Bread, in many forms, whether it’s waffles, pancakes, croissants, or a slice (or stack) of comforting toast, is an easy choice for many busy people—but according to some experts, bread is not easy to digest, and eating too much can harm the body.
Dr. Fukushima Masatsugu, a Japanese gastroenterologist, pointed out in his book “Don’t Eat Bread for Breakfast” that bread that seems easy to digest is not good for digestion in the stomach, and consuming too much can harm the body. Bread can cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket, and its high carbohydrate content can disrupt the balance of the autonomic nervous system and lead to a “carbohydrate vicious cycle,” resulting in obesity.
Fukushima explains further:
- Gluten in bread inhibits digestion and absorption, potentially causing disease
Most of the protein in flour is gluten protein, and the small intestinal mucosa absorbs gluten protein without fully digesting it. When this viscous substance reaches the small intestine, it entangles the villi of the small intestine. When this happens, digestion and nutrient absorption may be disrupted and trigger stomach aches or allergies.
- Toast can cause various diseases
When baking or toasting bread at high temperatures, sugars and proteins can combine to form damaging substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which damage proteins in the body. AGEs are found on the surface of toast and waffles that have been baked and baked. The main risk factors of AGEs can be complications of diabetes and symptoms of inflammation in blood vessels, kidneys, muscles and other important organs. Likewise, barbecued food can trigger heart and brain diseases. If AGEs continue to accumulate in the body, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction, and cancer may occur.
- Incomplete digestion
Food remains in the stomach and small intestine for six to eight hours. Gastroscopy shows that meat, which is often considered difficult on our digestive system, leaves almost no residue in the stomach. Conversely, bread, rice, udon noodles, and other carbohydrate-heavy foods leave the most undigested food in the system and can cause a burden on the body when accumulated.
- Eating excess carbohydrates causes blood sugar to spike
The flour used for baking is high in carbohydrates. In 100 grams (two slices) of white bread, there are 45 grams of carbohydrates. In response to high carbohydrate foods, the body secretes cortisol and adrenaline, and the efficiency of sugar absorption is high, especially in the morning. Eating bread for breakfast can result in rapid spikes in blood sugar—fluctuations that can damage blood vessels and lead to serious diseases, such as arteriosclerosis, myocardial infarction and stroke.
Dr Tai Ting-En, chief resident of the urology department of Taipei Medical University Affiliated Hospital, said “Eating too much bread will cause a sudden increase in blood sugar. The human body secretes cortisol and adrenaline in the morning, so the rate of sugar absorption is high. So eating bread in the morning will cause high fluctuations in blood sugar within one to two hours of eating, which can be harmful to our health.”
More worrying is that carbohydrates interfere with our autonomic nervous system. Sympathetic nerves, active during the day, help blood circulation and prevent digestion. The parasympathetic nerves, active at night, will help the body relax and slow the heart rate while at the same time promoting digestion. Both are part of the autonomic nervous system.
If you ingest too much sugar as soon as you wake up, the autonomic nervous system will be disrupted and cause a biological imbalance. Tai reminded people to maintain a balanced diet and a regular meal schedule and avoid eating toast.
Alternative to Bread
A group of medical doctors and nutritionists in the US studied the effects of AGEs on food. The research was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and PubMed Central on June 1, 2010.
The study concluded that AGEs in food represent pathogenic compounds associated with chronic diseases. Clinical reports reveal that AGEs are more formed in foods that are baked, grilled or cooked at high temperatures than in foods that are not.
Any processed food or total fat product will increase the level of AGEs in the body. The study also shows that people can reduce their intake of AGEs by adding fish, whole grains, vegetables and fruits to their diet.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Tai said, “Patients should find a balanced and nutritious intake every day. While you can still enjoy bread occasionally, I recommend a Mediterranean diet. Also, you can replace your white bread with whole grain bread. In addition, you can include other whole grain products, fresh vegetables, fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. A Mediterranean diet is much healthier than a high-fat diet [amounts of] oil and sodium.”