If you’re new to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, one of the first things you gave up/are going to give up is bread. Sound like a tragedy? I promise you it’s not.
Paleo and Gluten
If you haven’t heard by now about all of the evils of gluten, I’m going to give you a little run-down of it now. The main issue is that it’s inflammatory. Gluten is a sticky substance (it’s what holds bread together) that also sticks to the insides of our stomachs. This is a problem because our stomach lining was designed to be permeable. It lets some nutrients into the blood stream while keeping others in the stomach until they are more fully digested or until they pass out the other end. Gluten messes with this system, forcing the walls of our stomachs to increase their permeability, which lets toxins and undigested foods into the blood stream.
This triggers an immune response from our bodies. White blood cells rush in to attack the toxins and the area becomes inflamed. Although the inflammation may be mild enough that we don’t notice it, it can still create problems for us, especially if it is allowed to become chronic. Persistent inflammation is linked to a whole host of chronic illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease.
Paleo and Carbohydrates
Aside from the issue of gluten, bread is extremely high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. Our bodies take the carbohydrates from bread and digest it just like they digest table sugar. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between the two. In fact, two slices of whole wheat bread is equivalent to 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Part of living a Paleo lifestyle is maintaining steady blood sugar levels. By avoiding the spikes in blood sugar, we also avoid the crashes, which tend to leave us tired and “hangry” and craving more sugar. Eating foods that contain the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar is not going to help us avoid that spike and subsequent crash. By choosing a salad over that sandwich, we are able to stay fuller longer, often lasting all afternoon and maybe even into the evening before we get hungry again, not to mention getting an extra dose of immune-boosting anti-oxidants and polyphenols from all those vegetables!
If you just can’t live without bread, there are some alternatives in our Paleo Breads section. Just be sure to indulge occasionally, rather than every day.