60-Second Science

White Bread May Actually Build Strong Bodies 1 Way

The guts of white bread eaters appear to contain more lactobacillus, a type of bacteria that wards off digestive disorders. Karen Hopkin reports 


[Audio of vintage Wonder Bread commercial]
You can beat on Wonder Bread all you want. [Audio of columnist James Norton: “You can make a completely credible pillow out of this stuff.”]
But it just keeps bouncing back—because despite its nutritional bad reputation, white bread appears to boost the growth of good gut bacteria. That’s according to a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. [Adriana Cuervo et al, Pilot Study of Diet and Microbiota: Interactive Associations of Fibers and Polyphenols with Human Intestinal Bacteria]
In recent years, white bread has been shunned as a glutenous slab that lacks the health benefits of whole wheat. But this new study suggests there’s more to the story.
The researchers were looking at the effects of foods on the types of microbes that live in our intestines. They gathered data on the diets of 38 healthy adults and then analyzed the bacteria present in the subjects’ stool samples. Hey, it’s for science.
Turns out that volunteers who ate white bread had more lactobacillus, a type of bacteria that wards off digestive disorders. Seems the starch and fibers in this sandwich staple are good for these germs.
But before you make your lunch, another recent study showed that eating white bread is associated with obesity. So you should take all these findings with a pinch of salt. But not too much salt—especially if you have high blood pressure.
—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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