Cereals; Nutritional Wasteland

Cereal, as others have aptly described, is, “a road to nutritional corruption.”www.theguardian.com  and I fully agree. I have long considered the creation of modern day cereal to be the epitome of processed food. I mean if you really imagine and think about it, cereal is a wasteland of nutrients and in my life -cereal goes into the junk-food drawer and never gets to land on The Training Table.

Let’s take an in-depth look at breakfast cereal because who of us growing up in the USA hasn’t been led into this ingeniously promoted health hoax? We feed cereal to our kids and we feed it to ourselves.

When I look at a cereal box I see  a Willy-Wonka cereal factory.

To create cereal and yes this includes many granolas, the ingredients enter and grind through a complex sequence of processing, sugarating ( highfructose corn syrups) and laboratory flavoring; an industrialization process that has been called by some, an “extrusion” of grains. I found this term to be such a perfect description.


 An extrusion in geological terms, is the movement of molten material magma through crevices and cracks in the earth’s surface where it then solidifies to form rocks (igneous rock).

So food extrusion refers to something formed by forging semisoft material through a specially designed nozzle where it is molded into its desired form.

So into the Willy Wonka Cereal Factory goes sugar, white flour, processed and hydrogenated oils, synthetic food additives and vitamins, denatured,-heat treated grains, food coloring and more. Next cycle, the grains blend with water, get processed into a mush and placed in a machine where grains are forced (extruded) out of a tiny, varied shaped hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little O’s or flakes or shreds, and stars, barrels, or wherever the manufacture has decided to take his imagination. Individual grains passed through the extruder and might expand to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice. 


You like  snap, crackle and crunch? To get that pleasant stimulus, these products are then sprayed with a coating of sugar and oil to seal off the cereal so it won’t re-mush.  

So is this so bad? Once you start doing the research the answer to me is “Yes!!!!” I would seek alternative breakfast foods or at least try adding whole foods with your morning breakfast. One of the best selling cereals in the world, was scolded by the FDA and given a deadline to change the false claims of how their round shaped product treats heart disease and lowers cholesterol. It doesn’t!

My mission here is not to bad mouth the cereal companies but rather to inform that everything keeps going back to the whole versus manufactured product; even foods that most of us would never think of as unhealthy. The single ingredient/whole food almost always wins.

 My frequent equivalent to a bowl full of cereal is quinoa (not instant) with fruits such as blueberries strawberries and a handful of chopped walnuts and maybe add a dash of unfiltered honey and cinnamon. It’s delicious and it is fully whole foods.

In his book Fighting the Food Giants, biochemist Paul Stitt describes this extrusion process, which treats the grains with very high heat and pressure, and it denatures the fatty acids; it even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added at the end of the process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially damaged by the extrusion process. We really do have to fight the food giants, they are mal-nourishing our bodies and we need to keep our distance from their influence.

Much of what I categorize as pernicious food, is sold to us under a healthy disguise and it does upset me to think of how my mom was duped into giving me a bowl full of cornflakes each day; and believe me she thought she was an aware mom, a good mom.

 I still remember how ravenous I was by lunch time. I was short, but I’d bowl over the big kids to race to the cafeteria line because I was so famished and couldn’t get to my food fast enough. I can still remember that, and of course I’d only continue to eat more empty cafeteria carbs which would make me ravenous after school. Then I’d spend my allowance on 5 cent candy bars at Woolworth after school (yes, I am that old)  and I’d still be famished. By the time I got home I’d be in a carbed- out sugarated slump, trying to figure out my homework.

The best way to begin the day is protein, and I will write a good deal more on proteins and good carbs in other entries.


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