It’s not just a brand-new year, but a new decade, and for many of us that comes with a lofty list of ambitious resolutions. We start the year with the best of intentions: to exercise more, stress less, sleep more, shed some kilos and eat a healthier diet.
Many people look online towards current trends for lifestyle and diet guidance, but the internet is an insane minefield of confusing and contradictory information about what exactly constitutes a healthy diet. People are quick to jump onto the latest diet bandwagon: Atkins, Paleo, Ketogenic, the list goes on and on. Many of these diets are ditching the carbs completely, but what many people fail to comprehend, is that not all carbohydrates are created equal.
There is no doubt that removing simple carbs from your diet is an effective weight loss strategy, however, the key to a healthy diet over the long term, lies in the balance. It is important for people to differentiate between whole (good) and refined (bad) carbs. How quickly a food raises your blood sugar is measured with the glycemic index, or GI. Grains in their natural, WHOLE state (like stoneground flour) have a low GI. Processed carbohydrates, including refined, commercial flours, have a high GI, which send blood sugar soaring and spike our insulin levels.
Food is certainly not what it used to be. Since the industrial revolution, our food systems have altered significantly and have become increasingly adulterated. Large-scale food producers often taint the whole foods that nature has provided by stripping them of their inherent goodness, adding sugar, chemical additives and preservatives into the mix.
Take wheat as an example. The wheat grain is one of nature’s most perfect foods. Bursting with energy and low in fat, it is rich in fibre, carbohydrates, protein and is an important source of vitamins and minerals. Commercial flour companies have taken this ancient food staple and stripped it, bleached it, refined it, added flour improvers and a gamut of other crazy, unpronounceable stuff – ending up with a product that our bodies can’t assimilate and essentially lacking in nourishment.
Despite the fact that low-carb diets are currently all the rage, with millions of sheeple, I mean people, shunning carbs in all forms, many experts agree that these diets actually deprive your body of essential macronutrients. It really is all about eating the right carbs – which brings us to our favourite topic – wholegrain, stoneground flour and real bread!
In recent years there has been massive shift in mindset because people have been educated about the inherent goodness of GMO-free wholegrains. This has resulted in a phenomenal rise in the artisan bread culture worldwide. Artisan bakeries are popping up all over the place and more and more people are starting to experiment with baking their own sourdough bread at home (which, by the way is very rewarding and totally addictive). One need only to look on an Instagram feed to see how #realbread is #trending.
When bread is made the time-honoured way, with a humble combination of stoneground, wholegrain flour, water, salt, wild yeast and time, it is an incredibly beneficial and super tasty (#nomnom) source of complex carbohydrates. During the protracted fermentation process, the combination of wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria break down the phytic acid in the wheat, making it much easier to digest than commercial breads. Natural fermentation also introduces probiotic cultures into to the dough which serve to unlock all the wonderful nutrients in the grain, such as iron, zinc (essential part of red blood cell production), magnesium, folic acid, complex B-vitamins (which assist in nervous system function and help regulate our metabolisms) and immune boosting anti-oxidants such as selenium.
Now we are not saying that you should scoff bread at every meal to reap these myriad benefits, but a sensible amount of wholegrain bread definitely has its rightful place in a well-balanced diet.
There is something so ancestral about baking, breaking and sharing a loaf of bread, it’s almost as if it is intrinsically ingrained in our DNA. A freshly baked loaf of naturally leavened bread, with its intoxicating aroma, caramelised crust and soft, chewy crumb, really has a way of nourishing both the body and the spirit.
And for this reason alone, we will always say a resounding YES to good carbs!!