Is Your Breakfast Killing You? PART 2
Sounds really ominous doesn’t it? “Is your breakfast killing you?” I say it may be. It is a slow, grueling and pretty miserable death that begins as a child and culminates as an adult with all of the chronic degenerative diseases that Americans seem to enjoy inflicting upon themselves, unknowingly of course. Despite your best efforts it may all be beginning with that breakfast! In Part 1 I wrote, “It confounds me that we are told bread is bad for us and will make us fat. You know, the unhealthy kind of fat. But on the other hand, we are told that breakfast cereals are great for us as “part of a healthy breakfast”.” Well in Part 2 I just want to give you examples. You see the vast majority of these refined highly processed grain “foods” are manipulated into various shapes and touted as “healthy” and essential for your nutritional needs. Marketing has come a long way and marketers know how to push your buttons and get you to think something is good for you and your family. They use snappy words like “Healthy”, “Fit”, “Smart”, “Balance”, “Total” and others that grab your attention and lead you to believe in the product. It is my experience that products that have to use these marketing tactics aren’t always what they seem.
How many of you grew up eating boxed macaroni with that bright orange powdered “cheese” mixed in? MMMMMMM, delicious but not so nutritious. How many of you are still eating it? Worse, how many of you are feeding it to your children and don’t understand why those kids don’t sleep well and always have a snotty nose? Chew on that a while.
I want to show you the actual ingredients of a few of these staples in the American diet. A lot of them and what they really are should be alarming and make you think about what you are putting in your body. Breads and cereals are eaten daily at alarming rates. I often have people argue that bread was eaten in biblical times so it has to be good for you. Yes “bread” was eaten back then, that is documented. However, the bread they ate was basically made from a few ingredients including a type of crushed flour like emmer, kamut or barley (not our current day wheat flours), with water and maybe salt. A far cry from the ultra-processed breads of today. The average packaged wheat bread contains 23 or more ingredients. But what is most of this stuff? Let’s examine the things that are in it.
Wheat Bread Ingredients: Enriched wheat flour [unbleached flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin b1), riboflavin (vitamin b2), folic acid], water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, soybean oil, salt, wheat gluten, calcium propionate, monoglycerides, datem, calcium sulfate, soy lecithin, citric acid, potassium iodate, monocalcium phosphate, cornstarch, calcium phosphate.
A far cry from the biblical breads huh? Sounds like a high school chemistry experiment awaiting a failing grade! Let’s examine some of those ingredients.
Enriched wheat flour is a highly refined and processed flour that has basically been stripped of any type of nutrient during processing, then enriched with added vitamins and minerals. The Enrichment Act of 1942 was passed by Congress in light of the fact that these processed grains were determined to have little to no nutrients in them. China had begun consuming large quantities of processed grains, just like the USA, and had an epidemic outbreak of BeriBeri, A horrific disease caused by Thiamin (Vitamin B1) deficiency. The Enrichment Act put into law that food manufacturers must enrich or fortify (add in) four B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid)and iron to these processed foods. Forget about all the other nutrients, it just has to be those. The Act stands as is today.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener derived from corn syrup, which is processed from corn. It is used to sweeten processed foods and soft drinks and thousands of food items. It is different from sugar as it is composed of both fructose and glucose. The advent of HFCS directly relates to an increase in chronic disease such as diabetes and arthritis. It is robbing Americans of their health on a daily basis. It is estimated that the average American adult and child consume more than 50 grams of HFCS per day. Health issues contributed to HFCS include weight gain, cancer, fatty liver, high cholesterol and triglycerides, Type 2 Diabetes, High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, leaky gut syndrome, ADHD and more.
Soybean oil is extremely unhealthy. Soybean oil contains phytates that prevent the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc which are all important for optimal health. Soy contains anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, protease inhibitors, and oxalates. These interfere with the enzymes you need to produce to digest proteins. It contains goitrogens that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with thyroid function. It is full of isoflavones like genistein and daidzein. These are phytoestrogens that resemble human estrogen. Phytoestrogens lower testosterone levels in boys and men. They have been shown to disturb endocrine function, cause infertility, and promote breast cancer in women.
Gluten is highly inflammatory and causes all types of health issues, even in those who do not have celiac disease.
Monoglycerides are a type of fat, but in most industrial food uses they’re synthetically manufactured.
Calcium Propionate is an anti-fungal that’s added to processed bread to prevent mold growth. This is why your loaf of store bought bread can sit on your counter for weeks without “going bad”. It has been linked to the formation of stomach ulcers, migraine headaches, and mood disorders in children.
Calcium sulfate is Plaster of Paris. Yes, like is used in sculpting and construction and making casts for broken bones. When used in baking, it acts as a dough conditioner. HUH?
DATEM is short for Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides. It’s added to act as an emulsifier. A study showed that “heart fibrosis and adrenal overgrowth” were found in the rats that were exposed to DATEM. While the study is obviously concerning, the FDA has still deemed DATEM “generally recognized as safe” according to their standards. Many companies that are focused on providing only safe and healthy foods to customers, like Whole Foods, have discontinued selling products containing DATEM. Human symptoms like irritated skin, itching, nausea, abdominal pain, aches, fatigue, and headaches have been related to processed foods containing DATEM.
Potassium iodate is an oxidizing agent and is flammable if it contacts other combustible materials or reducing agents. In the case of packaged breads, it is used to treat the bread. Freshly milled, totally unprocessed whole grain flour goes bad within 5-7 days. How do the whole grain flours on store shelves and used in store-bought baked goods last so long? Many claim to stay fresh for 4-6 months! They have to be treated in some way that extends shelf life. Often grains are irradiated, brominated, bleached or unbleached. Some things that sound good, like “unbleached,” really just means that the flour was treated with something like potassium bromate or iodate. The point is, these so-called healthy whole grain flours are usually highly oxidized and full of chemicals to keep them from getting hard, molding and looking bad.
All of these ingredients sound tasty right? Not so much and this daily staple to the American diet is a chemistry experiment providing long shelf life but multiple health depriving processed components.
Now let’s look at a couple of cereal choices.
INGREDIENTS: Enriched Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Annatto Extract Color, BHT Added to Preserve Freshness, Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin E Acetate, a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), a B Vitamin (Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), (Folic Acid), Vitamin A (Palmitate), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.
The first 3 ingredients look basically like a loaf of bread (which we are told makes us fat). Those are enriched wheat, sugar and corn syrup (more sugar but even higher processing). After that comes the chemicals and added vitamins.
Distilled Monoglycerides and Diglycerides are manufactured fats, just like partially hydrogenated oils, and contain dangerous trans fats. However, due to labeling laws these are trans fats that aren't required to be reported on the labels.
Annatto extract is an orange-red food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. In the United States, annatto extract is listed as a color additive "exempt from certification" and is informally considered to be a natural coloring. Annatto condiments and colorants can cause allergic reactions. In one study, 90% of patients suffering from chronic hives or angioedema were orally provoked by annatto extract. Something so simple could be robbing you of your health.
BHT: Chips, vegetable oils, cereal or cookies usually contain BHA and/or BHT in the ingredients list. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are widely used by the food industry as preservatives, mainly to prevent oils in foods from oxidizing and becoming rancid. Oxidation affects the flavor, color and odor of foods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes these food additives as GRAS—generally recognized as safe—which means they are widely considered safe for their intended use in specified amounts, but did not have to undergo pre-market review. A subsequent review by an independent committee concluded that “uncertainties exist, requiring that additional studies be conducted.”
The National Toxicology Program has concluded that BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” while BHT has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in animals. The consumer group the Center for Science in the Public Interest thus cites BHA as an additive to “avoid” and puts BHT in its “caution” column.
Health issues associated with BHT include increased liver weight and decreased activity of several liver enzymes. In addition to liver and kidney effects, BHT applied to the skin was associated with toxic effects in lung tissue.
Total cereal sounds like a Total health risk to me.
INGREDIENTS: Whole grain oats, modified corn starch, sugar, salt, tripotassium phosphate, wheat starch, Vitamin E added to preserve freshness.
These can be found on the high chair of every American toddler as a snack. Let’s just look at two of the ingredients.
Modified food starch seems to be an all-encompassing term which allows food manufacturers free reign over what they do to their products. There are several different base foods that can be used to produce food starch, including corn (usually labeled as "modified corn starch"), potatoes, tapioca, and wheat. It's added to foods to act as a thickener, to acquire a certain texture, or to keep foods moist. Modified food starch is typically added to processed foods.
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula Na3PO4. TSPs are used as cleaning agents, lubricants, food additives, stain removers and degreasers. You can find a box of it in your local hardware or paint store as it is used to remove paint and varnishes. It is a strong chemical. Poisoning occurs if you swallow, breathe in, or spill large amounts of this substance on your skin. Yet it is in cereal!
All of these “foods” are eaten daily and touted as healthy options. The USDA food pyramid recommends you eat 6-11 servings of these per day. Most people agree that one should avoid bread to stay “slim” but on the other hand they recommend eating cereal daily for breakfast. If you truly examine the ingredients, they are basically the same: nutrient stripped processed grain flour, added sugar, some type of inflammatory oil, and a plethora of chemical preservatives to allow the product to sit on a shelf for months and months. Oh, don’t forget the added B vitamins and iron, because the government says they have to pitch those in for your health. A far cry from nutrient dense fresh foods.
These are perfect examples of some of the daily causes of the American lifestyle epidemic of declining health, obesity, depression, sleep issues and misery. Better options are available and provide the body what it needs to thrive. Next time we will explore some of those. Until then, throw out that bread and trash that cereal. Start living like a BOSS.