If you’ve seen some of my previous posts, you may know that I don’t eat bread. I’ve been grain-free since January of this year, 2013. However, before I decided to cut out the grains, I had researched and changed the type of bread I was eating and feeding my family. I was a little shocked at what I uncovered, to say the least, as many folks are and continue to be. Most folks don’t even want to hear it. They grew up eating bread and have always considered it a ‘healthy’ part of their diet, so anything to the contrary can cause quite an uproar. People get really defensive up to the point of being belligerent when you talk about bread, one of their dietary staples. Well, I’m not trying to cause an uproar, but I do feel compelled to share my thoughts and what I have learned. I simply want to raise awareness. So please read the article, give it some thought, research it and decide for yourself. If you still feel the same way, great. If you feel differently, that’s great too. Even if you don’t cut out bread completely, hopefully you’ll make smarter choices concerning it. It’s your body, your health, your choice. Regardless of how you feel about grains in general, this is one thing that must be considered when choosing a bread product. My husband and kids still eat bread on occasion, but I’m very selective on the type of bread. Bread made fresh at home or from scratch has very few ingredients, water, yeast, salt, flour and maybe some honey or sugar to sweeten it. However, if you scan the ingredients of the breads in the bread aisle, you’ll get a lot more than you bargained for unfortunately. One of the biggest problems I have is with the main ingredient, enriched wheat flour (white flour). The wheat is fumigated, refined, processed and enriched in order to allow for a longer shelf life and to meet the demands of the FDA. When I was growing up, bread would start growing that nasty green and blue mold on it within a few short days, but nowadays it can last for 2-3 weeks on the shelf. So instead of the grain having 20 or more nutrients that you might normally find in a whole grain, they’ve been stripped out through the processing and 4 synthetic ones have been put back in. Most synthetic nutrients are derived from coal tar and petroleum, something our body has no idea how to use and they are missing the components that are found with them in nature, so again our body doesn’t know how to use them because it’s not the natural, whole food form. Plus, the list of ingredients goes on to include things like: high fructose corn syrup, dough conditioners, ammonium sulfate, sodium stearyl lactylate, brown sugar, mono and diglycerides, partically hydrogenated soybean oil, etc. …all of which have been known to cause a whole host of problems from hyperactivity to heart disease and cancer. Hey, but even if you dismiss all of that, you can’t dismiss the fact that there is virtually no nutritional value in the bread. The nutrients have been stripped out through the processing and chemical nutrients put back in. Another issue with bread is the gluten found in it. Gluten is a protein group found in wheat, rye, barley and oat flours that forms the structure of bread dough. Basically it helps the bread dough stretch. It’s the glue that’s found in wallpaper paste! If you don’t believe it, try cutting it out of your diet for 3-4 weeks and then adding it back in. It feels like a brick moving through your gut. I have experienced this as well as my kids. My kids aren’t completely gluten-free, but they eat very little gluten if any and after going to grandmas for a day or two, eating donuts and other baked goods they’ve experienced tummy aches. Now they are more selective with what they eat, even at grandmas. Yes, they indulge a little here and there, but they don’t gorge. But wait, there’s more….there are peptides in gluten that react with the opiate receptors in the brain, mimicking the effects of opiate drugs like heroin and morphine. Some folks react more strongly than others to these peptides and almost seem addicted to the wheat. (The casein in dairy products acts the same way.) ‘The addictive nature of gluten is often overlooked. For some the first days and weeks following a gluten-free diet are characterized by food cravings, disorientation, irritability, sleepiness, depression, mental fogginess, fatigue, and/or shortness of breath.’ (Dangerous Grains by Ron Hoggan) It seems crazy, but until you have experienced it yourself will you actually believe it. I have, and so has my husband, years ago when we decided to cut out all gluten. However, I would not advise to switch everything that you ate with gluten for gluten-free products. The best thing to do is to find healthier, more real food options. One last thing I wanted to mention is that even whole grains contain anti-nutrients called phytates and lectins. These natural plant toxins hamper the absorption of vital minerals and inhibit healthy gastrointestinal function; the benefits are you may get some protein, micronutrients and fiber. So, it’s kind of a toss-up as to what’s better for you, whole grains or refined grains. But the main to think about is that they are both high glycemic, meaning that it spikes your blood sugar and creates an insulin response in the body. You will have a big rush of energy and then a crash later on along with a need to refuel with more grains. Think of the paper versus the wood fire, the paper flames up fast but dies out fast needing more to stay alive while the wood fire burns long and steady. In other words, when your energy dies out your blood sugar drops super-fast and hard and you feel weak until you get your next fix of grains. You know that sinking feeling that you may pass out if you don’t get something to eat soon. ‘The long term effects of chronic hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels in the bloodstream) are such conditions as general systemic inflammation, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer should be enough to convince you that it is critical to pursue a more natural way of eating.’ (The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson) If you take away nothing else, hopefully you’ve realized how little nutritional value is in the bread that fills the bread aisle. They are empty calories. How about finding a real food option instead that has some vital nutrients in it? For whole grain and/or gluten-free options, check the freezer section.