Cereal: The breakfast of toxins
Calling modern cereal “the breakfast of champions” couldn’t be further from the truth. ALL boxed cereal is processed, even the organic ones, by a process called extrusion. The worst cold breakfast cereals contain extruded grains along with artificial colors, multiple forms of sugar, synthetic vitamins that our bodies don’t assimilate well, and plenty of starch to send our blood sugar and insulin levels skyrocketing.
Before any cereal lovers become too depressed, keep reading for the healthy cereal alternatives at the end.
Extrusion: What is it and why is it harmful?
Per Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation:
“Dry breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Cereal makers first create a slurry of the grains and then put them in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a little hole at high temperature and pressure. Depending on the shape of the hole, the grains are made into little o’s, flakes, animal shapes, or shreds (as in Shredded Wheat or Triscuits), or they are puffed (as in puffed rice). A blade slices off each little flake or shape, which is then carried past a nozzle and sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.
In his book Fighting the Food Giants, Paul Stitt tells us that the extrusion process used for these cereals destroys most of the nutrients in the grains. It destroys the fatty acids; it even destroys the chemical vitamins that are added at the end. The amino acids are rendered very toxic by this process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially denatured by extrusion. This is how all the boxed cereals are made, even the ones sold in the health food stores. They are all made in the same way and mostly in the same factories. All dry cereals that come in boxes are extruded cereals.”
We are told there are no studies showing any difference between extruded versus non-extruded grains and the cereal industry seems to have convinced the FDA of this since there are no published studies, human or animal, on the subject.
However, according to the research out there that is under the radar, extruded grains are toxic, particularly to the nervous system. Two unpublished animal studies indicate that extruded grains are downright harmful. In Paul Stitt’s book, Fighting the Food Giants, he includes a study on 4 sets of rats:
- Group 1 was fed whole wheat, water, and vitamins & minerals.
- Group 2 was fed puffed (extruded) wheat, water, and the same vitamins & minerals as the first group.
- Group 3 was fed water and white sugar.
- Group 4 was fed water and vitamins & minerals.
Results: The group that died off first was the puffed wheat group. Mind you, this study was the cereal company’s own study. (The whole wheat group lasted 1 year, the water and vitamin group lasted 8 weeks, the white sugar group lasted for a month…but the puffed wheat group died after only 2 weeks!). The early death these rats faced is unlikely caused by malnutrition since they died before the group of rats that didn’t receive any food.
Another study by University of Michigan in Ann Arbor back in 1960 compared three groups of rats:
- Group 1 was fed corn flakes and water,
- Group 2 was fed cardboard box and water,
- Group 3 was the control group and was fed rat chow.
Results: The corn flake fed rats died of malnutrition BEFORE the cardboard box and water group. The rat chow group stayed in good health. Before they died, the corn flake group developed a host of dysfunctions associated with insulin shock (dysfunction of pancreas, liver and kidneys).
If you would like to avoid extruded grains and still enjoy cereal for breakfast. Here are two healthier alternatives.
- Soaked, whole grains of your choice. Soaking overnight with liquid whey and water reduces anti-nutrients and makes the grains more digestible. Soaked grains are still high in starch and carbohydrates. To reduce high blood sugar levels from grains, consume them with plenty of healthy fats such as coconut oil, pastured butter, raw milk, cream, nuts or seeds and some protein like a side of pastured egg, sausage or bacon.
- Make your own gluten-free, low carb cereal by combining coconut flakes, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds (preferably soaked overnight with some sea salt) and goji berries in a bowl with raw cream and milk. Give the chia seeds a minute or two to expand and soften. This cereal is delicious and the nuts, seeds and fruit can be varied for an equally delicious breakfast option.
The Bay Area has plenty of health food stores and unprocessed food options. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store when you shop to help avoid processed, extruded purchases. No one can argue that cold boxed cereal is convenient. Similarly, no one can argue that poor health, illness, and disease are very inconvenient (to say the least). Make the effort to purchase and prepare foods that contribute to good health.
Time saving breakfast tips
- Cook in bulk (hard boiled eggs, a big scramble that you can portion out for several days,homemade sausage patties, soup, large batch of hot cereal, etc.)
- Choose healthier grab-and-go foods such as nuts, seeds, jerky, canned wild fish, or fruit with nut butter.
- Eat leftovers, hot or cold.
Does hand made granola with oats and what not apply to this?
It can. Soaking the oats and wheat and not using much sweetener, even honey, is recommended. Most granola, even homemade, has a good deal more sweetener than is ideal. Do you have a favorite recipe?
I actually love Purely Elizabeth’s granola which is gluten-free, and uses a modest amount of coconut sugar as the sweetener.
Are Cream of Wheat (hot cerea)l and oatmeal (steel cut oats) processed using extrusion?
Steel cut oats are generally not extruded. As to Cream of Wheat, it is hard to get a straight answer. I’d err on the side of caution and assume it is. Cous cous isn’t, so cooking that up and preparing like you would a hot cereal is a lesser processed alternative.