A typical American breakfast consists of a bowl of cold cereal, which is made by a process called extrusion.
An extruder is an industrial machine that uses high temperatures and pressures to create a variety of shapes such as little flakes, O’s, and shredded grains for shredded wheat or Triscuits. Extrusion is also used to create puffed rice cereal, and rice cakes, neither of which we recommend. According to Sally Fallon Morell, in her article Be Kind To Your Grains … and Your Grains Will Be Kind To You: “Extrusion represents extreme cruelty to our grains.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation asserts that the cereal industry has convinced the United States Food and Drug Administration that extruded grains are no different from non-extruded grains and has contrived to ensure that no studies have been published on the effects of extruded foods on either humans or animals. However, two unpublished animal studies indicate that extruded grains are toxic, particularly to the nervous system.
Studies Show Extruded Cereal is Toxic
Paul Stitt described one in his book Fighting the Food Giants. Stitt worked for a cereal company and found this study locked in a file cabinet.
Four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water, vitamins and minerals. Another group received Puffed Wheat, water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given water and white sugar, and a fourth given nothing but water and the chemical nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on the diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived for about eight weeks,and the animals on a white sugar and water diet lived for a month. But [the company’s] own laboratory study showed that rats given vitamins, water and all the Puffed Wheat they wanted died in two weeks. It wasn’t a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition; results like these suggested that there was something actually toxic about the Puffed Wheat itself. Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the puffing process of putting the grain under 1,500 pounds per square inch of pressure and then releasing it may produce chemical changes which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.
The other study, described in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig, was performed in 1960 by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Eighteen rats were divided into three groups. One group received cornflakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the cornflakes came in and water; and the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats receiving the box became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. But the rats receiving cornflakes and water died before the rats that were given the box – the last cornflake rat died on the day the first box rat died. Before death the cornflake rats developed schizophrenic behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves in the spine – all signs of “insulin shock.” The startling conclusion of this study is that there is more nourishment in the box that cold breakfast cereals come in than in the cereals themselves.
There is one published study which looked at the process of extrusion on the proteins in grains [Cereal Chemistry. American Association of Cereal Chemists. Mar/Apr 1998 V 75 (2) 217-221]. The study looked at zeins—grain protein — which are located in spherical organelles called protein bodies, found in corn. The researchers found that during extrusion, the protein bodies are completely disrupted and the zeins dispersed. The results suggest that the zeins in cornflakes are not confined to rigid protein bodies but can interact with each other and other components of the system, forming new compounds that are foreign to the human body. The extrusion process breaks down the organelles and disperses the proteins, which then become toxic. When the proteins are disrupted in this way, they can adversely affect the nervous system, as indicated by the cornflake experiment.
Millions of children begin their day with a bowl of extruded breakfast cereal. Do the toxic protein fragments in these cereals explain why so many of our children cannot concentrate at school?
What about organic cereals?
Organic cereals sold typically at health food stores are made by the same process, and often in the same factories, as the cereals sold at the supermarket. These cereals are made with organic grains. Organic grains contain more protein than non-organic grains, which means that these health food store cereals probably contain more toxic protein fragments than supermarket cereals.
So our message – avoid all extruded cold breakfast cereal.
We recommend real food, traditionally prepared. Cold breakfast cereals, organic or otherwise, are an industrially produced food product.
Read more from the Weston A. Price Foundation’s article Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry.
Healthy Breakfast Recommendations
- Old-fashioned oatmeal with butter or cream and a natural sweetener
- Scrambled eggs. preferably soy and corn free from hens on pasture … and sautéed potatoes
- Fried egg with bacon and whole-grain sourdough toast. Read more about our bacon recommendations.
- Smoothie made with whole yogurt, and/or raw milk, fruit and egg yolks
- Sourdough whole-grain toast with raw or cultured butter and raw cheese
- Homemade cereal
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