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Refined Flours

White flour, all-purpose flour, and enriched flour are some of the names used for refined flours, but whatever you call them they are detrimental to your health and should be avoided.

Refined flour is created when the outer hull of the grain is removed and only the inner kernel is ground and used in the flour. Unfortunately, the hull of the grain is where the bulk of nutrients are found, including calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, strontium, zinc, B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, vitamin E, omega-6 oils, omega-3 oils, and fiber.

Traditionally, grains are ground, kernel and hull, using stone mills. This process preserves most of the nutrients in grains and preserves their low glycemic index. On the other hand, the process of making refined flour creates a nutrient-depleted, high glycemic index product. Flour producers do add select synthetic B vitamins to refined flours in an attempt to prevent gross deficiency diseases, such as pellagra, that emerged with the advent of white flour, but adding only some B vitamins rather than the complete complex naturally found in the grain further complicates the picture by causing imbalances in the finely tuned orchestra of the vitamin B family.

Besides missing key nutrients, refined flours also behave much like refined sugars in the body, contributing to unstable insulin levels, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, elevated cholesterol, and disrupting production of sex hormones. Refined flours also contain gluten and phytic acid, which are well-known for their ability to cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract and make minerals less bio-available.

And the worst part is that it's hard to stop eating them because, like sugar, refined flours are addictive and they're everywhere! Refined grains are found in all kinds of processed foods, such as ready-to-eat boxed breakfast cereals, instant oatmeal or quick oats, pastas, instant rice, cereal bars, etc.

But don't despair. There are many delicious foods that can be made without using refined flours or other processed foods that are harmful to your health. A good place to start learning how you can cook great tasting, healthy food is by taking the time to read some good literature on the subject:

Recommended Reading

Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet

Dangerous Grains

Cook Right for Your Type

Feed Your Body Right

Guess What Came to Dinner? Revised Edition

The Diet Cure

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