Wheat for bread? Why it’s good for the planet
Wheat flour is a staple in the Australian diet, but according to new research, it may actually be a health threat to our environment.
Researchers at the University of Queensland say their findings suggest that wheat flour could contribute to soil erosion, soil salinity, and even increase the amount of nitrates in the water.
In their study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, the researchers examined how wheat flour reacts to the pH of the soil.
They found that soil pH is strongly related to the concentration of nitrate in the soil, and when it is low, the pH is high, and this can lead to high levels of nitrites in the ground water.
Nitrates are naturally present in the surface water, but they can also be found in the groundwater, as they are in nitrate fertilisers and manure.
Nitrite is a chemical compound that is known to increase in the presence of water.
It is an acid, and is a key component of the decomposition products of dead organisms.
It also has a negative effect on the pH levels in the environment.
The researchers say that nitrate and nitrite can increase when soil pH levels are high, as soil bacteria build up nitrates on top of calcium carbonate minerals.
“When the pH drops below 5.5, there is no need for nitrates to be in the mix, and nitrates can build up on top and create a nitrate-nitrite complex in the solution,” said Associate Professor John Rutter, from the School of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
“These conditions can also lead to more carbonate in the system, which can lead them to form carbonic acid and potentially acidification of the groundwater.”
If you look at what happens when you have high nitrate levels, you end up with acidifying the water, which then affects the pH in the air.””
This is a risk for the soil and the groundwater,” Professor Rutter added.”
So the next step is to make sure the soil is not stressed, because if it is stressed, then nitrates will build up and you’ll end up getting nitrates and nitrites into the groundwater.
“Professor Rutter said the researchers wanted to know whether there was any correlation between the concentration and the amount nitrates were found in a sample.”
It is very important that we take into account that the soil pH level is not necessarily the only factor that contributes to nitrates build up in the atmosphere,” he said.”
There are many other factors that are affecting nitrates, but this is one of the things that they found.
“The researchers said the findings suggest wheat flour should be avoided for all types of bread and pasta, as the nitrate from the flour can also act as a potent oxidant, potentially causing the pH to drop below 5 during baking.”
The amount of the nitrates is related to whether you have a pH level between 5 and 5.0 and you are baking bread or pasta, and there’s a lot of evidence that if you are using bread and cheese in the home, that’s when you need to avoid it,” Associate Professor Rutters said.
He said the research was based on the assumption that wheat bread and its bread substitutes are the same, but the researchers have since discovered that some types of wheat flour are made from different strains of wheat.”
We have discovered that there is actually a difference in the proteins in the wheat flour that we were able to detect in the samples, so there’s different proteins in wheat flour,” he explained.”
In general, we think that wheat bran is the best choice for most people, but we are also interested in other types of flour and we are now looking at what the potential of that might be for the environment.
“Professor Richard Sayers, the director of the Institute of Agriculture, Food and Biotechnology at the university, said he was not surprised by the findings.”
This research has been looking at wheat flour and other grains, but it’s a very interesting area to be looking at, as there’s been a lot more attention paid to the role of wheat in our food supply,” he told AAP.”
Wheat flour has been used in Australia for over 400 years, and over the past 50 years it’s also become a major part of the diet in the United States and Europe.
“I would expect that wheat could become a big part of our diets in the future.”
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