There is so much bad bread out there that it’s no surprise that all bread is under the radar, being blamed for various health issues and weight gain. People feel confused and desperately look for alternatives, especially that everyone loves a good vessle for the likes of pate, olive oil or fruit preserve.
Sadly, education in this area can be poor, food labelling is misleading, and many of the so-called ‘healthy breads’ are often not any better.
So what is the problem with most of today’s bread?
Bleached and unfermented flour, instant leavening with synthetic yeast, added gluten and other improvers may result in an appealing texture, but the end product is not real, traditional food. It is mass-produced with very little TLC. And bread needs time.
MODERN WHEAT AND PESTICIDES
Wheat is the most common grain used in baking and unfortunately, it’s not what it used to be. Large portion of commercial wheat is a GMO, Roundup-ready crop. It means that it can be sprayed with this herbicide and yet thrive, which makes wheat highly profitable. Roundup is not neutralised by the soil and it’s believed to be the major problem in baked goods, non-organic pasta, breakfast cereal and commercial dairy.
Cereal grains cannot escape from predators so they produce anti-nutrients that protect them from the environment, the most notable of which is phytic acid. It blocks mineral absorption in the gut and can trigger digestive distress. Under the microscope, grains seem to be a good source of vitamins and minerals but they are not well utilised by the body, unless the grain has been properly prepared.
When flour is mixed with water, two proteins called gliadin and glutenin that are present in wheat, rye and barley combine and form gluten (from Latin ‘glue’). Gliadin aids dough extensibility, and glutenin is responsible for its elasticity. Both help the dough rise and hold its shape.
All proteins are chains of smaller building blocks called amino acids, and it is the specific amino acid sequence in gliadin that is responsible for gluten sensitivity.
These are a type of carbohydrate present in wheat, barley and rye. They are highly fermentable and are the main reason for unpleasant digestive symptoms in sensitive people. Bloating, pain, cramps and changes in bowel movements caused by fructans are often incorrectly blamed on gluten because coincidentally, glutenous grains are also high in fructans.
Thankfully, not all bread is the same. If your health allows you to you to enjoy it, then traditional sourdough bread is your best choice. It is made by fermenting the dough for 24-
48 hours – a length of time that can pose challenge for industrial baking. No wonder that sourdough available in supermarkets is not the real deal. Fermentation makes bread a lot easier to digest by reducing the levels of fructans, breaking down starch and gluten proteins. In other words, amino acid chains don’t have the problematic sequence any more. The longer it has been fermented, the more ‘predigested’ it is, taking the weight off our digestive and immune systems. Natural leavening lowers bread’s glycaemic index, making it a friendlier option for insulin resistant people, diabetics and those who want to shed a few pounds. It also eliminates the phytic acid and facilitates the body’s absorption of grain nutrients. Research indicates that those with celiac disease may be able to eat sourdough bread. Saying that, some people won’t be ready for any until their gut has been healed and sealed, for which nutritional therapy is the best solution.
Proper sourdough is made only with 4 ingredients:
– flour (unbleached and free of glyphosate)
– sourdough starter (mixture of flour and water which has been naturally colonised by lactobacilli and friendly yeasts)
HOW TO FIND HONEST BREAD
Always look for traditional or artisan bakeries. Don’t be shy and talk to the bakers; ask how they make their bread. Honest bakers will only be proud to tell you about their passion that
often has interesting stories and heritage behind. True bread is made with true love for baking, and understanding of its science. It is art.
MY FAVOURITE BAKERY
Thomas and Michelle Grasberger from Thomas’ Bakeshop Boutique in Santa Catalina are fabulous bakers dedicated to traditional bread making. They offer a selection of breads, rolls, baguettes, ciabatta and foccacia made with various flours and interesting additions like pumpkin or beetroot. The flavours represent their memories from the different countries they lived in across Africa, America and Asia before they settled in Palma. They even have sourdough bread crumbs! For those who prefer to avoid traditional grains, there is a gluten free option made with lentil and rice flour. The loaf keeps well in the fridge and is perfect for toasting.
Michelle seems to know all customers by their name, and is the warmest host who perfectly matches the cosy atmosphere of the shop. If you still haven’t been, you’re guaranteed to instantly fall in love with the place. And if you haven’t eaten bread in a while but feel ready to give it a try, who knows – it may be start of a new affair.
Thomas’ Bakeshop Boutique
Calle Anibal 24
07613 Santa Catalina,
Palma de Mallorca
Written by Maya Flynn
About the author
Maya Flynn, founder of www.welcometoglow.com is a functional nutritional therapist, certified GAPS practitioner (Gut and Paychology / Physiology Syndrome) and natural health consultant. Consultations online and in Club De Mar Medical Centre.