Bread has been a dietary cornerstone for centuries in many countries. Despite being the primary food for many people throughout history, is it really that good for us?
Eating bread is addictive. Not in the sense that it should be avoided at all costs, but that over-eating bread can have adverse effects on your mind and body.
Sliced white bread’s vast levels of refined-wheat carbs break down so rapidly in the body that they cause intense sugar-spike highs.
Carbs found in white bread rapidly break down into body-consumable sugars.
The small sugars rapidly enter the bloodstream soon after consumption, providing temporary sugar-induced highs in mood and energy levels.
Once the euphoria wears off, mood and energy levels dip below their natural levels.
This leads to people eating more bread or sugary items in search of that original high! Addiction begins!!
In this article, we are going to delve into the underlying factors that contribute to the allure of bread, including the impact of glucose spikes, the danger of additives, and the effects of eating bread on the brain.
One of the key reasons behind the addictive nature of bread is its effect on blood glucose levels.
When we digest bread, particularly refined versions, sugars are quickly broken down into simple sugars that are small enough to enter the bloodstream.
The rapid dump of sugar leads to spikes in blood glucose levels, represented by a sudden surge of energy.
However, this energy surge is short-lived and is followed by a crash, leaving us craving more.
After a slice, I often find myself reaching out for more and more bread, and you probably do too!
This is because the rapid rise and fall of glucose levels trigger the release of hormones like insulin and cortisol. These hormones not only promote fat storage but intensify hunger and cravings.
Modern bread products contain many additives to enhance flavour, texture, and shelf life.
While these additives may be harmless, their cumulative effects can be concerning.
For instance, the excessive use of preservatives, artificial colours, and stabilizers in bread has raised alarm bells among health experts.
Certain additives, such as azodicarbonamide (ADA) – a dough conditioner – can break down into chemicals that may harm human health when consumed in large quantities.
While ADA is approved for use in food products by regulatory agencies, the potential health risks have led to concerns about its long-term impact.
Bread’s addictive nature also influences the brain’s reward system.
The consumption of bread triggers the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, often called the “feel-good” neurotransmitter.
Sugar bursts are addictive, but not just because of the energy burst. When the body undergoes sugar surges, it releases dopamine into the brain.
Dopamine is a chemical that makes you feel good and regulates mood. It also plays a significant role in reinforcing behaviours associated with pleasure.
Research suggests that the combination of carbohydrates and fats modulates the brain’s reward centres, enhancing the addictive nature of this food.
As individuals consume bread, especially those with a high content of refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, the brain’s reward circuitry is activated, creating a cycle of craving and consumption.
While bread’s addictive qualities are compelling, there are strategies to curb its grip on our eating habits:
Choosing whole-grain bread over refined options can mitigate glucose spikes due to its lower glycemic index and higher fibre content.
You will also notice whole grains help to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.
Awareness of portion sizes and savouring each bite mindfully can help reduce the urge to overconsume bread.
Experimenting with homemade bread recipes allows you to control the ingredients, avoiding excessive additives and unhealthy fats.
Diversifying your diet with nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help satisfy nutritional needs without relying solely on bread.
So, the physiological and psychological impact of glucose spikes, additives, and blood sugar changes combine to make bread addictive. Knowing this will help you to make informed decisions, either limit the amount of processed white bread you eat or seek healthier whole grain or sourdough alternatives.
By fostering awareness and adopting mindful eating practices, we can break free from the cycle of bread addiction and embark on a path to balanced nutrition.
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baking coach, head baker and bread-baking fanatic! My aim is to use science, techniques and 15 years of baking experience to help you become a better baker.
Suite 2646 Unit 3A,
34-35 Hatton Garden,