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Ask Dr. Denton: What about Bread? The Bread of Life and the Gift of Real Bread

By Dr. Denton Weiss
April 25th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I will use the brick oven in our back Courtyard to make the Easter Bread for the family. There will be three eggs wrapped in that Easter Challah, the eggs of new life, the number symbolizing the Trinity. We are nourished in our life, both naturally and supernaturally, on bread

PORTSMOUTH, VA. (Catholic Online) - "Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." (John 6:35)

As I prepared for Holy Week this year I reflected with gratitude on the deep roots of my Catholic Christian faith - and most especially, the gift of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. With the Passover set before me, how I longed for the unleavened bread of the season. Easter Sunday - and the essence of all that I live for - is held in the Ciborium and the Chalice offered by the Priest.

Bread and Wine - Body and Blood. Leaving Egypt - finding the Promised Land; a world of bread and honey. Leaving our sins and the separation from God they cause. Finding our eternal food and Holy Communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Bread and Wine - Body and Blood. The end of sin's dark reign, freedom from captivity, the gift of Resurrection and the newness of life, all given through our Lord's loving sacrifice for us all. "Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." (John 6:35)

As this Semana Santa (Holy Week) concluded I welcomed the Triduum, the Great Three days. I know that I will awaken on Easter morning to a renewed sense of light after what has been such a long Lenten desert journey! 

I look forward to standing at the brick oven in our back Courtyard and making the Easter Bread for the family. There will be three eggs wrapped in that Easter Challah, the eggs of new life, the number symbolizing the Trinity. The Challah is a bread of sweet celebration and Easter is our Feast! It was St. Augustine who proclaimed, "We are Easter people and alleluia is our song!"

And we are nourished in our life, both naturally and supernaturally, on Bread. Bread, you might ask? Is Dr. Denton, the promoter of beautiful living and healthy eating, recommending bread?

Bread is looked upon almost as an "evil" food in most fad diets these days. Yet, the Essence of all we live for is in the Holy Eucharist, the last supper, the Seder meal, transformed through the Sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ, the new Passover Lamb. Jesus Himself is the Bread of Life. From the Old to the New Testaments the place of bread has been one of honor and hope.. of Life! "Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." (John 6:35)

Clearly the grains of wheat from the field eaten by our Lord and his disciples were not "evil". Would our Lord eat an unhealthy grain? Interestingly the answer to the question may not be in the grain but in how we treat the gifts given to us. An overindulgence of a processed grain is probably not the same as those wheat berries in the field? Shocker I know! But remember, you can't make "wonder bread" one loaf at a time.

Real Bread is substantive and can be baked and enjoyed by those who receive it as a gift. The wheat grain that is used to make real bread has a significant amount of nutritional benefits. One cup of wheat grain contains approximately 330 calories of carbohydrates (87.1gm) (59% of those carbohydrates are dietary fiber) 19 calories of fat (2.2gm) and 59 calories of protein (33gms). Contained within the gift is Vitamin A and nearly all the B vitamins except B 12. The fat content has no trans-fats and contains both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. As for minerals. Power House!!!!

Calcium  40.8 mg  4% DV
Iron   4.7 mg  26%   DV
Magnesium 166 mg  41%   DV
Phosphorus 415mg  42%   DV
Potassium 486mg  14%   DV
Sodium  6mg  0% DV 
Zinc  3.5mg  23%   DV
Copper  .5mg  23%   DV
Manganese 4.6mg  228% DV
Selenium 84.8  121% DV

Oh, by the way, there is on average 12 grams of water in that cup of wheat. Our daily caloric requirement for the average female and male are between 1500 and 2000 calories per day. Daily Values (%DV) are the percentage of a mineral or vitamins found in foods based on the intake of 2000 calories

So let me get this right Dr D... In roughly a handful of whole wheat grain I get about 20% of my daily calorie needs.  I get 33% of my protein, 59% daily fiber - 29% of my carbohydrates, and 5 % of my daily fat needs!!!!! Wow, bring on the fish and close the deal.

Oh that's right, fish and bread, I think I remember something about those two in the Bible? Luke 9: 16. So .why all this bad press about bread?

In America we love to make things fast and efficient for mass production. The down side is that in this obsession to make every loaf of bread look, feel, smell, and taste, the same, we pound the wheat into a uniform color and texture and then add the exact amount of synthetic vitamins to the flour so every bag and every finished bun is the same. Unfortunately, in doing so, we destroy the nutritional value of the grain and the taste.

The Center of the wheat is what soft white breads are typically made from. That bread has low fiber, few natural B vitamins, and minimal protein. That type of bread is easy to manufacture and has a long shelf life, especially with the preservatives added.

Go to the south of Spain or the Alsace region of France and have a piece of real bread. Wow, the flavor and texture are mind blowing. Why?  Because of the whole grain used in freshly ground course flour. The whole grain is the great gift of the Creator. Therefore, the nutritional power house found within the bread is still present. We digest the grain slowly because the outer coating is harder to digest. The slow breakdown means less stress on the pancreas ... Less diabetes? Absolutely!

The other downside of our bread - eating habits in the United States of America is that we love the "biggy" and "super" size. So let's see, we have a burger with three pieces of white bread layered with all kinds of added calories. We take in over 2000 calories in a single setting and complicate the calories with a bread bun built on the wrong parts of the wheat grain.

The answer

I tell my patients if you can see the grain in the piece of bread you're eating, GREAT. If you can find a bakery in your local area that uses whole grain floor and recently milled floor WOW you have the ultimate bread bakery.

Very simply, if you think about what our Lord ate, the best diet in the World is found right there: Wine, with the antioxidant and germ killing ability that is contained in that delightful fruit of the vine. Plenty of water, it makes up approximately 70% of our bodies. Wheat and other whole grains to give us our vitamins, minerals. Some good, lean proteins and good carbs (the slow digestible type).  AND add a little olive oil and fish. Learn to love those omega three fatty acids. Presto, the greatest diet ever, because it is more than a diet, it is a gift. It opens us up to beautiful living.

This Easter season have some slow cooked whole grains. Eat some real bread. you know the kind from the bakery with the grains looking out at you. Or better yet, learn to make it yourself and find another source of joy. Then smile when you realize you are eating the kind of bread (small b) that gives life; a gift from the One who is the True Bread of Life.

Happy Easter!

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