By Dr. Mercola
Starting your morning with a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice, a donut and a cup of coffee, or a bagel and cream cheese may seem like second nature, but did you ever stop to think about why or how these foods came to signify breakfast in America?
It wasn't always this way, that's for sure.
Generations ago Americans would have scoffed at a cold breakfast of flaked grain cereal. Instead, they fueled their bodies with a hearty meal of eggs and meats (sausage, ham, bacon), and sometimes pancakes or bread. This was intentionally the heaviest meal of the day, as workers, particularly farmers, often wouldn't eat again until dinner.
What happened to make cold cereal, juice, donuts and bagels the "norm" of American breakfasts? Breakfast food became corporate food.
How Much of YOUR Diet is Dictated by Corporate Creations?
You're probably well aware that nowadays most of the food Americans eat is no longer dependent on local farmers and seasonal growing conditions. Instead, it's dictated by corporate America. The foods you may call "staples" are actually wildly successful marketing creations drummed up by some of the forerunners of the modern-day food industry.
The Kellogg brothers' invention of breakfast cereal was a complete accident and intended as a replacement for the bread served to inmates at the Battle Creek (Mich.) Sanatorium. First created as a health food, the Kellogg brothers then added sugar to the mix, and the rest is history.
According to author and food historian Andrew F. Smith in AlterNet:
"Cold cereals are an invention of vegetarians and the health-food industry, first through Kellogg's and then through C.W. Post, which steals all of Kellogg's ideas … These companies realized early on that people like sugar, and kids really like sugar -- so they shifted their sales target from adults concerned about health to kids who love sugar. It's a thoroughly American invention."
Most breakfast cereals are notoriously high in sugar and really are nothing more than highly processed sweetened grains sprinkled with synthetic vitamins. They are a mere fantasy of a healthy food, and I don't recommend you eat any cereal for breakfast on a regular basis -- including those that are marketed as healthy fiber sources!
There are tens of thousands of peer-reviewed studies that support the harmful effects of sugar on human health and many are listed on this site. Just use the search engine at the top of every page and start reading from thousands of articles I have posted on this topic, such as the 76 Dangers of Sugar to Your Health.
Remember that even "healthy" low-sugar cereals are nutritional disasters, as "grains" of all types are simple carbohydrates and will spike both blood sugar and insulin in your body, just like sugar. So if you take into account the grains in cereals, the first four or five ingredients all basically translate into sugar.
A morning glass of orange juice may seem like a healthy choice, but this is another scam that began in the 1930s, around the time that vitamin C and pasteurization advances were being heavily promoted. There are a couple of reasons why orange juice is not the wholesome beverage you may think it is …
While oranges and fresh squeezed orange juice can be a good source of vitamins and other nutrients, they are also very high in fructose, which has been identified as one of the primary culprits in the meteoric rise of obesity and related health problems. In fact, one eight-ounce glass of orange juice has about eight full teaspoons of sugar and at least 50 percent of that sugar is fructose. That's almost as much as a can of soda, which contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar.
So one eight-ounce glass of orange juice will wallop your system with 25 grams of fructose, which is more than you should have the entire day. Since fructose is loaded into just about every processed food, it would be very difficult to avoid exceeding your daily fructose limit of 25 grams per day if you drink orange juice every morning.
Additionally, processed non-freshly squeezed juices dissociate the methanol that is typically present in fruit. The methanol is not a problem if fruit is eaten raw or freshly squeezed, but if fresshly juiced and stored, the methanol can dissociate and this toxin has been associated with autoimmune diseases like MS.
2. Flavor Packs
Many popular orange juice brands use a chemical process to create juice that tastes and smells like oranges!
Alissa Hamilton J.D, PhD, a Food and Society Policy Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), explains the ins and outs of mass-produced juice in her book, Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice. In a previous article, she explained how your orange juice is really made:
"The technology of choice at the moment is aseptic storage, which involves stripping the juice of oxygen, a process known as "deaeration," so it doesn't oxidize in the million gallon tanks in which it can be kept for upwards of a year.
When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor-providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh."
The reason you don't see any mention on the label about added flavors is because these flavors are derived from orange essences and oils. However, the appearance of being natural doesn't necessarily mean it is. As Hamilton states:
"[T]hose in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature."
Donuts, Bagels, Cream Cheese, and More
Another breakfast staple, the donut, is nothing more than dessert in disguise. You might think twice about starting your day with a bowl of ice cream or a piece of birthday cake, but donuts, which are essentially in the same junk food group, seem acceptable in the morning because of successful marketing by Dunkin' Donuts that began in the 1950s.
Likewise, AlterNet reports that bagels were not widely consumed for breakfast until Lender's developed a frozen-bagel factory in the 1960s, whereas cream cheese was not associated with breakfast either, until Kraft began promoting its Philadelphia cream cheese brand as such. Other "breakfast" foods spawned from major corporation marketing efforts include:
- Chocolate milk, with the premier of Nestle Quik powder in 1948
- Specialized coffee blends, which were popularized in America by Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks
Skipping Breakfast Would be Better than Most Americans' Breakfasts
The end result of letting corporate marketing dictate your breakfast choices is that they are sorely lacking in nutritional prowess. Most bigwigs in the food industry are in the business of selling, and that means creating foods that are highly palatable to most people (including kids), which generally just means they are loaded with sugar, fructose and artificial flavors.
This is why I have long stated that conventional breakfast foods -- cereal, bagels, donuts, waffles, toasts, muffins, etc. -- are typically the worst foods you can eat, and if you only have access to donuts and pastries for breakfast, you would actually be better off just skipping it altogether. This is true even of many popular brands of yogurt, which can contain up to seven teaspoons of sugar per container!
Aside from the fact that most U.S. breakfast foods are loaded with sugar, fructose and grains, they are completely lacking in important nutrients. Where is the protein or the healthy fat in a bowl of cereal or a waffle? They are completely missing!
Studies have shown that eating breakfast can have beneficial effects on:
- Insulin resistance
- Energy metabolism
One study even found that obesity and insulin resistance syndrome rates were 35 percent to 50 percent lower among people who ate breakfast every day, compared to those who frequently skipped it. The key is to make sure you eat a healthy breakfast.
What I Personally Eat for Breakfast
If you're at a loss for what to eat for breakfast if cereal and bagels are no longer on the menu, you may want to try a meal similar to my own. For my breakfast I use a whole avocado, some chopped fresh organic red onions and four pastured raw eggs yolks on a bed of dehydrated seasoned cucumber pulp that is left over from my juicing. This gets me started out on a sound nutritional basis with very low carbs and plenty of high quality fat fuel and no gluten or grains.
If this does not appeal to you something I previously ate for breakfast was a scoop or two of banana Miracle Whey in a one-quart glass mason jar, and then I add two to four raw eggs. These are typically eggs purchased from a local farmer, not from the grocery store, so they're organic, free-range eggs. Now, I realize that some people don't like the texture of raw eggs. But that's typically due to a stringy consistency of raw egg whites.
Fortunately, you won't need to worry about that with this breakfast, because when you mix it up as I recommend, the eggs are dissolved beyond having any texture issues (and they even add a slight vanilla taste to the drink). In my opinion it's delicious, and the eggs just dissapear into the shake.
Seriously, you won't be able to tell the difference.
After putting in the whey mix and the eggs, I add one teaspoon of coconut oil. Coconut is a great source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are the best low glycemic fuel for your muscles after exercise (I also recommend exercising in the morning, before your breakfast).
So, if you like banana and coconut, you're going to love this recipe. The Miracle Whey uses digestive resistant maltodextrin, which provides sweetness but does not at all raise insulin levels and also serves as a prebiotic fuel source for bacteria in your large intestine. Once you get the hang of it, you can whip up this smoothie breakfast for your family in about the same time it takes to pour a bowl of cereal.
It's Time to Think Independently about Your Breakfast Food
The bottom line is although you may be used to the idea of eating donuts, orange juice, cereal and bagels for breakfast, this is only because of corporate PR! These foods fall way short of giving your body the high-quality fuel it needs to get through the day, so it's time to re-assess your breakfast choices.
If you're not ready to try raw eggs just yet, at least avoid grains and sugars for breakfast and choose eggs, lightly cooked, with some veggies, like spinach, mushrooms and onion, or alongside a rare grass-fed steak, instead. If that doesn't appeal to you, leftovers from a healthy lunch or dinner make for a great breakfast.
Remember, there's no "rule" that says you have to eat cereal, bagels and donuts just because it's morning. Buck the corporate breakfast "tradition" and start a healthy one of your own instead.