The Bread Myth

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When you mention bread, most people think of cheap loaves on supermarket shelves made from white flour. Such breads taste terrible, have no nutritional value, are loaded with unhealthy additives, and are equivalent to eating plain chocolate!

For thousands of years, man has grown various grains and turned them into bread as an essential staple in the daily food mix. Nobody thought it was bad for them. Some of the healthiest people in the world live along the Mediterranean, and they typically eat a lot of bread and pasta. The Egyptians are thought to have discovered how to make risen bread with a wild yeast starter. Today, bread is demonized as a carbohydrate and sugar source that makes people fat, and is often the first thing thrown out by many dietary ‘experts’.

Bread is a great source of carbohydrates, the body’s energy fuel, and an essential food group. Carbohydrates in wholemeal bread are digested more slowly than those in refined white bread, and keeps the body going for longer. Wholemeal and sourdough bread contains more fiber and nutrients, which are removed during the refining of white flour, although some micronutrients are now added back into white flour. However, supplemental vitamins are not as good as vitamins that come from natural food sources. Usually, the human body can better absorb and process nutrients from unprocessed products.

Factory-baked bread also contains unwanted ingredients such as excessive sugar, oil, salt, vinegar, preservatives, and treatment agents. Wholegrain flour contains B vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium, protein, and dietary fiber, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, colon cancer, and obesity.

Fear of carbs stems from a fear of exercise. Lack of exercise will cause the body to store energy consumed in foods as fat, whether that energy comes from bread or some other food.  Exercise will cause the body to use the carbs from bread as fuel, which will promote a healthy weight balance.

If bread is supposed to be good for you, why is it bagged as unhealthy?

Counting calorie intake is a good idea if you want to lose weight. Of course it is not only carbohydrates that pile on calories. Some people avoid bread because they have an intolerance to wheat or gluten (a protein found in wheat), which stimulates an immune response. Wheat intolerance can give rise to bloating, diarrhea and other digestive problems, and requires blood tests and internal examinations for a diagnosis. Allergic reactions to wheat can appear suddenly and are easier to identify.

However, gluten is not the only food that stimulates an intestinal immune response. Meat, nuts, and dairy products are extremely high in advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These foods are often touted as being healthy, even though they cause inflammation. Having a wholemeal sandwich is not going to stress out your immune system any more than ingesting many of the other foods. Moreover, gluten-free bread is also available, although supermarkets may make you pay dearly for it.

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Some nutritionists claim that not eating bread will promote weight loss. Initially, that is true. Reduction in carbohydrate intake will cause the body to lose water, not fat, which most people want to get rid off. Carbs are stored in the body in the form of glycogen, and each gram of carbohydrate binds up to four times its weight in water. Cutting carbs in your diet, the body starts to use its glycogen store, which results in an initial loss of body weight, and a misleading feeling of success.

Many nutritionists advocate replacing the morning toast with a smoothie made from kale or other vegetables, mixed berries, coconut milk, raw yoghurt, and nuts. They claim this mixture has phytonutrients and antioxidants that fight inflammation, helps to restore skin elasticity, and the lining of the intestinal wall. Kale and berries have a low glycemic index (which is the measurement used for how foods affect blood sugar). Sugar in bread (carbohydrates) have a high glycemic index. These nutritionists claim that most people think they cannot live without bread, which they say is an illusion.

Cutting out bread from the diet will not achieve a healthy lifestyle or make you lose weight. The correct dietary approach is a balanced intake of five main food groups … and exercise!

– breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles and other grains
– vegetables and legumes
– fruit
– milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
– lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and legumes.

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