Moderation, moderation, moderation
Let’s face it, many of the good things in life are made with white flour. So what’s wrong with white flour? …bleached, enriched, white flour? It sounds clean and healthy. Unfortunately, white flour is one of the unhealthiest foods we consume.
So we eat one delicious, glazed donut with all of its sugary goodness. Carbohydrates comprise the sugary goodness part of the donut. During digestion, the body converts carbs to glucose, and then glucose converts to energy to fuel the body. Surely there’s nothing wrong with fueling the body with a short, little spike in our blood sugar? The problem is that a strong dose of carbs is similar to pushing the gas pedal all the way to the floor and then letting off completely. The burst of energy might propel the body a short distance, but then it is gone.
Surely eating one more donut won’t hurt anything. It felt great the first time and was oh, so delicious. Unfortunately, when our blood sugar spikes, the pancreas reports for duty with extra insulin. Insulin works like a delivery van to transport the sugar from cell to cell looking for a place to store it. When the cells are already full of sugar (glucose) the pancreas has to produce more insulin to transport the extra glucose to the lower rent area of our body, our mid-section. Unfortunately, when the body rents a storage unit, it turns the glucose into fat and becomes a slum lord.
So what role does white flour have in turning our tight and tone stomachs into run-down neighborhoods? Years ago, making flour was almost an art form. It was a slow process which focused on quality. With almost seven billion mouths to feed in the world, the process of making flour has been accelerated to almost warp speed. In the old days, flour was aged naturally to allow the gluten to develop which improved taste and baking quality. Today, chlorine is used as a substitute for the aging process. Chlorine also gives flour its deceitful, angelic, white color.
There are three parts of every grain of wheat. The hard, outer shell is called the bran and contains the most fiber. Beneath the bran lies the bulk of the grain which is called the endosperm. At the center of the grain is the wheat germ and nutrients. White flour is made of just the endosperm because it’s the biggest part of the grain and because it dramatically increases the shelf life of the flour. Whole wheat flour contains all three parts of the grain which retains the nutritional value but shortens its shelf life.
During the refining process, heat and chemicals cause the wheat to lose over 20 nutrients such as potassium, vitamin E, niacin, and magnesium. We can’t have a completely nutrition-less product, so the flour is later enriched with thiamine, folic acid, and iron.
White flour is everywhere. Think about it. It’s in birthday cakes, crackers, burger buns, and in the breading for many fried foods. Can we purge our diets of all enriched, white flour? Probably not. Will we die from it? Probably not. Will we shorten our life span from the results of poor dietary choices? Maybe. So what’s the answer? Moderation, moderation, moderation. There is probably little harm in a single, delicious donut. However, before we think about having seconds, we might want to remember one of the other good things in life called taking a walk.