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Volume 11 Issue 2
July/August 2005

Integrative Medicine:
Where Conventional Meets Alternative for Truly Wholistic Medicine

Bread—The Staff of Life, or Not?

A Good Laugh Helps us Face Our Problems with Renewed Energy and Courage © 2004

Turn Stress Into Success by Rewriting Your Subconscious Beliefs: The Benefits of Psych-K™

Thoughts on Death and Dying: An Evening with Spiritual Teacher, Sylvia E. Browne

Editorial

Bread—The Staff of Life, or Not?
by Paulette Millis
Paulette Millis


Mmmm! The smell of home-made bread! Doesn't that just make your mouth water? What kind of bread did you grow up with? If it was store-bought bread, was it white or sixty-percent whole wheat? Did Mom make bread from scratch regularly? Did you have one of those Mom's who used only organic whole wheat flour or stone ground flour?

You might be surprised to learn that in 1900 we ate 15 pounds of white flour a year per person and by 1999 it became 30 percent of our total diet? Significant also is the fact that the gluten content has undergone a drastic change, according to nutritional sources. Wheat gluten content is now six times what it was in 1940! This means that eating one slice of bread now, is like eating six slices in 1940, in terms of gluten! With the many bowel diseases now prevalent in our society one has to wonder how the connection between this gluten content and bowel diseases has escaped attention!

Wheat is one of the oldest cultivated grains and is the most widely consumed in the US and Europe. Wheat production has more than doubled since the beginning of the 20th century.

During the 10,000 years of wheat cultivation man used the grain as it was harvested, or ground it whole, into flour. Then it was discovered that sifting it through a finely woven silk fabric produced a lighter flour that was more delicate in taste and easier to digest. These delicate loaves became the product for the privileged classes and were considered enviable. Serving anything but white bread was considered an insult, and Medieval writers in England said, “Brown bread fills the stomach, and white bread nourishes the body.” Let's take a good look at that.

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL INFORMATION

Whole grains like wheat contain the following phytochemicals: lignans, phenolic acids, phytosterols, coumarins, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, chromium, and fibre. The amount of these nutrients
depends, of course, on the quality of the soil in which they are grown. For example, in organically-grown wheat the anti-cancer mineral, selenium, is 390 percent higher and chromium is 78 percent higher.
Phytochemicals are plant chemicals that influence the body's biochemistry in positive ways. The phytochemicals in whole grains lower cholesterol, help prevent colon cancer, aid in elimination, thin the
blood, improve insulin sensitivity, and are a source of energy.

The protein content of wheat varies from 8 to 24 percent depending on the health of the soil and other growing conditions. All grains are acid-producing in the body. It is a well-known fact that an acidic body is susceptible to disease. In addition, many questionable additives are used, such as calcium bromate and potassium bromate which are very toxic in high doses.

Nutritional consultants and naturopaths are finding that breads and cereals are often a trigger in bedwetting.

The gluten in wheat is the substance responsible for making bread springy. Many diseases are known to be aggravated by wheat and this is based on an intolerance to gluten. The typical malabsorbing diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and sprue, of course, are now commonly recognized but gluten is also associated with autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and schizophrenia. Gluten is also a main factor in colitis, appendicitis, inflammation of the small intestines (e.g. Crohn's), as well as gastric and duodenal ulcers. William Last, in The Natural Way to Heal, states that it is estimated that about 90 million Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a “lectin” and lectins bind to the lining of the small intestine, causing substantial inflammation and painful irritation in some people. Dr. Peter D'Adamo believes that people with blood type O are particularly susceptible, that type B children may succumb to diarrhea if they over-indulge in wheat products, and that wheat products, as well as dairy contribute to ear infections in type O children.

Remembering that the amount of gluten in today's wheat is six times higher than in 1940, we would be wise to become aware of the amount we are ingesting each day, as the damage to the intestinal wall and the ability to absorb nutrients depends on the amount of gluten consumed. This affects healthy individuals as well as those already diagnosed.

Purchasing ready-made flour products (breads, cakes, etc.— see list below) means we are usually eating trans-fats (bad fats), in addition to the concerns about the lack of nutrients. In Allergies: Disease in Disguise, Dr. Bateson-Koch states that bread and rolls have up to 24 percent trans-fatty acids, crackers up to 30 percent, doughnuts and pastries up to 33 percent, and cookies up to 40 percent.

Phytic acid is a phosphorus compound found in large amounts in whole grains and has the property of combining with minerals, especially calcium, iron, and zinc to form insoluble compounds which are carried out in the stool, resulting in nutrient loss. Phytic acid may be a problem when adjusting, initially, to whole grains in the diet, although there may continue to be a concern for those who do not acquire the ability to deal with excessive quantities. This is often dependent upon the individual's state of health.

When flour is made all of the bran is extracted, not only the coarser outer layers, which are of little food value, but also the inner layers which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. Also removed is the germ, a valuable source of vitamin E, protein, and thiamin. Often only the starch remains. This accounts for the fact that white flour can remain on the store shelf and not go rancid, whereas whole wheat flour cannot.

A further concern is that the ratio between zinc (an essential mineral) and cadmium (a toxic component) in food is important, and zinc is concentrated in the outer layers while cadmium tends to be found in the centre. Therefore milling selectively removes the zinc and leaves the cadmium. Could this then be one of the reasons why we often see cadmium toxicity in a nutritional assessment? As well, white flour contains only 13 percent of the chromium, 9 percent of the manganese, and 19 percent of the iron as compared with whole wheat flour.

The term “enriched” is rather meaningless as some vitamins and minerals are added back into the flour but most of the nutrients have already been removed.

Even though I recommend whole grains, not everyone's body can handle them. If a person is unable to digest whole grain flour due to some illness, be sure to supply quantities of the other nutrients that have been lost in refining.

Another concern is the fact that the amylase in our saliva digests white flour so quickly, thus causing a blood sugar imbalance. In addition to the nutrient losses in white flour, we also have energy and mood swings, and cravings for sweets or starch due to the lack of B vitamins and chromium. The phosphorus and pH imbalance pulls calcium from the bones. Consumption of white flour may lead to chronic energy
depletion, a sweet tooth, chronic constipation (and the many resulting health problems), and osteoporosis.

We who promote whole foods for healing call any foods made with white flour “high sugar foods” due to this quick digesting and resulting glucose (sugar). We also believe the increase in yeast related problems is brought on in part by white flour products.

Did you know that when you are eating any refined carbohydrate you are essentially eating sugar? In Life Without Bread Dr. Lutz says our stomach and intestinal juices break apart the complex carbs and then our bodies see them as simple sugar. The reason behind the latest low-carb craze is that our body's primary
response to carbs is the release of insulin into the bloodstream; carbs bring on a disproportionately larger increase of insulin compared to fat and protein. It makes sense then firstly, to eliminate any breads
and other flour foods made with anything other then whole grains, and secondly, to reduce the amount of carbs in the diet. We are not talking about eliminating carbs, or bread, but about being sensible—for example, around 100 grams of carbohydrate daily is sufficient. These two steps will help lower triglycerides, balance blood sugars, and reduce weight. If you are counting grams of fibre, the latest targets say 21 grams for women over fifty, 25 grams for younger women, 30 grams for men over fifty, and 38 grams for younger men. (panel of Canadian and US scientists)

Here is a partial list of foods that more than likely contain white flour: bread, buns, subs, wraps pancakes, pitas, croissants, crackers, burritos, pizzas, muffins, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, and pies.

In summary, the three main areas of concern with bread today are: 1) higher gluten content, 2) refined and processed flour which removes many nutrients, and 3) the amount of flour products we ingest in our society.

BUYING, COOKING, AND STORING

Naturally, homemade bread and flour products with fresh ground organic ingredients, increasing the nutrient value, are the first choice. If that isn't possible due to time constraints look for producers who use the best ingredients. Here in Saskatoon we have three vendors at the Farmer's Market who use organic whole grains to bake their breads: Nature's Way, Good Spirit Bakery, and Marion's Market. Good Spirit has the bonus of adding ground legumes to some of their breads which completes the protein. Always ask for the 100
percent whole grains. Phone around and ask the bakeries if they use 100 percent whole grain and/or organic flours. You need to be very specific when asking this question as it is legal to remove 30 percent
of the bran and germ and still call the flour “whole wheat”.

If you are buying your bread at the grocery store, always check the ingredient list. It is 100 percent whole grain if the following ingredients are NOT on the list: wheat flour, white flour, unbleached flour, enriched flour. Also look beyond the name. Well known doesn't necessarily make it the best. Don't be impressed with such statements as: “a source of 9 essential nutrients”, “special low-carb”, etc. Adding bits and dabs of whole flax or oat bran doesn't turn white flour into whole grain.

Health food stores often carry specially-made 100 percent whole grain breads, but again, one must read the
labels for additives. Often the rice bread is made from white rice flour.

If you can find or make sprouted-grain breads, that is ideal, as sprouting increases the nutrient value tremendously, and also breaks down the phytic acid, making it easier to digest. (see recipe section) Health food stores often carry sprouted breads, such as Essene and Ezekiel, and sprouted tortillas. The "Food for Life" sprouted whole grain tortillas and Ezekiel bread also have sprouted legumes as an ingredient, completing the protein.

If you can find or make sprouted-grain breads, that is ideal, as sprouting increases the nutrient value tremendously, and also breaks down the phytic acid, making it easier to digest. (see recipe section) Health food stores often carry sprouted breads, such as Essene and Ezekiel, and sprouted tortillas. The "Food for Life" sprouted whole grain tortillas and Ezekiel bread also have sprouted legumes as an ingredient, completing the protein.


 RECIPES

SPROUTED WHEAT BREAD (ESSENE)

2 cups organic wheat kernels
1 gallon jar with a piece of cheesecloth and an elastic for a lid.

Cover with pure water and soak overnight. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Place jar in a dark place, around 80 F if possible, an oven or a cupboard, for 3 days, rinsing 3 times a day. Lay the jar on it's side to distribute the wheat kernels. Place a towel over top. Be sure to drain well to avoid molding. Before using, rinse well again. Place in a food processor and process until a mush. Add a bit of celtic salt to taste if desired. Shape into loaves or rounds about 6" in diameter and 1" thick. Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake in a 225°F oven for 2 to 3 hours or until done. It will be dry and dark brown. Place a glass bowl over top of loaves before putting it in the oven to bake to prevent the loaf from drying out. Optional: try adding grated carrot, raisins, or a few nuts or seeds, finely chopped, and maybe your favourite spice.


QUICK WHOLE WHEAT BREAD*

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup unprocessed bran
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/3 cups milk (use almond or rice for dairy-free)
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a 9" square pan. In a large bowl, stir together both flours, bran, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, egg, and oil. Stir until the mixture is well-combined. Turn into prepared pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until centre is firm when gently touched-about 20 minutes.


WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

Makes 3 loaves, 16 slices each

3 cups water
2-1/2 tbsp baker's yeast
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
7-1/2 cups unsifted, stone-ground whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp fine celtic salt
5 tbsp dried, unsweetened desiccated coconut flakes
5 tbsp sunflower kernels

Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature. Combine water, yeast, and honey in a large mixing bowl. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add oil, 5 cups flour and salt, and beat for 100 strokes or for 8 minutes at low speed in your electric mixer. Do not shirk on this process or your bread will not be light and crunchy.

Stir in the remaining 2-1/2 cups flour or enough to make a stiff dough. Sprinkle coconut, sunflower seeds, and 2 tbsp flour on a bread board or pastry cloth. Turn dough onto this and knead 100 times, using more flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking.

Stir in the remaining 2-1/2 cups flour or enough to make a stiff dough. Sprinkle coconut, sunflower seeds, and 2 tbsp flour on a bread board or pastry cloth. Turn dough onto this and knead 100 times, using more flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking.

*from Nutrition, Cooking and Healing by Paulette Millis

References: The Top Ten Powerfoods, Stephanie Beling, MD; Life Without Bread, Wolfgang Lutz, MD and Christian B. Allan, PhD; Eat Right for Your Type, Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo; Diet and Nutrition, Rudolph Ballentine, MD; The Natural Way to Heal, Walter Last; The Complete Book of Natural Foods, Fred Rohe; Allergies: Disease in Disguise, Carolee Bateson-Koch.

The above information regarding nutritious food is not intended to replace any instruction from medical or health professionals.

Paulette Millis lives and works in Saskatoon as a counsellor and nutritional consultant. Her cookbook, Nutrition, Cooking and Healing, is available in health food stores, or by calling Paulette at
(306) 244-8890, or visit www.geocities.com/paulettemillis.

 

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