Many people are unaware that consuming to much white flour reacts the same way in the body as consuming to much sugar. The bleached flour breaks down into glucose and creates the same problems with blood sugar spikes as does to much sugar, which can also lead to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Bleached flour is also devoid of any real nutritional value, so the calories we consume are empty and stored as fat, and this is why many believe white bread consumption is one of the major causes of obesity.
Whole wheat contains many nutrients including vitamin E, vitamin B 6, niacin, and minerals like selenium, magnesium and phosphorus... as well as fiber, protein and antioxidants. It’s made up of the outside layer called the bran, a middle starch layer and the inside layer called the germ. Most of the nutrients are contained in the bran and the germ.
Traditional flour making strips away those two layers leaving just the middle or starch layer. This layer is broken down and absorbed rapidly because it does not have any fiber or nutrients to slow its absorption. When we eat the whole grain, it's broken down and absorbed slowly and steadily without blood sugar spikes. The processed version floods the body with to much sugar at once, spiking our blood sugar level and causing the excess sugar to be stored as fat.
Once stripped, the wheat is then bleached and a few synthetic lab-created vitamins are added to replace what was lost. This process is what enables it to be called “enriched.” But there is nothing rich about this process of taking away a wealth of nutrients... the dozens of vitamins in the original grain only to replace a few and thereby leaving a poor imitation. Those that are replaced are usually lab-created versions that our bodies cannot absorb as well and they do not have the co-factors found in the original form that would afford full nutritional benefit. In fact, they can even cause some harm to people with sensitivities.
Flour is rich in B vitamins that work together in harmony and balance. The “enrichment” process adds back some synthetic B vitamins that then require the body to re-balance what is already present with what has just been added. The result can be a B-vitamin deficiency. If severe enough, it can manifest as insomnia, heart palpitations, muscle tenderness, fatigue, anxiety, depression or poor memory.
Manufacturers do this because the stripping process leaves flour with a finer texture, which also increases its shelf life and decreases its attractiveness to bugs. But if a bug will not eat the flour because there is nothing to sustain its life... then why should we consume it?
The original whole grain is also rich in fiber, which helps sweep waste out through the colon. The refined version has no fiber. Try a science experiment by mixing about a quarter cup of flour with four tablespoons of water to see if you also will end up with what looks like the perfect white glue paste. Now consider what happens as that pasty stuff travels through our body. It's waste that is hard to remove which can cause other problems as well as adding extra pounds.
So how can we still enjoy our bread while minimizing the damage to our health?
Finding A Less Harmful Bread
The first step is to get rid of the dangerous additives like partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. Read the label and find a bread without those additives. That may not be an easy task in a typical grocery store. You may need to ask your market to carry breads without these additives. Read the label of the products you buy and put back anything that says enriched flour on it. Look for a true whole grain product.
Be aware that most whole wheat breads are nothing more than enriched white flour with caramel added and are often no better for you than white bread. You want whole grain... one-hundred percent whole wheat is what your looking for on the ingredient label. And be sure your reading the ingredient label and not the marketing slogans. Multi-grain combination breads are also good. Keep in mind that true whole grains will need to be consumed quickly or frozen because they lose their nutritional value within days of grinding.
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