Bread these days is much maligned. The Paleo diet people think grains were a mistake. The low-carb people think carbohydrates are the root of all evil. And the gluten scare mongers imagine they all have celiac disease. Even mainstream dietitians warn of the high glycemic index of bread. What is a baker to do?
Many of these folks can't be convinced otherwise. They've accepted their beliefs about grains, carbs, or gluten in a kind of religious shared-delusional way that is impossible to argue against because it's not logical.
But for those reasonable people who do follow and understand argumentation I write this blog entry explaining each problem or supposed problem, and how it can be fixed.
The Paleo Complaint: Phytates and Lectins
Paleo people are quick to throw out words like "lectins" and "phytates" and they all seem to know that bran contains phytates and that phytates suck nutrients out of your intestinal tract and they get flushed down the toilet. Fair point.
Well, white flour doesn't have any phytates because it doesn't have any bran. Even most wheat flours have some of the bran sifted out. Better yet, the sourdough process neutralizes almost all of the remaining phytates. And even if you aren't doing sourdough, simply soaking your flour partly neutralizes the phytates by activating phytase, the enzyme that breaks down phytate.
As for lectins, they are ubiquitous in nature, practically everywhere. But both cooking and fermentation break these down. In sourdough bread we do both.
Low Carb and Keto Diet People
I don't have much mitigating advice for these folks. Bread is not low carb or ketogenic. They can still remain in ketosis with 50 grams of carbs per day, and that allows a small amount of bread. But it's probably best avoided in this case.
Let's face it. Less than 1% of people have Celiac disease. And most people who seem to be gluten intolerant haven't done rigorous studies to determine if the culprit is actually gluten. The culprit might be (in my opinion) bran from unsoured bread. After all, health people insist on eating whole wheat, but many don't realize that whole wheat is technically poisonous (depending on your definition of poison) if the phytates aren't dealt with. So gluten is, in my humble opinion of course, probably not the problem. Most of these people are experiencing the powerful force of what is known to researchers as the placebo effect. Many gluten-sensitive people who try sourdough find that they don't have the same reaction.
So we come to the last complaint on the list. This is he most scientifically accepted complaint, and this is also the one I think we can do the most about.
[EDIT: and if you're not diabetic and you eat in moderation, don't worry too much about the glycemic index]
Regular white bread has a high glycemic index. But that can come down in a number of ways.
- Sourdough lowers the glycemic index
- Whole grain lowers the glycemic index
- Oil slows digestion and lowers the glycemic index [EDIT: spread it on your bread, don't add it to the recipe]
- Seeds lower the glycemic index
While we are on the topic of seeds, many are saying they are a super food. What better way to get your seeds than in a loaf of bread?
In summary, for the health conscious, a sourdough bread with lots of seeds and with some butter or oil spread on it is probably the best prescription.
I'm currently bulk fermenting such a loaf. I'll post pictures and the recipe if it turns out nice.