Look around, and it’s very easy to see that America has an obvious problem with obesity. Aside from the embarrassing social ramifications of being seriously overweight, obesity is known to bring with it a host of adverse health issues. One factor that is causing so many overweight Americans is the overuse of refined white flour. The stuff is found in numerous store-bought food products and may be hard to avoid. Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of perfectly good alternatives you can use for your daily meals.
The problem with white flour
White flour is made by removing the natural outer bran and inner germ of the grain with machines, and then bleaching what remains. This effectively removes all of the natural enzymes that are required by the human body to digest wheat. So, not only is white flour devoid of healthful nutrients, it’s also very difficult for the body to digest. White flour offers nothing but empty calories. Yes, that sandwich bread you currently consume may fill you up, but it provides zilch in the way of energy-promoting nutrients.
White flour is nutritionally dead and you would be, too, if you tried to live on nothing but white bread for two months. So, why in the world do companies remove the nutrients from wheat in order to make processed white flour? It’s certainly not for our health. The reason grain processors go to such great lengths to alter natural whole grains is for their own convenience. Refined white flour offers a far longer shelf life than whole grain products that contain all their natural oils and enzymes, says Processed Free America. Because white flour is so nutritionally devoid, flour makers are required by law to “add back” key ingredients such as iron. This explains the word “enriched” on packages containing white flour.
Health benefits of whole grains and alternative grains
By ‘whole grain,’ we mean the grain that comes with everything nature intended, including the bran and germ. Natural nuts, fruits, whole grains, seeds, legumes, and raw milk naturally contain the precise enzymes needed to digest them. Whole grains contain a wealth of nutrients, including B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, along with healthful fiber that aids with digestion and elimination. White flour contains none of these good things.
Whole grain alternatives you can use in your everyday recipes
When it comes to replacing your bleached white flour with alternative flours, your choices are practically unlimited. Bob’s Red Mill, for instance, offers some two dozen alternative flours. Among them are tasty flours made from good things like amaranth, coconut, barley, and buckwheat. Other yummy alternate grain flours include quinoa, rice flour, potato flour, and flour made with teff. Your local natural foods store offers a number of alternative grain flours you can use to make all your favorite breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
It may take some trial-and-error to determine the proper proportions, but with a bit of experimentation, you can learn how to do away with white flour in your everyday recipes. Start with something easy. Pancakes are a fun breakfast food that can be made with just about any sort of alternative whole grain flour. Buckwheat is an excellent flour to use for pancakes and waffles and provides a range of good-for-you nutrients, too. Another popular white flour alternative is coconut flour. You can use coconut flour to bake breads, cookies, and pie crusts, too. See PaleoHacks for detailed info about how to easily and deliciously incorporate alternate whole grain flours into your daily dietary lifestyle.
Ancient grains for better health
The white flour and processed sugars typically found in most commercial breads, crackers, pastas, and snack foods are so refined, the body hardly recognizes them as food. Wheat that has been stripped of its natural bran and oils may be filling, but offers just about zero nutrients. You may not be aware of your nutritional requirements, but your body surely is. Deprived of whole foods and complex carbohydrates, the body simply cannot function properly. Feed it right, and your body will pay you back with increased vitality and an improved sense of well-being.
Did our long-ago ancestors contend with the epidemic of health issues like celiac disease and gluten intolerance that we see today? Probably not, because they mostly ate a ‘paleo’ diet that consisted of whole foods and a range of complex carbohydrates. By adopting some of those old-school nutritional habits, we might all find ourselves living healthier, happier, longer lives.
Tom Hughes lived on a diet of take-out food, coffee and soda once upon a time. But several years ago, due to a health scare, he had to make some huge changes in his lifestyle. Role on to today and he is a dietitian helping other people to eat right.