Bread has not had a good year.
It has long been preached to us that carbs are not our friends and bread is public enemy number one. You only have to look at the supermarkets to see an abundance of gluten free products that were not there in 2013.
But does dough deserve another chance? It is Christmas after all...
Dietitian Lucy Jones is out to bust common bread-related myths. We'll let her explain why bread isn't actually responsible for bloating and how cutting it out of our diets could actually be damaging our health.
Myth: “Yeast (e.g. in foods such as bread) can lead to bloating"
Truth: “Myths about yeast and bloating perhaps stem from the fact that yeast causes things to rise, and therefore may consequently conjure up the mental image of bloating.
However, as found by the British Nutrition Foundation, there is actually no published evidence to support that yeast is a cause of bloating; the yeast in bread is actually deactivated during baking, meaning that no live yeast will be present in the end product (and therefore not contribute to swelling in your stomach)”
Myth: “Foods high in dietary fibre (such as bread, rice and cereal) make me bloat”
Truth: “Occasionally, when people who have low fibre intakes suddenly start consuming more fibre, they may experience symptoms associated with bloating. In the majority of cases however, the gut will adapt to the increased fibre intake and any symptoms should cease.
Avoiding bread (and or any other foods containing dietary fibre) for this reason, can actually work in reverse, resulting in constipation which can in turn lead to bloating.
Indeed, the importance of dietary fibre in the diet was stressed in the recent 2014 SACN report, which highlighted that the UK diet does not contain enough fibre and emphasised the need to include starchy foods such as bread, rice or potatoes with each meal. In the UK diet, on average, bread provides a fifth of total dietary fibre intake, so avoiding it completely could place our nutritional health at risk.
To help any initial bloating that may be associated with an increased consumption of dietary fibre, ensure you keep hydrated with plenty of water, increase dietary fibre gradually over several days and weeks and be sure to carry out plenty of regular physical activity.”
Myth: “I’m allergic to bread, and it’s causing me to bloat.”
Truth: “From fad diets such as the Paleo diet to celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow advocating gluten free foods, it is no surprise that the number of people who are following self-selecting strict diets has increased.1
In 2010 a report by the University of Portsmouth showed that up to 20 per cent of adults think they suffer from a food allergy or intolerance, however evidence suggested that the real prevalence of food allergy and intolerance in adults was in fact less than 2 per cent.
Indeed, in a report due to be published by Warwick University argues that there is little evidence wheat-free diets will provide longer-term health benefits.
So, while there is a small proportion of people who do experience gastrointestinal discomfort from eating specific foods, it’s important to avoid self-diagnosis which may then result in cutting out nutritious foods unnecessarily without proper medical advice.
For instance, bread provides essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, and more than 10% of the average adult’s intake of zinc, magnesium, protein as well as a small amount of potassium, making it a key part of a healthy balanced diet.
Before cutting out bread, try to assess the other factors which could be contributing to that feeling of fullness. For instance, bloating can often be aggravated of other factors, such as anxiety, depression, being inactive, drinking too many fizzy drinks, alcohol of coffee, irregular meal timings or even eating too many fermentable carbohydrate sources in general (not just wheat).
Moreover, sitting hunched up over your desk eating a sandwich can also have an impact on your organs and slow down digestion, making us feel fuller than we are. Maintaining a good posture and sitting upright when we eat can help to prevent bloating and any feelings of heaviness.”
Myth: “Packaged, supermarket loaves are not as good for you as homemade bread.”
Truth: “It is a common misconception that people are sensitive to the enzymes and flour improving agents used in the industrial bread making process (for instance the Chorleywood process, the industrial process for the mass production of bread), and this can in turn result in bloating, leading people to believe that artisan or sourdough bread is preferable.
In truth, there is no evidence to show that bread made by these means has a different effect on the gastrointestinal system compared to more traditional means. The main ingredients used to make packaged bread are no different to those an artisan baker would use – flour, water, yeast and a little salt. What’s more, the type of flour used and the addition of nutrients to restore those lost during milling (a legal requirement in the UK, but not in all countries) makes a significant impact to the overall nutrient content of bread.”
Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at NutriCentre, told HuffPost UK Lifestyle: "Whole-grain bread may support digestion. By making the stool soft, the fibre in whole grain bread helps prevent constipation, which is a common issue for many people these days.”
David Pickering, co-founder of AnyProtein health and fitness nutritional expert, also emphasises the importance of eating enough bread. He said: “Some people find cutting bread from your diet may have adverse effects on your health such as wheat intolerance.
"This happens when your body adapts to processing protein instead of carbs. When you introduce carbs back into your diet your body has to adapt back to its old habits. It’s best to stick to a healthy balanced diet to avoid these effects!”