In keeping with my current obsession over bread...enjoy.
The Worshipful Company of Bakers
Copyright 2005 Jeremy Likness
Bread is one of the oldest known recipes to man. It has
been around for several millennia.
The recent low-carbohydrate craze has given bread a bad
reputation, but not all breads are created equal. There are
more varieties of bread than there are supplement
companies. This article will explain the history of bread,
the types of bread, and the role that bread can play in the
quest for good health and a better body.
The History of Bread
It is estimated that the first bread was made around 10000
years BC or over 12,000 years in the past. This bread was
more than likely flatbread, similar to a tortilla, made
simply of ground grains (flour) and water that was mashed
and baked. The first tools and implements used in the
making of bread are dated to about 8000 years BC.
Egypt is attributed with popularizing the art of making
bread. Egyptians are considered to be the agricultural
pioneers of the old world, probably benefiting from
interactions with Samaria. The closed oven was invented
circa 3000 BC and allowed for more varieties of bread to be
produced. It is around this time that leavened bread is
first described, that is bread, bread with yeast added so
that it would rise during production. Refined grains were
considered superior and therefore were prevalent in the
higher courts, so the poorer populations used barley and
sorghum in their breads.
Around 1000 BC the Mosaic laws were introduced. These laws,
in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, contained
instructions to the nation of Israel regarding proper food
preparation. When the Hebrew people fled Egypt during the
legendary Exodus, they were forced to make unleavened
(flat) bread in their haste. Leviticus declares a feast
commemorating the exodus using flatbread. Bread is a common
symbol of bounty in the bible – Leviticus 21:22 declares,
“He shall eat the bread of his God.” When the people of God
were lost in the wilderness, they were fed manna, which was
described as bread from heaven. The Christian Savior, Jesus
Christ, is called the “Bread of Life”.
The bible also gives one of the earliest recipes for
sprouted grain bread. It reads, in Ezekiel 4:9-17: “The
thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and
lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one
vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the
number of days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three
hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.” While more
than a year of nothing but this bread sounds like quite a
marathon diet, analysis of products today using the same
recipe show that it was a well-balanced, nutritious bread
that yielded plenty of protein, fiber, carbohydrate, and
In 400 BC, around the time when Socrates was providing sage
dietary advice, Plato imagined an ideal world. In this
world, men would live to a ripe old age. Their main source
of sustenance would be whole grain bread from local wheat.
168 BC saw the establishment of baker’s guilds in Rome.
Bread even played a major role in politics when, in 40 BC,
as part of a campaign, it was decreed that bread should be
freely distributed to every male adult.
In 1202 AD, English laws were passed to regulate the
production of bread. While many people are aware of the
differences between whole grain (brown) bread and white
breads, few realize that it caused quite a stir in 1307
when the white bread bakers and brown bread bakers split to
form separate guilds! It was not until two centuries later,
in 1569, that the guilds were reunited and called the
“Worshipful Company of Bakers.”
As early as 1826, the whole grain bread used by the
military was called superior for health to the white,
refined bread used by the aristocracy. In fact, the term
refined today comes from this fact. Before the industrial
revolution, it was more labor consuming (and therefore
costly) to refine bread, so white bread was the main staple
for aristocracy. This made them “refined”.
In 1910, Americans were eating 210 pounds of wheat flour
every year. The commercial bread-slicing machine was
invented in 1912 by Otto Rohwedder, and unveiled in 1928.
The 1930s saw the United States pursue a diet enrichment
program to begin fortifying breads with vitamins and
minerals after their discovery in the late 1920s. In 1941,
calcium was added to help prevent rickets, observed in many
female recruits to the military. In 1956, it became the law
to enrich all refined breads. By 1971 consumption of white
bread had dropped to around 110 pounds per year, but by
1997 (possibly due in part to the low fat, high
carbohydrate craze and the food pyramid) consumption was up
to 150 pounds – still 60 pounds shy of the fit, trim
Americans at the turn of the century.
Types of Bread
There are many types of bread. This is by no means an
In the most basic form, grinding grains, adding water, and
heating it produces whole grain flatbread. Whole grain
bread is similar, only yeast is added so that the bread
rises. White bread starts out similar to whole grain bread.
The grain is processed, however. The hard, outer portion of
the grain is stripped, removing fiber and many vitamins,
minerals, and healthy fats that are naturally available.
The remaining portion is ground to a fine powder, the
enriched with a generic spray of vitamins and minerals.
This is then used to bake the bread.
Spelt bread is a grain-bread, but made from special wheat
that does not contain gluten. Gluten, a form of protein, is
a common allergen and gluten intolerance or allergies are
Since whole grains are not sweet, sourdough bread is simply
wheat bread with no sweetener added. Once a sweetener is
added – often high fructose corn syrup in commercial
breads, but typically brown sugar, honey, or molasses in
fresh baked breads – it becomes the typical bread you are
used to buying.
Varieties such as oat, barley, rye, kamut, triticale,
millet, and even rice bread are simply variations using
different grains other than traditional wheat. Sometimes
seeds and spices are added, creating varieties such as
basil, garlic, onion, or cinnamon bread.
Sprouted grain bread has increased in popularity in recent
years. Traditional bread is made from ground flour from the
hardened kernel of grain. Sprouted grain bread involves
soaking the grain and allowing it to sprout. The sprouted
seedlings are then mashed together and baked. Sprouting
allows the enzymes in the grain to convert some of the
carbohydrates and fats to vitamins, minerals, and amino
acids. Due to the changes that take place, sprouted grain
bread typically is higher in protein, fiber, and certain
vitamins and minerals than regular bread. It is also less
refined and processed than even stone ground wheat bread,
so it has less of an impact on your blood sugar.
Bread and Nutrition
Many commercial types of bread are highly refined. Enriched
breads have the original nutrients stripped out and
replaced with inferior, often lesser quantities of standard
vitamins and minerals. Some companies will try to produce
wholesome-looking bread by adding grains to the outside,
even when the main ingredient is enriched bread. High
fructose corn syrup is often added as a sweetener.
The first thing to look at when purchasing breads is the
ingredients list. Look for breads where the very first
ingredient is “whole grain” or “stone ground” rather than
“enriched” (even if whole grains follow the enriched flour
ingredient). Look for natural sweeteners like molasses or
honey over high fructose corn syrup. Preferably, the
sweetener and salt should be last on the ingredients list.
If you consume high quantities of bread or keep the bread
refrigerated, it will last longer and you can purchase
fresher varieties that do not contain additives or
preservatives. The most basic ingredients list will look
like this: whole-wheat flour, water, salt. There should be
a few grams of protein and fiber per slice – low protein
and/or fiber is a sign of excessive processing that has
stripped these nutrients, and implies that the other
nutrients will be missing as well.
Rye bread typically contains moderate portions of protein
and fiber per slice. A 100-calorie slice will contain a few
grams of protein, a few grams of fiber, around 20 grams of
carbohydrate, and decent amounts of calcium and iron. The
addition of flaxseed increases protein and fiber (for the
same 100 calorie slice) but also adds trace amounts of
health, unsaturated fats.
There are actually some amazing bread recipes that can be
very beneficial for the bodybuilder. A variety of bread
called “Men’s Bread” by French Meadow Bakery contains the
following: Organic whole wheat flour, filtered water,
organic flaxseed, organic pumpkin seeds, organic oat fiber,
organic low fat soy flour, organic wheat flour, organic
sesame seeds, organic raw sprouted fava beans, organic
sunflower seeds, organic millet, organic pea protein
isolate (non-GMO), organic wheat flour (wheat germ
restored), soy germ isoflavone concentrate (non-GMO),
organic sprouted quinoa, organic sprouted amaranth, organic
sprouted spelt, organic sprouted kamut, wheat gluten,
organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted oats, organic
sprouted wheat, unrefined sea salt.
This power-packed ingredients list provides a 100-calorie
slice of bread with essential fatty acids, 5 grams of
fiber, and 8 grams of protein to only 11 grams of
carbohydrate. It is abundant in over 13 vitamins and
minerals. Compare this to a typical slice of white bread,
which contains no fiber, trace amounts of protein, and
double the carbohydrate.
Bread has been around for ages. While trends such as low
carbohydrate nutrition or low fat dieting come and go,
bread is here to stay – people “earn their bread” or “bring
the bread home” and are constantly looking for the “best
thing since sliced bread”. Before eliminating bread from
your program, consider the many types of bread that are
available and decide if there is one that suits your needs.
Bread can increase your protein intake, add fiber to your
diet, refill you muscles by supply quality carbohydrate in
addition to healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. People
are always looking for the next great protein or power bar.
Why not try a slice of bread?
About the Author:
Jeremy Likness is an internationally-selling author,
motivational speaker, and health coach. His unique coaching
services have assisted people around the world with losing
hundreds of pounds of weight. Jeremy is the author of "Lose
Fat, Not Faith: A Transformation Guide" available at
www.LoseFatNotFaith.com or through major bookstores (ISBN:
0976907925). To learn more about Jeremy and his unique form
of coaching from the heart, visit:
http://www.naturalphysiques.com/hire/ or call Jeremy direct
at 1-888-472-2829 (770-456-5580).