I loved bread for most of my life. When I was a child, my mother used to make bread at home and the smell made me soooo hungry. I could eat half a loaf of the warm bread, smothered, of course, with butter. I love a good sandwich, but these days I rarely eat them. Why? There’s an urban myth that bread makes you fat, can lead to diabetes, and is generally unhealthy. When I embarked on my crusade to lose weight and improve my health, I stopped eating bread and crackers-anything containing wheat.  I remember hearing many times that bread was the “staff of life.” What happened?  Professor Terry Graham, of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, conducted a study to find out the truth about bread. Well, it turns out that not all breads are created equal. What he discovered surprised me. He gathered 10 overweight men and women. On different days, each of them at two slices of white bread, while wheat, white sourdough, or whole grain or barley bread. Three hours after they ate the bread, he measured blood sugar, insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). We all know about insulin and blood sugar-high levels are bad. GIP and GLP-1 are hormones your body makes in the gut after you eat carbs-they act to stimulate the production of insulin. Lower levels of the two would be a good thing. So what happened in the study is this: The lowest blood sugar response came after eating sourdough bread. GLP-1 was also lowest in the sourdough. Apparently the fermentation of the sourdough changes the nature of the starches in the bread so that they have a different effect in the body. But wait, there’s more. Not only did the sourdough affect that meal, but eating it also affected the next meal, and that effect lasted for hours. Most people (myself included) thought that eating whole wheat bread was better than eating white bread, but the sugar and insulin response was actually worse. According to the professor, the poor responses are probably due to the milling process, where the bran and wheat germ are removed, and then partially put back. Bottom line: eat sourdough white, or, better yet, sourdough whole grain, where both the bran and wheat germ are intact. This seems to me to be the best overall choice, but remember, just because it does less that white and wheat breads, it still raises blood sugar, insulin, GIP, and GLP-1. Just go easy on the bread. I eat bread about once every week.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.