Many studies have shown the negative effects of white bread, but now new research suggests white bread might actually help boost the good microbes found in your gut.

A recent study published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found the carbohydrate in white bread boosted Lactobacillus, a group of good bacteria, located in our intestines. This type of bacteria is good for warding off sicknesses such as the flu, diarrhea, and other related health issues. And when there is not enough of this bacteria in a person’s gut, they become more prone to disease — both men and women alike.

Research leader Sonia Gonzalez from University of Oviedo’s Department of Functional Biology and colleagues from the Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias-CSIC asked 38 healthy adults regarding their diet and measured the amount of bacteria that was present in their stool. “A negative association was found between the intake of pectins and flavanones from oranges and the levels of Blautia coccoides and Clostridium leptum,” the study authors wrote. “By contrast, white bread, providing hemicellulose and resistant starch, was directly associated with Lactobacillus.

However, this research contrasts what many nutrition and health experts have advised on eating white breads. A recent study published by Spanish researchers showed white bread is, in fact, less healthy than whole grain bread. “The issue is that white bread is made with highly refined flour, which is rapidly absorbed as sugar,” said Professor Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, The Independent reported. “Essentially it is equivalent to a high consumption of sugar. The problem is similar to what we see with soft drinks, their sugars are rapidly transformed into fat an organism.” Also, due to the refining process and how it’s made, white breads are also lower in fiber, which can lead to constipation in those who are not mindful of consuming a sufficient amount of the nutrient.

While Martinez-Gonzalez and her team might have found a small group of people where white bread helped, this research is still minor and inconclusive. Martinez-Gonzalez also found people who ate three slices of white bread per day were 40 percent more likely to gain weight as compared to those who just ate one slice. Whole grain bread on the other hand was not linked to weight gain or obesity.

There are many other ways to increase the amount of probiotics in your system besides bread, such as eating yogurt or taking a probiotic supplement. Also, stay away from killers of good bacteria, such as antibiotics, cigarettes, and alcohol. 

 

Source: Gonzalez S, Cuervo A, Valdez L et al. Pilot Study of Diet and Microbiota: Interactive Associations of Fibers and Polyphenols with Human Intestinal Bacteria. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2014.