Is it ok to eat white bread?
Firstly, I think it’s important to understand that your body obtains most of its energy from breaking down the food you eat into glucose. The glucose comes from the starches and sugar you consume; namely the carbohydrates.
Once the glucose enters your bloodstream it is taken up by the cells where your energy factory is located. In order to then utilise this energy, the glucose needs to go through the factory and made into ATP (your energy currency).
Now here is where it gets interesting…
If you do any of the following there will be consequences:
- You eat too much glucose producing food, which overwhelms the body, the energy factory cannot cope, and your body has to convert this excess to fat and then store this in your body. It does this, so it has some reserves for the famine its expecting!!!! The trouble is, the famine never comes!
- You eat too many empty calories (more about this below) and your energy factory does not have all the ingredients it needs to convert the glucose to ATP. The result of this is an initial high (because the cells received the glucose) followed by a low (because the factory then cannot do its job as some of the ingredients are missing (these special ingredients are the mineral and vitamins needed for the conversions).
- Continually eating too much glucose can put you in a prediabetic state. This is where your body stops taking up the glucose into the cells and it circulates in your bloodstream causing very high blood sugars. There are many reasons why you would not want to do this to yourself.
- When you eat empty calories on a regular basis your appetite increases, your body will crave sugar because what it’s trying to do is to get you to actually eat some good food. The trouble is, we often confuse this and end up eating the entire packet of biscuits, bar of chocolate or bag of sweets! Your body is actively trying to seek out the vitamins and minerals its needs but the only way it can do this is to signal your appetite. If only it could specifically tell you exactly what to eat (this is where I come in!!!).
The type of carbohydrate and glucose source you choose is VITAL!
The difference between white(processed/refined) and brown (wholegrain) foods
When a food is processed the outer husk of the grain is removed. The outer husk contains the fibre and vital nutrients. What is left is just the starchy centre of the grain. This is the part that is used for all white/processed foods including bread, rice and pasta. These are empty calories because they do not contain any other nutrients. Eating this means that you give your energy factory a big shot of glucose without any of the other ingredients it needs to process your ATP.
So, empty calories are foods that contribute to your calorie intake but do not contain any other necessary nutrition. Foods that could be classified as empty would include sweets, cakes, biscuits/cookies, pastries, sugary drinks etc.
Brown Bread v White Bread
There are lots of different breads on the market. The ones to look out for will have 100% whole-wheat or wholegrain on the packaging. Do not be fooled by the multigrain loaf. These look like they are healthier, but they are in fact no better than straight up white bread.
Some breads have been enriched with the nutrients that were originally removed during processing. Your body cannot absorb these as well. Adding nutrients back in to a product doesn’t fool the body! You need to eat the nutrients in their original, natural state.
Unfortunately, wholemeal bread has sugar added to the recipe. I don’t understand the need for this as it means that most wholemeal bread will also include around 2g of sugar PER SLICE (that’s almost half a teaspoon – 1 tsp sugar is 4.2g!!!!). Basic white bread will tend to contain around 1.2g of sugar per slice. So, you can see it’s not easy to BUY healthy bread.
If you look at the labels you will see that wholemeal bread does contain significantly more fibre and protein and less carbohydrates together with the minerals and other nutrients from the wholegrain.
So, what’s the answer?
Well in an ideal world we would all be making our own bread from stone ground wholegrain flours! However, I’m super busy and I know you are too so here’s what I advise!
Personally, I buy wholemeal bread, rolls, wraps and pitta breads. On balance I feel the additional nutrients plus the fibre and protein outweighs the added sugar. The body prefers a slower release of sugar and for that to happen you need the extra fibre, protein and nutrients.
What are your thoughts?