Enriched and Bromated Flour May be Harmful to your Health
If you go to a regular grocery store these days, you might notice how hard it is to find bread and grains that do not have a “laundry list” of ingredients. Some of these ingredients help to add flavor to the food, some are additives and preservatives and some of these ingredients are used in the processing or refining of the flour. However, most of these ingredients, with the exception of certain vitamins that are used to “enrich” the food, may be harmful to your health.
Why do Manufacturers Use Bromated Flour?
One such ingredient that is found in most bread in this country is Bromine. Most flour used for bread has been enriched with potassium bromate, which is a maturing agent that promotes gluten development in dough. Most bakers use bromated flour because it helps to yield better dough and makes dough stronger and more elastic. This helps to give bigger “rises” in bread and the resultant bread is strong and springy, which is well suited to commercial production. This substance also “bleaches” the flour, creating the white creamy color that is associated with bread flour.
Potassium bromate is classified as a potential carcinogen, meaning that it can cause harm to your body when consumed. In theory, this maturing and bleaching agent is supposed to bake out of bread dough as it cooks, but most often traces or large amounts of bromates are left in the bread when it hits grocery store shelves. In some countries, bromated flour has actually been banned out of concerns of health risks. In the United States, however, using bromated flour is still legal, although if a product contains bromated flour it must be labeled on the ingredient list accordingly.
Bromine is a Thyroid Disruptor
In the early 1990’s the World Health Organization (WHO) discovered that potassium bromate has the capacity to cause such diseases as cancer, kidney failure and several other diseases. One of the most disturbing trends that I have seen in clinical practice is the rapid rise in hypothyroidism in this country over the last decade or so. It is not solely due to consuming white enriched bread laden with bromated flours, but I suspect that this is certainly part of the picture. The thyroid-toxic properties of bromide were first discovered more than a decade ago. On your thyroid gland there are iodine receptors. Iodine, along with some vitamins and an amino acid called tyrosine, are needed to make thyroid hormone. Bromine, chlorine and iodine are all very similar in their chemical structure and therefore look very similar to your body. So when bromine is taken into the body, your body has a very hard time distinguishing it from iodine and allows bromine to bind to these iodine receptors. The more bromine that is consumed, this causes a lack of iodine to bind, thereby causing thyroid hormone to be made inefficiently and leading to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is marked by a variety of symptoms including low energy, inability to lose weight, constipation, dry skin and nails and hair loss.
How to Avoid Bromine in your Diet
So what can you do to avoid this problem and start returning your body to a state of optimal health? Only purchase breads and grains that do NOT contain bromated flours – I usually suggest to most of patients to purchase either sprouted grain breads (like Ezekial bread) or purchase and eat “gluten-free breads” that again, have not been bleached nor made with bromated flour. If you are making your own bread and baking with flour, make sure to use “gluten-free” and/or unbleached flour. If you choose pasta to eat, make sure to consume gluten free type pastas including brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta that have not been bleached or bromated.