I’m mostly carbohydrate-free these days, because I’m working on eliminating my visceral fat, but when I hanker for some and check out the options in the supermarket, I’m sadly disappointed. First, I guess, some context.
I was recently measured as having high blood sugar – not a critical level yet, but a quick review of the literature showed me that once your blood sugar is elevated, you are on the road to diabetes, which means the road to heart attacks, failing nerves, failing eyesight, and a lot more goodies.
A little more research showed that the problem comes down to chronic carbohydrate intake in excess over daily requirements. When you overeat fat, it goes straight to your flab; not pretty, but fairly benign. However, when you eat more carbs than needed to refill your body’s stores (glycogen in the liver and muscles), the liver turns the excess to fat. However unlike dietary fat, this liver-produced fat goes to three places; (1) flab – harmless. (2) stored in the liver, causing fatty liver, liver insulin resistance, and other problems, and (3) Spillover into the blood, and hence into other organs, such as the pancreas, which makes insulin. Also bad. The simple version is this; fat on your internal organs interferes with their functioning and creates problems including diabetes; fat in your flab is harmless; Carbs can produce visceral fat when you overeat, fat not so much. So you want to cut down carbs if you are overeating (eating in excess of your daily needs).
Fatty organs become insulin resistant. Fatty liver fails to respond to low levels of insulin at night, and so continue to pump out blood sugar all night long (insulin otherwise stops this). This is what gives you high fasting glucose levels (80 is normal, 100 is classified as pre-diabetes, and 120 is classified as diabetes). I recommend everyone buy a cheap meter on amazon or ebay and have a quick check. If you see a number higher than 100, get it professionally checked by an MD. Hey, might as well get it checked professionally anyway. But the self-test is quick and simple, and costs almost nothing, especially if you stick your whole family. You can get a meter for $10 or $20, and some strips for about $5.
The next problem is that your muscle and other cells fill up with fat and dont need any more energy, so they quit responding to insulin in an attempt to keep out more energy from coming in. This is called insulin resistance. And when your cells become insulin resistant, the blood sugar remains in the blood instead of being pulled out. So your body pumps even more insulin out.
At the same time, your pancreas is getting fatty itself and is working less well, so eventually it gets worn out and stops producing insulin. So now you are diabetic – a lifetime of high blood sugar levels, and all of these sugars caramelize your body proteins, making them not work so good.
The solution, according to the link above, is to clean the fat from your liver and pancreas, and that means dropping your weight. Like 15% of it. Some people can be happily obese and get no diabetes, but if you are like me, you can get pre-diabetic even at a reasonable weight (I was just barely overweight) – this is where genes come in. Some people cannot tolerate any organ fat, others can tolerate a great deal. So if you are one of the sensitive people – you have got to lose weight. Especially visceral fat.
And that means dropping carbs and fat, but especially carbs, which you will also need to control anyway to keep yout blood sugar low. Using your stick meter, you ideally want to stay below 140 about an hour after your meal. Real diabetics are aiming at numbers like less than 200, but anything over 140 is not real good for your system.
Anyway, one of the ways to keep your sugar level low is to eat carbs that dont digest quickly – and that means whole grains rather than white flour and sugars, especially junk like high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is ONLY metabolized by turning into fat in the liver.
So there I was in the bread aisle, looking for a decent whole-grain bread, and everything is coated with sugar, and even the brown breads are just dyed white wonderbread with a few seeds painted on the surface. If you can squeeze it into a small ball, that means its puffed up and so your digestive system will turn it into sugar in seconds. So you want a dense bread.
Fed up (at not being fed), I returned to my roots and looked up a recipe for Irish brown bread – soda bread. And its a thousand times simpler than the stuff I tried to make last year before I found out I had high sugar – French baguettes. In fact, you can go from flour to plate in an hour.
AND it will save you loads of cash because you are making it yourself.
So here it is:
2 cups wholemeal, stoneground if possible, soft if possible, flour.
Chuck in another cup of Irish oatmeal, bulgur, flax seeds, cracked barley, basically any grains you can find, whole grains, but milled and cracked into grits-sized pieces.
Add 1 teaspoon bread soda (sodium bicarbonate); you’ll find it soaking up odors in your fridge or in your cleaning supplies.
Add 1 teaspoon salt for flavor. I suppose you could eliminate it if you wanted.
mix all well; you want the soda well-dispersed.
Add some sour milk of some sort – you could use buttermilk, or if you dont have that, I used milk into which I added half a lemon’s worth of juice; vinegar would work too, a teaspoon or two.You need the acid because it will fizz with the bread soda, making the bread a little fluffier.
Pour the milk into a well in the center of the flour mixture, and mix with your hands and sort of swirl it together until you end up with something with the texture of concrete – before its set. That is, it should be sticky and wet, but should hold a ball shape, more or less.
Dont knead it any more than you have to to get it pretty uniformly together. The more you work it, the worse it will get. Also, work reasonably quickly; as soon as the acid hits the soda, the fizz is being lost. So dont freak out, just dont play with it. Mix it well, pull it together, and tip it onto a baking tray.
Cut a cross in the top for looks and for the heat to get to the center of the loaf, and bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour-40 minutes. The top will get brown, and the bottom will give you a good thump noise. A toothpick will come out clean.
Thats it. Eat warm, with or without butter.
It sounds more complicated than it is;
Mix wholemeal flour, salt, soda, add sour milk, mix it together and bake.
About the easiest bread I know. Nutritious and cheap.