St. Patrick's Day is the one time each year that I buy cereal for my kids for breakfast. It's a tradition, and one that I am not proud of. But hey, Lucky Charms "contains more whole grain than any other single ingredient!" It does not contain high fructose corn syrup, and it's gluten free. It has 0% saturated fat, 6% dietary fiber, and 2 grams protein per serving. It's a freaking health food! Ok, I got carried away, but the marketing gimmicks kill me. I really should change the tradition of Lucky Charms for breakfast on St. Patrick's Day. Now that my kids are getting older, it has lost most of it's charm. They looked at it this morning like, are you kidding? Is there anything else for breakfast? Sadly, the majority of Americans start their day off with a bowl of breakfast cereal. It seems so innocent. So magically delicious, right?
Here's 8 Reasons Why Breakfast Cereal is NOT so Magical.
1. Products produced with ground grain, are very calorie dense. Let me explain, if you take grains, grind them up to make cereal, you can eat considerably more than the same amount of the whole grain berries. When the grain is refined, you can eat even more, without feeling full. Healthy whole grain berries are low in calorie density, but high in nutritional and fiber density. If you're looking to maintain a healthy weight, eat real, nutrient dense food. No worrying about points, portions, or carbs.
2. Grains that have been ground, even whole grains, get digested quickly, leading to rapid spikes in blood sugar followed by a dramatic drop. What's so bad about this? For starters, it leads to cravings, fatigue, affects our ability to focus etc. Excess glucose is also stored as fat. A diet of foods that get quickly digested, or in other words, processed foods, is associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease
and even some types of cancer.
3. The Standard American Diet is largely centered around refined grains. We just aren't getting the fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other benefits that whole grains offer. When's the last time you ate oat groats, millet, amaranth, sorghum, teff, buckwheat, or einkorn? The answer for the overwhelming majority of Americans would be... never! It's interesting that so many people jump from a diet of refined wheat flour, to vilifying all grains. When we eat refined grains, even gluten free refined grains, we're missing out on not only important nutrients and fiber, but also important properties that allow our body to digest and assimilate the grain.
4. Modern wheat is the major component in most breakfast cereals. While modern wheat at this time, is not genetically modified by American Government Standards, it certainly was not produced by nature. By this, I mean that without laboratories and scientists, nature would not have been able to naturally produce our modern wheat. Of course, ancient wheat varieties have been around for thousands of years, but modern wheat is not a natural hybridization. It's very difficult on our system and damaging to our gut, which is so critical to our overall physical and mental health. When will we learn? Mother nature knows best! If you still want to consume wheat, look for ancient wheat varieties: my suggestion is whole grain Einkorn. It still has gluten, but it's genetic structure is very simple. The gluten structure is different as well, making it easier to digest. It's more nutritious too!
5. Most breakfast cereal is produced by a process called extrusion. This method subjects grains to intense pressure and heat. The nutrients in the grain are not only severely reduced in this process, they are denatured, in particular, the protein. In the extrusion process, grains are changed into a snap crackle and pop that is anything but natural and in fact, down right destructive to our digestive system. We are living on cereal that is doing the very opposite of nourishing our body; it's hacking away at our health.
6. Cereal is usually loaded with sugar in one form or another and other not so magical ingredients. We are what we eat. It's estimated that 75-80% of our immune system is in our gut. What we eat directly affects our gut microflora which is so critical to our immune system and health.
7. What goes in doesn't always come out. Natural fiber is essential in excreting waste and toxins. When you aren't eliminating properly, you're carrying around a load of excess waste material. The longer harmful substances are in contact with the digestive tract, the more damage they can do. The toxins that should be eliminated, instead get re-absorbed leading to inflammation and a whole host of health issues. Read more under the fiber heading here.
8. Whole foods are critical in that one part of the food helps us digest and assimilate the other part of the food. When we fraction grains into parts, or grind it and artificially break down the fiber, we run into trouble health wise. The the most beneficial way to consume grains, is in their whole berry form. Read more under the grain heading here. Click on the links below for some whole grain berry breakfast ideas:
Can I be clear here? It's not just the bright colored, fruity-O's that make you poop green that I'm talking about. It's all cereal, whole grain, high fiber, you name it; it's just varying degrees of bad. Diet related disease is our number one killer. You can do better. Start with what you're eating for breakfast.
Real Food is Really Magical!
Try it, You'll Like it!