To enrich something means to make it richer by adding good things to it. If you add some organic apple cider vinegar to your water, you've enriched it. Enriched white flour must have lots of good things added, so it's good for you. Right? Wrong!
The reality is that many of the good things that were originally in it have been stripped out through refinement. The components added back to the flour are actually toxic!
Iron is a "nutrient" added to enriched flour, except the type of iron added is not really a nutrient at all, but is considered a metallic iron. Metallic iron is not bioavailable to the human body and was never meant to be consumed. Enriched flour is not absorbed by the body as wheat or a grain, in which case your body could use the energy slowly and effectively, but as a starch. That is because the wheat germ has been stripped from the flour; the FDA states that enriched flour cannot have more than 5% wheat germ.
How Enriched Flour Affects Your Health
Once this stuff has been stripped down, you're left with a starch. How does your body react to pure starch? The same way it reacts to pure sugar! The consumption of enriched white flour or products containing enriched white flour causes your body to scream through the ride of a sugar high/low roller coaster.
White flour is really nothing more than refined carbohydrates and can contribute to obesity. Studies show that Americans eat enough extra calories (mostly through refined carbs) to add three pounds of body fat per month to their weight. Carbs should come from unrefined sources, like fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Not from something that's been processed, bleached, and treated with synthetic nutrients.
Alternatives to Enriched White Flour
It's difficult to live flour-free. Many foods are made with flour of some type and it is hard to go flour-free without switching to an all-produce diet or raw food diet.
There are alternatives to enriched white flour. Try replacing enriched flour with whole wheat, oat flour, rye flour, almond meal, brown rice flour, or millet flour. Pasta and bread are the foods that most commonly contain white flour, but pay attention as many processed and frozen foods contain enriched flour.
If available, sprouted flours are best. Preferably, organic. Organic sprouted whole grain pastas and breads are becoming easier to obtain although the best diet plan would contain little to no grains and more live fruits, seeds and vegetables.
Whole Grain Flour vs. White Enriched Flour
- Whole grain foods are higher in fiber because the wheat germ and bran have not been processed out of them.
- Whole grain foods are digested more slowly, leaving you feeling fuller for a longer.
- Whole grain foods have more nutrients than "enriched" foods.
- Whole grains are not processed as a starch, so they don’t throw your body into a sugar dependency cycle.
Experiment with a 10 day, no enriched white flour challenge, you might be surprised at how easy it is. Better yet, share the challenge with your family and friends.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.