During WW11, to cope with the reductions in the amount of wheat imported to England, more flour was extracted from the grain available. The extraction rate was raised to around eighty-five percent, giving the population the nourishing wholemeal National Loaf (with a high vitamin B content), although many people did not find its greyish colour appealing.
“National wheatmeal flour” had in it the starchy endosperm, the wheat germ, and the bran, with the coarser bran extracted out. 85% means that out of 100 kg of wheat grains, you would get 85 kg of flour. White flour is generally around 70% extraction, and would get you 70kg.
If you are lucky enough to find a copy of “BREAD The Chemistry and Nutrition of Flour and Bread, with an Introduction to their History and Technology,” by Lord Horder, Sir Charles Dodds, and T. Moran (from the Research Association of British Flour-Millers!), 1954, you can find out many more fascinating facts.
“The normal extraction rate in the United Kingdom during conditions of peace,” they tell us, “is between 70% and 72%, the remaining 28 – 30% being converted to animal feeding-stuffs.”
“An 80-90% extraction flour conforming to minimum nutritional standards, such as those laid down by the Post-War Loaf Conference, should contain most of the germ and auleurone layer – rich in B1 and niacin, iron and fibre.”
BUT “The aim in white-flour milling is separate as completely as possible the outer skin and germ” – thus leaving humans with the starch, taking out the good stuff, including the B vitamins, niacin and riboflavin, as well as minerals including calcium, magnesium and iron. “In addition to the fall in vitamin and mineral content, there is a decrease in protein content when the extraction rate is reduced.” What the what!
The official members of the PWLC favoured a continuance of an 80 – 85% extraction flour, whereas the trade interests favoured a white flour “enriched” if necessary with the nutrients normally present in wheat. “The advantages of a white flour with its greater quantity of wheat-feed, which, incidentally [!!], is of higher feeding value than that obtained from the milling of a high-extraction flour, has always been stressed by agricultural interests.” Yes, give your cheap (nutritious!) cast-offs to them for animal feed, not to the people!
This, even though “a host of substances present in trace amounts await identification.” And, where there is a deficiency of B vitamins in white flour, “other factors which are not yet measurable – and some which still remain unknown – will be deficient too.”
To the rescue comes “one of the large vitamin manufacturers” (pharmaceutical company) offers to produce synthetic B vitamins. “On August 29th, 1953, millers were again allowed to mill white flour, but on condition that it was enriched, not only with vitamin B1, but also two other nutrients, viz., nicotinic acid [niacin] and iron.”
Canada started “enriching” white bread in January 1, 1953; the US had started the practice in May of 1941.
“Black bread of 98% extraction is poorly utilized, and faeces [human poo!] collected after eating such coarse breads contain a large residue of material due to poor carbohydrate digestion.” Probably made great manure. And that’s why “a meal of white bread raised the blood sugar to a higher level than of black bread.”
These spikes of blood sugar mess with your insulin levels, which can give you Type 2 Diabetes. The excess carb is stored as glycogen (gluclose) then converted to fat.
“It has been known for a considerable time that specific reductions in certain of the basic foods are more effective than mere non-specific reduction to total calories.” They don’t even footnote this! Known for a considerable time! They go onto explain what later became Atkins, Paleo, Wheat Belly: “Next to protein, a high fat diet is attended with the greatest loss of weight, whereas carbohydrate, if used in a reducing diet, causes the least loss of weight.”
So, the “staff of life,” back in the day, did not mess with your insulin, was a source of protein, and had vitals for our vitality. Big Pharma and Agri-business gave us a few synthetic vitamins and a loaf of starch.