As you learn more about processed foods it makes sense why people are currently experiencing so many health challenges. It is vital that we all become aware of what we are putting into our bodies. With regard to flour, if we move away from it as our “daily bread” and only consume it on occasion, it would be much better for us than eating “glue” everyday.
In most first world countries we are so busy we have become oblivious when it comes to how foods are really affecting us, so study this – you will find that omitting white flour from your diet is a huge step to better health!
Over the past 50 years, the amber waves of grain our grandparents enjoyed have been replaced with modern, high-yield dwarf strains of wheat that produce more seeds and grow faster. The result is a dietary wild card, says Davis: “Agricultural geneticists never asked if these new strains of wheat were suitable for human consumption. Their safety has never been tested.” One of the biggest changes in modern wheat is that it contains a modified form of gliadin, a protein found in wheat gluten. Gliadin unleashes a feel-good effect in the brain by morphing into a substance that crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds onto the brain’s opiate receptors. “Gliadin is a very mind-active compound that increases people’s appetites,” says Davis. “People on average eat 400 more calories a day when eating wheat, thanks to the appetite-stimulating effects of gliadin.”
5 Negative Affects of White Flour
1. White flour slows metabolism and raises blood sugar
Smashing a whole-kernel grain to smithereens means it digests faster. Rapid-fire digestion causes blood sugar to spike, which causes a rise in insulin. The result? Not only are you hungry two hours later, but you are also paving the way for insulin resistance and diabetes. “The difference between a whole-kernel grain and a processed grain all boils down to the glycemic index, which is how quickly the body turns food into fuel, or glucose,” says Gerard Mullin, MD, FACN, director of integrative gastroenterology nutrition at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and coauthor of The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health. Foods made with wheat flour are particularly damaging. A carbohydrate in wheat, called amylopectin A, is more easily converted to blood sugar than just about any other carbohydrate. Two slices of bread made with whole-wheat flour can raise blood sugar higher than six teaspoons of table sugar and higher than many candy bars.“If we were evil scientists and we said, ‘Let’s make the most perfect poison,’ it would be wheat,” says preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD. (For more on why Davis advises against eating any kind of wheat — including even whole-kernel grains — check out his book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health.)
The more refined foods a person eats, the more insulin must be produced to manage it. Insulin promotes the storage of fat, making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels that can lead to heart disease. Over time, the pancreas gets so overworked that insulin production grinds to a halt, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or diabetes sets in. Either way, the body is getting little or no fuel from the food you eat and tries to convert muscle and fat into energy.
In 2004, Ludwig and his colleagues at Harvard conducted a study, published in the journal Lancet, in which they fed rats diets with identical nutrients, except for the type of starch. By the end of the study, rats in both groups weighed roughly the same, but those eating a high-glycemic diet had 71 percent more fat than the low-glycemic-index group.
Constant refined sugar and flour intake places continual stress on the adrenals to pump out balancing hormones. This, of course, ultimately weakens the adrenals making it harder and harder for them to respond as the “emergency system” they were created to be.
2. White flour creates digestive issues
White flour has been called the “glue of the gut”. It was common for our older generation to take flour and water and make paste. That was their “glue”. In today’s world, so much food is made from these two basic components: breakfast food, snacks, pasta, bread, cereals, etc. This fiberless paste turns to glue in the intestines. It clogs the system, slows down digestion creating a sluggish metabolism, and can often be the cause of stress headaches and migraines.
Digestive disorders come from hardened fecal matter produced by the consumption of overly starchy foods made with white flour, which makes it very difficult to have a normal bowel movement. While it is true that when you chew food, some of the saliva will break down the starch, once it reaches the stomach, the enzymes in the stomach are incapable of breaking it down because the stomach’s pH levels are too low. Therefore it moves into the intestinal tract and turns to “glue”, lacking the fiber to move it onward.
Studies show that the lectins in grains inflame the lining of the gut and create fissures between cells. Also, when whole-kernel grains are refined, 80 percent of the fiber is lost, and gut health suffers. “Without the fiber, you end up with rapid-release carbs in these grains, which is a bad thing for the gut,” says Kathie Swift, MS, RD, co-author (with Mullin) of The Inside Tract. Plus, fiber helps sweep the gut of debris and supports the body’s critically important elimination and detoxification processes, which also play a role in keeping high cholesterol and inflammation at bay.
3. White flour can trigger a wheat allergy
Wheat is one of the biggest dietary triggers of food allergies and intolerances. Wheat contains gluten, a type of protein found in many grains. It gives dough elasticity, trapping air bubbles and creating a soft texture. Because soft is considered desirable, wheat today is bred to have more gluten than ever before. We cannot say for sure, but many experts blame genetically modified wheat’s high gluten content for the huge rise in wheat intolerance.
White flour comes from a hybrid seed, grown with chemicals, stripped of nutrients and fiber, bleached white, and abundantly available in all meals and snack foods. Repeatedly eating too much of any food at one time can eventually overwhelm the body’s ability to digest it fully.
An allergy may not be recognized instantly, but food allergies can cause many kinds of symptoms, from sinusitis to psychosis, from asthma to arthritis, hyperactivity to depression, insomnia to narcolepsy, and commonly the symptoms don’t manifest immediately after eating. Frequently, wheat allergy reactions are so low grade as to be unnoticeable and may not produce an observable condition until many years of them grinding down our vital force. When the condition finally appears it is hard to associate it with some food that has been consumed for years, apparently with impunity.
4. White flour causes inflammation and chronic disease
Excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour, have an inflammatory effect on the body. An average person consumes more than 160 pounds of sugar and 200 pounds of white flour per year. Sugar and white flour increase blood sugar, and when blood sugar spikes, glucose builds up in the blood. When glucose loiters in the blood, it gets into trouble by attaching itself to nearby proteins. The result is a chemical reaction called glycation, a pro-inflammatory process that plays a role in a host of inflammatory diseases.
Many of the diseases that we think of as part of aging are actually caused by this process. Depending on the individual, the result can be arthritis, heart disease, cataracts, memory loss, wrinkled skin, cellulite, or diabetes complications, to name a few.
5. White flour is acidic
Acidity is another problem. Most people living in first world countries eat an acidic diet resulting from too much salt, sugar, white flour, dairy, meat, and soft drinks. Many experts consider over-acidity to be one of the major causes of chronic inflammation, a major cause of arthritis (pure acid on the bones and joints) and other chronic illnesses. If we included more fruits and vegetables in our diets, especially in an uncooked state, we could maintain a better alkaline balance and enjoy health and vitality.
The body has an elaborate system of checks and balances to keep its pH level at a steady 7.4. A diet high in acidic foods, such as grains, forces the body to pull calcium from the bones to keep things on an even keel. When researchers looked at how the diets of more than 500 women affected their bone density, they found that a diet high in refined grains, among other nutrient-poor foods, was linked to bone loss. A highly acidic diet also chips away at our cellular vitality and immunity in ways that can make us vulnerable to chronic disease. “Grains are the only plant foods that generate acidic by-products,” says Davis. “Wheat, in particular, is among the most potent sources of sulfuric acid, a powerful substance that quickly overcomes the neutralizing effects of alkaline bases.”
LIST OF FOODS AS ALTERNATES FOR THE THREE WHITES
- soak any nuts in sea salt water and dehydrate until crisp
- soak any beans well and prepare with sea salt and coconut palm sugar
- any fresh fruit, blended into a smoothie or eaten whole
- marinade vegetables such as zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and red bell peppers in wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos. Add olive or coconut oil, toss well, and top a salad. Or eat the veggies in slices dipped in coconut aminos mixed with spices.
- bake new potatoes and add coconut oil and nutritional yeast
- grains: try quinoa, sprouted barley chili, sprouted rye made into living bagels, etc.
- as for salad dressings, some store-bought ones are good (try Annie’s) but you can always make wonderful ones from scratch using anything in your kitchen (olive oil, lemon, grapefruit juice, etc.)
- at restaurants you can pretty much eat anywhere and just request certain ways for things to be cooked, substitute items, and ask how things are prepared, they are usually very accommodating.
- for sweets and baked goods, live a little and enjoy each bite. If you make it at home switch up the flours (using almond or coconut flour, etc.) and reducing/replacing fats, and trying different sweeteners or reducing them.
How to Kick the White Food Habit
- Get properly motivated: Because it takes work and motivation to get these whites out of your life, I recommend that you watch YouTube videos and read Dr. Joseph Mercola’s thoughts on this topic, or read a book such as Suicide by Sugar by Dr. Nancy Appleton. Repeat as necessary.
- Stop drinking any form of sweetened drinks, using table salt, and eliminate pasta and bread as soon as possible: The amount of sweetener in any type of soft drink is very high. A 12-ounce can contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. If you can drop the soft drinks, you will instantly reduce your sugar habit significantly. Another obvious food item to eliminate is candy. (And don’t go for the “sugar-free” options, unless it is stevia sweetened, as these sweeteners are toxic in other ways.) This goes for adding table salt to anything. Reducing potato chip and other salt-ladened products as well as breads and pastas will help you get over the belief that you need them. Use the list above to start making steps to healthier habits.
- Don’t eat or buy packaged foods: Even organic packaged foods often contain significant amounts of sugar, hidden grain ingredients, and table salt. While many of them are preferable to their non-organic counterparts, the sugar and salt content, in particular, is something to be aware of. Don’t keep these foods at home, otherwise you may find them hard to resist. Make your own snacks at home like flavored nuts, flax crackers, veggie pastas, living desserts, or eat fruit or vegetables for a snack. You will save money and be healthier!
- Make wise choices when eating out: That salad you had at that restaurant? The dressing was full of sugar, processed salt, not to mention unhealthy fats. Sugar, salt, and wheat are hidden in many dishes at restaurants, and their desserts can be tempting. If you are eating out, make sure you stick with dishes like roasted vegetables and use oil and vinegar for dressing. Bring your own homemade dressing to restaurants and enjoy a salad, sugar-free. A quick recipe for salad dressing: 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2-4 teaspoons brown mustard, 1-2 finely minced garlic cloves, 3/4 teaspoon unrefined salt. Give it a shake in a jar and you are set to go.
- Eat a well-rounded diet, especially concentrating on leafy green protein and vegetables: It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel when eating plenty of plant based protein and vegetables that are full of fiber. Sugar, salt and flour (bread and pasta) cravings are drastically reduced when you eat well. But it takes conscious effort to make it happen. Simply removing these whites can help improve your health, but for good health you need to fill up on good-for-you foods. Eating regular, hearty meals will ensure that you don’t eat a donut or cookie while you’re out, or reach into a co-worker’s candy jar out of hunger. Buy a new cookbook that focuses on healthy, delicious recipes, or start following the many healthy food blogs out there (or go to my recipe page). Get inspired and start collecting delicious but doable recipes.
- Challenge yourself to go completely “three-whites-free” for two weeks: Sometimes when you simply try to “reduce” your white consumption, you end up eating only slightly less than where you started. Go completely three-whites-free for two weeks and you will start resetting your taste buds and gaining a lot of self-control. This is a helpful strategy especially around holidays.
- Get a friend who is interested in reducing or eliminating the three whites to join forces with you: It could be a spouse, a walking partner, or a co-worker. If you have someone who has the same goal as you, shares healthy recipes, and exchanges food/meals, it can make it much more enjoyable and doable. If you can’t find someone in your life, find a friend online.
- Deal with cravings: After a couple of days have gone by without eating any foods with sugar, flour or salt, your cravings for them should be reduced. I find it helpful to eat or drink a fermented food such as homemade sauerkraut, coconut kefir, or kombucha. The sourness of these food items counteract that sweet, salt, bread/pasta desire, plus it gives you healthy probiotics, which help reduce cravings in general.
- Go have fun: As long as you have food in your stomach, life is not all about what you can and cannot eat. Take a walk and enjoy nature, go to the park with your kids, read a good book. In other words, enjoy life. Really, you can enjoy it without these ingredients. I promise.
- Enjoy beautiful food without the three whites: Along the same lines, there is no need to mourn the loss of sweets, salty foods, bread, and pasta when there is such beautiful food to eat. Make hearty veggie chilis, soups, veggie pastas, veggie lasagnas, make a beautiful main dish salad, roast squash, toss on nuts, and enjoy a good unsweetened coconut yogurt. There are so many amazing foods to enjoy — so enjoy them. Don’t feel deprived, simply enjoy different foods.
- Use the 2 teaspoons of sugar rule: Since sugar is typically the hardest to overcome, if you find it too hard to go completely sweet-free, start using unrefined sweeteners at home, such as pure maple syrup, raw honey or coconut sugar. These sugars have minerals and vitamins intact, making them less stressful on the body. They also are less addicting and some, like coconut sugar, don’t raise blood sugar very much. Stevia is an excellent choice for those wanting something sweet without calories or any rise in blood sugar. Appleton, the previously mentioned author of “Suicide by Sugar,” found that two teaspoons of added sweetener at a time is the threshold for healthy individuals, no more than two to three times a day. So, if you find it unappealing to live a completely sweetener-free life, enjoy a bit of raw honey in a cup of tea. Drizzle pure maple syrup into unsweetened yogurt and top with berries or blend some coconut oil, coconut nectar and cacao powder for a delicious chocolate sauce.
- Pass it on to the next generation: Part of the reason adults find it hard to let go of these three whites is because they got addicted and used to it at an early age. If you have children, start them on the right food with a low-sugar, unprocessed salt, white flour-free diet. They will thank you later.
This is not an exhaustive list but just be conscious of your food choices. Eating real, all natural food is really energizing and delicious. Just choose the food closest to its natural state. However, the most important thing is to not be so strict. Live a little. Also don’t consider it a “diet,” consider it a lifestyle change in the way you eat. To your health!
- Robert Lustig, Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar and “Sugar: the Bitter Truth”