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The Staff of Life

When I am pondering a matter, I make it a point to approach it from a Biblical standpoint. I’ve been able to sort through many issues over the course of my life by searching the Scripture and praying for God to give me His wisdom in the matter. If some idea or teaching that is popular contradicts what God says, then it can be rejected as “the wisdom of this world.” As a person who is passionate about health and wellness, I have tried to compare the teachings in the wellness space with what the Bible says about our food, our bodies, and how we should live, and then use those recommendations that agree with Biblical teaching to guide my health journey. There are currently so many conflicting ideas about how to maintain weight and have a longer health span as we age that it’s hard to know who to believe. People can twist the “science” to say anything they advocate. Many of these camps insist upon eating a certain way and forbidding foods that are clearly given to us by God for our good. One of the most demonized foods is bread. However, this week I found a teaching by Sue Becker that helped me to understand why modern bread is so bad for us and how we can make it healthy again. I subsequently bought her book, and it is from her material that I am summarizing most of what I am sharing about modern bread. The thought of being able to eat healthy bread, biscuits, rolls, scones, (the list could go on and on) has made me so happy that I want to share it with everyone!

First, why is it that bread should be a healthy food for man? Bread is mentioned 492 times in the Bible. God created man and gave him all the food he would need to stay healthy. In Genesis 1:29 it says, “And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” So, God gave us seeds, fruits, and vegetables – which includes the grains from which we make bread. Then later He gave us meat in Genesis 9:1-3. “So, God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” As you read through the rest of Scripture you see man eating bread and harvesting grain for bread in almost every book of the Bible. But along with this emphasis on bread, we also see hints of a greater meaning for bread.

The first mention of bread and wine being served by a priest is in Genesis 14 when Melchizedek, who Paul teaches is a type and shadow of Jesus, meets Abram after the war with the kings and his rescuing of his nephew Lot. We go a bit further and bread is mentioned again in Ruth 2:14 where it is the barley harvest and Boaz (another type of Christ) shares bread and wine with his future bride, Ruth. In the New Testament Luke 22:19 says, “And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is My Body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Bread in Scripture represents the body of Christ which was broken for us. We “eat” the bread and it gives us life. This is a picture of salvation – the Holy Spirit dwells within us and gives us life when we believe – place our faith in Christ – for salvation. This is pictured further in the Manna which sustains the people while they are wandering in the wilderness. Jesus sustains us while we are on this earth waiting to receive our inheritance – but we must “eat” the bread every day! Wine represents the joy we have as partakers of Christ. The shedding of His blood means redemption from our sins and restoration and fellowship with our Creator. It is ultimately Jesus who will restore us by His body and blood which are represented in these elements. If God used bread as a symbol of the body of Jesus that saves us from our sins, then surely, He would also make the physical bread which we eat a wonderfully healthy source of life sustaining food. Bread has indeed been the main food for people down through history. It makes sense that Satan, who would like nothing better than to erase Jesus, would also attack the reputation of bread.

Wheat in the New Testament is used to symbolize true Christians who will be gathered and taken to Heaven when Jesus returns. “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:30 If wheat is used as an analogy for true Christians, then it wouldn’t make sense for God to give us wheat that causes people to be sick or die! It should actually be a food that brings life, just as Christians share Christ and bring life to the world.

The wheat that God created originally for us to eat was perfect for our bodies. Sadly, the way we grow and process the wheat and mass produce the bread in modern times makes it unhealthy rather than life giving and life sustaining as it should be. Herbicides and insecticides coat the wheat as it grows in the fields, then the milling and bleaching process strip it of all nutrients, as we will see. In an organically grown environment, uncontaminated whole grains contain almost every nutrient needed for good health. In their whole state, they contain 90% of the vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and healthy fat that we need to survive. They have 40 of the 44 essential nutrients needed for optimal health. The four essential nutrients not contained in whole grains are the vitamins A, C, D, and the amino acid lysine. So how is it that we have lost these nutrients in our bread products today?

It all goes back to the history of bread making. From ancient times, people would have to grind their wheat or barley into flour each day before they could bake it into bread. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the steel roller mills were invented and changed the flour industry forever. The convenience of having beautiful, store-bought white flour was a dream come true for women. The steel rollers mill the grain, sifting away the bran, germ, and oil, which caused spoilage due to becoming rancid too quickly, but which also, unfortunately contained most of the nutrients. The bran contains B vitamins, iron, trace minerals, fiber, protein, and enzymes which aid in the digestion of the wheat. The germ contains essential fatty acids, vitamin E, antioxidants, minerals, B vitamins, and many phytonutrients. The remaining endosperm, or white portion of the grain which is kept is mostly protein and starch. Without the bran and germ, it is virtually devoid of any nutritional value. In addition, flour producers also bleach the flour with benzoyl peroxide, yes, acne medication! The benzoyl peroxide is so strong that it must be neutralized with calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, dicalcium phosphate, or sodium aluminum sulfate. The bleaching process not only adds these dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals, but it kills any vitamins remaining in the flour.

In the early 1900s three devastating diseases broke out across America. Beriberi, which is a thiamine (one of the B vitamins) deficiency that causes neurological disorders became widespread across the country. Pellagra, a niacin (another B vitamin) deficiency was also breaking out in the southern United States. It is a terrible disease which causes skin eruptions, dysentery, dementia, and eventually death. People were also being plagued by anemia, which is an iron deficiency. In 1941, the US government mandated that white flour be fortified with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. This helped to stop the spread of these vitamin deficiency diseases but did little to replace the plethora of vitamins lost in the flour. In 1998, after 50 years of birth defects caused by lack of folic acid in the diet, the government also mandated that this nutrient be added back into the flour. Fortunately, the fortification of the flour stopped the spread of these particular diseases but didn’t go far enough. It is impossible to add in all the lost nutrients, which could be the cause of so many of our problems today. Poor health is the norm in America. People today are accustomed to the soft white bread and the convenience of not having to mill their own flour, but all of this is at the expense of losing essential nutrients needed for optimal health. Eating the flour that God created in the way that He intended for us to eat it, can solve many of our health problems. Following God’s way is always the answer to our problems.

The Bread Beckers have a website and a podcast where they share anecdotal stories about people who have had their health problems disappear after following her advice to mill their own flour and bake their own flour products at home. We all know about the health problems associated with consuming ultra processed foods. This explains why these foods are causing the ill health of millions of Americans. I would encourage everyone to give her a listen and consider purchasing a wheat mill. It will only add one further step to the baking process, but it could be the ticket to better health and the ability to actually eat bread products again! It certainly makes sense to me, as my motto is, “Eat food in the natural state in which God created it for better health!”

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Welcome to Faith Over Fifty. As a young wife and mother it seemed pretty clear that God's will for my life was to love God, love my husband and raise my children to know and love Jesus. Life revolved around balancing my career as a teacher with being a homemaker. Now that I am over fifty, my children are grown, and retirement is looming ever closer, the big question becomes what does God want from me during this phase of life? How can I continue to impact the next generation? What does faith over fifty really look like? I hope you will join me on my quest to seek out God's will for my life as I strive to live for Him and finish the race well.


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