We are what we eat. Most of our life revolves around food, therefore it’s really important to pay attention to what we feed ourselves.
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There’s increased awareness about food compared to how things were even a few years ago. This is thanks to the internet which has helped the spread of the most accurate and up to date information. So many of the health conditions we experience today such as diabetes or obesity are food-related, therefore it’s definitely best to keep ourselves informed as much as we can.
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One relevant area of consideration is the importance of choosing whole food over refined food, where possible.
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Two of the most consumed foods in our day-to-day life are without a doubt flour and sugar. Flour is used in bread, biscuits, crackers and cakes. Sugar is present in pretty much everything we eat (even the savoury items!). Both flour and sugar are used in their refined form 90% of the time. There is a significant difference between ‘processed’ and ‘refined’.
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Many refer to ‘processed food’ when they actually mean ‘refined’, therefore they treat these two terms interchangeably. The difference is that ‘processed food’ can still be ‘whole’, whereas ‘refined food’ cannot be ‘whole’ in any way. For instance, pitted, chopped dates are processed in order to be so, but they are not refined. On the other hand, white flour needs to be refined in order to be ‘white’.
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Flour and sugar started being refined and bleached around the end of the 19th century, when the colour white was considered upper class compared to the traditional brownish colour of the whole wheat bread and sugar consumed by peasants and lower classes. They were hence treated as a status symbol that reflected a class gap.
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With the passing of time, the refining process became the usual, and today is still the same, although over the past few years people have started preferring wholewheat flour and unrefined sugar.
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What happens when flour is refined and bleached?
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Basically, during the refining process, whole wheat flour gets deprived of all the nutrients contained in wheat grains, resulting in being less nutritious than non refined flour. The modification process consists in removing bran and germ, while bleaching further removes other nutrients such as iron, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Although some of these are artificially added back, refined flour remains nutritiously inferior to the whole wheat version. The reason why nutritionists and dieticians consider it as “white poison” is that, at the end of this entire process, only sugar remains in white flour.
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Brown Sugar

Raw sugar undergoes a similar process as flour. Refined sugar is basically sugar extracted from sugarcane or sugar beet that gets deprived of molasses in order to remove unwanted tastes and possible impurities. During the process, it softens and dissolves, and eventually its components are conveniently separated to yield the white.
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According to the government’s health guidelines, refined sugar should be strongly limited as too much can lead to illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, not to mention a real addiction. This type of sugar provides only ’empty’ calories and no useful nutrients or minerals to one’s body, and it can even drain it of nutrients because of the demanding digestion requirements.
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This is why, generally, you should choose whole wheat flour, pasta or bread rather than their refined versions. Same for sugar. If you want to know more about sugar, feel free to read further here.
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References: Pioneer Thinking – History of white flour, LiveStrong – Refined Sugars, WebMD – The Truth About White Foods

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