starters which have their own unique recipes and flavors. For me, it is the ancient Egyptians’ sourdough that holds the uniqueness and flavor base of sourdough Archeologist found remnants of a sourdough in King Tuts Tomb, which contained Kamut or Khorasan wheat. I created a started inspired by this ancient Egyptian sourdough and submitted it to the Quest for Sourdough. 

Since the time of King Tut, sourdough was a common way to make leavened bread until the start of the industrial revolution which ushered in a demand for fast breads and foods. To keep up with the times and demands, baker’s yeast became the norm. Over the past several years, we have seen a resurgence in the importance of sourdough and wholegrains. The Quest for Sourdough is a project that shares and preserves the story of sourdough through an online database of sourdough recipes from bakers around the world. There is also a physical version of this sourdough collection, the very first Sourdough Library in the Puratos Center for Bread Flavour in Belgium (The Quest for Sourdough).

Woman hands making a heart shape on her stomach, healthy bowel degestion, probiotics  for gut health

The resurgence in popularity of sourdough isn’t only due to its fascinating history but also the many health benefits from traditional forms of bread. Wholegrains contain more vitamins and nutrients and there are many health benefits for incorporating wholegrains into your diet. Sourdoughs have been referred to as a prebiotic, which means the fiber in the bread helps feed the good bacteria in our systems and can assist in reducing inflammation.

There are a lot of options to choose from at your local grocery market if you’re looking for more wholesome food. We are all trying to eat healthier without giving up great tasting foods. The variety of flavors from wholegrains and sourdoughs make it easy to find your favorite(s). This goes for all foods, even a lot of frozen foods are nutritious. Experiment and find what flavors you like. With everything – moderation is the key. Read the nutrition facts and labels to discover what works best for you. Try visiting The Whole Grains Council’s website to start your quest (Whole Grains Council).

Some benefits of wholegrains and sourdough include: 

  • reduce risk of stroke 
  • weight management/fiber 
  • reduce the risk of colon and other digestive issues 
  • lower diabetes : lower cholesterol 
  • helps with blood sugars 
  • sourdoughs can also help with gluten issues 
  • all this can lead to better sleep and less stress

Taste, Taste, and Taste is key. Breads have become an obsession for many, so read the labels and don’t be afraid to try something new.