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Are cereals healthy?

Updated: May 9

Open the box, pour the cereal into your bowl, add milk and maybe some fruit. It is quick, convenient and you leave for work with a full tummy. Same for the kids, we don’t want empty tummies at school and they love their sweet cereals.

Did you ever wonder who invented cereals ? Back in about 1906 John Harvey Kellogg was a very dedicated campaigner against lustful thoughts, and it is claimed that as a result he was never intimate with his wife. They had separate bedrooms and no biological children. He was a Seventh Day Adventist and his Corn Flakes cereal was just the thing to dampen down impure thoughts. He set about advertising this “food” by telling us that breakfast was “the most important meal of the day”. It isn’t, but the message seems to have stuck.

It is good to remember we don’t just eat to fill tummies. In order to function properly, for growth and development especially in children, their diet must provide all the nutrients that growing bodies need. Filling up on low nutrient but high calorie food like cereal, displaces better quality high nutrient food. The result, your body doesn’t get all the nutrients it needs even if you feel full.

Let’s look at protein. Your body doesn’t store protein, so should be eaten at every meal. Everything in the mirror is made from protein. For growth and for maintenance of your body, hair, nails, eyes, skin etc it is absolutely necessary. But, not just any protein. Protein is made up of amino acids which are each used In different ways. Very few “plant based” proteins have a full array of essential amino acids. Each body function is dependent on specific amino acids, without which they can not occur.

For example, the hormone serotonin, an important neurotransmitter for brain function is made using the amino acid tryptophan. Highest levels come from animal foods. Low levels of serotonin can lead to anxiety and is believed to contribute to depression.. Most cereal is high carbs but low in protein because only about 40% of the protein in wheat is available for humans to absorb. The nutrition panel, on the box, may ignore this protein bioavailability problem, plus wheat has zero tryptophan.

, with high sugar but often are so nutrient poor that they are fortified with calcium, iron, folate, vitamin B12 and other additives. These additions are then advertised as a benefit. Eating cereal guarantees that you will be hungry again in about 3 hours. Cereals also come with a serving of anti-nutrients including gluten, lectins and phytates. Phytates contribute to caries and chelate minerals such as zinc, copper and iron in your food making them unavailable to you, Gluten can be very inflammatory in the gut even if you are not allergic to it.

Find my book on Amazon here. Seek professional medical advice before making dietary changes, particularly if you have underlying health problems.

Good health, George Elder, Diet Researcher, Dip. Nutrition.

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