As a trainer and nutritionist I always start to clean up a client’s diet by removing bread. Reactions to this are often mixed, so I shall summarise my reasons below.
Bread has for decades been seen to be healthy, appearing in vast portions on the old food pyramid which has been used by dieticians and nutritionists since 1992, based on the earliest food recommendations from 1894.
This is now known to be due to an overproduction of wheat which caused us to be encouraged to consume more wheat and therefore bread in order not to waste the wheat.
Since 2011 this was replaced with a food plate which has fewer grains and doesn’t mention bread at all. In spite of this we are still led to believe bread is part of a healthy diet and are bombarded with health adverts involving bread. Even popular health magazines and TV programs actually advise clients to eat bread.
During the Paleo era prior to farming, before grains and flour production, humans managed to sustain themselves and reproduce without bread, pasta and wheat in their diets until the Neolithic era 8,000 BC. Although farming methods have changed drastically with the cultivation of crops, domestication of animals and mass producing food, our genes are still remarkably similar to that of our Paleo ancestors.
Whilst grains are good for you; oats are especially good for the heart, refined grains cause a sugar spike similar to that of consuming raw sugar, meaning that any excess sugar not used by the body is stored as fat.
Too much glucose in the blood causes the release of free radicals which cause damage to the muscle tissue, wrinkles and premature aging. A diet rich in antioxidants is necessary to combat this.
Along with the sugar spike there is also an insulin spike, which is needed to store the excess sugar. Frequent insulin spikes have been linked to Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and various other diseases due to the cells becoming resistant to insulin.
Homemade whole meal bread would take a couple of hours to bake. However shop made bread takes around 30 minutes. The yeast is only partially fermented, meaning that it continues the fermentation process in your gut.
The quantity of carbohydrates found in bread is too high for the average sedentary person. A regular exerciser hoping to put on muscle may need to increase the carb intake but a non-exerciser will simply store fat after eating excess carbs. A meal rich in vegetables will be more nutritious, full of vitamins, valuable minerals and antioxidants
Wholegrain shop made bread contains high levels of phytates which make zinc and iron and other macro nutrients un-absorbable. It is therefore impossible to obtain the full benefit of a nutritious meal, and will have to consume more of the foods in order to gain some benefit.
Lectins also are found in whole grains and increase gut permeability. This allows toxins in to the blood and can cause acne and multiple sclerosis.
Most people have heard of endorphins and the good effects they have on the body, but cereal grains and also dairy contain exorphins. This has a negative effect, causing mood changes and addictiveness. They are essentially opoids, proteins produced from the digestion of gluten, and due to their addictiveness can cause obesity.
As food production techniques have become increasingly more advanced, gluten intolerant individuals have increased in numbers. Up to half the population are sensitive to gluten to some degree, with 1% being Coeliacs. Such individuals can have the following symptoms:
Low nutrient absorption
Even though over 10 years has shown that salt levels have come down by an average of 20%. Approximately 75% of the salt consumed in the UK and other developed countries come from processed foods. In the UK bread forms a large part of our diet and so the high salt levels are a health issue.
Thankfully bread bakers have gradually reduced the levels of salt in their products, preventing 2,400 strokes and heart attack events each year, but more can be done.
Lastly a little known fact, that supermarket bread is often injected with fat to ensure it keeps its shape. The perfectly pliable dough is enhanced with L-Cysteine which is extracted from feathers. Due to relaxed labelling rules, these ingredients do not have to appear on the label, and so often the buyer is unaware.
If giving up bread is too difficult and depressing to contemplate, try baking your own at home, with the best ingredients you can afford. Be sparing with your salt, try a gluten free flour if possible, bake slowly and consume in small amounts, ideally after exercise with a portion of protein.
Alternatively try root or leafy vegetables, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, marrow, broccoli, the list goes on…
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