Bread is one of those food items that has had a bad press but how much of it is true and is bread actually good for us?
Bread comes in many and varied forms and should not be treated as a single generic item. And should we really look at cutting bread from our diet? Lets have a look…
White bread. This is different from other more nutritional breads as it has had the bran and germ from the wheat removed. Why does this matter? Well, bran is a great source of fibre in our diet which can help us to move our bowels more regularly. A regular bowel movement may help prevent diseases including cancer.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
As well as fibre, bran also provides us with essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals.
It has to be noted that the bran also contains phytic acid which can bind to certain minerals, thus making it harder for them to be absorbed. Taking in foods with a high vitamin C content such as peppers, oranges, sweet potatoes and kale can help to reduce the effects of phytic acid.
A certain amount of phytic acid can be good though as it is this that may help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes – it has even been linked to improve health in those with kidney stones.
In a balanced Mediterranean diet it shouldn’t be an issue. For those individuals with iron deficiencies it may be wise to reduce the amount of bran in the diet as it will decrease iron absorption.
The germ from the wheat is also removed in making white bread. It contains 23 nutrients including potassium, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, E, B1 and B3. It also has a high level of protein content. These nutrients perform all sorts of functions within our body including eye health, energy release, muscle function and protection against ageing.
Both the germ and the bran tend to be removed to prolong the shelf life of bread. It is the fat content of them that can cause the bread to go rancid.
Unless you have been told that you have an intolerance to gluten, yeast or wheat – or you have Coeliacs disease, then there should be no problem in consuming bread in moderation with a varied and healthy diet. I feel that it depends more on the type of bread that you are consuming.
Bread that is stripped of its nutritional content is providing us with little more than an energy source. Without the fibre and protein, the bread will release the energy quickly, possibly causing blood sugar spikes.
White bread is usually bleached as well so adds more chemicals into the mix. Check labels and look for whole wheat or whole grain breads with only a handful of ingredients. The more additives and preservatives, the more likely that the bread is not as good for you.
Like any food item, bread provides certain nutrients and these all go to complete a varied diet. Relying on one or two food items alone is not a varied diet.
Be aware that some brown breads are not whole grain or whole wheat but are just like white bread with colouring.
All that said, wheat has changed significantly over the years. It is shorter and genetically different to the ancient wheat that our ancestors used to eat. If you are particularly fond of bread, then it may be wise to have a mix up of different varieties such as rye bread, spelt bread and other wheat-free breads. These can offer you more nutritional value and give your body a break from wheat if you find that it bloats or gives you other digestive problems.
Everyone is different and therefore your body is likely to react differently to foods than someone else. Cutting bread from the diet may suit some, as long as they have been careful to have a varied nutritionally dense diet. However, for others it may provide vital nutrients that they would otherwise miss out on.
It is always a good idea to consult with a registered Nutritional Therapist before making changes to your diet as they can look at your regular diet and lifestyle and help you to make informed choices.
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Markiewicz, L.h.; Honke, J.; Haros, M.; Świątecka, D.; Wróblewska, B. (2013-07-01).”Diet shapes the ability of human intestinal microbiota to degrade phytate – in vitro studies”. Journal of Applied Microbiology.115(1): 247–259. doi:10.1111/jam.12204. ISSN 1365-2672.
Haros, Monika; Carlsson, Nils-Gunnar; Almgren, Annette; Larsson-Alminger, Marie; Sandberg, Ann-Sofie; Andlid, Thomas (2009-09-30).”Phytate degradation by human gut isolated Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum ATCC27919 and its probiotic potential”.International Journal of Food Microbiology. 135(1): 7–14. doi:10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2009.07.015.