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The Truth About Bread

Everything you need to know about the mother of all carbs.
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Bread and Type 2 Diabetes

Research shows that eating fewer starchy foods like bread, and less red meat, processed food, and sugar-sweetened beverages -- along with an increased intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and poultry -- decreases the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Eating any kind of carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels. But carbs aren't all the same. Sugars and refined grains raise blood sugar quicker than complex carbohydrates, found in foods including beans and other vegetables.

"Complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly, and their ability to cause blood glucose level spikes is limited," says Hillary Wright, RD, director of nutrition counseling at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health.

That may be particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, your body has problems controlling blood sugar.  

Cutting back on refined grains, such as white bread, and eating more whole grains in their place are good moves. "Whole-grain bread has more fiber than refined, and fiber helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates consumed at the same meal or snack," Wright says.

Bread and Gluten Intolerance

"Bread has been getting a bad rap for a long time," says Shelley Case, RD, nutrition consultant and author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. "It's worse now because there's so much negative press about gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley."

Some people cannot tolerate gluten because they have celiac disease. Their immune system mistakes gluten as dangerous, triggering a reaction that attacks the body. For people with celiac disease, avoiding any source of gluten -- found in many products besides bread -- is an absolute must.

Celiac disease is getting diagnosed more often these days. Many other people without celiac disease link their stomach upset and fatigue to gluten. This is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is more common than celiac disease.

To find out if you have celiac disease, see your doctor. If you don't have celiac disease and want to give up gluten to see if it helps your tummy troubles, see a dietitian to help track your symptoms and make sure your gluten-free diet is healthy.

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