I’ll admit it’s a little morbid, but it drives the point home. Processed food including white bread, white rice, white pasta, processed breakfast cereals, and the like …. is not good for you. But why then, do only 60% of Americans eat a whole-grain food at least once in 2 weeks? Turns out, we've been totally deceived by "Big Food."
What’s better than freshly baked crusty bread dipped in olive oil?? Absolutely nothing- as long as the bread is whole grain! Brown, dark bread is whole-wheat bread which is made from the whole natural grain — bran, germ and endosperm. The whole natural grain then gets milled and ground into the flour that bread is made with . Whole grain contains plenty of nutrients and fiber-- which is what your gutbugs need to thrive and create a healthy, strong microbiome. In addition, eating at least 3 servings of whole grains per day is associated with lower risk of death from cancers, heart disease, and stroke.
Now let’s talk about the so-called “wonder” bread? Imagine that beautiful natural whole grain and imagine it getting bleached and stripped of everything that made it good for you-- the bran and germ, leaving just the starchy white endosperm. The refinement process robs grain of its fiber and nutrients. And although factories attempt to “enrich” grains (“nutritional window dressing”) after stripping them of all nutritional value, they may not have the same composition as whole grains and therefore don't have the same benefit. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are cheap and easy to add to food and let's not forget they are often made through a chemical process using coal-tar derivatives. Add in even MORE chemicals to prevent the bread from drying out and extending its shelf life, and voila! The fake bread that takes over the supermarket shelfs. And to add insult to injury, this fake bread is incredibly cheap to buy because the government has subsidized and supported industry in this refining process.
OK, now that you understand the difference between whole grain and refined white bread, lets break down the science about what refined grains will do to you:
- WEIGHT GAIN! Consumption of refined grains is less satiating, increasing hunger signals and total caloric intake, as compared with calories obtained from less processed, higher-fiber foods. Consumption of processed foods high in refined grains increase weight gain. Specifically, expect at least an extra 0.6 pounds every four years.
- INCREASED RISK OF DIABETES, INSULIN RESISTANCE, and METABOLIC SYNDROME! Refined grains are rich in rapidly digested carbohydrates with a high glycemic index and glycemic load meaning fast spikes in blood sugar and insulin after eating that can lead to insulin dysregulation and insulin resistance, part of the metabolic syndrome. Diets with a high glycemic indexand/or high glycemic load like refined grains increase the risk of chronic lifestyle-related disease, especially type 2 diabetes and gallbladder disease.
- INCREASED RISK OF HEART DISEASE! Speaking of glycemic index, metabolic studies have shown that refined grains with higher glycemic index scores are associated with coronary risk factors, such as higher fasting triglycerides and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
I think you're beginning to understand why I titled this post...
But lets end on a positive note. There are so many breads you can still enjoy! Look for the ingredient “100% whole grain”. Here are some keepers:
- Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Bread, Sprouted Whole Grain - Sprouted 100% whole grain bread. Flourless. Low glycemic.
- Mestemacher Bread, Whole grain Rye bread- whole rye kernels, wheat-free!
- Rudi's Organic 100% Whole Wheat Bread
- check out some other options in the “grocery cart” section of the #feedyourgut diet tab
….or make your own!
One last thing. One bread that may look white but is surprisingly good for you is sourdough. Fermented sourdough is perfect for your gutbugs. As per Michael Pollan, “[The] tradition of fermenting flour with sourdough breaks down the peptides in gluten that give people trouble." Sourdough bread has been reported to improve glucose metabolism in both healthy subjects and those with impaired glucose tolerance. subjects with impaired glucose tolerance had lower glycemic responses after the consumption of sourdough bread than after the bread leavened with baker yeast. This effect is likely due to the lactic acid produced during dough leavening as well as the reduced availability of simple carbohydrates. A pilot study has even found that Gluten-free sourdough wheat baked goods appear safe for celiac patients as the gluten is completely degraded in the fermentation process. If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease—just ask your doctor before trying it!