It's Getting A Bad Rep, But Bread Might Actually Be An Underrated Superfood - Here's Why

It’s Getting A Bad Rep, But Bread Might Actually Be An Underrated Superfood – Here’s Why

In a diet culture where fad diets reign supreme, bread has become demonized for its high carb (and gluten) content and shunned by wellness obsessives for supposedly helping people take weight. While high carb foods, namely bread, have been ingrained as public enemy #1 when it comes to healthy eating or achieving goals like gut health, I think Oprah speaks for all of us when she adamantly expressed her love for it in a now-viral TV ad (see: Oprah’s “I love bread” memes). So there’s no doubt that bread is delicious, but is it really so bad for your health that you should replace it with low-carb or gluten-free alternatives? Or could bread be… good for you?

I asked professional dieticians to step in and finally put an end to the long-running debate. Read on to find out what they had to say. Spoiler: The bread is not the enemy. It’s time to brush up on those bread-making skills — your gut health might thank you.

The health benefits of bread

It turns out that in addition to just satisfying a craving, snacking on certain types of bread can prevent a major case of FOMO, or missing out on essential nutrients. “Bread can benefit gut health because of the range of fiber, vitamins and minerals found in some breads,” explained Johna Burdeos, registered dietitian. “Fiber in particular is essential for optimal gut health. Think of fiber as nature’s broom for the gut: it helps soften stools and move them along the digestive tract. Wirtz pointed out that whole-grain bread is rich in dietary fiber and prebiotics, AKA compounds that feed the good bacteria in your gut and promote a better environment for bacteria to thrive.

But the health benefits don’t stop there. “Bread can also be a source of resistant starch, which is a kind of starch that cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes,” said Kim Kulp, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Gut Health Connection. “This undigested starch then ends up in the large intestine where microbes break it down and produce compounds that decrease inflammation, train our immune system and protect the lining of the gut.” Of course, bread shouldn’t be the only source of fiber and prebiotics you eat (fruits and vegetables are key sources of fiber too!), but rest assured, breads contain more body-boosting nutrients. intestines than the dietary culture suggests.

Of course, bread is higher in carbohydrates than protein or fat, but carbohydrate-rich foods are an important part of a healthy diet because carbohydrates supply the body with energy used to support bodily functions and the body. physical activity. Additionally, some breads are made up of complex carbohydrates — the aforementioned fibers and starches — which take longer to digest, preventing blood sugar spikes. So you can have your bread and eat it too!

And isn’t gluten bad for you?

Going gluten-free seems to be considered the best thing since sliced ​​bread, but is gluten, a protein found in some grains including wheat, barley and rye, really that unhealthy? “With celiac disease – an autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine when gluten is consumed – on the rise, there has also been a strong tendency for non-celiacs to avoid gluten,” explained Mary Wirtz. , dietician and consultant for Mom Loves Best. . It is important to differentiate between people who are allergic or sensitive to gluten and those who abstain from it because they think it is unhealthy. Of course, gluten isn’t beneficial if you have celiac disease or another sensitivity, and if your body feels better without it, work with your doctor or nutritionist to build a gluten-free diet and fill in any nutritional gaps, like you would for any food allergy to an otherwise nutritious food, such as eggs and nuts.

However, for those who are giving up on gluten because they classify it as a “bad” food, they might want to think twice. As with any health trend, a low-carb or gluten-free diet should be taken with a grain (pun intended) of salt. Just because a way of eating is trendy doesn’t mean it’s right for you (always listen to your instincts, both literally and figuratively).

Research suggests that only 6% of the population is gluten intolerant and about 1% has celiac disease. For us? Gluten-containing products like bread can be part of a nutritious diet. In fact, going completely gluten-free (if you don’t have any of the above conditions) can lead to a loss of nutritious whole grains, fiber, and micronutrients. Plus, gluten-free processed foods often contain fewer nutrients and more sugar (always check the ingredients!). Conclusion: Despite gluten’s bad reputation, gluten-free does not mean healthier, unless you are allergic or intolerant to it.

What type of bread to choose?

Not all breads are created equal. Like all other store-bought foods, some products contain minimally processed and nutrient-dense ingredients, while other products are highly processed and nutrient-dense. As a rule of thumb, Burdeos suggested opting for whole grain breads (think: 100% whole wheat), which consist of whole grains, including the parts highest in fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins and in healthy fats, as opposed to refined grains (i.e. conventional white bread, processed baked goods, etc.) which remove much of the nutrients. “When buying bread, look at the ingredients to make sure the first ingredient says whole wheat,” Kulp said. “If the word ‘whole’ is not there, then the fiber has been removed.”

Another expert favourite? Good old leaven. Wirtz explained that some research suggests sourdough bread acts as a prebiotic to feed gut bacteria. Because it undergoes a fermentation process, eating sourdough bread aids in better digestion, promotes better nutritional absorption of minerals and vitamins, and improves gut health. The main takeaway? Not all types of bread are nutrient dense, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it at bay for a healthy diet.

Diet Culture Myths We Still Believe Dietitians Say to Ditch ASAP

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