White Bread May Boost Good Gut Bacteria—But Does That Make It Healthy?

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Did you think that Wonder bread was a food of the past and that you should only eat 100-percent whole-grain bread? Well, recent findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry are leading many to think otherwise.

Researchers from the University of Oviedo in Spain asked 38 healthy adults questions about their diets and then examined their stool samples for certain types of bacteria. They found that those who reported eating white bread had a higher amount of lactobacillus, a group of beneficial bacteria found in the gut. Bacteria in our gut are important for overall health, especially our digestive track, as revealed in numerous studies regarding probiotics. When bad bacteria overpower the good bacteria, many health complications may arise.

But hold off on loading up on white bread. First off this study was very, very small, and the information collected was based solely on a food questionnaire, the reliability of which I have questioned before.

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Second, I think we need to look at the big picture. One-hundred-percent whole grains have been found in many studies to have numerous health benefits in regards to heart health. I always promote higher-fiber breads to my patients, especially for the satiety effect in regards to weight loss. As for good bacteria, I still think yogurt or kefir is the way to go. Besides the probiotic benefit, they are also good sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. And lastly, we need to stop looking at individual nutrients of a food and look at the entire package.

Therefore, before I start recommending that my patients stock up on Wonder Bread, I will need to see a lot more research in this area to convince me otherwise.

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