Bread is a staple food that has been consumed for thousands of years. Now, 40% of the U.S. population has gluten allergies and 1 in 100 people have celiac disease. What is causing this epidemic? Mainstream media and most doctors blame gluten; as a result, many people are opting for gluten free foods.
However, the "Gluten Theory" defies logic. People have been eating bread for centuries.
It's Not The Gluten That's The Real Culprit It's The Way The Flour is Prepared
In the mid 1800s, a big change took place that completely changed the food industry: the arrival of industrial steel mills. Steel mills replaced traditional stone grinders. In fact, in certain countries, stone grinders were banned and destroyed by local industrial mills.
While there were always problems regarding the safety of bread consumption, such as quality control with grains, fungal contamination and pests, never in history have such a large group of people been unable to eat wheat. In fact, one of the first cases of celiac disease appeared in the year 1888, post Industrial Revolution. An English Doctor named Samuel Gee describes children who suffered from chronic indigestion and wasting. He reported that the cure for this condition would be through diet. At the time, however, the disease did not have a proper name. It was finally diagnosed as celiac disease in the 1990's, but the disease was attributed solely to wheat consumption. Wheat took all the heat and was accused of being the cause behind celiac disease, while the true culprits, such as the grinding method used to mill the wheat, pesticides, bromides and bleach used in conventional wheat production, remained unacknowledged.
The Problems With Steel Milled Flour
Research has shown that steel milled flour can cause a host of health problems. When wheat is ground using steel rollers - the bran, germ, and endosperm are ripped apart due to the sheer force of the machines. Thus, the integrity and molecular structure of the wheat grain is altered. To make whole wheat flour, the bran and germ have to be reintroduced to the flour- but it doesn't bind anymore. So, binders such as cellulose are added to whole wheat flour. In simple terms, cellulose is wood pulp, or saw dust! Cellulose in large amounts can poke holes in the gut lining. This can lead to leaky gut. In this way, whole wheat flour is actually worse than white flour.
Additionally, steel milled flour is ground way too fine. The end result is that the flour sticks to the microvilli along the gut lining like glue. Similar to a cavity, bacteria is attracted to it. The bacteria ferments and causes holes along the lining. This can cause leaky gut as well.
Holistic doctors have reported that leaky gut is the leading cause behind gluten allergies. When leaky gut is present, gluten proteins can escape through the gut wall into the blood stream. The immune system recognizes these proteins as foreign and begins to attack. This is how gluten allergies develop.
The dangers of white flour have largely been masked by the mandatory enrichment of wheat flour. The truth is that Steel Milled Flour is so nutrient deficient that the U.S. government passed a mandatory law in the 1940's that wheat flour had to be enriched with vitamins, especially B vitamins. This law came following a widespread epidemic called Pellagra. Pellagra is a nutrient deficiency disease (specifically vitamin B-3) that claimed the lives of 100,000 Americans in the early 1900's. It happened as a direct result of the bad eating habits of the population who were eating nutrient deficient steel milled white flour and non-alkalized corn flour.
The Health Benefits of Stone Ground Bread
Real Bread can be a superfood. If prepared correctly, it has the potential to provide 70% of our daily nutritional requirements. Unfortunately, due to steel milling and wheat hybridization, wheat based foods currently provide less than 15% of our daily energy requirements.
One of the major health benefits of stone grinding is that the bran and wheat germ remain intact along with the endosperm- no need for cellulose binders. This results in a flour that provides a wide array of vitamins and minerals easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Some of the nutrients present in stone ground flour are: B vitamins (including niacin), Vitamin E, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Riboflaven, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Pantothenic acid depending on the type of grain.
One of the most noteworthy benefits of stone ground flour is that the grain is ground slowly at LOW HEAT- ensuring optimal nutrient content.
The Stone Ground Rule
The stone ground process, and the use of ancient grains, ensures a healthy nutrient dense bread. However, if the flour is not used immediately after grinding, stoneground flour loses its nutrients. Wheat loses about 20% of its nutrient content within the first 24 hours after grinding, and about 90% after 2-3 days. So the wheat flour found on store shelves contains very few nutrients. Stone ground flour must be baked within the first few hours after grinding, when the nutritional value is at its peak, in order to ensure a truly nutritious loaf.
Leah Masel is the author of "The Kosher Gut Plan: Reboot Your Digestive System Naturally" and a health advocate.