All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Garlic Bread Failure

Realizing that the last Whitely Easy Sourdough Loaf had great keeping power, I decided to try it again:

  • 760g ww flour
  • 40g wheat germ
  • 128g sourdough
  • 13g salt
  • 560g water

It is a good thing I made this bread, it carried me through, when I thought I'd be eating this next bread:  I made a loaf with garlic powder.  And that "garlic powder bread" was an abysmal failure.

  • 1000g ww flour
  • 750g water
  • 20g salt
  • 200g sourdough
  • 150g garlic powder
  • 50g wheat germ

This dough didn't rise, it just sat there like a stone.  It was as if the garlic powder totally inhibited the yeast and the bacteria, and they became inert.

Fail: this loaf didn't rise and didn't bake

It did smell nice when baking.  And my friend, to whom I give half of my loaves, said he even liked the taste -- what he ate of it.  But it was so dense it didn't bake well.  Even with extra oven time, it did not bake all the way through.  A total disaster, I nibbled at the crust of a slice, and then promptly gave the entire mess to the chickens.

Why bother adding things like Garlic Powder to bread dough?
Here's the thing.  I've discovered, over the last few years of looking into bread, that it is a wonderful, high-energy foodstuff -- for those who can tolerate it (and most of us can).  

However, for all its amazing properties, it is not a complete protein.  It is low in lysine, for example.  Hussain's team in Pakistan (Hussain, T. et. al (2004). Lysine fortification of wheat flour improves selected indices of the nutritional status of predominantly cereal-eating families in Pakistan. Food Nutr Bull. 25(2) pp.114-22) proved that supplementing lysine in bread, when bread constitutes much of the diet, will improve children's height and weight scores, and will increase hemoglobin, transferrin levels (so it should improve oxygenation), CD4, CD8 and complement C3 (so it should boost immunity).  Adults also showed a moderate increase in the prealbumin -- which should lead to increased metabolic regulation.

I probably seek out lysine-rich food like cheese to put on my finished loaves, and perhaps that is one way to supplement the amino acids in the diet that consumes a lot of bread.  But another way would be to look for other ingredients which contain lysine, or other limiting amino acids, and add them to the dough.  Unfortunately for the vegetarian, a lot of vegetables and roots and things that might go into bread are similarly limited by lysine.

And besides, lysine isn't the only reason I want to add ingredients to my bread.  Ever since making my coconut bread (see my sidebar rant on that posting about 'why are we eating?') I have been thinking about nootropics recently. How do we boost brain power?  How do we provide nourishment to the brain?  What do we require in our diet to move nutrients through the blood-brain barrier, to enable the brain to think clearly, and work optimally?  That has been where my recent thoughts have taken me.

There is so much I don't know about this, and the learning curve is steep.  In the meantime, I have just been experimenting with adding things to dough that I think might help.  Without knowing what to do, I've been using intuition, and using the things that I happen upon.

So recently, I've added some of the following ingredients to my loaves: coconut flour, maca root flour, hemp, etc.  Since making the Maca loaf, out of Peruvian maca, I have been wondering what sort of root from this country I might add to dough.  Perhaps Jerusalem Artichoke, or potato, or turnip... but then it occurred to me that garlic had a lot of almost magical properties, and perhaps garlic powder might give a loaf an interesting quality.

Not a root, but a bulb, the problem with garlic is that it has antibiotic and antifungal properties.  It occurred to me after trying the first loaf that this was the main problem with my garlic loaf.  It was attacking the sourdough that was supposed to leaven the dough.  I decided to try it again.  A different way.

Garlic Powder Loaf Attempt 2
For my second attempt at using Garlic Powder, I made the usual 100% whole wheat sourdough bread, but this time I didn't add the 150g of Garlic Powder until the bulk fermentation stage was done.  At this point, the gluten had developed from about 4 hours of gentle stretches and folds.  At the moment when the dough was divided, then pre-shaped, and finally shaped, I added as much garlic powder as I could -- and I used it in place of flour on the countertop.  So a certain amount was incorporated in the interior of the dough, but much more was incorporated into the crust.

The bread did not proof long before it was covered and placed in the refrigerator overnight (about 8 hours).  Upon awakening, it was removed and brought to room temperature for 2 hours, then baked on a stone with steam.  I found the crust quite tough to score; it felt sort of like cutting into flesh.  And the garlic powder in the baskets where the dough had proofed was very damp and clumpy.

I had better results with the rising, this time.

Adding garlic powder at the end of the bulk fermentation worked a little better.  A side effect of this, however: this bread had a very crispy crust, and the garlic scent was pretty overpowering.  If you like garlic -- if you like a lot of garlic -- and you don't mind a strange crust, this loaf might be up your alley.  But this bread is probably not for me.  I just can't get over what garlic does to the breath.

About Breath
Perusing the wiki on garlic, I was struck by the section 'Adverse effects and toxicology,' wherein it is mentioned that garlic breath is caused by "allyl methyl sulphide (AMS).  AMS is a volatile liquid which is absorbed into the blood during the metabolism of garlic-derived sulphur compounds; from the blood it travels to the lungs…," and out through the breath.

Following wikipedia's footnotes to find the source of this info, one quickly comes to the conclusion that there are many other compounds in garlic that similarly are absorbed by the bloodstream and travel to the lungs, where they are excreted/exuded.  AMS just happens to be the one we associate the most with garlic breath (Block, E. (2010). Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. Royal Society of Chemistry. ISBN 0-85404-190-7.)  This has all been carefully studied, because garlic has some amazing properties and scientists want to know what's going on (Rosen, R. et. al. (2001). Determination of Allicin, S-Allylcysteine and volatile metabolites of garlic in breath, plasma or simulated gastric fluids. J of Nutrition. 131(3) pp. 968s-971s).

But the work with garlic made me wonder: what are the metabolites of ordinary bread that come out through the lungs?  I don't necessarily think that "wheat breath" is as powerful a scent as garlic breath, but i believe that some of the components of bread metabolism do reach the lungs; some of these molecules may follow the gradient involved in the exchange of gases (oxygen for carbon dioxide).  And some of these metabolites of our diet may or may not end up in the mucosa and tissues of the lungs themselves.

I have for some time been curious about whether eating whole grain breads, in the amount that I do, causes an increase in the quantity or quality of boogers (e.g. see here, or here).  (Or is it just that I eat most of my bread as sandwiches while at work, and in that extra-dry, almost poisonous, enclosed hospital air environment, my nasal mucosa just naturally pick up more of the gunk floating around there, and so I merely associate the boogers with the bread, but there is no causal link?)

How does an ordinary human test such things, without access to a gas spectroscope or high-powered microscope?  

I have mentioned the hydrogen breath test before, when I blogged about fructose.  It has long been known (Douwes, A. et al (1985) Hydrogen breath test in schoolchildren. Arch Dis Child 60. pp 333-337) that the exhaled breath will contain more hydrogen (like, >100ppm) if ingested carbohydrate is improperly metabolized.  The bacteria in the gut will produce hydrogen because they are fermenting that undigested carb.  The hydrogen goes through the gut lining, into the bloodstream and then into the lungs and is exhaled; it does not just leak back up through the GI tract and out the esophagus (Rumessen J (1992). Hydrogen and methane breath tests for evaluation of resistant carbohydrates. Eur J Clin Nutr 46 pp S77-90).  

What else goes through our bloodstream and to our lungs when we eat bread?  Certainly nutrients travel the bloodstream and go to the cells; the liver scoops up a lot of the remaining stuff we can't use and either stores it or breaks it down again.  So what manages to slip by the filters and continue on to the heart and its pulmonary loop, and out through the breath?  One can see tiny hydrogen escaping fairly easily.  But what else?

How do we perform breath gas analysis, without expensive machinery?  I'm sure that my dog can tell you everything I ate in the last 30 days, by scent forward and backward.  But unfortunately (or depending on how you look at it, fortunately -- can you imagine humans getting into the habit of sniffing butt the way dogs greet each other?), my sniffer isn't as good as a dog's.  So how is the average person supposed to know what is in his or her breath?

As someone who has taken CPR courses, and has provided CPR in the course of my professional life as a nurse, we learn that the breath we exhale contains carbon dioxide yes, but also some oxygen, enough for a victim who requires CPR to benefit from our exhalation if they are not breathing on their own.

Air is composed of approximately:

  • 78% nitrogen
  • 21% oxygen
  • 1% argon
  • 1-4% water vapour
  • 0.04% carbon dioxide
  • 0.002% neon
  • 0.0005% helium
  • 0.0002% methane
  • 0.0001% krypton
  • 0.00006% hydrogen
  • 0.00003% nitrous oxide
  • 0.00001% carbon monoxide
  • 0.00001% xenon
  • 0.000007% ozone
  • 0.000002% nitrogen dioxide
  • 0.000001% iodine
  • trace ammonia
This is the ambient atmosphere, for most of us.  Breath typically uses 4-5% of the oxygen we inhale, and replaces that volume with a similar mass of carbon dioxide.  And so the exhalation contains, roughly:

  • 78% nitrogen
  • 13-16% oxygen
  • 1% argon
  • 5% water vapour
  • 4-5.3% carbon dioxide
  • 0.002% neon
  • 0.0005% helium
  • 0.0002% methane
  • 0.0001% krypton
  • 0.00006% hydrogen
  • 0.00003% nitrous oxide
  • 0.00001% carbon monoxide
  • 0.00001% xenon
  • 0.000007% ozone
  • 0.000002% nitrogen dioxide
  • 0.000001% iodine
  • trace ammonia
  • acetone
  • methanol
  • ethanol
  • other volatile organic compounds

But there are literally hundreds of volatile organic compounds in breath, leading the international association of breath research to set up a database to better understand them.

The smell of acetone has long been used as a marker for diabetes (but it can also be used to monitor low carbohydrate diets, and weight reduction, and exercise levels); cirrhosis may increase concentrations of thio compounds (methanethiol, ethanethiol, dimethysulfides and alkanethiol and alkysulfides); ammonia, dimethyl sulphide and mercaptans are increased in hepatic disease; ammonia has also been found to be increased in breath exhalation as we age (Spanel, P. et al. (2007) Acetone, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide in exhaled breath of several volunteers aged 4–83 years. J Breath Res 1 pp L1-4); and demethylamine and trimethylamine are increased in uremia.  But medicine is just beginning to understand that some of the more obscure metabolites in breath can be used as diagnostic criteria for other diseases.  Only now are the metabolic pathways in the human body well enough understood and the technology able to differentiate parts per million and parts per billion of gases in a volume of breath.  How far we can take this is anyone's guess.  For example, even psychological stress has been found to increase the breath's isoprene levels (Manolis, A. (1983). The Diagnostic Potential of Breath Analysis. Clin. Chem. 29(1) pp. 5-15).

Most recently, scientists have been focusing on the life cycle of the billions of bacteria in the human digestive system, many of which are beneficial for us.  Keeping those critters happy keeps us healthy.  That is what the recent craze behind probiotics is all about.  One of the earliest finds was that the amount of resistant starch in the diet has been shown to impact the growth of fermenting gut bacteria.  Different resistant starches have different effects.  We can't digest it, but the bacteria can use some of it.  This bacteria will produce extra acetone, propionate and butyrate as byproducts of fermenting it (Muir, J. (1995) Resistant starch in the diet increases breath hydrogen and serum acetate in human subjects.  Am J Clin Nutr 61. pp. 792-9).  The increased butyrate in particular has been shown to be beneficial to cells, stabilizing DNA and the "down regulation" of oncogenes.  That means it will shore up our own epithelial cells lining the gut and will very likely inhibit cancer growth.

Rye bread and sourdough breads are considered healthier because they may provide slower gastric emptying, based on the C-ocanoic acid breath test.  This in turn may slow insulin response, increase the fermentation response of gut bacteria, and prevent excessive energy intake which would lead to obesity, heart disease, the metabolic syndrome and diabetes (Bondia-Pons, I. et al. (2011) Postprandial differences in the plasma metabolome of healthy Finnish subjects after intake of a sourdough fermented endosperm rye bread versus white wheat bread. Nutrition Journal 10:116 pp 1-10).

One must be careful in breath studies, because there are breath differences due to diet, individual metabolism, sex and age of the person being studied, as well as local atmosphere.  There are tons of variables, in other words, and the volatile compounds and molecules studied are in very tiny amounts indeed.  But there may be more diagnostic tools using breath in the near future.

Notes to Myself
  • I have had a total of one insight since starting to do a bit of yoga.  And that is, "Follow the breath."  Asanas and all stretching follow the breath.  The yogis insistence on pranayama is not just mumbo jumbo.  Breath has a lot to tell us.
  • I'm still not any closer to determining whether my boogers get nastier due to eating whole grain breads.
  • Maybe put some parsley in this bread, too.  If you ever make it again.

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