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The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead?

The San Francisco Free Farm has its "Hecka Local" brand produce, from tomatoes and zucchini to dwarf kale, pineapple sage and watermelon radishes. The free farm is prize-worthy, but is tended by volunteers and donated, no questions asked, to anyone who wants it. That's what Sacramento needs now. But which church in Sacramento owns one third of an acre that will donate that land for growing food that will be given free to anyone who asks?

The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead?
Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

Next time you visit San Francisco, look at the lot on Gough Street. The area was unoccupied and full of weeds since a fire destroyed St. Paulus Church in 1995. Like much of the city, it sat in close proximity to wealth and poverty, blocks from the ornate Opera House near both expensive condos and public housing. But until Sacramento gets a similar free food farm, Sacramentans could be eating healthier by not eating white foods, especially not eating white foods in the evening.

In Sacramento during the past five years grants have been made to several grocery markets to help improve the diet of Sacramento consumers, especially in neighborhoods where fresh vegetables and fruits are not affordable. Sacramento needs a free vegetable and fruit farm that distributes free produce to the needy or to anyone who shows up asking for free produce.

Sacramento might model a free produce farm like the one that just opened up in San Francisco on land owned by a local church. See the Sacramento Bee January 16, 2011 article, "At Free Farm in S.F., all veggies are given away."

In an age when Sacramento is sprouting urban gardens and vegetable patches on some elementary school grounds, The Free Farm in San Franciso's Mission District is a success that Sacramento could imitate on open lots near neighborhoods most in need of free fresh produce. Have you heard this poem of adages yet?

Don't Eat White Beans, Bread, or Rice at Night

The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead.

White beans, bread, and mayonnaise lead to first-grade malaise.

The whiter the grain, the fiercer the pain.

The whiter the rice, the worse the advice.

White foods in the evening, attitude overweening.

The whiter the bread sticks, the wider the walking sticks

Why It's Not Good to Eat White Foods such as White Bread and Rice for Your Evening Meal or at Night

Don't eat white foods such as white bread and white rice at your evening meal or at night. White foods don't have as much nutritional value as colorful foods. That applies to red and black beans, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, raw baby spinach, cilantro, flat parsley, and anything else darkly colored. Also check out the site and video, Mindless Eating.

Eat colorful plants instead of those nearly white colored leaves of some types of Napa cabbage, dark purple vegetables and fruits, and dark red berries, orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yams, black sesame seeds, black, mahogany, and brown rice, carrots, and other orange and red vegetables and fruits, red 'beef' tomatoes, and any other deeply-colorful fruits, berries, beans, legumes, and vegetables. Food psychology is a growing field of research.

The ideal weight-management plate is to fill half of your plate with vegetables and snack on fruit, not candy. In a restaurant, your entree may be the size of your cell phone or an ipod instead of the size of your hand. Check out the website of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab. Also, in the January/February 2011 issue of AARP magazine, there's an excellent article on page 36 in the Healthy Living Tips column, "Don't Eat White Foods (Bread, Rice) at Dinner," by Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Branding Lab. See the site, 10 Easy Tricks to Lose Weight - AARP The Magazine.

This type of entree on your plate might be followed by two vegetables such as red beans and green beans or shredded raw cabbage salad instead of macaroni and white rice. Many restaurants add sugar to cole slaw and especially to carrot-raisin salad to amplify the sweet taste of carrots and raisins.

When it comes to fish, wild-caught or wild-caught canned orange salmon, and wild black cod are packed with nutrients. Skip the white navy beans and any other type of white beans. And choose red or black beans, even pinto beans. But if you have a choice between pink or white beans, the more colorful, the more nutritious in edible foods.

A big slice of white bread will spike your blood sugar

Whole wheat bread also will raise your blood sugar. See, "Whole Wheat Bread Causes Blood Sugar Rise." Whole wheat and white bread have essentially the same impact on blood sugar. You might as well be eating a big spoonful of sugar. Another way of saying this is that most bread has a high glycemic index. You need to find high-fiber whole sprouted grains, even flourless breads, and no-yeast breads. Also see my other Examiner article, "What are the best sites for understanding the Glycemic Index?"

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, on Aug. 1, 2010, "Grains make gains: Wheat surpasses white in sliced bread sales, " for sliced bread is increasingly about one of two things: what's affordable, and what seems healthiest. And the breads in the middle of the market seem to be getting squeezed."

If you have to choose between white or wheat bread, be aware in Sacramento there are or were neighborhoods where you couldn't even find a supermarket to sell you the bread you want. In fact, in 2005 it took a grant to even give people the chance to buy bread. Why would the average consumer care that wheat bread surpassed white bread in current sales?

Whole wheat bread is selling faster than white bread

And most flat breads or pocket breads come in white or whole wheat, rarely in sour dough rye and pumpernickel. But is there really a difference in how each type of bread affects your blood sugar levels?

The exception is if you're eating bread from sprouted legumes, grains, or other sprouted plants, baked slowly and without yeast. Sooner or later, grains will raise your blood sugar, but how slow or how fast is the question. But then again, grains that are not fermented or 'soured' contain phytic acid.

On the other hand, phytoestrogenic compounds, at the levels consumed in the typical American-style diet, are associated with reduced risk of endometrial cancer. Consumption of phytooestrogens which are present significantly in corn and wheat on a regular basis reduces the risk of endometrial cancer in women, according to an article, "Health Benefits Of Whole Grains: A Literature Review," published in the Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness . Whole grain oats also are healthy.

Some people on low-carb diets have stopped eating bread altogether. For example, check out the book, Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life. But for most of us, did you ever wonder why whole grain bread is outselling white bread nationally these days? Most people want healthier bread along with affordability, availability, and taste.

Some areas in Sacramento didn't have a place where you could choose what kind of bread you wanted, until a grant from UC Davis made getting any type of bread in a local neighborhood possible

Think about taste. Did you grow up on white bread or whole grain bread?

Del Paso Heights, a neighborhood of about 35,000 people in northwest Sacramento, in 2005 had no chain supermarkets. One in 10 households had no car, one in five was on public assistance and one in four received food stamps.

All of which made Jimmy's Deli and Market, one of two independently owned grocery stores in the neighborhood, the source of most or all of the food on many Del Paso Heights tables, according to the Nov. 2, 2005 UC Davis news release, "UC Davis Grant Transforms Del Paso Heights Grocery Store To Improve Community's Diet." What that has to do with today's news is that some people in Sacramento have little choice in what bread is available near their homes.

In 2005, thanks to a UC Davis project funded by a grant from the California Cancer Research Program, the produce selection at Jimmy's expanded beyond potatoes and onions to include such fresh local fare as broccoli and bok choy, celery and cilantro, pears and persimmons. A "grand re-opening" celebration on Nov. 6, 2005 introduced the community to the store's new format.

You also have the choice to bake your own bread with sprouted lentils and other legumes either fermented like sour dough with a starter or ground into flour. You may have read, "Russian rye, pumpernickel, and dark-hued breads are healthier." Why are they healthier if the reason the dough is dark is due to caramel coloring rather than sprouted legumes, seeds, and grains? But if you buy whole wheat bread or white bread, both will raise your blood sugar. What kind of bread is affordable and healthy?

Did you know that whole wheat bread will raise your blood sugar as well as white bread?

Now, according to an August 6, 2010 article in the Sacramento Bee, "Wheat bread overtakes white," by Emily Bryson York of the Chicago Tribune, "whole grains are the hottest trend in sliced bread, with whole wheat edging out soft white bread in total sales for the first time." Also see the article, Whole-grain bread overtakes white in U.S. kitchens.

Flooded with messages about heart health, fiber intake and the need for omega-3s, more consumers are looking for bread that can taste good and deliver nutrients, that article reported. "That's why shopping for sliced bread is increasingly about one of two things: what's affordable, and what seems healthiest. And the breads in the middle of the market seem to be getting squeezed."

A big slice of white bread will spike your blood sugar. Whole wheat bread also will raise your blood sugar. See, "Whole Wheat Bread Causes Blood Sugar Rise." Whole wheat and white bread have essentially the same impact on blood sugar. You might as well be eating a big spoonful of sugar. Another way of saying this is that most bread has a high Glycemic index. You need to find high-fiber whole sprouted grains, even flourless breads, and no-yeast breads.

If you don’t grind the wheat grain into flour, it takes the body much longer to digest it

As a whole grain, not grinded into flour, it doesn’t cause as high a spike in blood glucose. In other words, “whole” grains should ideally be truly “whole” when eaten. Different people's blood sugars rise at different levels in response to sugars. Some are affected more than others. It's genetic.

If you don’t grind the wheat grain into flour, it takes the body much longer to digest it. As a whole grain, not grinded into flour, it doesn’t cause as high a spike in blood glucose. In other words, “whole” grains should ideally be truly “whole” when eaten. Different people's blood sugars rise at different levels in response to sugars. Some are affected more than others. It's genetic.

Baked goods can be made from nut or bean flours, if you need to grind nuts or beans into meal. You also can add a little flax seed meal, without the rise in blood sugar (and corresponding rise in insulin). But don't ever eat more than seven tablespoons of flax meal in your baked goods or other foods because at that level, your thyroid is affected by the flax meal. So just use up to two tablespoons to be on the safe side when it comes to adding flax meal to your foods.

Grinding nuts (higher fats levels) into a meal can be used also as well as garbanzo bean or lentil flour (legume meal)

It's the whitest foods that pave the road toward type 2 diabetes in both children and adults. White rice. White bread. White, bleached flours. White flour pasta. White sugar. White cakes. White potatoes (mashed or fried--but raw, peeled white potatoes are okay). Whole grains have more color and are healthier. White rice is not a whole grain. The vitamins have been scraped off the brown rice. Rice grows brown. See the site, "Diabetes Prevention: The Test."

The exception is white fruits: Pears have their health benefits as do apples that are white inside. And you can include other white vegetables not high in starch, such as white cabbage, white asparagus, and other white vegetables not high in starch such as radishes and daikons. White and green cabbage is nutritious, even though red cabbage does have some more nutrition from the dark red pigment. But you also could choose purple potatoes and purple sweet potatoes.

Why do white foods encourage type 2 diabetes to develop in many, but not all, people? You want to eat low on the Glycemic Index. According to the Glycemic Index, which is a measure of how quickly a certain food raises your blood sugar, if your blood sugar is low and continuing to drop during exercise, you would prefer to eat a carbohydrate that will raise your blood sugar quickly.

If you want to keep your blood sugar from dropping during a few hours of mild activity, you may prefer to eat a complex rather than a simple carbohydrate that has a lower Glycemic Index and longer action time. If your blood sugar tends to spike after breakfast, you may want to select a cereal that has a lower Glycemic Index.

The numbers on the Glycemic Index site give that food's glycemic index based on glucose, which is one of the fastest carbohydrates available. Glucose is given an arbitrary value of 100 and other carbs are given a number relative to glucose.

Faster carbs (higher numbers) are great for raising low blood sugars and for covering brief periods of intense exercise. Slower carbs (lower numbers) are helpful for preventing overnight drops in the blood sugar and for long periods of exercise.

The Glycemic Index numbers are compiled from a wide range of research labs, and often from more than one study. These numbers will be close but may not be identical to other Glycemic Index lists. The impact a food will have on the blood sugar depends on many other factors such as ripeness, cooking time, fiber and fat content, time of day, blood insulin levels, and recent activity. Use the Glycemic Index as just one of the many tools you have available to improve your control.

Many people still believe that eating too much sugar causes diabetes. This misconception arises because diabetes is diagnosed by measuring blood sugar (glucose). But dietary sugar is only part of the picture. According to two recent Harvard studies, a diet rich in certain high-carbohydrate foods—those low in fiber and with a high glycemic index (see below)—increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, at least in those predisposed to it.

Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes from Which Types of Food? Studies
According to the Glycemic Index site, prunes are listed as only number 15 on the glycemic index, whereas dates are listed at 103. Among commercial boxed cold cereals just to name a few of the many listed on the glycemic index, Rice Chex is listed as 89, Cornflakes as 83, and Raisin Bran as 73.

Total is listed as 73, Grapenuts are listed as 67, and Life as 66, compared to Old Fashioned Oatmeal at 48. Compare those cold cereals with a cup of cooked whole wheat groats. Among whole grains, barley is listed as only 25 on the Glycemic Index, whereas millet is 71. The lower on the Glycemic Index, the better the food, the less sugar hitting your bloodstream and taking a lot longer to enter the bloodstream.

The Glycemic Index site lists all types of foods. For example, plain yogurt is only 14 on the Glycemic Index. There have been numerous studies, such as the Harvard Study, of how higher fiber is helpful in foods for reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

One study tracked 65,000 female nurses (age 40 to 65); the other followed 43,000 male health professionals. Within six years, a total of 1,438 participants in that study developed diabetes. There's even a book touting eating 30-35 grams of fiber daily to lose weight. It's called The Fiber35 Diet Program.

See the Harvard nutrition site, "Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way - What Should You Eat." Also see the site, "Health Benefits of a High Fiber Diet." In the study tracking male and female health professionals, men and women whose diet had a high glycemic index and low fiber content more than doubled their chance of developing diabetes.

Foods that seemed to pose the greatest risk were white bread, white rice, potatoes, and sugary soft drinks. In contrast, whole-grain breads and cereals (rich in fiber and with a lower glycemic index) appeared to reduce the risk of diabetes. Fruits and vegetables didn't seem to have an effect, good or bad.

The problem may be that too many foods that appear to have higher numbers on the glycemic index, meaning a diet high in carbohydrate-rich foods stress the pancreas. In responses, the pancreas produces more of the hormone insulin. The result is the insulin stimulates the body's cells to take in and store glucose.

As the years pass, your body may become resistant to insulin. In such insulin-resistant people, the cells become less and less sensitive to insulin. This is characteristic of Type 2 diabetes.

You also need genetic propensity because not all people eating a diet high on the glycemic index, with lots of foods that are low-fiber and high-starch will develop diabetes. You can be very thin and still get type 2 diabetes from foods, even if you don't gain weight.

There also is that genetic predisposition to diabetes. Even if you have the genes, work, lifestyle, or relationship stress along with too many processed foods will exacerbated your propensity to develop type 2 diabetes on a diet low in fiber and high on the Glycemic Index.

If you have the genes to develop diabetes, you could develop it later in life or maybe not at all. You'd also have to see whether you have a chromium deficiency in your vitamins or foods as well as an imbalance between your copper, zinc, and selenium and other minerals.

Obesity and a low-fiber high "white foods" or high Glycemic Index list diet may be the leading risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Family history of the disease, advancing age, and lack of exercise are other important factors.

When you check out your minerals, make sure you have enough magnesium. The study found magnesium is helpful. In the study, scientists revealed that the mineral, magnesium has a protective effect against diabetes. A few studies have suggested that this mineral improves insulin sensitivity. But since whole grains are rich in magnesium, it's hard to say whether the proposed benefit is due to something else in the grain (notably its fiber) or the mineral.

What's a Diabetes-Prevention Diet?
As you tailor your foods to your genetic expression through your body shape and family history genogram (medical history) you might find a high-fiber, low-fat, high-fiber, semi-vegetarian diet that is known to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. But wait a minute.

Some people with metabolic syndrome are told to eat a higher fat diet to prevent insulin from pouring out each time they eat. The fats are supposed to be 'good' fats such as extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil, for example, rather than cream and butter or whole fat dairy products full of saturated long-chain fatty acids.

Even coconut milk has medium chain fatty acids as a saturated fat. Some people with metabolic syndrome are told to eat mixed nuts, even nut butters such as almond butter or even, in some cases, peanut butter made with fresh roasted peanuts with no other fats or sugars added. Others are told to eat a small amount of cinnamon sprinkled on their nut butters to help blood sugar levels.

The Harvard studies emphasize eating whole-grain products. Stay away from highly refined, low-fiber grain products such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice in order to help control blood sugar. Such a diet also helps you manage your weight better. You get the whole grain's vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need. It's one way to keep chronic diseases away as long as you can.

Also see the Harvard nutrition site, "Healthy Eating, a Guide to the New Nutrition." Scientists have learned much more about why some foods help prevent disease and why others promote it. The Healthy Eating report describes the food-health connection and takes on controversial topics like food additives, cooking methods, the role of carbohydrates and more.

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