There are lots of people avoiding gluten these days, some due to Celiac disease and some because of a gluten sensitivity. It is common knowledge that gluten can mess with your ability to think clearly, can cause gastrointestinal issues, achy joints, and more. But wait! There are more reasons to avoid eating bread that have nothing at all to do with gluten.

In the United States, food manufacturers are required to add certain nutrients to foods. This started a long time ago when we first started to mass produce bread. Before mass production, the cook would go to the local mill to have her wheat ground from which she would make her bread. When the industrial revolution came about, milling was being done on a large scale. The shopper could buy loaves of bread at the store instead of making his or her own. In an effort to make bread lighter, tastier, and to stay fresh longer, the mills began to separate out the outer part of the grain kernel. This left a white flour that we see today. The outer part of the grain was then sold to the cattle industry.

Fast forward a few years and we see diseases arise due to vitamin deficiencies. These deficiencies were traced back to the bread. So, rather than returning to whole grain bread, the manufacturers were allowed by the US government to add back in synthetic forms of these critical nutrients. One of those is folic acid.

Folic acid has been proven to reduce neural tube defects and that’s a good thing. Folic acid is added to lots of food and is put in most vitamins. Unfortunately, it is synthetic and hard for the body to break down. Furthermore, we get too much of it in the foods we eat and vitamins we take. We get so much, in fact, that it is becoming a carcinogen in our bodies. That means it can lead to cancer, something we all want to avoid.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. We don’t get enough folate to keep us healthy. Getting natural sources of folate through whole foods such as a large salad every day protects us from heart disease, breast and colon cancers, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

Another ingredient put in bread is potassium bromate. This ingredient makes the white flour look even whiter and keeps the bread together so your sandwich is nice and neat, not crumbly. While it makes for prettier, neater bread, this ingredient is a known carcinogen meaning it, too, leads to cancer.

In fact, both folic acid and potassium bromate are banned in several countries around the globe. Why are we still allowing it here? I don’t know. What I do know is that knowledge is power. You know enough now to not eat the stuff. You have options.

You can make your own bread grinding your own wheat, something I did every day for over 12 years. You can buy locally baked artisen bread from a local baker or natural grocery store, but be sure to read the label! Or, you can skip the bread and put your sandwhich fixings in lettuce. You might even increase your folate intake and that’s a good thing.