Is bread for you?

Bread is the staple of the west. We have toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and sometimes even bread with dinner. But is all this bread doing us any good?

There are several problems with eating too much bread. This first is linked to wheat – a grain that is high in gluten and reactive to a lot of people. Wheat has become problematic for us because it is far too refined and we eat far too much of it. 99.9% of bread consumed is made from flour that is highly refined and bleached, which then makes it low in nutrition. Even wholemeal bread is made from white flour with bran added back in, so although a little healthier than white bread it does not do us much good.

Then comes the issue of the fast rise loaf of bread. Commercial bakeries use lots of yeast that causes the bread to rise in under 30 minutes. As well as the fact that yeasts can disrupt our digestive systems and lead to fungal overgrowths, rising a loaf of bread in this fashion does not allow the proteins to be broken down. Traditionally bread was risen over 6-12 + hours using a sourdough method. In naturally fermented sourdough bread the proteins have begun to be digested and nutrients are released so you can better utilize them.

Sourdough Bread

Traditional sourdough bread

Some people may cope with small amounts of organic, wholegrain wheat sourdough bread, although better alternatives are breads that are made with spelt, kamut (khorasan) or rye flours. Beware of the ‘sourdough’ bread you find at the supermarket and regular bakeries – they are most likely yeasted bread with a little bit of culture or sour flavouring added in.

If you’re very sensitive you may need to avoid gluten, which even spelt, kamut and rye contains. I do not recommend eating gluten free bread however as it is highly refined and usually has lots of additives to make it taste like ‘real’ bread. Unfortunately if you are gluten sensitive then eliminating bread is the best way to go.

If bread is something that you love, eat it, but use the following rules:

  • Only eat organic, traditionally leavened sourdough bread
  • Eat bread a maximum of once per day, 5 days a week
  • Buy bread that is made with wholegrain flour
  • Opt for spelt, kamut or rye breads over wheat
  • If you have digestive issues then see a naturopath to check if bread is right for you.

Katherine Maslen

Principal Naturopath
Bachelor of Naturopathy

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