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7 Negative Effects of Refined Flour

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The White Menace

Flour, as opposed to whole-kernel grains, is easy to overconsume because most flour-based foods require little chewing and go down rather quickly. “It is so much easier to overconsume any food where the work of chewing or digesting or separating fiber from starch has been done for us,” says functional nutritionist Julie Starkel, MS, MBA, RD.

Overconsuming flour can lead to a number of problems in the body, including:

Blood-Sugar Blues. Smashing a whole-kernel grain to smithereens means it digests faster. Rapid-fire digestion causes blood sugar to spike, which causes a rise in insulin. The result? Not only are you hungry two hours later, but you are also paving the way for insulin resistance and diabetes. “The difference between a whole-kernel grain and a processed grain all boils down to the glycemic index, which is how quickly the body turns food into fuel, or glucose,” says Gerard Mullin, MD, FACN, director of integrative gastroenterology nutrition at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and coauthor of The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health (Rodale, 2011). Foods made with wheat flour are particularly damaging. A carbohydrate in wheat, called amylopectin A, is more easily converted to blood sugar than just about any other carbohydrate. Two slices of bread made with whole-wheat flour raise blood sugar higher than six teaspoons of table sugar and higher than many candy bars.

“If we were evil scientists and we said, ‘Let’s make the most perfect poison,’ it would be wheat,” says preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD. (For more on why Davis advises against  eating any kind of wheat — including even whole-kernel grains — check out his book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health (Rodale, 2011).)

Inflammation. A diet high in grains stokes inflammation. When blood sugar spikes, glucose builds up in the blood like so many standby passengers on a flight. When glucose loiters in the blood, it gets into trouble by attaching itself to nearby proteins. The result is a chemical reaction called glycation, a pro-inflammatory process that plays a role in a host of inflammatory diseases — everything from cataracts to arthritis to heart disease.

Related: 5 Ways to Fight Inflammation

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Molly, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


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9:45AM PST on Jan 23, 2013


8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Marvellous, white bread is convenient but often tasteless. Just love whole grains and wheats. There are some who are saying that we should avoid eating grains and wheat but these are some of my favourite foods which will never be given up. Prefer organic items.

Some people have an intolerance to gluten and can't eat wheat but for me, whole grains are delightful and very tasty.

4:18PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

Over time, I have come to realize that anything more than 2 serving of wheat a day is too much. I use whole wheat when I bake for myself.

I work in a restaurant where most people eat biscuits and gravy for breakfast. It doesn't have any apeal to me nor does cereal, pancakes, etc. I would rather have a piece of chicken.

3:44PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

I totally agree !

3:08PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012


10:10AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

I'm surprised about the wheat. I thought whole-grain wheat bread was good for you vs white bread.

9:57AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

Very informative article, thanks!!

7:48AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

what about whole wheat?

7:47AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012


2:43PM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

Wow that's pretty scary, I wasn't expecting refined flour to be so bad for us

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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