So what's the deal with cereal?

I think it's safe to say that most of American children's diets include this food category (if you can really even call it's definitely not REAL food) and it's a contributing factor to the growing epidemic of autoimmune conditions among our pediatric populations, including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The Food Babe, has done a nice job of sharing her thoughts and research of why this American breakfast staple has such detrimental effects here so I won't reinvent the wheel but only offer a few facts about our ever declining pediatric health because it just makes me so darned mad.

Did you know that

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. 1

  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 2

  • Recent research suggests that diabesity, as it's referred to by Chris Kresser,  is characterized by chronic, low-grade inflammation and a continuous stimulation of the innate immune system. 3 

  • Inflammation nearly always accompanies both obesity and diabetes and is independently capable of causing it without overweight – as evidenced by the presence of T2DM in Asian populations that are relatively lean. 4

Generally, in most parts of the world, whenever cereal-based diets were first adopted as a staple food replacing the primarily animal-based diets of hunter-gatherers, there was a characteristic reduction in stature, an increase in infant mortality, a reduction in lifespan, an increased incidence of infectious diseases, an increase in iron deficiency anemia, an increased incidence of osteomalacia (softening of bones through vitamin D deficiency), porotic hyperostosis (porous bones of the cranium) and other bone mineral disorders and an increase in the number of dental caries (cavities) and enamel defects. 5 All of these tend to be indicative of nutritional disorders and in anthropology, the presence of these conditions has been considered evidence that a past population suffered chronic or episodic malnutrition.

Not only were we not meant to eat cereal grains, but they have significant nutritional shortcomings. They are absent of Vitamin A, C, D and B12 as well as beta-carotene. As we add more and more of this nutrient empty source of food to our diets, they displace the calories that would otherwise be provided us by nutrient dense foods like meats, fruits and vegetables.6

"But my cereal says  it's Fortified"
Unfortunately there is just no good substitute for the real thing. Researchers have long argued the value of synthetic supplementation which is exactly what fortification is. This is the case for cereal as well. When cereals are fortified with synthetic vitamins to "boost" their nutrient value on paper, your body doesn't recognize the vitamin as a natural source because it is absent of it's usual cofactors. Often times, the body treats synthetics like a toxin and quickly expels them. 

The Food Babe also talks about the huge problem with this packaged product called cereal: GMOs. This is a HUGE problem, in my opinion. I'd argue that largest portion of the American diet that contains GMOs, comes from cereal. I'll have a longer post about GMOs in the future but for now, just realize that the major components of cereals are from GMO sources: corn, soy, canola, rice and sugar beets.7

For an explanation of why GMOs are so horrible for your health, causing allergies, allergic reactions to other foods, liver problems, reproductive issues, as well as permanent digestive issues you can read here and here and here

So, "what", you ask, "should one actually eat for breakfast?"
That's great question. I always encourage people to get back to the basics. Like cooking. Yes, you will need to turn on the stove and actually make some food. How about a couple of healthy pastured eggs with a nice orange choline-packed yolk. How about some bacon or sausage to go with it? Not a fan of cooking in the mornings? Try a shake with a grass-fed protein powder or nut butter, some full fat coconut milk, a few frozen organic berries, a banana and some spinach or kale. I don't tolerate eggs (as much as I wish I could) so I often saute veggies together with some butter or ghee and some leftover meat from dinner. Don't get stuck in the breakfast box! Breakfast can look like any other meal. 

My general rule of thumb for every meal is make sure it contains lots of fat (butter, ghee or lard), some vegetables and some protein. So skip the cereal and you'll be better for it and so will your kids! Your blood sugar will thank you, too!