Why you should avoid eating white flour products…
And what you can replace them with
White flour. It is everywhere and seemingly in everything...bread, crackers, cereal, cookies, pizza, cake, pie, pretzels, pasta, muffins, white table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, potato chips, many processed and frozen foods, doughnuts, and numerous other products and foods served in restaurants and grocery stores.
Try as we might, it is almost impossible to avoid consuming white flour. So if we cannot avoid eating white flour products, it is critical that we determine if it is as harmless as the big food producers (“Big Agra”) say it is.
Or if white flour is responsible for a broad range of adverse health concerns.
Modern methods of grain processing are the culprit
But before we proceed, we need to define exactly what white flour is and how it differs from whole grain flour.
Let’s begin with the anatomy of the whole grain. Whole-grain consists of three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran is the outer coating of the grain and is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
The inside layer is the germ, and it is also jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, fat, and protein. The endosperm resides in the middle of the grain and is composed mostly of starchy carbohydrates.
The all-important grain refinement process
When whole grains are refined, the food producers strip away the gram and the bran and leave only the endosperm.
Why do these big food producers do this? Simple: more profits. This process makes the end product more shelf-stable but at the cost of a massive drop in nutrients and possible damage to our health.
Also, this process is more convenient for the producers. For centuries the primary method of turning grain into flour was to grind it between stones; the grinder was often powered by a spinning water wheel.
This process was both expensive and time-consuming. Consequently, this restricted the market to well-heeled, high-income people.
When the high-steel and fast-operating rollers became a part of the process, fine flour could be pumped out cheaply and quickly. The result was the flood of health issues that we see today.
There are even more problems with the modern-day refinement process. With 2/3’s of the whole grain removed the processors needed to add ingredients back into the denuded grain.
These additives are called “enrichment.” One of these so-called nutrients that are added back to enriched flour is iron. But the type of iron added back is a metallic iron and may be toxic.
At the very least enriched white flour products have low bioavailability, which means the body has difficulty absorbing any nutrients from the few nutrients that are left after the refinement process. Sad.
This low bioavailability also applies to the vitamins and minerals that the food producers use to “enrich” the end products.
What are the adverse health consequences of this refinement process?
Numerous studies have concluded that consumption of refined products filled with white flour has resulted in the following severe health consequences:
- Blood sugar spikes and increased risk of diabetes. Refined white flour is near the top of the glycemic index which is a measure of how fast a specific food raises blood sugar levels. This causes the pancreas gland to pump out excess amounts of insulin which is a leading cause of type-2 diabetes. With the stripping away of the bran and germ from whole grains, the body has an easy time converting white flour into blood sugar.
- Weight-gain that leads to obesity. Whole-grain foods are loaded with fiber which means they take longer to digest and leave you feeling full for a longer time. On the other hand, it is all-too-easy to overeat the white flour goodies mentioned earlier. The problem here is that these “bad carbs” don’t satisfy us nearly as much as whole grains. The result is that hunger returns quickly. If you decide to quiet those hunger pangs with more white flour terrible carbs, the result is a vicious cycle.
- Digestion. As mentioned earlier, whole grains are brimming with fiber, which delivers a wide array of health benefits, especially regularity. White flour provides no digestive benefits whatsoever. Whole grains can also assist the good bacteria that are so vital to our digestive health. Again, white flour does not increase the good bacteria and may help to create an atmosphere where bad gut bacteria can flourish. This is something that no one wants or needs. Finally, overeating white flour may boost our risks of food intolerance and allergies.
- Inflammation. Medical professionals and researchers are becoming increasingly convinced that inflammation is the root cause of a wide range of diseases. Once again we see an opposite reaction of the body to refined white flour and whole grains. Refined white flour may increase inflammation while whole grains may reduce the inflammatory markers in our blood.
- Heart disease. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that ingesting large amounts of white flour elevates the risk of heart disease, while consumption of whole grains may protect from cardiovascular disease.
- Increased cancer risk. A grim, ugly fact: cancer cells contain more insulin receptors than healthy cells. Remember, sugar raises insulin and may speed up the growth of cancerous tumors. Most recommended diets for cancer patients advise eliminating white flour products.
- Disruption of the acid-alkaline balance. The importance of the acid-alkaline balance for staying healthy is often overlooked, but it is a vital component of excellent health. A person in good health has a pH of about 7.4. Refined white flour foods can cause this balance to tilt way out of whack to the acidic side. This can weaken the immune system, deplete our bodies of minerals, and disrupt our metabolism.
- Depression. Yes, that’s correct. If all of the above problems associated with eating white flour products weren’t bad enough, add depression to this troublesome parade. Why? How in the world could this be? Here’s why. For centuries the digestive system has been referred to as “the second brain.” And modern research agrees. Because the digestive system has to work overtime in digesting white flour foods, insomnia, and chronic fatigue may emerge, making it more challenging to stay optimistic and energetic. Who needs that?
Here is something else to think about. Go back a mere generation or two. Do this by watching old re-runs of television from the 1950s or 1960s. Or open the family photo album.
Most folks back then were not workout fanatics. They didn’t jog. They didn’t spend hours pumping iron at their local fitness center.
They didn’t possess extensive knowledge about nutrition. Nor were they for the most part overly concerned about what they ate. In fact, frozen TV dinners and canned vegetables were their common fare.
But they seldom were overweight. And the obesity rates of those bygone eras pale in comparison to today’s scale-busting explosions that occur when large numbers of Americans weigh-in.
Many researchers feel that this dramatic surge in pounds and blubber is a direct result of the modern-day tampering of whole-grain wheat.
When you consider how so many fitness freaks still have trouble shedding that stubborn belly fat in spite of their fanatical training regimen, perhaps connecting the dots between losing fat and the consumption and availability of refined white flour foods will gain credibility.
How to minimize or eliminate white flour products
As we discussed, refined white flour products are nearly ubiquitous which makes eating them almost inevitable.
But minimizing your consumption of these foods is not hopeless. There are several alternatives. Here is a list of suggestions of foods for both meals and snacks, and the flour needed for cooking:
- Wheat Berries (Tiny kernels of wheat)
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Whole Wheat
- Brown rice
- Rye flour
- Millet flour
- Sprouted Flour
- Oat Flour
- Almond meal
- Brown rice flour
- Wild rice
- Nut Flour
- Seed Flour
- Ground Flaxseed
- Coconut flour
- Nut meals
- Almond Butter
- Almond Meal
- Cocoa Butter
- Coconut flour
- Coconut Oil
- Coconut Milk
This is far from a complete list of white flour alternatives. But the vital point is that there are options for the insidious white flour foods that can be so debilitating to our continued excellent health.
There are many white-flour-free recipes available through books, magazines, and the Internet. Since you are now aware of the health dangers posed by white flour, consider taking steps to at least minimize your consumption of refined foods containing white flour.
And if you are suffering from severe afflictions such as severe obesity or digestive problems such as ulcerative colitis, strongly consider entirely eliminating any product that contains white flour.
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