19 Jul Is Bread Bad For You?
The health and fitness industry is plagued. The strong black and white perspectives and severe do’s and don’ts, are riddled throughout it. And with the entire world being constantly influenced by the media, the scare tactics, and the regurgitation of recycled information, it can lead people to not only be scared of almost ludicrous behaviours like avoiding fruit and potatoes, but also into thinking that there are only a select few ways to get fit and healthy.
Myths like eating 6-8 meals a day for weight loss, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that saturated fats should be avoided at all costs, only help solidify the scary and intimidating world that we live in.
To rectify this, we have to move away from absolute approaches and start looking at stoking the small flames of grey. We have to help spread awareness that things really aren’t all that hard when given the understanding that everyone can indeed shoot for their optimal level of health and fitness, regardless of previous history or current status.
Which brings me to a question I get asked on an almost daily basis: Is bread bad for me?
Bread, a combination of flour, water and salt has been a staple in human diets for thousands of years. Long before we had the fluffy, risen version that we all know and love today, it once existed as an unleavened, far less tastier form before yeast was extracted from old dough (sourdough), and combined to give rise to the… rise of bread.
Many years went by after this, and bakers had a breakthrough. They worked out that they could cut down on time and increase simplicity by utilizing sodium bicarbonate and sour milk, which would react together to cause CO2 bubbles, and of course, cause the bread to rise. This allowed them to say goodbye to relying on yeast.
But, it wasn’t over yet. A chemist by the name of Alfred Bird came along in the 1800s and combined calcium acid phosphate with sodium bicarbonate to create a form of moist, sticky baking “powder”. It then took another chemist, Eben Horsford, to dry the mixture out with corn starch, which resulted in the baking powder we know today.
Following this, the Earth kept spinning and orbiting the Sun, and the year 1928 showed up. We were graced with sliced bread’s presence, with Nutella coming to us in 1964 and joining peanut butters almost 100-year reign (1884, for those playing at home).
Do you feel a little more informed about bread? Cool, let’s now tackle the two biggest questions regarding bread consumption. Starting with…
Not only are the terms “unhealthy” and “healthy” far too subjective when it comes to discussing foods, blanket labels are also adding fuel to the fire. And without wanting to jumping down the rabbit hole of celiac disease and gluten-sensitive individuals, as it’s been covered many, many times before, let’s briefly discuss a few things how this question became a thing.
The glycaemic index (GI) is something that comes up a lot when worrying about whether or not bread is okay to eat. And whilst white bread is more commonly tainted as the worse of the bunch due to its nature of being so refined that it can cause rapid blood glucose level spikes, wholegrain and wholemeal varieties can also be the same due to their grains being ground up so much, that they, too, can fall under the ‘highly-refined’ banner.
But does this matter? Unless you are diabetic or you do not eat a well-rounded diet consisting of vegetables that are labelled as low GI, and therefore counteracting the high GI foods, worrying about the GI of a food, is probably overthinking things.
So, what else then? Well, since bread, in comparison to other carbohydrate options out there – including potatoes, rice, oats, fruit – is actually inferior in regards to nutritional value due to it not being an ingredient or food of this planet, it is labelled as a processed food and therefore lacks high levels of natural nutrition.
Not only this, but due to a chemical known as phytic acid that is contained within most breads, and its favouring for certain minerals, the actual hindering of the absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc, can occur. Couple this with everyone’s favourite enemy gluten, the glue-like protein that exhibits somewhat of a damaging effect upon an individual’s gastrointestinal tract, and you have an extra variable for decreasing the absorption of all nutrients.
Neither of these scenarios are ideal when looking to fuel your body optimally each time you eat, but when your goal is also to enjoy your food, without categorizing foods in the good or bad column, taking an 80/20 view of things, can definitely help you.
And as an added bonus, as the process of soaking grains can lower phytic acids ability to lower absorption, if you source bread that has that particular history, then you can lessen the impact of that chemical.
VERDICT: No, bread is not unhealthy, provided you do not use it as your only source of nutrition.
#2 WILL BREAD MAKE ME FAT?
No foods will make you fat unless you overindulge in them. There is the infamous story of the man that lost 12 kilograms while consuming only Twinkies, but the underlying fact, without taking into consideration hormone levels and how they can influence and interact with an individual at a physiological level, weight will only be gained when eating in a surplus, and lost in a deficit.
So, if there is a girl named Jemima (rad name) and her daily maintenance requirement to keep her current physique, without upsetting her body physiologically is a nice 1800 calories per day, she could very well choose to eat the entire 1800 calories through bread.
However, since we have already covered question #1, Jemima would obviously be missing out on a lot of nutrition. Which is not ideal. But if she stuck to a well-rounded diet, adding in bread in a meal or two here and there, and still not tip the calorie allowance, then again, she would still not gain weight.
VERDICT: No, bread specifically does not make you fat. Overeating or eating over your requirement does.
While of course this has been a very brief discussion of bread, I hope I covered enough to open your eyes a little more to either looking into things a little more deeply, or brought light to the black and white mentality of food and what is required to be healthy.
Bread, while perhaps less nutritious than other forms of carbohydrates, is certainly a tasty option to consume. And if a diet does not consist of it day in and day out, for every single meal, then it is a food that can most certainly be eaten if it lines up with an individual’s preference and/or health.