There has been discussion for many years over the comparative value of graham, whole wheat and white bread. Several years ago graham bread was urged upon every one as the only satisfactory bread. After a time the conclusion was reached that the coarse particles of the graham flour were too irritating to the intestinal wall, and its use was discouraged except where this very irritation was desirable, as in case of constipation. Then came the era of whole wheat bread, showing like the graham a high percent of nutriment. At one time it seemed to be considered almost a crime to use any other bread than this. The presence of phosphates in larger amount than in white flour and the higher proportion of proteid seemed a sufficient reason for encouraging its use by every one.
The latest government investigations have proved that this was a false assumption. While from the chemical standpoint it is true, from the physiological one it is not. Less of the material of whole wheat bread is available for use in the body, or in other words, a larger proportion is excreted in the feces than in white bread, so that whole wheat is not superior to white bread in real nutritive value. It is hurried through the intestines more quickly and thus given less chance for absorption than is true of the white bread. The phosphates are so closely attached to the outer cellulose wall that they probably do not furnish any more material to the body than is obtained from bread made of white flour.
Although bread contains a fair proportion of proteid, about 9.2 per cent, it has too little proteid, too little fat, and too large an amount of starch to form in itself a perfect food. Instinctively we supplement it with these lacking ingredients. We use butter on our bread, we eat bread with meat, or we combine it with milk. In either case we are supplementing it admirably. Eggs, too, contain the lacking fat and proteid. Nuts eaten with bread and cheese so much used in many countries have scientific sanction.
Good bread is one of the cheapest, most nutritious, most easily and completely digested of all foods and well deserves its title the "Staff of Life".