Know alloxan a chemical used for whitening flour
ost people don’t think twice about taking a bite from bread or pastry made with white flour. Delicious baked goods stare at us from beautiful vitrines or at the bakery shelf and say “eat me”. White flour makes everything tastier and visually appetizing. Dark whole wheat flour is simply not that attractive to most people.
Everything has a price. When it comes to diabetes white flour even being delicious might be one of the worst foods you can eat. In order to produce white four we remove their bran and germ layers from wheat kernels; but this process also removes all the fibers, minerals and vitamins. What is left is a high amount of starches which are a subset of complex carbohydrates. This is unfortunate because wheat flour or grain can be rich and nutritious food if we just consume it whole.
It is generally understood that refining foods destroy their nutrients. When the most nutritious parts of grains are removed, white flour essentially becomes a form of sugar. Consider what gets lost in the refining process:
- Half of the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids
- Virtually all of the vitamin E
- Fifty percent of the calcium
- Seventy percent of the phosphorus
- Eighty percent of the iron
- Ninety eight percent of the magnesium
- 5o to 80 percent of the B vitamins
Not only we remove all the good stuff from wheat but in the process we transform it in one of the highest glycemic index foods which is certainly not a good thing if you are diabetic. Not only we subtract all the good stuff from the food, but it end up costing more money.
To make matters worse the buying public wants white flour to be as white as snow. So a bleaching process is used and it causes another batch of problems. Even though most people are aware of the high glycemic index of white flour; the information concerning the bleaching process and it’s toxicity is now well known.
Know the chemical Alloxan
Ounce wheat kernels are stripped of their bran and germ layers, it still a natural flour that is just white but still contains residual outer fibers. The industry is not happy until every trace of fiber is removed. The flour then goes through a process of whitening which is similar to any chlorine bleaching process. A similar chemical to chlorine but leaves a residual byproduct called Alloxan.
Unfortunately alloxan is very toxic for all animals causing the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. These cells are responsible for insulin production. Alloxan is so effective in destroying beta cells that is the standard laboratory drug to artificially induce diabetes in rats for drug tests and other studies.
In a article published in by Diabetologia named “The mechanism of alloan-and streptozotocin-induced diabetes” it was shown that “These hydroxyl radicals are ultimately responsible for the death of the beta cells, which have a particularly low antioxidative defence capacity, the absence of these cells lead to a state of insulin-dependent ‘alloxan diabetes.’ In simpler words, free radicals are released, killing pancreatic cells.
Alloxan is a byproduct of the flour bleaching process and not an added substance
Alloxan or C4 H2O4N2 is a decomposition product of uric acid and byproduct of chlorine gas which is used as a flour bleaching agent. Chlorine gas is also a highly oxidizing agent and a powerful irritant which is dangerous to inhale and can be lethal. Other agents include nitrogen, nitrosyl, and benzoyl peroxide mixed with various chemical salts.
Alloxan is used only as a medical agent to artificially induce diabetes in laboratory animals. There is no other commercial use for alloxan due to its high toxicity. Due to the diabetes epidemic we now facing we cannot afford to be complacent and ignore this issue even if only small amounts of alloxan are present in white flour. It just can’t be removed.
Similar to disinfectants (DBPs) in water, alloxan is formed when chlorine reacts with certain proteins remaining in ground flour after the bran and germ have been extracted. Proteins comprise of 5-15% of white flour content. So for every 15 grams of protein consumed as bleached wheat flour there are 100 grams of contaminated flour. There are simply not enough studies of long term effects of alloxan and human exposure.
How wheat used to be processed
The white flour love affair begun about 100 years ago and this naive decision have evolved into a big problem compromising all wheat base products to the core. Before refining and bleaching of wheat flour, farmers would age flour improving the gluten and thus improving its baking qualities. Today the US milling industry produces about 140 million pounds of flour each day and there is no way to store the flour and allow it to age naturally; in addition to that there are shelf life issues.
Today bleaching is the choice method used to achieve the “aging effect” immediately. It is hard to determine how many mills are bleaching flour with chlorine 0xide, but we do know chlorides for bleaching is the industry standard.
Old time mills grounded flour slowly, but today’s mills are designed for mass-production, using high-temperature, high-speed steel rollers. The resulting white flour is nearly all starch, and even much of today’s commercially processed whole wheat flour has lost a fair amount of nutritional value due to these aggressive processing methods. If you ever wondered how white flour is made today check Healthy Eating Politics.
If you ever had the chance to see one of these hand crank grinders you know what real wheat flour looks, feels and taste like. Bread made from this flour is nothing like the ones we find in stores, there is a wholesome quality to it that is hard to describe. Don’t be fulled by whole wheat bread from stores, some are just white bread with some kind of die, natural or not but just a artificial brown coloring.
Does it mean we have to never eat another tasty baguette in our lives; or look away from that chocolate cake? You do what you think is right but there is no need to panic, fear is also toxic so don’t. There are plenty of alternatives and we just need to explore and be aware. The worst behavior is ignorance. By simply being aware of every food we ingest can be very helpful. Most times we are on automatic pilot and not even paying attention to what we put in our mouth. Food processing begun around the same time white flour became the standard: 100 years ago. To stop eating unprocessed foods is perhaps the most important habit you can adopt since 70% of all foods in the U.S. are processed and there is an estimated 5,000 additives allowed to go into these foods. When in comes to white four and diabetes, stick to natural, organic and wholesome unprocessed foods as much as you can find and afford.
My number one get healthy tip is Avoid White Flour. Yep, out of all the possible tips out there, I chose white flour as my number one target and you might be asking what’s the big deal?? Well, White flour is the most nutritionally useless and harmful staple that us in the western world consume each day. It’s in everything from bread and baked goods to packaged foods and snacks and our bodies become ‘addicted’ to it because of the quick sugar fix and spike in blood sugar it gives us.