Bread, the good, the bad & yummy alternatives
In my experience with my clients, bread is one of the most endeared foods which most people find so hard to let go of.
Wheat is one of the most consumed cereal grains worldwide and makes up a big part of the human diet. However we have only been eating grains for a small fraction of mankind’s history and contrary to the government advice/food pyramid the human body has not evolved to handle a lot of grains, especially modern day grains which contain GMOs, preservatives, chemicals such as the pesticide glycophate, added sugar and increased gluten content (more info on modern grains here).
Many people are intolerant or sensitive to the gluten in bread which can contribute to digestive issues including leaky gut and celiac disease. For the lucky ones who are not gluten intolerant there are still many reason to source healthier options, and reduce bread intake.
- The protein Amylopectin A found in wheat, spikes your blood sugar higher than almost all foods. Many breads are high glycemic which cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin which leads to storage of “visceral” belly fat, triggers inflammation and increases your risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, fatty liver and diabetes. (more info on Gi here)
- The proteins gliadin and WGA can both increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and activate the immune system. more info on leaky gut here
- New studies show another protein, ATI, contributes to the development of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, as well as inflammation in tissues beyond the gut, including the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen and brain. Studies show ATI may aggravate symptoms from inflammatory conditions like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, asthma, lupus, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Ok, even all the above may not be enough to go cold turkey off your beloved bread. And my advice, as always, is we should focus more on “moderation” not “extreme” (not many of us enjoy or sustain extreme!). Finding ways of reducing your bread intake so it is as an exception not a staple is a great step in the right direction to a healthier you.
So firstly here are some facts and fiction on bread we may be choosing
For years I proudly subjected my kids to wonderful (not) Wonder Bread…. until I found out how absolutely unhealthy this artificial bag of glue like substance was. Have you ever noticed how much this bread can be crushed into nothing! Even with the marketing of high fibre, this bread is made of refined white flour (all the good stuff removed) with sugar the third ingredient, ie flour, water, sugar…..chemicals, preservatives, additives…!!!
I then, to my kids horror, became a wholemeal and multigrain natzi. In looking back I wonder if these were nothing more than disguised white bread with colouring (brown bread) or white bread with a few undigestible grains (Multigrain). Most factory-made bread has extra gluten added, extra yeast and reducing agents to help create stretchier doughs, industrial seed oils to improve crumb softness, soya flour (often GMO) to add volume and softness, emulsifiers to produce bigger, softer loaves and retard staling, chemical preservatives – to extend shelf-life (have you noticed just how long these breads can store for?). This is not real food!
There are gluten free breads readily available but beware, they can be ridiculously high GI, lacking fibre, full of chemical preservatives, GMO soy protein etc. Please, buyer beware… READ the Label!
Basically bread only needs flour, yeast and water, NO SUGAR, of course without preservatives this bread won’t last as long in the cupboard but that’s why we have freezers! simples!
Here are some healthier bread choices:
- If you’re not gluten sensitive then Organic Ezekiel bread can be a healthier choice as it’s made from sprouted whole grains which increases the nutritional content and is low GI. Unlike most commercial breads, which consist primarily of refined wheat, it contains several different types of grains and legumes such as Wheat, Millet, Barley and Spelt, Soybeans and Lentils.
- In the long slow fermentation that produces sourdough bread, important nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, folic acid and other B vitamins become easier for our bodies to absorb. Sourdough also has a lower GI rating than most other bread.
- I don’t preach that everything has to be organic but this is one of of the few foods I would strongly advise to always go organic. Wheat crops are sprayed with, along with other chemicals, Glysopahate pesticide which, as well as being a poison, is classed as antibiotic and has been shown to interfere with our gut flora. (read more about this here)
Is there Life beyond Bread?
For me? After years of changing my subconscious not to expect bread at every meal, and reducing my cravings by not spiking my blood sugar levels with high GI foods, find it easy to go weeks or even months without the longing for a slice of bread.
I’m not over top natzi about this, I still love bread but if I do choose to eat it, I fill it with lots of salad, chew it slowly, enjoying every bite!!! I try very hard to only eat organic, I love sourdough and if it’s cut thinly I have no guilt around the occasional magic of a fresh corn beef sandwich with lots of butter and mustard… heaven… aaaaah!
I’ve found lots of ways to trick yourself into not missing bread. My favourite bread substitutes are:
sweet potato toast – I love this! and it is soooo easy (just slice thinly and pop in toaster)
Banana Pancakes – so easy and such a treat (recipe here)
Marys gone crackers organic seed crackers with thin slices of cheese, avo or tomato & basil
..to reduce the disappointment of not having a cuppa with a sandwich (my old routine) I have a scrummy salad, then enjoy a few Marys with a cuppa afterwards
I hope these tips help you on your health journey. Let me know if you have a great bread alternative – I’d love to know!
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