Many people are unaware that consuming too much white flour reacts the same way in the body as consuming too much sugar. The bleached flour breaks down into glucose and creates the same problems with blood sugar spikes as does too much sugar, which can also lead to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Bleached flour is also devoid of any real nutritional value, and 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 minerals and many nutrients including vitamin E, vitamin B 6, niacin, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, 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 that is broken down and absorbed rapidly because it does not have any fiber or nutrients to slow its absorption. Whole grain is broken down and absorbed slowly and steadily in the human body without blood sugar spikes.
The processed version quickly floods the body with too much sugar that spikes our blood sugar level and causes the excess sugar to be stored as fat. The wheat is bleached after it's stripped, and then a few synthetic lab-created vitamins are added to replace what was lost, and this process is what enables it to be called “enriched.” There is nothing rich about this process of taking away a wealth of nutrients and dozens of vitamins that were 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 provide the 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 require the body to re-balance what is already present with what has just been added. The result can be a B-vitamin deficiency and 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. Some wonder why we should consume it if a bug will not eat the flour because there is nothing in it to sustain its life.
The original whole grain unlike the refined version is also rich in fiber that helps sweep waste out through the colon. Perhaps it would be fun to try a science experiment by mixing about a quarter cup of flour with four tablespoons of water to see if we 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 with its waste being so hard to remove that can even cause other problems as well as adding the 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 and then read the label to find a bread without those additives. That may not be an easy task in a typical grocery store and so you may need to ask your market if they will carry breads without these additives. Look for a true whole grain product when reading the label and put back anything that says enriched flour on it.
Be aware that most whole wheat breads are nothing more than enriched white flour with caramel added and are often no better for us than white bread. We should be looking for whole grain that is one-hundred percent whole wheat and we should be looking on the ingredient label and not the marketing slogans. Multi-grain combination breads are also good and 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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