The simple answer is yes. Most breads are vegan friendly. Always check those labels though.
Well-made bread (not the processed kinds found in supermarkets), is traditionally made with a few simple ingredients. Yeast, water, a very small amount of sugar, a healthy fat and flour.
Vegan Yes – But Healthy?
Is bread vegan? Mainly, yes. Is it healthy? Not so much.
It has been known for a long time that refined grains (particularly in the form of white bread) aren’t particularly healthy, beneficial or nutritious for humans.
For the last 20 years doctors, dieticians and nutritionists have advised us to consume whole grains instead.
But are whole grains really any better for us and should bread ever be categorised as healthy?
The Gluten Controversy
Bread is largely made of wheat, and wheat is predominantly made of gluten, which is a type of protein that gives bread it’s stretchy/springy quality.
Over the last 15 years there has been mounting evidence that a growing proportion of the population is particularly sensitive to gluten.
It was generally thought that it was only those with Celiac Disease that experience an immune response to gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt). But there is now growing speculation that even those with gluten sensitivity experience a certain amount of immunological damage after consuming wheat products.
There have been a number of controlled trials (study, study) in the last decade that have demonstrated that gluten has the propensity to damage the digestive tract, even in those without Celiac disease. The immunological response can cause symptoms such as tiredness, pain, bloating and irregular bowel movements.
There have also been strong links between gluten sensitivity and certain disorders of the brain. Schizophrenia (study,study) and cerebellar ataxia (study, study), for example.
I always believe there is no smoke without fire. Most bread contains gluten and we know gluten has the propensity to trigger an immune response in certain individuals who have a susceptibility. So if you have unexplained symptoms of tiredness, digestive pains, bloating or even anxiety or depression, then seek medical advice. The only real way to establish whether you have a gluten sensitivity is to remove gluten from your diet for a period of 30 days and then reintroduce foods containing gluten to see if your body reacts (but this should be under the supervision of an experienced professional).
The Toxic Ingredients of Bread
The reality may be that Gluten is actually the lessor of two evils. The real dangers of bread may actually come from some of its unsavoury ingredients:
Artificial Flavours & Colours: Obviously these vary in usage from country to country. Artificial flavours and colours are also normally derived from petroleum. And many of these additives have been linked to health issues in children such as allergies, asthma and hyperactivity.
Preservatives: All foods are supposed to be eaten fresh, and bread is no exception. Steer clear of any breads that contain preservatives. A common one in a lot of countries is calcium propionate. Again, this has been linked to child health problems such as ADHD.
Refined Sugars:This can be an ingredient that is incredibly difficult to spot, even in breads that are marketed as “low sugar” and “healthy”. Some common household breads contain as much as 2-3 grams of sugar per slice. The World Health Organisation advises that we should consume no more than 6 grams a day. There is also the contentious issue in some countries that the sugar used is derived from GMO sugar beets.
Dough Conditioners: In traditional bread making techniques these would never have been used. They have literally been introduced so that manufacturers can speed up the manufacturing process and maximise profit. Many dough conditioners are derived from extracting fat from corn or soybean oil and then manipulating it with other ingredients. Some common examples (and also ones that have been banned) include: sodium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides, azodicarbonamide and DATEM.
GMOs: Thankfully these haven’t made their way into the UK yet (but I am sure it’s only a matter of time). A lot of countries (especially the U.S.) use multiple GMO ingredients in the production of household breads. GMO soy flour, corn oil and soybean oil are all common. GMO use is clearly a contentious issue. The issue for me is that there have never been any long term tests on humans that assess the health impacts. And the argument that GMO’s are safer because no pesticides are used is incorrect. Some GMO’s are actually engineered by inserting toxic pesticides into the seed. This then causes the insects stomach to explode when trying to eat the crop.
Nutritional Profile of Bread
Bread is really just empty calories. It contains only low levels of vitamins and minerals. High levels of sugar. Low levels of protein. Often high amounts of unhealthy fats. High amounts of salt. And not much else.
But what about whole grain bread, I hear you cry? Well, it’s not much better I’m afraid.
While whole grains offer slightly more vitamins and minerals than processed grains, whole grain bread will contain higher levels of phytic acid, so it will potentially block any increased nutritional profile.
Is bread vegan? Is bread healthy? It can be. Why not try one of these healthy recipes?
Deliciously Ella: Date & Pecan Loaf
Plant Based Judy: Date & Pecan Loaf
Vegan Corner: Gluten Free Buns
SIGN-UP FOR MY WEEKLY NEWSLETTER FOR ARTICLES, RECIPES, MEAL PLANS AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!
There is a common misconception that fish is a healthier alternative to meat and that it actually promotes health in the human body. In reality this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are many reasons why fish is not healthy I have listed the main four below.
Proteins & IGF-1
Regardless of whether you eat fish, meat, eggs or dairy you will run into problems at some point in your life due to the higher concentrations of essential amino acids contained in these foods. One of the main reasons these amino acids are so detrimental in the body is that they increase the levels of IGF-1 (an insulin-like growth hormone) (study, study, study)
The knock-on effect of this is that IGF-1 speeds up the process of cell division in the body. This extra stimulation of cell multiplication has been heavily linked with cancer proliferation for many years. The science is very clear in this area and we know with certainty that animal proteins increase IGF-1 levels in the body and raised IGF-1 levels cause cancer (study, study, study, study).
Saturated Fats And Cholesterol
If you ask most people why they consume fish the standard response is that it’s heart healthy as it contains omega-3 fatty acids. So let me clear this area up for you:
While SOME fish do indeed contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), the vast majority of fatty acids derived from fish is actually in the form saturated fats. Fish also generally contains high levels of cholesterol. Both cholesterol and saturated fats are among the main risk factors for heart disease.
To give you an idea of how much cholesterol is contained in fish – in both a 3 ounce portion of bass and beef there is the same amount of cholesterol (approx. 75 milligrams). Yet most people don’t associate fish with cholesterol.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is derived from the plants they eat in the sea. Fish do not make omega-3’s. You can get omega-3’s by eating plant based foods like nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables and fruits. These foods provide ALA (fatty acid) which then gets converted in the body to the longer chain fatty acids EPA and DHA (both of which protect us from heart disease).
We only need the 1000mg of cholesterol our bodies make every day for optimal health. We DO NOT NEED ANY dietary cholesterol in our bodies. The more dietary cholesterol we load the body with the more we increase our risk of heart disease.
Chemicals & Pollutants
Most health authorities around the world have advisories around the amount of fish people consume. The reason for these advisories is that most oceans are heavily contaminated with metals such as mercury, chemicals such as PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls) and insecticides and pesticides such as DDT and chlordane (See sample advisory). In this recent study by the United States Department of Agriculture 84% of all fish sampled from around the world contained unsafe levels of mercury. And why is mercury so bad for the body? Well mercury is neurotoxin (kills brain cells). When you eat foods that contain mercury it is very difficult for your body to remove it. It can then accumulate in the heart (for example) and inhibit normal heart function as well as causing causing central nervous system damage in foetus’s during pregnancy (study, study)
What Fish Is Lacking
So we know that fish today contains dangerous levels of mercury, hazardous chemicals and high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. So lets also talk about what healthy nutrients fish doesn’t contain. Fish contains no carbohydrates (essential for optimal health). It also contains no fiber, essential for healthy bowel movements and the prevention of digestive cancers. It also lacks any real amounts of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other macronutrients essential for health promotion. So in reality people are eating fish for perceived health benefits when in reality its a pretty poor dietary choice.
Surely Fish Is Better Than Meat Right?
This is a ridiculous notion that we humans love to use. Just because fish is slightly less damaging in the body compared to meat, we classify it as a “health food”. While the science supportsfish eaters being healthier than meat eaters in terms of parameters such as diabetes, weight and other important health factors, lets not be under any illusion. Fish eaters still have very high rates of disease and illness compared to those on plant based diets. So yes, you might be slightly healthier than a meat eater, but if you want to live a long and healthy life then avoid both fish and meat (and dairy for that matter!).
SIGN-UP FOR MY WEEKLY NEWSLETTER FOR ARTICLES, RECIPES, MEAL PLANS AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!
It is estimated that between six and eight million people in the UK suffer from regular migraines. And women are twice as likely as men to suffer from them. These figures are only rough estimates though as it is believed that as many as 50-60% of people who suffer from migraines never visit their GP. The average migraine sufferer (if there is such a creature) will have approximately 13-15 attacks a year.
Staggeringly, migraines cost the NHS more than £1 billion per year. And what is particularly frustrating is that in the vast majority of these cases simple dietary modifications can prevent them from ever occurring again.
The condition can be absolutely debilitating for sufferers. Symptoms range from seeing flashing lights, vomiting, severe headaches (usually down one side of the head) and even partial loss of sight in severe cases. These attacks can last for a few hours or even for days on end.
The vast majority of migraines can be directly linked to food intolerances. The main two culprits are wheat and milk. These may account for approximately 80-90% of cases. What is also interesting is that in a large proportion of migraine sufferers (40-50%) they have the bacteria helicobacter pylori living in their stomach and intestines. Other fairly common triggers for migraines are a poorly functioning liver as a result of alcohol consumption, too much caffeine, too much saturated fat in your diet and a lack of water (you should aim for approximately 2 litres a day – more if exercising). The weather, high stress levels and poor sleeping patterns can also exacerbate the condition.
Below is a list of some of the worst and best foods to eat if you are a migraine sufferer. Just keep in mind though that everyone is different. A food that triggers a migraine in you may not cause symptoms in somebody else. I suggest that as well as modifying your diet around the below foods, you also keep a diary of the foods you are eating until your symptoms are completely eradicated.
Common Migraine Triggers
Cheese, dairy, milk and wheat are among the most common triggers. Many sufferers also report migraines developing after consuming citrus fruits, peanuts, crisps, biscuits, corn and chocolate.
Avoid all processed and refined sugars – found in all processed foods!
Avoid artificial flavours, colours, preservatives and anything else that is not natural.
Avoid or limit animal fats and other foods that contain hydrogenated fats.
Reduce the amount of animal proteins and meats that you consume (and also eggs). We know from lots of research that those who eat dramatically fewer saturated fats experience dramatically fewer migraine attacks.
Another common trigger that people don’t know about is associated to infrequent bowel movements. When food is sat in the intestines, certain bacteria can easily convert tyrosine to tyramine. Tyramine can then circulate in the body and trigger migraine attacks.
Two great fruits to eat on a regular basis are papaya and pineapples. Both have enzymes that help the body digest foods. This will help keep you regular and prevent tyramine build-up.
Incorporate more turmeric into your foods. It is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories in the world and known to reduce the symptoms of migraine attacks.
Try and aim for at least nine portions of fruit and vegetables a day (opt for organic if you can). This will ensure your fibre intake is above 35 grams a day and that the amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds circulating in the body are greatly increased.
Dehydration massively exacerbates migraines. Ensure you drink a minimum of two litres a day. More if you are exercising.
Make your own wheat free bread.
Drink more herbal teas.
Stress less (try yoga) or listening to relaxing music.
Many people around the world suffer from acne and it is one of the most common skin conditions in the western world. It can happen at any time during your life but is most common during teenage years. It can lead to terrible scarring, low confidence, social and anxiety related problems and depression. Acne is caused by a combination of too much oil production, bacteria, inflammation in the upper layers of the skin and skin cells that divide and grow too quickly.
Acne is usually facilitated when dead skin cells block the pores. Add in some excess skin oil and bacteria and you have a perfect environment for the proliferation of the skin condition. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. The more dead skin you have the more bacteria that will be present. The more bacteria you have present the greater the inflammatory response will be. The more inflammation you have then the greater impact the condition will have on your quality of life.
There are still some people (who probably believe the earth is flat) that will still not accept that diet plays an important factor in skin health. But we know that if you have a particularly poor diet, or eat foods that are known to exacerbate the condition, then these foods will interfere with hormone levels in the body and cause excessive oil production. The worst two food types by a clear mile are dairy products and refined sugars.
But it’s not just sugar and dairy that are to blame. The dietary intake of oils (particularly vegetable oils) will also cause an exacerbation of oil production in the body. In an ideal world you would have an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 4:1 in the body. Think of omega-3’s as ant-inflammatory and omega-6’s as inflammatory. When you consume foods that contain vegetables oils (and other inflammatory compounds such as saturated fats) and you are not offsetting these with omega-3’s, then you are creating a perfect environment for acne to thrive. Conversely, eating a diet with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is known to prevent and reverse the disease.
Follow These 3 Tips To Prevent And Reverse Acne
Simply Avoid Dairy: We know that those who eat more dairy protein have higher circulating levels of IGF-1 and insulin (IGF-1 and insulin are the two main hormonal antagonists for acne). For example, in this leading study, the researchers found that those who drank 2 or more servings of milk per day had a 20% more likely chance of developing acne. The type of milk drank made no impact on the outcome (skimmed or semi-skimmed). But these are obviously isolated studies. If you need conclusive evidence demonstrating cause and effect then you have only got to look at the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study (one of the largest ever studies on diet and disease- well over 100,000 participants). This study shows a significant increase in acne occurrence in boys, girls, men and women who ate and drank higher amounts of dairy proteins.
Avoid Blood Sugar Spiking Foods: You may have heard the term glycemic load before (or GL)? So the GL is a measurement of how much a food will impact your blood glucose levels. Processed and refined carbohydrates are among the worst foods for causing blood sugar spikes as well as causing high levels of insulin in the blood. People who have long-term high glucose and insulin levels are at a significantly higher risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, strokes and various cancers (study, study). High insulin levels are inflammatory in the body as well as a trigger for increased IGF-1 levels. Both of these, as we know, increase the prevalence of acne. If you want to prevent or reverse acne then you need to focus on eating low glycemic foods.
Eat Foods High In Antioxidants, Vitamins And Minerals: We know from lots of leading studies that those who have acne tend to have low levels of vitamin E, zinc and carotenoids (study, study) This suggests that by maintaining essential nutrients levels in the body you can dramatically reduce your risks of developing acne. If you are wondering which foods contain these nutrients then see below:
Carotenoids – Any fruits and vegetables that are green or orange are usually abundant in carotenoids.
Vitamin E – Abundant in nuts and seeds.
Zinc – Pumpkin or hemp seeds are usually a good source.
We know that when people transform their diets their acne usually disappears and their skin becomes abundantly healthier looking. By eating more fruits and vegetables you will increase your antioxidant intake which will help protect the skin from acne, skin damage, and also help give your skin a younger healthier glow!
A great video by Dr Michael Greger on the acne promoting effects of milk
Well over 15 million GP appointments every year in the UK are attributed to allergies such as eczema, asthma or rhinitis. It is estimated that approximately one third of people in the UK either has or have had sensitivities or allergies to certain substances and foods. And throughout the world approximately a quarter of people will develop some kind of sensitivity or allergy during their lifetime.
Allergies to certain foods and environmental substances can cover a manner of symptoms from coughs, inflammation in the joints, blemishes and rashes on the skin, itchy skin, autoimmune diseases such as celiac or lupus, sneezing, constant runny nose, shortness of breath and sore throats. The list is literally endless.
And to make matters worse for patients, many doctors within the medical community still hold the belief that many of these food allergies are “in the head”. For example, for many, many years the medical community ridiculed those who said that celiac disease was real. And for this reason many people suffered debilitating symptoms for years without any understanding of what was causing their symptoms.
Allergies now are is so widespread that it can be very difficult to pinpoint where the sensitivity is coming from. It can be a single compound found in a food, it can be pesticides, preservatives, food colours, perfumes, skin lotions, paints or pollution. Again, the list is endless.
More and more attention is now being paid to pesticides and their links to allergies (as well as more serious conditions). There are now approximately 35,000 tonnes of pesticides sprayed every year on crops in the UK and over 300 licensed pesticides that have been deemed “safe”. Why could this be a problem? Well if you eat a normal non-organic apple it is very likely that the apple will have been sprayed approximately twenty times before you snack on it. And allergies from food usually occur when you eat the same foods (and their accompanying toxins) week after week. Your body slowly builds up a sensitivity until it goes beyond the tipping point and it causes wide ranging symptoms.
But it’s not just what you eat that is important. The average person (if there is such a creature) will absorb approximately 15-17kg of toxins through their skin every year. So it is really no big surprise that as we expose ourselves to more and more of these chemicals that at some point the body will just say enough is enough. Allergies are just your body’s way of saying that it cannot cope with the toxic burden that you are putting it under.
Another massive problem derived from food allergies are those that cause problems in the digestive tract and gut. More and more people are unable to digest the proteins from the foods they eat (most commonly gluten). Many of these proteins tear holes in the gut wall which allow undigested food particles to flood into the blood stream and cause issues such as autoimmune responses. When these food particles penetrate into the blood stream, the body assumes that they are harmful and reacts as if it were an infection. Not good if you want a healthily functioning immune system.
It is really quite simple, if you have allergies and sensitivities then you need to reduce your exposure to all environmental pollutants and toxins (or at least as much as is feasibly possible in today’s chemicalised world!).
Below are some of the common culprits for food allergies. If you believe you have a sensitivity or allergy then try removing the food (or product) from your diet/daily routine for a period of time to see if your symptoms diminish or persist. If the symptoms are more serious or you are struggling to identify the cause, then speak to your doctor.
Common Allergy Culprits:
Eggs, wheat products containing gluten, dairy, citrus fruits – especially oranges, soya products and corn are all common triggers.
Food containing Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). MSG is added to foods to make them more addictive and is a common ingredient that people are often sensitive to.
Shellfish, beef, peanuts, chocolate, caffeine or yeast.
Often the foods that you hanker after and crave after the most are the ones that are causing the issues. Milk and wheat are by far the most common allergy triggers today.
Foods That Most People Are Fine With
Pears, green peas, leeks, papaya, lentils, sweet potatoes and quinoa. It is very rare that people have intolerances to these foods.
Papaya is a rich digestive enzyme which helps with digesting other foods and preventing allergies.
Raw cabbage is a particularly good food if you have a leaky gut as it contains lots of L-glutamine that will help repair gut and intestinal walls.
ALWAYS CHOOSE ORGANIC!!!!!!!
SIGN-UP FOR MY WEEKLY NEWSLETTER FOR ARTICLES, RECIPES, MEAL PLANS AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!