The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


mikedilger's picture


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.

Glycemic Index

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.



JeffUK's picture

May I also add the observation that in these days of constant bombardment with information and new technology that I think pushes many people into a constant state of anxiety, stress and pressure that any of those things that we can do that can anchor us into our roots and the simplicity of times we have now lost for good is a wonderful antidote to stress.  Making bread each day creates something alive, is absorbing and rewarding, is created from scratch and gives the pleasure of both creation and consumption.

dabrownman's picture

I will posit that that more people have died from Paleo diets than Global Warming.  This seems harsh since the UN has said that at least 300,000 people have died each year for the past 5 years from global warming = 1.5 million total.  People accept this even though there is not one shred of evidence that is true and, they can not tell you when you ask, 1 person by name who is on this long list with their death certificate that says cause of death was global warming!  Yet people believe what they believe no matter what the facts are.   So the truth is that since no one has died from global warming,  no one has died from a Paleo diet either.  No harm no foul.  As a libertarian, I think folks should do, think and act as they see fit long as they do not interfere with how I do, think or act.    They are free to be as stupid as they want to be as long as they don't hurt someone else just as I can be as stupid as I want to be like wise,  No harm no foul.   Anyone who thinks otherwise, I find suspect as a totalitarian,  because they have no right to tell anyone else what to do, say or how to act if they aren't harming anyone else - period..  It is just common sense that many people no longer seem to have.  So be wise and remember that people are different, they have different opinions, they think and act differently which is about the best thing that could ever possibly happen in this world for all of us.  They are just different than you are.  So what?  They aren't evil, or nasty or wrong in any way whatsoever.  If you think they are, then it is you.... that is what you so fear in others.

Secondly, as a diabetic that has spent the last 10 years trying to figure out what is best for me bread wise, I can say that Bread of any kind is bad for us.  One slice of the best bread is like a teaspoon of sugar for us.  After testing my blood sugar for decades I can tell you almost exact;y what I eat will do to and for me. Carbs are poison to me plain and simple - but not all carbs  Veggies are pure carbs but they are good for me but not all veggies.  I can always tell when my A1C is out of whack and I can fix it immediately by giving up bad carbs every time..  So now and again I have ti stop baking bread and deserts,  If I limit myself to one thin slice of sprouted, SD bread for breakfast and lunch, and none for dinner and don't have carbs for dinner, no rice or pasta i can get by with my A!C under 7 easily.  But that is me.  Other diabetics who do what I do would be be in serious trouble.  Others can eat more carbs,  I have had diabetes for decades and it only gets worse as I get older.  That is the way it works.  So I tell other diabetics what works for me and they can do what ever they want for all I care because it isn't any of my business now is it?

Happy baking and eating bread.  I'm thinking it is way better than being dead.

wooo00oo's picture

On nobody dying to global warming: Let's consider smoking. Basically nobody dies exactly from the act of smoking. It's just that many smokers die due to diseases which are easier to acquire due to their exposure to smoking. Smoking 'causes' many deaths, whether by heart disease or lung cancer, but you won't see 'smoking' as the cause of death. Similarly, one might say that the effects of global warming 'causes' deaths, yet the precise nature of those deaths could be an increased rate of cancer or more-extreme natural disasters due to global warming.

I'm not saying the UN is right—I certainly didn't do my reading lately—but I don't think it's quite right either to say that nobody has died from paleo or global warming.

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

I don't think that is a nuance. You have just pointed out a typical internet trolling fallacy technique. If something has to be stated on a death certificate to make it the reason for death, then nobody has died from earthquakes, tornados, car accidents, tsunami, etc. That won't be listed on the death certificate.  But it most certainly is the reason that caused the circumstances of the death,  which would be listed as: head trauma, suffocation, asphyxiation, etc. on the death certificate. 

dabrownman's picture

if the USA did not exist at all, and the citizens of the USA contributed zero to global warming, their computer models. which is all they have to go on, the temperature of the Earth would be .1 of one degree Celsius lower in 100 years?  Seems like way too much of a reaction of a religious cult for not much of anything worth worrying about to me.  If we cease to exist, nothing changes.  But there is real change going on.

What is happening is that the sun burns a bit hotter every day because that is what stars like the Sun do  Every billion years the Sun burns 10% hotter.  It also expands because of this extra heat it produces.  This causes a higher pressure pushing out while there is less mass in the Sun, since it is fusing Hydrogen into helium and giving up mass as it does so, for gravity to hold the pressure into the same volume.  The gets hooter and closer to the earth.

In 500.000,000 years or so, depending on the computer models, there will be real Sun cause global warming that will boil off the Earth's oceans.  Huge amounts water vapor will be in the air, causing the earth to be just like Venus global warming wise - only much, much, hotter ......around 1,400 F - Yikes!  I'm glad I won't be here.  Eventually the Sun will expand so much that the earth will be inside it!  Talk about hot!  Let me know when you guys figure out how to stop the sun from being a star.

No worries, we have a lot of time to figure out how to get off of this planet and go somewhere else and we don't even have to start thinking about that for 100 million years.  We are not going to be dead in 12 years as the cultists are now saying.  These were the same ones who said NYC and Miami would be under water by now in the 90's and early 2000's and also the same ones who said that we we were entering an ice age in early 1980's.  Some of us have been around the block, heard all the Chicken Little's saying the world is ending,  This isn't our first end of the world rodeo.

97% of all scientific facts have been proven wrong by other scientists who came along later to correct the horrible errors of the previous ones.  When it comes to global warming, or even the Sun expanding, we have a 97% chance that both computer model's predictions are wrong.   I'll take those odds over any religion's faith and myth any day.  But, I don't believe I will be able to, or even even want to, change the minds of the weak minded faithful either long as they don't try to tell me what to do, force me to do anything stupid or hurt me in any way.  That is the way Libertarians are.  We really believe in - No harm no foul and I'm doing no one no harm whatsoever - at least global warming wise - according to the climate scientists latest computer models!