Imagine if someone stole your wallet that was filled with hundreds of dollars, but then they felt guilty so they decided to give you 5 bucks back. And then they expected you to jump up and down and be grateful! That, in a nutshell, is what happens with the enriched flour process.
Food manufacturers take whole grains such as wheat and rice and remove the outer kernel, the bran and the germ in order to process the flour into a finer texture, to increase shelf life, and discourage bugs from eating it (that’s right – even insects don’t like enriched flour!). The problem is that when you remove all of these vital layers of a whole grain, you are stripping it of almost all of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and leaving it in an empty, un-nutritious state. So that’s when the manufacturers tell us we’re so lucky, because they’re going to add in a bunch of the nutrients they stripped out! They take what was once a nutritious, whole grain product filled with tons of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and “enrich” it by adding back a couple of B vitamins and some folic acid.
In addition to losing lots of good stuff through this enriching process, our bodies don’t process these products the same way they do a whole grain product. When the grain is in its whole state, our bodies digests it slowly, as time-released energy throughout the day. Enriched flour is broken down much quicker in the body (similar to sugar), leaving you with a quick spike in blood sugar levels which, over time, can contribute to diabetes and obesity.
So the next time you’re on the hunt for some bread or grain products (rice included!), look for products that contain the whole grain. Whole grains and whole foods are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and proteins that reduce the risk of cancer, assist our digestive system, and help prevent heart disease. In addition, they’re lighter on our waistline and help keep diabetes and obesity at bay.