Before 1870 there was only stone ground wheat. By 1880 all stones had been replaced with iron, steel, or porcelain rollers throughout Europe and America. It marked the beginning of the industrial revolution of our food. Refined flour was the first fast food so to speak.
Before the industrialized roller-milling revolution, the ground white flour could only get just so white. You see grinding removed the bran from the wheat berry and therefore most of the fiber, but it didn't remove the germ, which contains oils that are rich in nutrients. The stone mills simply crushed the germ and released the oil. This tinted the flour a rather unappealing yellow grey (the yellow is carotene) which shortened the shelf life once it was exposed to the air. The flour soon oxidized and turned rancid. It didn't look or smell very nice after that and people didn't like it. However what they didn't realize was that the oil was where all the nutrients were, such as protein, folic acid, B vitamins, carotenes and other antioxidants, such as omega-3 fatty acids. It was probably the omega-3 that caused it to go rancid.
With roller milling came the ability to remove the wheat germ as well as the fiber, leaving behind a big packet of nothing but starch and a little protein. This starch hitting our bodies all at once causes our bodies to have a sugar rush. Now the pancreas has to kick into double time to keep up with this over load. Soon the pancreas gets worn out and you have diabetes. You also have an overweight population. But the good news for the population back then was that now everyone could afford white flour that would last on the shelves for many months. Before this only the rich could afford white flour.
Now not every little town had to have a water wheel in order to provide almost daily flour for everyone. Now since white flour could last months it could be ground far away and shipped. Now towns did not have to be by a stream or river. Now they could build a town anywhere. So America began to spread out.
The problem with this new white flour was that it was nutritionally worthless, or just about. As well as the wheat, the corn and rice flours suffered from the same fate. Wherever these refined flours appeared so did epidemics of pellagra and beriberi. Both of the diseases are caused by deficiencies in B vitamins, which were in the germ.
In the 1930s vitamins were discovered and scientists soon figured out why everyone was sick. So the government made it a law that B vitamins had to be added to the white flour. Not until 1995 did the public health authorities order folic acid be added to the white flour as well. We are plagued with deficiency diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. We also know that eating whole grains reduces the risk of these diseases.
It is true that white flour is easier to digest, because by removing the fiber that normally slows down the release of sugar, it is now released faster into your system. Let me explain. The finer the flour is ground, the more surface area is exposed to digestive enzymes, so the quicker the starches are going to turn to glucose. The food processors are doing this on purpose. They want to find ways to deliver the glucose, the brain's preferred food, more swiftly and efficiently. It is indeed the whole point. After the sugar rush, you crash and then crave more. So is it your fault you crave white flour products? But you can claim that up to this point that you didn't know any better, but now you are informed.
We need to eat whole grains that are ground fresh just before they are used. The way to do that is with a wheat grinder. When you grind grain fresh it has a wonderful smell. You can smell the nutrients in it. Go smell your white flour. Go ahead go smell it! What did you smell? Nothing, right? That's because the nutrients are gone and the flour is dead. When you fresh grind your whole grain it is still warm when you make your baked goods. If you use this fresh grain to make bread the warmth of the flour activates the yeast and your bread will rise better and faster. Don't eat dead white flour your body deserves better than that. Only in America do we take real nutrients out of something and then replace it with artificial nutrients. Remember added chemicals can never replace what God put in, in the first place.
The author is Gini Johnson. She has a website, Ladybug Horizon, Grainmillandwheatgrinder.com She has 42 years experience with grinding flour and making homemade bread. On our website we have the finest, yet affordable wheat grinders and grain mills on the market. We have electric and hand grinders. Come check out the videos and read the "History of White Flour." We also have recipes and helpful hints on how to make bread. If you want to eat healthy we can help. Come visit us today.
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