Published On: Fri, Aug 28th, 2015

How whole is whole wheat bread?

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It is well-known that white bread is not just deficient in nutrition but also dangerous to health as a result of added chemicals. White bread is processed and bleached wheat flour. In processing, the bran (covering) and the germ (embryo) are removed leaving only the middle layer (endosperm). The removed portions contain 76 per cent of the vitamins and minerals and 97 per cent of the dietary fibre. Virtually all vitamin E is lost. The following are also lost: Calcium 50 per cent, phosphorus 70 per cent, iron 80 per cent, magnesium 98 per cent, manganese 75 per cent, potassium 50 per cent, copper 65 per cent, thiamine 80 per cent, riboflavin 60 per cent, niacin 75 per cent, pantothenic acid 50 per cent, pyridoxine 50 per cent etc.

The removal of 97 per cent of the dietary fibre further creates a big problem for white bread. With little or no fibre in the diet, the colon will be unable to remove waste products from the body. This can lead to cancer of the rectum and colon and Crohn’s disease

The white bread is also treated with benzoyl peroxide. This creates free radicals that cause DNA damage and ageing. This causes a significant decrease in the production of superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme. This enzyme is one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants. The chloride oxide which is used as a whitener produces alloxan when it combines with proteins. Alloxan is a poison used to induce diabetes in laboratory animals.

Factors stated above make whole wheat bread a better alternative for consumption. However,   it is only a lesser evil because it has serious health challenges, too. Whole wheat bread has been found to have about the same glycemic index of 71 as white bread. Glycemic index measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose. The glycemic load for white bread is 10 while that of whole wheat bread is 9. Glycemic load is a measure that takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in a portion of food together with how quickly it raises blood glucose levels. Therefore, whole wheat bread has no advantage to people, especially diabetics, who want to avoid spikes and crashes in their blood glucose levels.

Foods with high glycemic index and glycemic load result in the production of excess glucose in the blood and this causes more insulin release from the pancreas to move the glucose into the cells and tissues. Insulin resistance occurs when the cells fail to respond to the normal actions of insulin. The cells become resistant to insulin leading to high blood sugar. This leads to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Common complaints of people with insulin resistance are inability to concentrate, poor memory, feeling jittery, agitated, moody, dizziness etc.

Excess sugars in the body also combine with amino acids to form advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). When the quantity of AGEs in the body gets high, they speed up the ageing process. Some of the effects are wrinkles, sagging skin, kidney and nervous system damage, clogged arteries, diabetes, cataracts etc.

Grains are generally acidic. The most acidic grain is wheat, followed by rye, oats and barley. They become more acidic when refined. The human body is naturally alkaline (about pH of 7.4) and it functions best in this pH environment. When there is an acid/alkaline imbalance in our body, especially in the blood, it creates an environment where bacteria, yeast, fungus and mould thrive. Pathogenic microorganisms produce waste or mycotoxins thus polluting our bodies and making them more acidic. That is why acidic foods like wheat bread should not be heavily consumed.

Most grains, including wheat, contain phytic acid which is an ‘anti nutrient’. Phytic acid is a molecule that strongly binds essential minerals like phosphorus, calcium, iron, copper, zinc and magnesium, preventing them from being available to the body. Phytic acid is however less   in whole wheat bread because it resides in the bran and germ which have been removed during the processing for white bread. Blocking of absorption of calcium is a risk factor for osteoporosis and other bone-related problems.

Wheat also contains gluten – a protein with glue-like properties. It is also contained in rye,   barley and other grains. Gluten damages the wall of the digestive tract, causing pain, bloating, and diarrhoea. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that occurs in reaction to gluten. The body’s immune system reacts to gluten and causes damage to the intestine. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it damages the intestines preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients. Gluten intolerance is a classic food allergy marked by skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal reactions to wheat allergy. Gluten may be cancer-causing or promoting.

Mucus is another problem with grains. Grains are mucus-forming and acidic. Eating acidic foods results in mucus buildup causing poor digestion, nasal congestion, lung congestion (as in asthma) and continual throat cleaning.

Although bread has been a popular food for ages, even in the Bible times, what is known about it today does not make it such a healthy food like fruits and vegetables. Therefore, its consumption must be wisely reduced. White bread which is devoid of its vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre is nothing more than starch. Eating it is like consuming worthless chaff.

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How whole is whole wheat bread?