The Worshipful Company of Bakers

Bread is one of the oldest known recipes to man. It has been around for several millennia ...

The recent low-carbohydrate craze has given bread a bad reputation, but not all breads are created equal. There are more varieties of bread than there are supplement companies. This article will explain the history of bread, the types of bread, and the role that bread can play in the quest for good health and a better body.

The History of Bread

It is estimated that the first bread was made around 10000 years BC or over 12,000 years in the past. This bread was more than likely flatbread, similar to a tortilla, made simply of ground grains (flour) and water that was mashed and baked. The first tools and implements used in the making of bread are dated to about 8000 years BC.

Egypt is attributed with popularizing the art of making bread. Egyptians are considered to be the agricultural pioneers of the old world, probably benefiting from interactions with Samaria. The closed oven was invented circa 3000 BC and allowed for more varieties of bread to be produced. It is around this time that leavened bread is first described, that is bread, bread with yeast added so that it would rise during production. Refined grains were considered superior and therefore were prevalent in the higher courts, so the poorer populations used barley and sorghum in their breads.

Around 1000 BC the Mosaic laws were introduced. These laws, in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, contained instructions to the nation of Israel regarding proper food preparation. When the Hebrew people fled Egypt during the legendary Exodus, they were forced to make unleavened (flat) bread in their haste. Leviticus declares a feast commemorating the exodus using flatbread. Bread is a common symbol of bounty in the bible ? Leviticus 21:22 declares, "He shall eat the bread of his God." When the people of God were lost in the wilderness, they were fed manna, which was described as bread from heaven. The Christian Savior, Jesus Christ, is called the "Bread of Life".

The bible also gives one of the earliest recipes for sprouted grain bread. It reads, in Ezekiel 4:9-17: "The thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof." While more than a year of nothing but this bread sounds like quite a marathon diet, analysis of products today using the same recipe show that it was a well-balanced, nutritious bread that yielded plenty of protein, fiber, carbohydrate, and healthy fat.

In 400 BC, around the time when Socrates was providing sage dietary advice, Plato imagined an ideal world. In this world, men would live to a ripe old age. Their main source of sustenance would be whole grain bread from local wheat.

168 BC saw the establishment of baker's guilds in Rome. Bread even played a major role in politics when, in 40 BC, as part of a campaign, it was decreed that bread should be freely distributed to every male adult.

In 1202 AD, English laws were passed to regulate the production of bread. While many people are aware of the differences between whole grain (brown) bread and white breads, few realize that it caused quite a stir in 1307 when the white bread bakers and brown bread bakers split to form separate guilds! It was not until two centuries later, in 1569, that the guilds were reunited and called the "Worshipful Company of Bakers."

As early as 1826, the whole grain bread used by the military was called superior for health to the white, refined bread used by the aristocracy. In fact, the term refined today comes from this fact. Before the industrial revolution, it was more labor consuming (and therefore costly) to refine bread, so white bread was the main staple for aristocracy. This made them "refined".

In 1910, Americans were eating 210 pounds of wheat flour every year. The commercial bread-slicing machine was invented in 1912 by Otto Rohwedder, and unveiled in 1928. The 1930s saw the United States pursue a diet enrichment program to begin fortifying breads with vitamins and minerals after their discovery in the late 1920s. In 1941, calcium was added to help prevent rickets, observed in many female recruits to the military. In 1956, it became the law to enrich all refined breads. By 1971 consumption of white bread had dropped to around 110 pounds per year, but by 1997 (possibly due in part to the low fat, high carbohydrate craze and the food pyramid) consumption was up to 150 pounds ? still 60 pounds shy of the fit, trim Americans at the turn of the century.

Types of Bread

There are many types of bread. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

In the most basic form, grinding grains, adding water, and heating it produces whole grain flatbread. Whole grain bread is similar, only yeast is added so that the bread rises. White bread starts out similar to whole grain bread. The grain is processed, however. The hard, outer portion of the grain is stripped, removing fiber and many vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that are naturally available. The remaining portion is ground to a fine powder, the enriched with a generic spray of vitamins and minerals. This is then used to bake the bread.

Spelt bread is a grain-bread, but made from special wheat that does not contain gluten. Gluten, a form of protein, is a common allergen and gluten intolerance or allergies are quite common.

Since whole grains are not sweet, sourdough bread is simply wheat bread with no sweetener added. Once a sweetener is added ? often high fructose corn syrup in commercial breads, but typically brown sugar, honey, or molasses in fresh baked breads ? it becomes the typical bread you are used to buying.

Varieties such as oat, barley, rye, kamut, triticale, millet, and even rice bread are simply variations using different grains other than traditional wheat. Sometimes seeds and spices are added, creating varieties such as basil, garlic, onion, or cinnamon bread.

Sprouted grain bread has increased in popularity in recent years. Traditional bread is made from ground flour from the hardened kernel of grain. Sprouted grain bread involves soaking the grain and allowing it to sprout. The sprouted seedlings are then mashed together and baked. Sprouting allows the enzymes in the grain to convert some of the carbohydrates and fats to vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Due to the changes that take place, sprouted grain bread typically is higher in protein, fiber, and certain vitamins and minerals than regular bread. It is also less refined and processed than even stone ground wheat bread, so it has less of an impact on your blood sugar.

Bread and Nutrition

Many commercial types of bread are highly refined. Enriched breads have the original nutrients stripped out and replaced with inferior, often lesser quantities of standard vitamins and minerals. Some companies will try to produce wholesome-looking bread by adding grains to the outside, even when the main ingredient is enriched bread. High fructose corn syrup is often added as a sweetener.

The first thing to look at when purchasing breads is the ingredients list. Look for breads where the very first ingredient is "whole grain" or "stone ground" rather than "enriched" (even if whole grains follow the enriched flour ingredient). Look for natural sweeteners like molasses or honey over high fructose corn syrup. Preferably, the sweetener and salt should be last on the ingredients list. If you consume high quantities of bread or keep the bread refrigerated, it will last longer and you can purchase fresher varieties that do not contain additives or preservatives. The most basic ingredients list will look like this: whole-wheat flour, water, salt. There should be a few grams of protein and fiber per slice ? low protein and/or fiber is a sign of excessive processing that has stripped these nutrients, and implies that the other nutrients will be missing as well.

Rye bread typically contains moderate portions of protein and fiber per slice. A 100-calorie slice will contain a few grams of protein, a few grams of fiber, around 20 grams of carbohydrate, and decent amounts of calcium and iron. The addition of flaxseed increases protein and fiber (for the same 100 calorie slice) but also adds trace amounts of health, unsaturated fats.

There are actually some amazing bread recipes that can be very beneficial for the bodybuilder. A variety of bread called "Men's Bread" by French Meadow Bakery contains the following: Organic whole wheat flour, filtered water, organic flaxseed, organic pumpkin seeds, organic oat fiber, organic low fat soy flour, organic wheat flour, organic sesame seeds, organic raw sprouted fava beans, organic sunflower seeds, organic millet, organic pea protein isolate (non-GMO), organic wheat flour (wheat germ restored), soy germ isoflavone concentrate (non-GMO), organic sprouted quinoa, organic sprouted amaranth, organic sprouted spelt, organic sprouted kamut, wheat gluten, organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted oats, organic sprouted wheat, unrefined sea salt.

This power-packed ingredients list provides a 100-calorie slice of bread with essential fatty acids, 5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein to only 11 grams of carbohydrate. It is abundant in over 13 vitamins and minerals. Compare this to a typical slice of white bread, which contains no fiber, trace amounts of protein, and double the carbohydrate.

Summary

Bread has been around for ages. While trends such as low carbohydrate nutrition or low fat dieting come and go, bread is here to stay ? people "earn their bread" or "bring the bread home" and are constantly looking for the "best thing since sliced bread". Before eliminating bread from your program, consider the many types of bread that are available and decide if there is one that suits your needs. Bread can increase your protein intake, add fiber to your diet, refill you muscles by supply quality carbohydrate in addition to healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. People are always looking for the next great protein or power bar. Why not try a slice of bread?

Jeremy Likness is an International Health Coach and motivational speaker. After losing 65 pounds of fat, he discovered his true vision to coach thousands around the world to better health. A Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Jeremy is the author of the internationally-selling e-Book, Lose Fat, Not Faith and the companion 5-CD set. Jeremy has been published in major online publications including Tom Venuto's Fitness Renaissance and Bodybuilding.com. Jeremy's approach is unique because he focuses on fitness from the inside out. Visit Jeremy online at Natural Physiques.

In The News:

Nutrition in Malaysia is bad  The Star Online
Bread gets nutrition backing  FoodManufacture.co.uk
Nutrition by Mia  ABC NEWS 4
Trends in sports nutrition innovation  Natural Products INSIDER

Artificial Sweeteners - Are They Safe?

To research the health risks Sweet 'N Low and other... Read More

Gift Basket Idea for Senior Citizens

Evidence for the importance of fruit and vegetable intake to... Read More

Good Meal Sizes and Frequency

Meal sizes and frequency are very important. Over the years... Read More

Six Ways to Eat More Healthfully

With so much 'diet advice' around today it is little... Read More

Best Skin Diet For Healthy Skin

"You are what you eat."Does it sound familiar? You probably... Read More

How to Substitute Fat in Your Everyday Diet

Fat is a nutrient that is a contributor to the... Read More

Refrigerator Water Filters vs. Bottled Water: Round 1

Water is the single most important element for human existence,... Read More

Personal Wellness Program

Having a personal wellness program has become a concern for... Read More

Redeeming Unsaturated Fat

The most dreaded word in many dieter's vocabulary is 'fat'.... Read More

The Importance of Good Nutrition in Keeping Your Smile Beautiful and Your Mouth Healthy

A beautiful smile and healthy mouth actually can come from... Read More

What on Earth is an Enzyme?

Enzymes are the workers in our body that make everything... Read More

Aging Gracefully with the Aid of Various Nutrients

During the past thirty years there has been a steadily... Read More

3 Important Differences Between White Bread and Whole Wheat

For any kid who grew up eating doughy, thick Wonder... Read More

Beginning an Alkaline Diet: The Basic Principles - Start Alkalizing Today!

Each and every person living in the UK is... Read More

Summer Sun Cures

With summer comes more sun and with more sun comes... Read More

Calcium: the Miracle Mineral

We've heard it not only once or twice or even... Read More

There is No Miracle Cure for Arthritis, but Improving Your Diet can Help

Arthritis - if you suffer from this illness, I don't... Read More

What You Need To Know About Inflammation

Inflammation is not a disease.Inflammation is best described as a... Read More

Enjoy The Holidays Healthfully

How To Have A Healthy ThanksgivingEnd of the year holidays... Read More

Lingzhi A Miracle Herb For Peak Health

The secret of success is knowing how to deal with... Read More

Natural Foods Defined

With so many people concerned about natural and organic foods... Read More

Guidelines to a Healthy Diet

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat a variety... Read More

Face Check Up

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the healthiest of them... Read More

Saturated Fat Diet Piles on Pounds Around Organs

Having a large amount of such "visceral fat" is associated... Read More

Ambrotose Complex

Mannatech's patent-pending glyconutrients complex, Ambrotose, is perhaps the greatest wellness... Read More