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Can Bread Be A Part Of A Healthy Diet?

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If you are trying to follow a healthier diet and you’ve been researching different foods, you may have seen a lot of people advising you to cut out bread. Some people say that bread is one of the worst things you can eat but is that really the case?

In reality, it’s not quite so clear cut as people like to make out and even though there are some negatives to eating bread, it also has benefits, so cutting it out completely might not be the right choice. To help you manage your diet, you need to understand the good and the bad about bread.

So, should bread be part of a healthy diet or not?

The Bad 

Weight Gain 

Weight gain is the thing that people usually point to when they are advising you to cut out bread, and this all has to do with your carbohydrate intake. When you eat carbs, your body burns them as energy. However, if you eat more carbs than your body burns, you store them as fat and that’s when you start gaining weight. So, if you are eating a lot of bread and you are not that active, it’s likely you will struggle to maintain a healthy weight. 

A lot of people find that they lose weight quite quickly when they stop eating bread, which is obviously a good thing. In some cases, they are burning off fat and becoming healthier, but in a lot of cases, it’s actually water weight they are losing. Carbs hold a lot of water when they are stored in the body so if you cut out bread, it’s likely that you will notice a big change in your weight right away, but that doesn’t mean it’s magically making you healthier. 

Oral Health Problems

Looking after your oral health is very important as you get older because you are more likely to encounter problems. Taking regular trips to the dentist and keeping up with a good oral hygiene routine are both important ways to protect your teeth, but your diet has a big role to play as well.

People don’t tend to think of bread as particularly damaging to the teeth but it can be. When you eat bread, some of the carbs break down into sugars and get stuck in your teeth, which can cause cavities. This is a particular problem with processed white bread, which already contains high levels of sugar. 

Increased Diabetes Risk

High sugar intake can lead to increased diabetes risk, and bread can be a contributing factor here. A lot of processed white bread contains high sugar and carb levels with little to no nutritional value.

When you eat it, your blood sugar will spike and, over time, this can increase your chances of developing diabetes. That doesn’t mean that everybody that eats bread is likely to develop diabetes but you do need to be careful about how much you eat and what kind of bread you eat.

Most of these issues caused by eating bread are to do with the type of bread you eat. If you choose whole-grain options and limit your intake, you can avoid these issues. 

The Good

Increased Energy Levels

When people cut out bread, the first thing they usually notice is that they feel tired all of the time. That’s because your body uses carbohydrates as an energy source, so if you want to reduce fatigue, bread is a good thing to add to your diet, as long as it is a healthy, whole-grain option.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

This one is surprising to a lot of people because if you eat a lot of processed white bread, you’re likely to gain weight and your body produces more fatty acids associated with heart disease. However, studies show that the opposite is true when you eat whole grains. If you eat a moderate amount of whole grain foods, your risk of heart disease and diabetes are actually reduced because your cholesterol levels are improved. 

Regulating Mood

There are a number of factors that impact your mental state, but people often underestimate just how important carbohydrates are. Your carb intake has a big impact on the production of serotonin in your brain, which regulates your mood. When you cut out healthy carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread, your mental health can suffer too. 

Although bread gets a bad name, it can actually be a very important part of a healthy diet. However, it’s important that you find healthy, whole grain options and limit your intake if you want to avoid the negative health consequences of eating bread.

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Karin Boode, PhD

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

Great to see somebody say out loud that bread has good attributes also. Very refreshing.

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