When bread makes you sad…

Mental health experts have reported that Ireland’s top-selling sliced-pan bread can lead to ‘severe depression’ as additives are having a critical impact on psychological health.

The bread which proved to be the nation’s most-loved comfort food during the recent Storm Emma is among the 50 per cent of ‘hyper-processed’ foods which makes up the weekly shop in the Republic of Ireland.

It is claimed that improvers’ such as enzymes are added to bread to give it extra shelf life. As a result, the bread which should be stale after two days can last much longer.

Nutritionists agree that standard white bread is generally bad for your health as it is made of all-purpose flour and can lead to obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Leading food culture writer John McKenna said indulging on too many sliced pans loaves could also be leading to “severe depression”.

He continued, “The thing that has interested me in recent years is the research that’s gone into the microbiome, in other words, research into all the bacteria in our gut.”

McKenna said, “When you eat a piece of bread, you’re feeding two things, your appetite and all the bugs in your gut.”

“If you don’t feed those bugs you are not going to feel good, and it’s increasingly obvious that problems with depression and other aspects of mental health are now linked to the gut.”

“This is why I get concerned when I see the modern loaf, and it’s just so lifeless. Most wheat now is sprayed with glyphosate, which is one of the most widely used pesticides in the world.”

As Liz Hogon and I wrote in our book How to Feel Differently About Food, bread generally hasn’t been the ‘staff of life’ for a long time. Mechanised Chorleywood-style baking methods and modifications to wheat crops have done nothing for positive for bread. The modern-day loaf is unrecognisable from the bread of our grandmothers’ day. Stodgy and bloat-inducing, it is full of sugar, salt and starchy carbohydrates.

Bread is increasingly linked to digestive issues and weight gain. Either go expensive with artisan bread made from a selection of organic flours using traditional, slow methods such as sourdough which uses a long fermenting process instead of yeast; home bake bread, or leave it out.

The bread rolls given out at dinner to sailors in the Navy are nicknamed ‘fat pills’ and are left uneaten by the more able seamen.

If you want to continue to eat bread, experiment with artisan bread from specialist bakers. Spelt bread and other varieties made with ancient grains are becoming more widely available.

You may find eating a slice of toasted artisan bread along with your morning eggs tastes terrific and doesn’t cause you any bloating.

McKenna continued, “Ted Dinan at UCC (University College Cork) is quite fascinating on this, he is a clinical psychiatrist, and he has given examples of two patients, a male student and a slightly older woman, both with chronic depression, and how he changed their diet and had them turned around in six weeks.”
“These people were severely depressed. The link between mental health and diets comes down to hyper-processed foods.
“Over 50 per cent of the food people are putting in their baskets in the supermarkets are hyper-processed, and the most popular bread in Ireland, (the standard white sliced) is one of these things.

“People eating all these processed foods are essentially malnourished and are suffering as a result.”

Stats from the European Food Information Council shows the average EU citizen munches on 50kg of bread every year or three to four slices per day.

Although Ireland’s consumption is amongst the lowest in Europe, 33 per cent admit to eating bread every day, and experts say the “improvers” in our favourite brands such as Brennan’s and Pat the Baker are “extremely worrying”.

Understanding the link between nutrition and mental health is currently in its infancy. More and more scientific studies are taking place that evidence the connection between poor gut health and depression.

Liz Hogon and I more fully explore this topic in our book ‘How to Feel Differently about Food’. Available on Amazon UK.

If you find yourself feeling out of control around food and not able to cut down or eliminate foods that you recognise are not suitable for your health then you may be an emotional eater. You can take our emotional eating quiz on this site to find how much or how little this is an issue for you.




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