Removing Bread from Diet Might Not Be the Answer

Woman with a grocery bag and baguette

By Rocío Río de la Loza, Health Coach

Did you know that by eliminating bread you are not necessarily eliminating gluten from your diet? Gluten is a naturally occurring protein present in wheat, rye, and barley and their derived products. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten may be found in [1]:

  • Whole grain kernels
  • Flour
  • Cookie dough ice cream
  • Breads, cookies, pastries, and other baked goods
  • Whiskey, ale, lager, and other type of beers
  • Malt extract and malt vinegar
  • Brewer´s yeast
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Dressings, sauces, and gravies
  • Snack foods
  • Breaded meat, fish or chicken
  • Canned soups
  • Cold meats and meat substitutes
  • Marinades and condiments
  • Breakfast cereals, granolas, and energy bars

In addition, there are non-food items that might contain gluten:

  • Cosmetics like lipstick
  • Medicines
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Play-dough
  • Communion wafers

 The role of gluten in celiac disease:
When a person with celiac disease comes into contact with gluten the immune system responds attacking the small intestine and destroying the villi, little “hairs” responsible for absorbing the nutrients.[2]

Celiac disease cannot be considered simply a food allergy or food intolerance, it is a serious autoimmune disorder that increases the risk of skin conditions, malnutrition, anemia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, lactose intolerance, thyroid disease, liver disease, type 1 diabetes, and cancer.[3]

Do you really need to give up bread?
The Celiac Disease Centerfrom the University of Chicago Medicineestimates that celiac disease affects 1% of Americans, which accounts for around 3 million people from the United States.[4]

To control the symptoms people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy require removing gluten from their diet, but that doesn´t necessarily mean a grain-free diet. There are plenty of gluten-free grains such as quinoa, rice, and corn, and abundant gluten-free processed foods, including gluten-free bread, that are safe for those who suffer from these health conditions.[5]

Beware of falling into the gluten-free trend! If you haven´t been diagnosed with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy you may continue to consume bread and foods containing gluten.

Bread is good for you:
Bread is a source of complex carbohydrates, providing energy for longer, and dietary fiber, which promotes regular bowel function and feeds beneficial gut microflora.[6] Bread may supply minerals and B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, which prevents neural tube birth-defects.[7] Many kinds of bread made from refined wheat flour, white bread included, have been fortified with iron, calcium, and some vitamins B.[8]

Finally, the American Institute for Cancer Research[9] includes whole wheat bread and whole grains within the AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer[10] list because according to their findings dietary fiber and phytochemicals in whole grains convey anti-cancer properties.