Are you addicted to bread? It comes as a surprise to many people that bread can actually be just as addictive as sweets and cakes! Are you one of those people who says they don’t crave treats through the day, yet can’t survive the day without having at least 2-6 slices of bread?
Gluten and the digestive system
Gluten is an irritant to the bowel and high levels can cause bowel inflammation. The bowel wall is lined with tiny finger-like projections called villi that increase its surface area and are responsible for the absorption of all the wonderful nutrients from your food, such as iron, calcium and magnesium. Inflammation in the bowel can cause the breakdown of these villi which means that your ability to absorb nutrients diminishes, it can also cause digestive disturbances such as bloating and gas and constipation. The majority of people that we work with notice a significant difference in the way they feel by simply reducing or eliminating gluten from their diet.
Why is gluten so addictive?
Gliadorphins are incompletely broken down pieces of gluten. These have been shown to react with opiate-receptors in the brain and mimic the effects of opiate drugs like heroin and morphine, thus giving gluten that addictive role. Just like these drugs, when gluten binds to your brain opiate-receptors you can experience momentary positive effects like mood elevation, confidence and calm. This can lead to an emotional attachment to bread that can verge on addiction in some people. Long term, excessive gluten consumption can lead to low moods, bowel disturbances and even anxiety or depression in sensitive individuals.
Gluten and sugar balance
Did you know that eating too much bread can be similar to eating too much sugar? All flour is a type of starch which is actually made up from a chain of sugars. When you digest starch it is broken down into sugar by the body. This causes a blood-sugar spike, giving you a satisfying energy high, followed by a low shortly after, and leaving you craving more starchy or sugary foods.
Which breads if any?
Try to see bread as a treat to have once or twice a week, rather than a staple. If you do choose to eat it, select loaves made from traditional wholemeal flours that have been properly prepared and fermented using ancient grains, or gluten-free alternatives. A good loaf should have a thick crunchy crust and be heavy like a brick – you will need to find a good artisan baker for this, or even better, make your own! Sourdough comes with the added benefit of being beautifully fermented and naturally leavened which makes it our absolute pick of the bunch. By reducing bread intake, constipation improves, gas and bloating decrease and nutrient absorption goes up, including iron levels.
Jason wishes to deeply thank, acknowledge and recognise the effort and contribution that the PIF Foundation has provided on a voluntary basis since 2014, as we educated, motivated and inspired change that helps transform the health, vitality and longevity of people all over the world.