Is bread healthy?

Posted by on Feb 26, 2013 in Blog, Food | 2 comments

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Is bread healthy?” is a question I get asked a lot. My standard answer typically stirs controversy and can even offend.

That would be “No” by the way.

Not that it would concern me very much, but I am certainly not a lone voice in the bakery here. During the filming of Cereal Killers, I asked Dr John Briffa which single item he would remove from the food supply for public health reasons.

“Bread.”

Ouch!

And then there’s Wheat Belly, the fascinating “ditch all wheat” bible by Cardiologist Dr William Davis. Check it out if you’re sitting on the fence on this one.

While I appreciate that this is one pretty solid fence we’re talking about here, it’s foundations have been seriously eroded. Not by time, but by tinkering of the genetically modified “let’s make more for cheaper” variety.

The key challenge for the anti bread brigade is that bread is unquestionably the closest thing there is to a food religion. Folks are very protective and incredibly defensive when it comes to their daily starch.

Bread transcends race, region and religion. It is the most familiar, popular and pervasive food on the planet. To therefore suggest that it may also be the most damaging is heresy of the highest order. Nope. This is not a simple food issue folks. It is a full blown emotive warzone.

In biblical times the ultimate comfort food was the staff of life, and collectively we still think of it as such. Every mainstream religion seems to have its very own version of the starchy stuff! That’s one pretty powerful ad campaign.

“Bread – The Staff of Life. Endorsed by (your) God!”

Whatever the context, the words “bread” and “no” just don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. If you want to lose weight or get healthier you just drop the butter and roll out the low fat margarine, right? Sure you do. It can’t be the bread!

And then it doesn’t work.

So then you move along to the next low fat miracle spread and stick to wholegrain bread.

And then that doesn’t work either.

So how about that spread that actively lowers cholesterol?

Nope.

So now you’re like a rat on a Wheat Wheel with nowhere to go with the misinformation available to you.

You are blissfully unaware that bread can raise your blood sugar faster than pure table sugar. And no the wholegrain version isn’t any better. That your chances of losing weight are hampered not by the butter with its top class cocktail of natural fats, but the bread you spread it on.

In the feature documentary Cereal Killers the cornerstone of my food plan is the consumption of very high amounts of natural fats with a total omission of sugar and wheat.

Sugar is easy. Everyone gets that part. No controversy there. But wheat links directly to the “no bread” question. And that’s when the party starts.

But there are 3 very clear reasons not to make bread a staple of your diet:

1. It’s wheat, but not as we (used to) know it.

Modern dwarf wheat was introduced in the 1960s by the brilliant American Agronimist Norman Borlaug to increase wheat production per acre in impoverished nations.  Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Prize for his devastatingly effective efforts and has been referred to as “The man who saved a billion lives.” Unfortunately, the dwarf wheat is so cost effective to produce that Big Food highjacked the bandwagon to the extent that the Einkorn wheat our grandparents enjoyed pre 1960s is now no longer in commercial use.

The dwarf wheat’s much more aggressive impact upon blood sugar levels coupled with a pathetic nutritional profile by comparison to einkorn wheat spells wholegrain havoc on a daily basis.

 

2. Is bread heart healthy? Hardly!

Refined carbohydrates have a negative impact on arguably the clearest link to cardiovascular disorders – they reduce your LDL cholesterol particle size. Bread is a refined carbohydrate. Case closed.

 

3. Bread is inflammatory – 2 slices of brown bread can spike your blood sugar quicker than plain sugar!

Bread consumption promotes inflammation in the body – the chronic low grade version that accelerates aging and contributes to the onset of major illness. When your body is inflamed it becomes “sticky” and, amongst other issues, your arteries will be more prone to developing the cholesterol plaques that lead to arterial blockage and heart disease.

Marry that up with rocketing blood sugar levels on a daily basis and those small LDL cholesterol particles you’re cooking up and hey presto, over time you have the makings of a perfect arterial storm.

 

So what are your options?

All the way? Ditch bread today. If it’s fibre you’re after, go eat an avo (14 grams per medium) or a handful of macadamia nuts. If you don’t feel noticeably better after 3 bread free days by all means send me a nasty email. Halfway house? Ditch standard bread, try rye instead.  It’s less disruptive to blood sugar and hasn’t been tampered with to the same extent as wheat. Can’t do it? Then you really should read Wheat Belly and circle back when you’re done.

 

2 Comments

  1. New reader of your blog and enjoying it. A friendly note that in this post it ought be “Norman” Borlaug instead of “Norma.”

    Keep up the good work! I’ve adopted a nutritional ketosis eating strategy and enjoying every bit of it. My mind still loves bread and I never eat the stuff. It’s the first bite that does me in. I do make homemade bread for friends occasionally–they rave about it. Only learned of Einkorn flour recently, will switch to that for them.

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