This Passover was an amazing holiday. I had a wonderful experience, but as usual, I did not react well to Matzah. My stomach felt heavy and bloated, my skin was itchy and burning, and I had fluid in my ears. The organic spelt matzoh was better than regular Matzah, but overall, did not agree with me. Almost every family member suffered from some form of allergic reaction to Matzah (we normally only eat organic stone ground bread). Bloating, nausea, fatigue, white spots on the skin, and upset stomach were common complaints. I found myself craving stone ground bread that is part of my regular diet.
More and more of my friends told me the same thing. "I don't feel good, my stomach is bloated, my eczema is out of control, I gained so much weight, etc....." Is it really the fault of the matzah? Or is refined steel milled flour to blame?
Refined foods such as white flour, white pasta, and white rice have been stripped of their fiber, and are deficient in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. In a study of 65,000 women spanning 6 years, those with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two and a half times the incidence of Type II diabetes, compared with those who ate high-fiber foods such as whole wheat bread and brown rice. Since refined foods do not contain fiber which slows down the conversion of carbs into glucose, these foods flood the blood stream with glucose, causing insulin surges and weight gain. "Processed carbohydrates, lacking in fiber, fail to slow sugar absorption, causing wide swings in glucose levels." (Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman M.D.)
Most flour today is steel milled. Steel milled flour is ground at high heat, destroying the nutrients in the wheat grain. The steel mills pulverize the grain, destroying its natural structure. The flour is ground so fine that it sticks to the walls of our intestines, piercing holes and causing leaky gut. Only fresh stone ground flour maintains the nutrients present in wheat. The stone ground flour particles are large and contain the bran, which facilitates digestion and will not cause leaky gut. This is why I can eat stone ground bread without side effects, but regular bread causes an immediate allergic reaction.
Appetite is controlled by the fiber and nutrient content of the food we eat. For example, whole fruits and vegetables which are high in fiber and nutrients and low in calories are much more filling than refined foods, which are high in calories and low in nutrients. Since refined foods are so low in fiber and nutrients, we dont feel full and our brain tells us to eat more to obtain the nutrients our body desperately needs. Also, high blood sugar levels caused by eating refined foods causes insulin surges. Too much Insulin secretion promotes fat storage in the body. Excess body fat results in even more insulin secretion, since body fat interferes with insulin absorption in our muscle tissues. As our insulin levels continue to soar, more and more fat is stored, and thus a vicious cycle is created. "Two to 5 times the amount of insulin may be secreted in an overweight person than in a thin person." (Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman M.D.)
To control weight gain we must first take control of our blood sugar levels. Even regular whole wheat bread is not ideal for maintaining blood sugar levels. In the steel milling process, the bran (which contains all the fiber) is removed from the endosperm (which is mostly sugar). To make whole wheat bread, the bran is then added back into the white flour, but the molecular structure has been changed and the bran is no longer molecularly bound to the endosperm, so it doesn't slow down the conversion from carbs into glucose effectively anymore. Then cellulose is added into the whole wheat flour to aid the baking process. Cellulose is basically wood pulp. Wood pulp (cellulose) is considered to be a harmless plant fiber by conventional doctors, but in reality it is far from safe for human consumption. The wood pulp acts like knives in our intestines, causing leaky gut. Then the whole wheat flour sits on store shelves for days or months. Most of the nutrients in flour disappear after only 2 days of being ground. For this reason, most flour is enriched with vitamins to attempt to restore some of the nutrients which have been lost. Basically, store bought flour is empty calories.
Since the molecular structure has been changed by the steel mills, regular whole wheat bread doesn't live up to its potential to be a nutrient dense food. Only stone ground bread made from freshly ground flour can effectively reduce blood sugar surges, because of the natural fiber and nutrients it contains. Stone Ground bread is in essence a superfood that has nourished our ancestors for thousands of years. It is talked about in the Gemara and in the medical works of the Rambam. Stone ground bread has the potential to meet up to 75% of your daily dietary needs (especially for B-vitamins). When combined with a diet full of raw and cooked vegetables (especially greens), legumes, and green juicing, stone ground bread can be the cornerstone of a healthy diet.
Getting back to Passover, the Matzah that our forefathers ate when they left Egypt was certainly stone ground. (Steel mills didn't even exist until the late 1800's.) I'm sure that the stone ground matzah of ancient times didn't cause all of the allergic reactions that people are experiencing today. Hopefully next year (B"H) I will be able to eat stone ground matzah, just like our forefathers.