White bread may feel soft and fresh, but its one of the unhealthiest foods you can eat!
The reality is that bread has been a wholesome dietary staple food for centuries, but not "white" bread. Unfortunately, white bread is a heavily processed version of bread that is not how real bread is meant to be enjoyed.
Regularly eating white bread can greatly contribute to the following health challenges:
- Weight Gain
- Gut health imbalances
- Blood sugar spikes
- Digestive problems and more...
So, what's the problem with white bread and what are the healthiest breads to eat?
Here we answer this question so that you don't have to give up your daily bread and can enjoy it without the downside.
The Problem with White Bread
The problem with white bread is that it is extremely low in nutrient content and fibre that causes a range of health problems over the long term and causes you to be constantly hungry in the short term.
Its not just the empty calories that won't fill you up, it also contains harmful additives and preservatives which can contribute to a range of health issues if eaten regularly.
So why exactly is it so unhealthy?
Well for a start, white bread is made from refined flour.
This means that the fibre, bran and wheat germ (which comprises of all the nutritional bulk and goodness) has been stripped out to make the finished product soft, delicate, more appealing and also addictive.
Alarmingly, it is important to note that more than 95% of colon cancer cases are directly attributed to low fibre diets and not drinking enough water.
So, you daily bread is meant to be a source of healthy fibres to help keep your digestive system functioning well but if you're loading up on white bread you'll be doing your digestive function a disservice.
In addition to this, because white bread is essentially devoid of any nutrient density and fibre, it converts to sugar quickly spiking insulin in the blood stream which is one of the main causes of chronic fatigue, obesity and diabetes. Not to mention, because your cells are not satisfied nutritionally, you will continue to crave more more calories which can put you on the weight gain-weight loss merry-go-round and cause your energy levels to constantly 'crash and burn'.
Why is dietary fibre important?
There are many reasons why dietary fibre is important for good health. Here are some of the most compelling reasons:
1. Preventing Diabetes
Whole grains rich in fibre and magnesium give your body added protection against diseases like adult-onset type-2 diabetes.
Even the American Heart Association recommends more fibre (around 25 grams per day), because of the research that shows how high-fibre foods can improve blood sugar control and balance.
Seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains are all rich in dietary fibres that should be part of a healthy diet to maintain balanced blood sugar levels and to help prevent diabetes.
Aim for 3-6 servings per day of a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes and you'll drastically reduce your risk of diabetes.
2. Preventing Strokes
The risk of strokes can’t be underestimated.
A stroke can creep up on you and if it occurs, can change your entire life permanently, leaving you disabled or unable to care for yourself.
The major cause of strokes is a diets loaded with refined sugars and processed/refined grains (including white bread), so this should be warning enough to avoid making white bread a staple of your diet.
3. Preventing Bowel Cancer
There’s no underscoring the importance of fibre in the diet for maintaining a healthy functioning digestive system.
Fibre is the component of plant whole foods that your body uses to gather up waste and cleanse your digestive tract - one of the most vital functions of your entire body when it comes to health, vitality and longevity.
When you ingest high quality dietary fibres, your gut and digestive system has what it needs to keep the bad bacteria at bay and to keep your bowels functioning efficiently to minimise your risk of bowel and colon cancer.
4. Preventing Gluten Intolerance
Regularly consuming white bread can contribute greatly to gluten intolerance and in more serious cases, celiacs disease.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat which in certain cases, can lead to inflammation that damages the small intestine's lining which can cause leaky gut and prevent the efficient absorption of nutrients for energy.
However, gluten intolerance is not necessarily caused by the whole grain wheat or bread itself. It can also be attributed to an adverse reaction that occurs inside the gut as a result of wheat processing and the chemicals used in the transportation and storage of the wheat because those chemical residues make their way into the bread you eat.
Interestingly, before bread became heavily commercialised as a food commodity cases of gluten intolerance were rare because people would prepare their own bread at home using organically grown, whole grain wheat without chemical additives or preservatives.
White Bread versus Whole Grain Bread
Whole grain bread has been a healthy food staple for long-lived cultures for centuries.
Once upon a time, bread was made from organically grown wheat, ground into flour and then baked without any unnecessary additives or processing.
A true “whole grain” bread prepared using traditional methods, is one made from the complete grain kernel, which contains the whole fibres and wheat germ which is where all of the nutritional benefit lies.
However today, true whole grain bread has been confused for products such as "whole wheat", "wholemeal" and "multi-grain" bread which are only 1-2 steps removed from white bread with much of the wholesome fibre removed to make the bread soft and palatable. Unfortunately, if you read the ingredients labels on these varieties you'll often see the list of preservatives and additives that have been used in these products.
For this reason, it's a good idea to avoid super market bread altogether where possible.
Instead, look for a local baker in your city or town who specialises in crafting stone ground organic whole grain bread each day.
If you're used to only eating white bread, it may take you a little while to get used to eating "real" bread, but pretty soon you'll love the difference.
Whole grain bread should be an important part of a balanced diet because it is packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs to function well. Also, organic whole grain bread will stop you from always feeling hungry because of the slower release sugars and it provides prebiotics that helps feed the 'good' bacteria in your gut to support healthy immunity.
Alternative Healthy Breads To Eat
Sourdough - thanks to the natural fermentation process that goes into making sourdough bread, it is actually wonderful for your digestive system. It’s also easier for your body to digest, and won’t spike blood sugar levels. Look for a high quality sour dough from your local boutique baker that uses organic ingredients or learn to make your own at home.
Rye - unlike white bread, rye flour manages to retain a large quantity of nutrients since it is deficient to separate the germ and bran from the endosperm of rye. Rye is also a good source of fibre, and quickly makes you feel full and satiated.
Eating whole grain bread will help you to maintain energy and vitality, keep your digestive system strong and avoid illness and disease. They're all good enough reasons to eat your "healthy" daily bread
Essene bread - a very robust and dense bread that is great for snacking on, Essene bread is a simple form of sprouted grain bread made from sprouted wheat and prepared at a low temperature. It is best enjoyed uncooked with flavoursome whole food toppings such as mashed avocado and additional savoury toppings.
The Main Take Away
White bread is a refined version of real bread that should be limited in your diet if your health, vitality and longevity is important to you.
Since white bread is very low in fibre, vitamins, minerals and causes rapid spikes in insulin, it is one of those foods you should look to replace with other much healthier bread alternatives.
By all means, if you love bread, continue to enjoy it by sourcing whole grain varieties from local artisans who make bread using traditional methods or learn how to prepare your own at home.
When it comes to your daily bread, there's nothing like a wholesome 'real food' product that is not only enjoyable to eat but wonderful for your health as well.
Tolman Self Care.