Link to original article on Purelife Bondi
Is it best to avoid bread as a step to better health and wellbeing? Or is there a way to incorporate this delicious food into our diet without it leading to digestive problems, disease and nutrient deficiencies?
What most people do not understand, is that the loaves of bread found on the shelves at the supermarket are nothing like traditionally prepared bread. Commercially produced bread may seem harmless but I believe it’s contributing to widespread health problems such as dental caries, iron deficiency and osteoporosis.
Traditionally prepared bread involves a long and slow fermentation period of up to 24 hours. The fermentation process not only causes the dough to rise, but enhances the nutritional value of the bread by breaking down the bran, pre-digesting the gluten and unlocking nutrients that the body is otherwise unable to access. Preparing a nutritious loaf of bread from scratch takes time, dedication and love.
On the other hand, commercial production of bread is big business and the process is completely different to the traditional ways. In a commercial bakery, a loaf of bread can be produced from start to finish in one hour because the fermentation step is completely missed out! Specific strains of yeasts increase the rising time and speed up the production. But because there is no fermentation step, the nutrient inhibitors (phytates) are still intact, gluten content is high and the wheat is difficult to digest.
All commercially available breads particularly wholegrain breads contain high amounts of phytates.
This is concerning for growing children and women low in iron and those at risk of osteoporosis. What phytates do is, they bind up minerals such as iron and calcium and inhibit the absorption of these minerals. A women who regularly eats a soy and linseed bread is increasing her risk of iron deficiency and osteoporosis. Why? Because the bread has not been properly prepared and therefore contains seeds and grains that are high in phytates, inhibiting the absorption of iron and calcium.
Wholegrain breads may be contributing to the soaring rates of dental cavities in children. For example, calcium in milk given along side wholegrain bread is not absorbed efficiently because of the high content of phytates in the whole grains. In a desperate state to increase calcium levels in the blood, the body has to pull calcium from the teeth which ultimately results in dental cavities.Wholegrain breads bind calcium and iron, inhibiting absorption.
Bread or no Bread?
Most breads available in bakeries and supermarkets have not been fermented. However, sourdough bread is a traditional variety of bread available in good bakeries that has been fermented and is therefore low in phytates. This style of bread is slightly sour and chewy due to the fermentation process. Sourdough bread can be found in rye, wholemeal and white varieties and is the healthiest way to consume bread. Many people suffering from gluten intolerance, wheat allergies and irritable bowel syndrome can tolerate sourdough bread because the fermentation step partially breaks down the wheat and gluten causing less irritation on the gut.
The other option is to start making your own sourdough bread at home, and this takes time and practise. My first attempts to make sourdough resulted in heavy, doughy loaves but with time, each loaf has improved and I’m determined to master the craft! The key is to make two large loaves at a time and freeze one. The sourdough can also be used to make pita pockets, pizza dough and small soup buns.
For the time poor and those low in cash there is an option to buy low phytate breads such as white flour pita pockets, ciabatta breads, and wraps. Although these have not been fermented, they are low in yeast and phytates. Avoid the wholegrain varieties especially for the kids as they need all the nutrients they can get. Buying bread from the supermarket can be tricky because almost all the flour used in the breads has been treated with bleach, anticaking agents, iodised salt and preservatives, so always check the label. Generally the bread made at the supermarket is the poorest quality bread that is full of chemicals. Look for organic or stoneground flour varieties.
It may seem crazy to you that I’m suggesting to avoid wholegrain breads. The truth is, the body cannot obtain nutrients from the whole grain breads if they have not been fermented. Whole grains must be properly prepared in order for the B vitamins, iron and calcium to be available. Properly prepared means either soaked, sprouted or fermented and that is why choosing a sourdough bread is the healthiest and most delicious choice!