What’s The Deal With Eating Bread?
The bread we see in the shopping aisles of today is not all the same as it was many years ago. The number of ingredients on bread packaging has multiplied from what it used to be back in the day – a.k.a. flour, salt, olive oil, and water. So, what’s the deal with eating bread? The good news is, you can still enjoy the bread of your great-grandparents with a few easy tips and some eye-opening information.
What are some of the known concerns with bread?
Aside from the spray of nasty pesticides on mass-produced grains, we have also modified them to increase shelf life and this modification can at times mean that healthy complex oils found in raw grains are removed. These oils are quite good for us and removing them results in the grains being more inflammatory. With mass-produced bread, production factories will also make use of conditioners, emulsifiers, preservatives, and bleached flour products to create bread. On the other hand, the bread that was produced long ago was fermented slowly using sourdough, which made it much easier for our bodies to digest.
To go gluten-free or not?
Gluten is a protein that can be found in some grains and it is not new to humanity. Anthropologists have found evidence of grains that would have contained gluten from as far back as 10 000 years ago. You can read more about this in my book, Strengthen Your Immune System and Boost Your Resistance to Disease. So, what’s so bad about gluten in our grains? Well, as mentioned above, the processing that grains go through today versus back in the day is quite different.
Gluten is generally known to be hard on the gut. It is not only in breads and grains based products, but it can also be found in some sauces and other products we see on store shelves. We are overexposed to it in unlikely places, which means that many of us struggle with immune reactions because of its overuse and for various other reasons.
Some people are genetically gluten intolerant, and others react to it because of an inflammatory response and other immune system or digestive issues. I would advise that you don’t have too much of it, rather eat real, whole foods as much as you can and steer clear of swapping everything to the ‘gluten-free’ options. Some gluten-free products are not healthy, so be sure to check the ingredients before you make a full swap.
4 tips for eating bread well
Keeping your immune system strong is possible in a world where the odds seem to be against us when it comes to food integrity in local stores. Below are 4 of my tips for eating bread well, while maintaining a healthy balance of good foods in your gut.
1. Check the ingredients list on the bread you buy
When you’re buying bread, have a look at the ingredients on the packaging. Remember, long ago bread was made with a slow sourdough fermentation process and no additional, foreign ingredients to increase shelf life. Bread would go stale a lot quicker, so if your bread is fresh for weeks, you may want to consider some other options.
2. Go for more traditional loaves of bread or start to make your own
Stone ground, spelt or rye or even ancient grain flour can be a good option for making homemade artisanal bread. As a general rule of thumb aim for bread that is homemade and slowly fermented. Mass-produced loaves are packed with some of the harmful things mentioned in the previous sections.
3. Find natural fermenting sourdough
Sourdoughs are your best bet when it comes to shopping for bread. There’s nothing wrong with asking about the bread you’re buying, especially if you’re in a bakery. Often, bakers would be proud of a decent bread-making process and more than happy to share.
4. Avoid eating bread every day
One of the ways to err on the safe side when it comes to consuming bread is to avoid eating it every day. Opt for real, whole foods, and choose your bread days wisely. If you know bread irritates your gut, you might have to leave it out entirely at least for 2-4 weeks. Then consider only having it 1-2 times weekly, such as on weekends. Or look for the truly healthy gluten free options below.
Great, wholesome bread to try
There is a lot of fun in the discovery of new types of food that are good for your body. Do some research on different types of bread, and find them in your local supermarkets or bakeries. The rise of healthier loaves has begun over the past few years and even I discover new creative versions of good bread time and time again. Find bread that you enjoy, and that contains ingredients that are kind to your gut and your immune system.
Some ideas are:
- Naturally fermented buckwheat bread (gluten free)
- Essene bread, made from sprouts (lower in gluten, but not entirely gluten free)
- The life-changing loaf of bread (can be made with gluten free oats, then gluten free but not gliadin free)
- Sourdough bread made with stone ground ancient grain flour, spelt or rye flour (not gluten free, but lower in gluten due to natural fermentation)