Once upon a time, when bread was considered the staff of life, the bread people ate was of a quality that actually supported life. But the wholesome content of “our daily bread” has dwindled greatly since the late 1800s, in a slow and steady decline that began with the bleaching of flour.
In the early 1900s, Dr. Harvey Wiley, MD and head of the Bureau of Chemistry, a precursor to the FDA, opposed the process of bleaching flour. Dr. Wiley was one of the good guys who quit his position out of frustration after the law he helped create banning chemically bleaching flour was never enforced.
Prior to the time bleached flour was introduced, the normal process of harvesting wheat and other grains permitted the grains to sprout before being milled. Those nutritious sprouts were part of our ancestors’ daily bread. Now the bread offered to consumers is nutritionally vapid processed bread, which due to the toxic chemicals used for processing, inhibits nutrients from other sources as well as adding toxins.
Common Bread Hazards
Artificial chemical bleaching is banned in Europe, where so far food still has some nutritional value. There, white flour is created by letting the crushed grains age in the open air for several days. No chemicals are used.
Elsewhere, even many so-called whole grain breads have some chemically bleached white flour in them. Before it becomes flour, wheat and other non-organic factory farmed grains are treated with fungicides, pesticides, and insecticides from seedling to storage. A bad enough start! Then the highly nutritious, sproutable bran, and the husk that has the fiber, are removed leaving only the light yellow endosperm, which is virtually all starch with very little nutritional value and a high glycemic index rating.
But that’s not all folks. In order to bypass the aging process, add shelf life, and get that clean white color, the endosperm is crushed and treated with chlorides to get it white instantly. A byproduct of this process is alloxan, which is used to induce diabetes in lab animals for medical testing!
Never mind looking for that on bread labels. Alloxan is a byproduct of the bleaching process, not an ingredient. To avoid it, simply put any bread back on the shelf that includes white flour unless you’re in Europe or it specifically states unbleached white flour. You can buy better breads or make your own.
Better Bread Options
The better breads are usually refrigerated. They have many nutrients intact and are not chemically treated for enhanced shelf life. Truly dark whole rye breads or pumpernickels will be healthier than normal shelf breads or recently baked white breads. At this level, you’re doing better.
But doing best comes with eating sprouted grain breads. In these breads the bran remains in its sprouted form. Sprouting grains eliminates the phytic acid of whole grains, which binds with minerals and makes them almost impossible to digest. Real sourdough bread will be lower in phytic acid than unsprouted whole grain breads.
There are a couple of already prepared bread brands with sprouted grains still around if you browse in your health food store freezers and don’t mind spending an extra buck or two. If you Google “sprouted grain breads” you’ll have some online ordering opportunities as well. This is the stuff of bread prior to the industrial revolution. It is actually highly nutritious with a low glycemic index and without mineral robbing phytic acid.
You can also buy sprouted flour, invest in a bread maker and treat yourself to easily digestible, filling, and nutritious bread. Sprouting produces enzymes which assist digestion and contribute to cellular metabolism. Sprouting deactivates aflatoxins, carcinogens found in grains. Sprouted flour is a source of protein, and is no longer just starch. You can even sprout your own grains. (Source below)
Sprouting adds Vitamins B and C, and carotene (the precursor for Vitamin A). It frees key minerals for absorption. Whether you buy those pricey sprouted whole grain breads or hunker down with your own sprouting and bread making, consuming breads with sprouted flours is a return to wholesome bread as it once was.
Sources for more information:
Sprouting Your Own Grains http://nourishedkitchen.com/sprouted-grain/
To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. http://organicsproutedflour.net/whySproutedFlour.html
Phytic Acid Remedies http://hubpages.com/hub/phytic-acid
White Flour: Not that Healthy http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/white-flour.html
What Happens to Wheat from Seed too Storage http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/572-wheaty-indiscretions.html
About Alloxan http://health.insights2.org/Alloxan.html
What is Pumpernickel Bread? http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-pumpernickel-bread.htm