Breads, rolls, and bagels are one of the most important sources of calories in our diet. It provides us with carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including iron and folic acid. Still, some people feel that bread is a diet wrecker, adding pounds to the existing weight, while others feel that this idea is not true.
Bread and body weight
If you are a bread-lover, the habit of eating bread can be one of the reasons for adding pounds to the weight. Many people go overboard and eat a lot of bread and other refined food products. When somebody is hungry, bread is often the first choice of food to satisfy the hunger and the more one eats, the more you want it. This is particularly true of white bread, crackers, pretzels and other products of refined grains which can jeopardize the plans for weight control. Eating whole grain products, including breads, may actually help to lose weight than adding to the woes.
In a study, people who ate whole grain breads lost more abdominal fat than those who ate mostly white bread and white rice. Whole grain products are better than white varieties because they provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eating more of whole wheat bread is also a culprit in adding extra weight and should be considered in the daily calorie count.
Bread and diabetes
Some studies have linked eating of white bread to diseases, like type 2 diabetes, which is a disease characterized by high levels of blood sugar. Carbohydrates raise the blood sugar levels, which, in turn, lead to the release of the hormone insulin. Sugars and refined food raises the blood sugar level at a rapid rate when compared to complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and legumes. This is because complex carbohydrates are digested slowly and the rate at which sugar is released into the blood is slow.
This slow release of sugar is very important with respect to people with type 2 diabetes. In this condition, the cells resist the hormone insulin resulting in elevated levels of sugar and insulin in the blood. There is a constant demand for insulin and this affects the insulin-producing cells of the body which finally stops the production of the hormone.
Studies show that limiting the intake of white and refined products and increasing the intake of whole grain products reduces the cell’s resistance to insulin and thus prevents type 2 diabetes. This is because of the fact that whole grains contain abundant fiber which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates.
Bread and gluten intolerance
People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten present in wheat, rye, and barley. In celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune reaction, which causes the immune system to attack its own cells. This affects the absorption of nutrients from the small intestine. People with celiac disease should deliberately avoid bread. Many people link other health problems like bloating, stomach upset and fatigue to the presence of gluten in the diet.
Most of the time people stop eating bread thinking that gluten present in the bread as the causative factor of the problem. Before going gluten-free, it is important to find out whether you have celiac disease, because going gluten-free can make diagnosis for celiac more difficult. If you are planning to avoid gluten in your diet, discuss that with a dietician to ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the nutrients.
The right amount and type of bread
Anybody can have a diet without bread by substituting it with beans, brown rice, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, at least half of the grains should be whole grains. It can be in the form of pasta, rolls, oatmeal, cereals, tortillas or grits.
Nutritionists suggest that eating whole grain bread is a better way to control the amount that you are eating. While buying bread keep the following in mind:
- Opt for bread that lists whole grains as the first ingredient in the bread. It can be whole wheat, white whole wheat, or whole oats. Wheat bread may not be a whole grain product.
- Limit the intake of bread by increasing the fiber content and whole grain products. Opt for 2-ounce sandwich and hamburger buns.
- Color may not be the indicator of whole grain variety as manufacturers add molasses and food coloring to the refined variety to give the product a darker hue. Check the ingredients in the product before buying.
- Choose whole grain products with at least three grams of fiber as ingredient.