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TMHS 782: Microdosing Exercise, Staying Motivated, & The Best Way to Build Muscle – with Mark Bell

TMHS 412: The Wild History Of Cereal And Public Health

During these unusual and challenging times, it’s more important than ever to take care of our minds and bodies. Unfortunately, the data is showing a different reality; more and more Americans are turning to the comfort of processed and packaged foods. Specifically, cereal brands have seen increased sales across the board in recent months. 

As a longtime cereal lover, I have a deep understanding of the nostalgia, joy, and comfort that can accompany a bowl of cereal. But I also want us to have a better grasp on the health implications, marketing ploys, and the complex history of the advent of breakfast cereals. Today, you’re going to learn about cereal’s strange origins, including a decade-by-decade summary of how cereal became so engrained in our society.    

We’re covering the bizarre facts that led to modern-day cereal, the truth about fortified breakfast foods, and the marketing ploys that continue to drive cereal sales today. Cereal is a pervasive piece of breakfast culture in America, and today you’re going to learn how it became popularized. More importantly, you’ll gain an understanding of how cereal impacts your health, how to incorporate healthier choices and a more ideal way to start your day. 

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • How the quarantine has increased sales of processed foods.
  • The truth about fortified food products.
  • How breakfast foods have evolved over time.
  • The odd history behind the advent of breakfast cereal.
  • How hormones are influenced by sugar intake.
  • The link between breakfast cereals and outlandish marketing claims.
  • How television changed advertising for cereal brands. 
  • What a gascromatagraph is.
  • The problem with artificial flavors and colorings.
  • How many commercials about food children are exposed to by age five. 
  • What percentage of food companies’ marketing budgets are aimed towards children.
  • How cereal mascots create brand loyalty with consumers.
  • The shocking differences between eating a high carb and a high protein breakfast. 


Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!


Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show, this is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. On last week's episode, we really dove deep into the emerging science and how this quarantine has our society more unhealthy than ever. And one of the things we noted was the shocking increases in processed food consumption. For example, General Mills has seen across the board increases in various product lines since this quarantine began. And this got my train of thought thinking about something I've been wanting to do a show topic on for a very long time. It's something that is near and dear to my heart and that's cereal.

I've been wanting to talk about cereal on this podcast for quite some time and really talk about the origins of cereal and the history. And I'm telling you today, it's going to absolutely knock your socks off. This is totally going to blow your mind, the advent of cereal and some of the stories of the characters behind the creation of it, and the impacts on our health today is something that's really, really interesting and really trippy.

But for myself personally, is one of my fondest memories growing up, one of my earliest memories, I was literally three, maybe four years old, and I was hanging out with my great-grandmother. And she lived in a senior living facility and I remember that day getting onto this little special senior citizen bus with her. And I remember feeling like a celebrity as all the older folks are like want to shake my head and they're all smiling at me, I felt so important. And I don't know what it's like to be Tom Cruise, but that's probably what it's closest.

And so I got onto the bus and we took a trip to the grocery store that was a trip for my great-grandmother. And by the way, if you want a picture my great-grandmother, so this is me being multi-ethnic, this is my white grandmother. And you could picture she looks like Betty White but with less teeth and an all-purpose, all-day muumuu on. This little just kind of nightgown thing she wore all the time. So that's Momo.

So we went to the grocery store and she got some stuff and we went back to her place, and I sat down, she put a bowl in front of me, and she poured this cereal that had one of my favorite cartoon characters on the front, Fred Flintstone. And it was a beautiful cereal, she put the milk on there and I started to eat and I was blown away. Not only did I love that cartoon but I loved that cereal, and I can still taste it, that moment, even today.

Have you ever thought about how interesting it is that certain foods, certain flavors take you back to a certain place and time? Certain songs take you back to a place in time, certain smells. Your olfactory senses. All of our senses are dynamically connected to our memory. It's one of the most powerful things. And from there, in that moment, I became one of the world's most obsessed cereal-eating human beings. From the time of being three or four, up until the time that I met my wife, well, then girlfriend. Because when I met her, even though I changed so many things in my diet and I was eating organic and I was eating a lot less processed food, a lot more fruits, and vegetables and all this good stuff that I thought I was doing correctly, which many of it was awesome, but I had a thing about cereal.

Every night, I'll pour a couple of bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios. That was my thing. The bee Buzz Bee, me, and Buzz Bee were tight like that. We were connected. And from there, once I was like, "That's enough with this bee. Buzz Bee, it's been too long, I know that you're not good for me." I thought I'd upgrade it by getting me some Quaker Oats Squares. Let me fully adult now because that's what ` is, it's eating adult cereals. But it still was a tremendous amount of sugar and I'm sure that my body was not any happier by making that switch. But eventually, I let the cereal go once I really dove into the science and looking at... Even consuming that amount of "healthy whole grains" wasn't necessarily showing up as beneficial to my health.

And so we're going to talk about some of those aspects today, but I encourage us to... Let's start to conjure up some of those ideas for yourself. What was your favorite cereal moment? What was your favorite cereals growing up? Saturday morning cartoons and cereal, what is better than that. Literally, I'm watching Mister T cartoon eating Mr. T cereal. What an experience.

So I encourage you, what are your top five, dead or alive. Just like with emcees, top five dead or alive emcees, what's your top five dead or alive cereals growing up? For me, in no particular order, Apple Jacks, though there was no apple in there but definitely got Jack. Smurf Berry Crunch, another epic moment in my childhood, sometime around that same three or four-year range. I was with my mother when I had the Smurf Berry Crunch. Honey Nut Cheerios of course, long-term relationship. I'll admit it. Fruit Loops, Toucan Sam had it dialed in, he was dripping sauce. And then, Fruity Pebbles, Momo got me hooked early on.

So those are my top five dead or alive. And before we get into the episode, I want to let you know that right now, I'm doing a giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift card at our YouTube channel. And all you have to do to enter is be subscribed to The Model Health Show on YouTube, and I want you to leave your favorite cereal growing up. You can even leave your top five. What was your favorite breakfast cereal growing up.

We'll have a little bit of fun today. Of course, we're going to talk about the science, but this is all a big part of... For many of us, our DNA. A big part of our experience growing up here in our society. So let's share, let's talk about it. So pop over to our YouTube channel, make sure you're subscribed, and leave a comment, and you'll be automatically entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

Now today, we're going to be talking about some of the most shocking ways that cereal has become a keystone in our culture and the surprising health ramifications that have come as a result of it. But before we do that, I've got to point out that one of the biggest advertising ploys of cereal manufacturers is their cereals are "fortified with vitamins and minerals", they're fortified with vitamins and minerals. And this is pointing to the stark reality that these foods are extremely low in viable nutrients. So synthetic nutrients are then added back to these foods, synthetic nutrients.

Now the problem with this is the same thinking that goes into taking a conventional multi-vitamin that has, again, synthetic versions of vitamins and minerals and thinking that your body can utilize those better than what you find in real food or even real food concentrates. Now what the latest evidence is finally showing us is that vitamins and minerals are not as readily absorbed and utilized by the body when they're coming in the form of these synthetic multi-vitamins and fortified foods, because they lack the synergistic effects of phytochemicals that are found in real foods and even real food concentrates. And this is according to a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For example, another study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that natural food-based vitamin E has roughly twice the bioavailability as synthetic vitamin E. So now we've got it right there in black and white. We know that food-based sources of nutrients are better absorbed by the body. This is one of those things where it just seemed like it was common sense like it just makes sense. But now we have some data affirming that yes, food is better, even whole food-based supplements are far better than synthetic versions.

And this is why I'm such a big advocate of having a whole-food-based source of nutrition for our vitamins and minerals. Because truth be told, today, it is more difficult, we've all got a lot of stuff going on to get all of the nutrients that we need to really make our bodywork at its best. Take a plant-like Moringa for example. Moringa is an incredibly nutrient-dense food and it's native to Northern India and it's been utilized as food and medicine for thousands of years and cultures spanning from Asia to Africa, to the ancient Greeks and Romans as well.

Now listen to this, gram for gram, Moringa is noted to contain upwards of seven times more vitamin C than oranges, three times more potassium than bananas, four times more calcium than milk, and more iron than spinach and that's just for starters. It's also a rich source of antioxidants, like quercetin, what a cute name, reminds me of Kirsten Dunst. Quercetin that helps to regulate your blood pressure. But what's amazing is that the absorption of the nutrients that I just listed in Moringa is actually proven. Listen to this, there's another study, and this was published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, found that taking Moringa leaf powder every day for three months, does in fact, significantly increase blood antioxidant levels. Amazing. Amazing.

When I saw that Moringa was one of the ingredients in the Organifi Green Juice formula, that's when I actually decided to try it out. Because at that point I had tried at least a dozen green food blends and to be honest, most of them did not taste very good at all, so I wasn't in a rush to try another one. But I saw Moringa was in there, I was like, "Oh wait, this is something... This formula is something that I would have done if I was to create a green juice blend myself." I would definitely have Moringa in there. And of course, I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted awesome. And Moringa is just one of the ingredients highlighted in there, along with Spirulina which is an incredible source of antioxidants, chlorophyll, magnesium, it's a great source magnesium as well and very rare components like Phycocyanin which is one of those things, rare things in nature, that's been found to stimulate the production and mobilization of stem cells in your body. Bananas.

Absolutely crazy stuff. So Spirulina, Chlorella is in there, it's also got Ashwagandha which is clinically proven to help with modulating stress. The list goes on and on. If you don't know by now, Organifi green juice is that deal. You've got to have some. This is where to get your real whole food-based vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, all the things that really makes your body work at its optimum. My kids love it, they have it daily. The green juice formula, red juice formula, the gold as well. Pop over there check them out, it's you're going to get 20% off every single thing that they carry. So definitely pop over there and check them out. And on that note, let's get to our Apple Podcast review of the week.

iTunes Review:  Another five-star review titled, "This show is amazing," by Jeser_acp. "I want to personally say thank you to the Model Health Show crew. This show has helped me better understand my body and mind. I'm able to teach my children about health and how important it is on so many levels. Keep up the wonderful work and just know you are an inspiration to many."

Shawn Stevenson: Awesome, thank you so much and thank you for that special acknowledgment for my team as well. I can't do this thing by myself. And we've got my incredible videographer Connor. So by the way, if you're watching on YouTube, it's thanks to Connor. And also we got Shoe on production. His name is Shoe, it's not his real name, but that's his radio name. He used to work in radio for a long time, incredible producer and, of course, Anne Stevenson is running everything with the rest of our team. So just a lot of people go into helping to make the magic happen. So thank you for that acknowledgment and thank you guys so much for making us all a part of your life. We really work diligently to create these shows for you and today is no exception, because be prepared, because this is about to blow your mind.

Now let's jump into our topic of the day. And today, we're talking about the wild history of cereal and public health. Now, I don't think a lot of people realize that even breakfast, in and of itself, is a relatively new invention in human history. Prior to around the 14th century, breakfast was something that was, in Monistic life, for example, it was kind of frowned upon, of getting some snacks in before mass. And so breakfast was really seen as something that is partaken by somebody who was elderly, sick or they're a hard laborer and working under kind of dire circumstances. Because even still during this time, a lot of people kind of did their own thing. They grew their own food or engaged in trade things like that.

But it was really the advent of work hours and employment that you started to see breakfast become more of a commonality. Now, the ideas that we have for breakfast are very different from what they used to be. Typically, around that time, a few hundred years back, would usually consist of maybe some stuff that was leftover from the supper, the night before. Or it often consisted of bread, butter, and some kind of alcohol, beer, or wine. So that's the typical fare that you would see for a breakfast.

Now, that isn't to include the noblemen, when breakfast starts to become more in fashion and they would have more elaborate breakfast that would include things like fish, boiled beef, because you know boiled beef sounds amazing, beer, wine, of course, bread, butter, and even eggs, were there in the mix a little bit early on. But now where things get really interesting is at the turn of the 20th century, when breakfast itself is revolutionized. Again, prior to this time, it was typical that a breakfast if people were having it because they were going to do labor all day and they were working for somebody else, it would consist of things like what was leftover from the night before, eggs, bread, and butter or even hot grain dishes like porridge. Porridge. Curds and whey, is jumping into my head. Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, and porridge, of course, Three Bears. So the stuff in the fairytales, a lot of people in the US, we don't know what those things are, but those were basically, this is like a hot cereal with porridge.

Now, the first inkling of modern-day breakfast cereal was born in 1863, thanks to a physician named James Caleb Jackson. James was also a vocal abolitionist and a religiously conservative vegetarian and he was the author of such timeless classics as Consumption: How To Prevent It And How To Cure It and of course, Dancing: Its Evils And Its Benefits. Now, even though these aren't exactly timeless classics, these are real books and I went, and actually, I couldn't stop reading one of these. So let me read you a passage from his book Dancing: Its Evils And Its Benefits.

So this is directly from his book. He says, "With Christian believers, there is a very general distrust existing towards dancing and an amusement. They feel that it is productive of wide evil and the more liberal of them believe that it is at best productive of only incidental good. Hence, as a general fact, they are arrayed in firm opposition to it and are strongly indisposed of the recognition of the consistent Christian character of him who advocates or partakes of it." Again, talking about dancing. "As dancing is conducted generally in this country, by those who take part in it, I have no hesitation in saying that the evil far overbalances the good that comes from it, so that it is indefensible and should not be sustained by Christians. Let us look at some of the evils arising from it."

Then he goes into different chapters of the book and talking about how evil dancing is. And one of them was a section talking about the environment when you dance, and I'll just read a small portion from it. He says, "Almost all halls where people congregate for dancing are badly ventilated and so many persons get poisoned from breathing this air." He's going back to that bad-air thing from back in the day that still kind of exists today in our thinking. Another section here, he states that many persons who dance are not habituated to this exercise, they, therefore, suffer reactions which are violent." All that twitching and twerking, he didn't say that I did. "And to which subsequent sickness of an acute and not infrequently of a dangerous type is to be ascribed".

So he's saying people who are not conditioned to dancing, they dance and then they feel bad. I don't know how that actually happens or when, I don't know what kind of dancing he's doing, but reading this and knowing that the person who is the godfather of your favorite cereal was adamantly against dancing, it reminds me of the movie Footloose. Kevin Bacon had to deal with the same shenanigans. And the guy who really created cereal was against dancing which is just super weird, it's nothing harmful, but just super weird, little weird little fun fact.

Now, Dr. Jackson, he ran a medical sanitarium in Western New York and sanitariums where people who usually were a little bit more wealthy, a little bit better off would go to these kind of spa places, have all of these strange treatments done, some of them actually have some sound science to back them up to date like various light treatments, exercise machines, some of them had vibration equipment along with them, and all kinds of nutrition advice and fasting and things like that. But what he did was at his sanitarium, he created a breakfast cereal from gram flour dough, and it created this dried block basically. And then they would take it and break it into shapes, but it was so hard, it would literally break your teeth if you tried to eat it. And so they would have to soak it for several hours, generally overnight in milk often and this is what he called Granula. Granula. Not Granola, Granula, like Dracula, right?

Granula that was the invention, the very first inkling of modern cereal was thanks to Dr. Jackson. Well, one day, another fellow, a colleague of Dr. Jackson named Dr. John Harvey Kellogg dropped in to Dr. Jackson's sanitarium and Kellogg had his eyes on upgrading the conditions at his own sanitarium. He was just kind of taking in some of the atmosphere, seeing what he was doing with the nutrition and he took this idea for Granula and he basically stole it. He took it back to his place, put together his own formula, very similar from the one he saw and he called it Granola. He wasn't even shy about it. He just swipe or no swiping that one.

Now, Granola is not exactly cereal, the modern cereal that we know. The birth of that, modern cereal truly began to take shape, when Dr. Kellogg stumbled upon a new recipe with his younger brother. Dr. Kellogg wanted to create a cereal for his patients to improve their mental health, to improve physical health, and to suppress sexual desires. Wait, what? I had to actually go through some of Dr. Kellogg's old-fangled writings to see if this was true for myself. And well, here's what I found, Dr. Kellogg was seriously concerned about the health of US citizens and he believed that the big problem plaguing people's health was rampant sexual desire and masturbation.

In his book, Plain Facts for Old and Young, Embracing the Natural History of Hygiene of Organic Life, he listed some of the symptoms of masturbation to be things like poor digestion, mood swings, bad posture, clearly. Also impaired vision, not so clearly. And paralysis of your lower extremities. He also noted that masturbation could lead to things like bad skin all the way to things like seizures, basically everything. It was a list of every symptom you could think of. And it was largely directed towards parents to keep an eye on their kids. So, Billy's got poor posture, he must be in there doing that thing. Or Rebecca's got acne, so she must be double-clicking the mouse. And so the thing is, you can't make this stuff up. And I was wondering when I was reading this, why doesn't he have a biopic yet? This is crazy.

But here's the thing, in Dr. Kellogg's opinion, one of the biggest culprits that was stimulating people's uncontrollable sexual desires was the inclusion of rich, spicy, salty, sweet and intensely flavorful foods, food was the culprit. Really taking over the minds of our citizens and he wanted to do something about it, so in his belief, the way to cure it was creating plain, bland foods, bland grains specifically that could reduce those strong sexual impulses. And with this in mind, he set out to create breakfast foods that would help people to stop these impure desires to start the day. That's how you want to start the day, suppress the desire, and go out and have a good day.

And his golden moment was when he accidentally left out some cooked grains that ended up getting stale and he along with his brother Will, his younger brother Will, decided to roll the stale grains out and found that they had a nice crispy, flaky consistency after they were baked in the oven. And he tinkered with the formula a bit and found that corn was the best base and of course corn was anti-masturbation approved. And he created the very first ready-to-eat cereal.

Now, if you're wondering how he went from anti-masturbation cereal to Lucky Charms or getting Lucky Charms if you're wondering how we bridged that gap, well, we have Dr. Kellogg's younger brother Will to thank for that. Apparently Dr. Kellogg was not very kind to his brother Will and he had some beef so he swiped the formula and struck out on his own. And he took the cereal recipe and he added malt, sugar, and salt to the dough and began manufacturing Kellogg's Corn Flakes in mass quantities. And it was a smash hit, right out of the gate. And all of those pro-masturbation ingredients he added, really ticked his brother off. And Dr. Kellogg tried to fight him in court, but the company had become so strong and grown so fast in popularity there was nothing that he could do to stop it.

Around the same time, there was another fellow who was one of Dr. Kellogg's patients named CW Post as in Post Cereal. Who swiped a recipe idea himself with the Granola and created his own version which was called Grape Nuts, which is neither grape nor nuts. And that became a huge hit as well and started that lineage of cereals and competition going on between Kellogg's and Post. So, even though Post and Kellogg's had both become household names, most folks don't realize that this all started with a guy trying to create cereal to make everybody's sexual desires get soggy. Fascinating.

Now, my question for you, and something to ponder, was Dr. Kellogg was he really on to something by including these grains and these carbohydrate dominant foods, could this actually help to suppress libido? Or was there an unintended side effect that Will happened upon that was actually doing the job that Dr. Kellogg originally wants?

Now, if you look at some of the most recent startling evidence, a study published in Clinical Endocrinology, researchers found that sugar specifically as added to cereals at this time induces a significant reduction in total and free testosterone levels and it also increases something called aromatization. So this is where the testosterone that you're producing gets aromatized or gets kind of stolen in this conversion process and turned into estrogen. So both of those can be things that... These are our glorified sex hormones. They have a lot more to do with just sex than just sex. But these are major players, obviously. And sugar, the thing that the younger brother added was actually doing the job that his older brother actually wanted.

So I just wanted to implant that seed, but I also want to move along this timeline. Because it was during the 1900s, that the younger brother, Will, did something else genius that has still existed until this time today, which was adding a prize into the box of cereal. Genius. It's been over 100 years that this idea was put into place, and it was just, it was obviously very effective.

And also we got to keep in mind that the concept of breakfast and the concept of cereal for breakfast was manufactured by these gentlemen. It had no basis in science, it was just something that was just made up. And in fact, Dr. Kellogg is the person who made the statement that "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." It came from that guy. Now, I don't know about you. People can be genius in one thing and kind of crazy in another thing, I'm certain. But I would have some reservations in listening to the statements that my man-made, simply based on the basis of the things that he was trying to control, the things that he was trying to do. Because also in his practice, the things that were included as treatments, was the surgical removal of women's clitoris, and also circumcision to remove the foreskin. Not for hygienic purposes or whatever the belief is today, but to reduce the rate, or the perceived rate of masturbation and pleasure for males. He was implementing these as tactics in his practice. But he wanted cereal to help do the job for him. Crazy, this is a crazy story when we look at the origin of where cereal comes from.

But it gets more interesting along the way. There's some fun stuff in here, too. So let's jump into the 1910s. Now, this is really, really interesting. In the 1910s, explosion puffing technology for rice and wheat was in full effect. The Quaker Oats Company acquired a method of forcing rice grains to explode under pressure and began marketing puffed rice and puffed wheat as a breakthrough in food science. They called them in their marketing, the first food, "food shot from guns." How sexy is that? Now some of these technologies, of course, were in place and utilized and bought by consumers for decades, even today. We got the puffed wheat cereals, puffed rice. We might think of cereal like Honey Smacks and Golden Crisp, and just various versions of puffed rice. But it became a very pervasive food item in our culture. And so that was jumping in the 1910s.

Now if we jump to the 1920s, specifically, in 1921, a health clinician in Minnesota was simmering wheat gruel, because that's what you do then, was simmering some wheat gruel for intestinally distressed patients. And accidentally spilled the gruel onto a hot stove and watched it dry into wheat flakes. This was the birth of Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes, soon to become known as Wheaties. Now, Wheaties was the first cereal to create a truly iconic marriage between sports and product. In the 1930s, Wheaties was able to get testimonials from sports heroes like Lou Gehrig, and 45 of the other 51 players on the 1939 Major League All-Star Team. And it turned this modest little wheat cereal into something of legend. If you wanted to play like the professionals, if you wanted to truly eat like your heroes, this is the cereal for you. This cereal became the "breakfast of champions."

In the decades that followed, one legendary athlete after another appeared on the box, the orange box. Names like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Dan Marino, Mary Lou Retton, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, the list goes on and on. Getting on the Wheaties box is a status symbol, even for the athletes. And this was thanks to a happy accident for making wheat gruel.

So now we're going to jump to the 1930s. And this is where the Ralston Purina Company introduced an early version of Wheat Chex, calling it Shredded Ralston. That's a pretty crummy name. And by the way, Ralston Purina, I think of dog food. That's what they're really notable for, is for food for pets. But Shredded Ralston hit the scene. Now, this cereal was intended to feed the followers of Ralstonism, and Ralstonism was created by a man named Webster Edgerly. And followers of his movement, by the way, it was almost a million followers, is noted to be 800,000 followers, followed the motto RALSTON, which was an acronym, and it stood for Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen, and Nature. And these first letters spelled out Ralston.

Now Ralstonism required its adherents to follow a very strict guideline of diet and personal hygiene. And its founder, Edgerly, wrote books to promote his beliefs on how to achieve longevity, how to be sexually magnetic, and how to develop telepathy. Because clearly being sexually magnetic isn't enough. You need to be able to read people's minds if you really want to have that sauce. So that was one of the other things that they believed in. But Edgerly also advocated the castration of all non-Caucasian males at birth. So it sufficed to say that he was pretty racist. And Edgerly saw his followers as the founding members of a new superior white race that would be free from "impurities."

And again, as weird as it might sound, these are the origins of cereal in our country, and Chex is one of the cereals that kind of came out of the Ralston movement. And for me, I attribute Chex to happiness because of the commercials. I, I, love, love double, double, Chex, Chex, better, better, than, than, the, the rest, rest…

Shout out to those who know that song growing up, but just another interesting angle on how this was created. There is often a seed of trying to provide a mental and physical superiority through the cereal. But over time, that got to be mutated into something else. And I think that that can be tied to some of the original intentions behind the people and the companies putting this stuff together because, man, energy never gets destroyed, but it definitely changes forms and gets transmuted.

So if we jump to the 1940s, this is when we see the continued rise of breakfast cereal, thanks, in part, to physicist Lester Borchardt, who was working for General Mills in Minnesota. He and his team developed a puffing gun that puffed oats into small O-shapes, little O's. The new cereal was called Cheerioats, and the name was quickly changed to Cheerios. So this was coming out in the 1940s, but the name was changed because of a beef from Quaker Oats. So they had like a East Coast, West Coast beef based on cereal, I guess. And Quaker Oats was like, "You can't have oats in your name. It's too much ours, that's our thing," and threw up their little Quaker gang signs and made them change it, so it became Cheerios.

Now, this is still one of the top-selling cereals today. Cheerios has become famous, or should I say infamous, for being a healthy cereal option. And in recent years, Cheerios has been able to make really outlandish marketing claims usually through marketing characters like this.

Hey, kid. What's you got there?

Gee, Susie. It's the greatest thing. Cheerios helps lower cholesterol as part of a heart-healthy diet, you know, for grown-ups.

Now in this commercial, they put it in teeny-tiny letters that "studies show that three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods like Cheerios in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Cheerios cereal provides one gram per serving." What an incredible marketing ploy to say that Cheerios is part of a heart-healthy diet. Cheerios can reduce your cholesterol. I got to give it to them. They put it out there, but this was largely allowed, and they've only pivoted recently.

It was in 2009, the FDA took issue with the claim on Cheerios boxes that Cheerios can lower bad cholesterol. And in the letter, the FDA told General Mills that either it needed to change the print on Cheerios boxes or apply to get Cheerios classified as a cholesterol-lowering drug. Now there's two parts to this. One part is the FDA is saying, "Hey, your cereal isn't proven to do that." The other part is saying, "The only thing that can lower your cholesterol is a drug." So who's right here? Anyways, so moving on. If you're wondering... Also for me, when I hear Cheerios, I think of the other versions of Cheerios, apple cinnamon Cheerios, for example. So if you're wondering about the different varieties, when they came out, the first one was actually 1976, and it was cinnamon nut Cheerios that came to the market first, which was quickly discontinued because people didn't like it.

But then General Mills struck cereal gold with the release of Honey Nut Cheerios three years later. And honey nut Cheerios were instantly popular, became the number one cereal in America, eventually leading up even until recent years. Another note, by the way, the plain Cheerios, and I don't know about you, but as a kid, and other kids even back in the 1940s, they would take these cereals. They were kind of more for adults. They would add sugar to it to make it more palatable for kids. And we would get these... We would get food sometimes from food banks and on the WIC program where we had specific cereal that we can get. And they largely didn't have the sugar that we were accustomed to.

So my brother, sister, and I, we would add sugar to the cereal. We'd get the Cheerios or the Toasty O's because we get the generic kind and add sugar to it. And we would honestly put so much sugar that at the end of the cereal, it's like white, wet sand at the bottom of the bowl. I don't know if you've ever had that experience, but this is something we used to do. And kids were doing it back then. And the cereal marketers notices and they began adding more sugar to their products and shifting their focus on marketing more towards the kids, who loved their cereal as well, and they wanted more sugar.

But before we get into the sugary sweet times of today's cereal, let's take a look at when the generational shift actually took place. So we're going to take our time-traveling DeLorean to the 1950s where sugar began to truly take center stage in breakfast cereals. This is when cereals like Kellogg's Frosted Flakes hit the scene along with its pitchman, Tony the Tiger. And this was also when we saw a new era of television advertising and marketing to kids. They would have whole mini-episodes of cartoons just surrounding the selling of a cereal. Can you imagine, number one, cartoons are a super new thing. Kids are obsessed with them, and marketing to children put together in one, it was a no-win situation. For example, Alpha-Bits cereal, Alpha-Bits cereal, had Mighty Mouse as one of their featured characters. And this is one of the statements that Mighty Mouse would make.

Here I am.

Hurray. Won't you join us in some Alpha-Bits?

Yes, sir, 'cause they're good for you. Made of crisp oats to help build strong bodies, sparkled with just the right amount of sugar for quick, extra energy.

So your good buddy Mighty Mouse is telling you that sugar is going to give you quick, extra energy. What are you going to do? You're going to power up on that cereal, right? Not only can you spell out words in your bowl with the Alpha-Bits, but you can also get energy to be strong like Mighty Mouse and save the day. So that's when we really saw it take place, was during the 1950s.

And if we take a time jump to the '60s and '70s, this is where we see the explosion of colorful fruity flavored cereals. With the popular rise use of artificial flavors, and colors in cereals. Now, there was a device called a gas chromatograph that was able to isolate flavors in various foods that have been used for quite some time, where you can isolate flavor notes of a strawberry and then take that flavor and add it to something else to create a strawberry flavored soda or strawberry flavored yogurt or whatever the case might be, no strawberries required. But humans evolved having connections, neurological, biological connections to flavors, flavors indicated certain nutrients are coming alongside those things. But now we're getting the flavors, we're getting hijacked in flavor but we're not getting the nutrients along with those flavors. And it starts to create chaos in our minds and we don't even realize it.

And so this is when this technology was starting to really be used at its ultimate potential for cereal. Now, in addition to the artificial flavors and the sugar, we also had the widespread use of artificial food colorings that have raised serious concerns for decades now that is only getting some serious attention in the media right now. So going back and looking at one of my childhood favorites that I talked about already Fruity Pebbles, in addition to the absurd amount of sugar that it contains it also contains red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1 and blue 2. Just think about making a recipe, like you're cooking with your kid and you're like, "Can you hand me the blue?" What is that? So weird, right? But now here's the thing, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6 contain a well-noted human carcinogen that's, of course, permitted at low presumably safe levels in food dyes.

Now, if there's controversy because this seems like something to be concerned about, at least just put your antenna's up a little bit, on the safety issues that this could be having for our children, shouldn't this be removed from the products until we can clear this particular ingredient? Shouldn't we get it cleared first before we have it in our food supply? It's sort of like assuming that any man-made, chemical-laden substance is innocent, it's acceptable for use until proven otherwise, and it really should be the opposite. Because if we dig a little bit deeper, we have evidence like this, a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial tested whether intake of artificial food colorings affected childhood behavior. This study published in The Lancet demonstrated that there's clear evidence that artificial colors and conventional preservatives in our kids' diets result in hyperactivity, specifically it took groups of three-year-olds and groups of eight and nine-year-olds.

And again, we have data like this, shouldn't these things be removed? In Europe, the European Union started to require food labels to indicate that a product contains any of these potentially harmful food colorings. And Bernard Weiss, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who has researched this issue for decades, says that "He is frustrated that the FDA has not acted on the research showing the connection between artificial dyes and hyperactivity." Again, kid cereals and hyperactivity. He said, "All the evidence we have has shown that it has some capacity to harm. In Europe, that's enough to get it banned because a manufacturer has to show a lack of toxic effects. In this country, it's up to the government to find out whether or not there are harmful effects."

Now, researchers at Purdue University published a study in covering that cereal is in the top three highest sources of artificial food dyes in children's diets. The report estimated that "A child could easily consume 100 milligrams of food dyes per day," easy. And that, "Some children are consuming 200 milligrams of food dyes per day." This is bigger than the issue with sugar. Just understanding that this kind of decent intention in the beginning to add health to people's lives has evolved into something other than over the years. And I've definitely been a part of it, and I know that many of you have as well. And this is about, again, getting educated on what's really kind of going on with this entity, and also, so what are some of the things that we can do about it because there are some really, really cool things happening that I'll tell you about in a moment.

Now, this was also a time during the '60s and '70s, if we jump to 1977, some of the other favorites like Cookie Crisp were released. Now, before the cereal companies were kind of being a little bit like, "This isn't bad for you, it's part of a complete breakfast." Then all of a sudden they were like, "Forget it, we're just going to make a bowl of cookies." How do we get to that place? Just think about this scenario. We've got a mother and her son, having a conversation in the morning, maybe the son is eight years old, he's getting ready for school, he's like, "Hey, mom, can I have some cookies today, for breakfast?" And she looks at him crazy, "Absolutely not, that is not healthy for you to have for breakfast." But then little eight-year-old Timmy says, "But you let me eat Cookie Crisp Cereal." In the words of DJ Khaled.

Congratulations, you played yourself.

It's still cookies, it's the same ingredients. It's just in this quote, "Cereal form," and then it becomes acceptable. Now, if we look at the ingredients of Cookie Crisp as it stand today, it's number one, whole grain corn, which breaks down into sugar. Sugar, which is sugar. Cornmeal, which breaks down to sugar. Yellow cornflower, sugar, starch, canola oil, yey. Corn syrup, you already know, cocoa processed with alkali. Then we've got brown sugar syrup, salt, caramel coloring, baking soda, natural flavor. It's a lot of starch and sugar. It's a lot of starch and sugar. And we've allowed this to become culturally acceptable. Now, not to say that we can't have our Cookie Crisp if this has a connection to you, but there might be some even better options that bring an equal amount of joy as well. And again, we'll get to that in a moment.

But speaking of sugar and breakfast cereal, specifically, I really don't think that we realize just how much sugar we're downing to start the day. This was my everyday thing, even when I was going to school and getting the free lunch, oftentimes, we'd get these little personal-sized bowls of cereal. It's got a little tearaway lid on it, and you pour your milk into that bowl. For me, oftentimes I got Frosted Flakes 'cause that was one of my favorite things that was available, or my Fruit Loops.

Now, when you hear that a parent is giving their kid a Coca-Cola for breakfast that would sound pretty ridiculous. It's like that's so much sugar, right? Well, a regular 12-ounce serving, which is one and a half cups of Coca-Cola is about 39 grams of sugar. While one-and-a-half cups of one of Kellogg's most popular cereals, Honey Smacks, is 30 grams of sugar, add on a serving of 2% milk over top and you've got over 40 grams of sugar before heading off to school. It's more than a 12 ounce Coca-Cola, but hey, can we even really get upset at that? They put smacks in the name of the cereal, it's been smacking around our metabolism for decades, but now we're hoping to bring some light to the subject and helping to identify these cereals for what they really are, cereal killers.

If we jump to the '80s, this is largely considered the golden age of cereal, and when co-branding was the name of the game. Gremlins Cereal, Donkey Kong Cereal, Mr. T Cereal, WWF Superstar Cereal, Ghostbusters Cereal, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal, and my personal favorite, Smurf Berry Crunch. What the smurf are you smurfing? That's how they talk. They put smurf into place of different words, but you still know what they're saying. So what the smurf is up? Now marketing right now, and looking at all this co-branding, was still largely targeted towards kids in a major way. And the FTC supposedly started cracking down around this time on cereal companies who were spending the majority of their marketing dollars on advertising to kids.

According to one of the latest reports from the Federal Trade Commission, the makers of breakfast cereals, fast food, and carbonated beverages, all major sources of added sugars in the American diet, had the majority of their marketing budgets go towards marketing to children. That's approximately 72% of their dollars. And we're talking billions, we're talking billions of dollars going into these marketing efforts to kids. The concept of cradle to the grave branding really came into its own in the 1980s and '90s, and this is when folks like James McNeal, the author of the book, Kids as Consumers: A Handbook of Marketing to Children, reported that, "The only way to increase customers is to switch them from other brands or grow them from birth. And in our society, it is actually easier to grow customers from birth than to switch them."

Another study conducted by researchers at UCLA determined that watching commercial television, as opposed to DVDs or educational programming, directly correlated to higher body mass index in children. This, the researcher said, "Was due to the fact that children see on average 4000 television commercials for food by the time that they're five years old." Do we even stand a chance? But funny enough, it's not just the marketing that we see on television, it's also in the store too. There's a study conducted by researchers at Yale and Cornell University that established that cereal mascots like Cap'n Crunch, who make eye contact with purchasers, encourage more feelings of trust in connection with their product, and led to 28% more brand loyalty.

I know you've seen Cap'n Crunch giving you the googly eyes. Now, first of all, he's Cap'n, Cap'n. He's not a captain. He didn't actually go through any kind of rigorous training. He didn't get any kind of certification and he's got a uniform on, so you think he's official. But seriously though, Cap'n Crunch Berries is absolutely delicious, not going to knock that. But there's a bigger thing at play here, it's just to get you, cradle to the grave, get you hooked, keep you buying, even if it's hurting you. That's the problem because I have no issue if something is bringing you vitality and joy, even if it's bringing you joy and it's not the best, and you occasionally do it, so be it.

But these things become so pervasive and addictive, and we went through on so many different levels how they've really got ingrained and I can still, I could taste Apple Jacks right now. Is, right now we're looking at a situation where the conversation is finally beginning to change because it was in the 2000s that we saw a big shift towards, "Health-conscious cereals." Now with that said, these were still largely touting the belief that healthy whole grain cereals, that were loaded with carbohydrates to start the day, were ideal, but we're just removing some of the sugar, having organic grains, and these would be the ideal choice for health-conscious consumers.

Now with that said, there are levels to this, of course, avoiding inflammatory ingredients, artificial dyes, and flavors, and switching over to things that aren't loaded with sugar. These are steps in the right direction, but we still have to keep into account it might not be a good idea to start our day by carb loading. And this is highlighted in a study conducted by researchers at St. Louis University, and this was published in the International Journal of Obesity. And it sought to discover what happens with fat loss when you eat a high carbohydrate breakfast versus a high-protein, high-fat breakfast, with the calorie count of the meals being the exact same.

The researchers had the study participants decrease their overall caloric intake by 1000 calories in the study, but they had different people on these different macro-nutrient ratios for their first meal of the day. Only, this was the only difference was a high carb breakfast or a high-protein, high-fat breakfast. Here's what they found after a eight-week study period. The study participants in the lower-carb breakfast group showed a 61% greater reduction in body mass index and a 65% greater weight loss and a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference and a 16% greater reduction in overall body fat. This just trips me out, it's just like and, and, so many things improved simply by shifting that macro-nutrient ratio of their first meal. So, even though we made a big shift with these more health-conscious cereals, we can still take it a step further.

And for me, this really clicked in my mind when we were doing an episode when I had on Ori Hofmekler and he's a best-selling author and he's been in this field for decades and he's the person really kind of push into popular culture concepts of intermittent fasting and having the ability to have nutrient stressors, certain nutrients that provide a healthy amount of stress to the body. And one of the things that he mentioned was the fact that at some point, somebody's going to create cereals that are low to no carbohydrates or low to no sugar and high in protein and maybe even out of something like whey protein.

And I was like, "That's interesting, I wonder if that will ever happen." And it did, it actually happened because I found out about this incredible cereal company that was dedicated towards doing stuff, not just making progressive steps, but like let's do this the best way possible and address more of the issues that people have with conventional cereals. But here's the thing, I'm sorry, but Kashi is not delicious. That's when I was trying to get healthy, I was eating this cereal it was like I'm just eating twigs and berries like I'm eating, I don't know, I was eating some sarsaparilla or something. It's just like it was not a pleasurable experience eating my Kashi.

If I want to have a bowl of cereal, even if it's just for a little fun snack from time to time, give me some of that nostalgia, give me some of that good feeling, give me some of those flavor sensations, but do this in a way that's not going to gum up my metabolism and here's what this cereal has come up with. It's high in protein, it's 11 grams of protein per serving, made from a high-quality combination of whey protein. So I was just like, "Well, what about the flour that you would use?" And sometimes you can't get the consistency right using various types of flours, but they did it without even needing to include flours. Zero sugar. It's actually zero sugar, sweetened with natural sweeteners like Monk fruit and Stevia and it only has three grams of net carbs per serving and they've got flavors like blueberry, birthday cake, frosted, Coco, that's my wife's favorite.

My favorite is the fruity, Keto-friendly, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, low carb, GMO-free, no artificial ingredients, it has... I opened, the fruity is my favorite, I opened the bag, the aroma, if you can see my YouTube, the aroma was really what did it for me and that connection to like, "Oh, that cereal right there." But again, this is something that I'm just going in hammering cereal all the time, but we can do this better and I want to make sure that we're getting products out to the public and starting to change the culture, starting to shift the buying behavior and moving ourselves away from all of the sugar that is clinically proven to cause all these problems, and also add any things that we need like protein as well that can help with satiety and moving away from the artificial food dyes that we know, again, can cause problems with hyperactivity just to name one and also being a carcinogen.

So the list goes on and on. I think it's an amazing, amazing product, and I highly recommend you get yourself some. I connected, we proactively actually reached out to them, because I wanted to see if I can get some kind of special offer for you to try it out as well. Because if you got a hankering or hankering for some cereal, I want you to have some good stuff on hand. And so if you go to, that's, you can grab yourself a variety pack if you want and try all the different flavors or you can just get the one that you want to zero in on and use the code MODEL, M-O-D-E-L at checkout, and you'll get free shipping. And right now, Magic Spoon is absolutely taking off. So many of my colleagues in this space are utilizing Magic Spoon and just recommending it for people because we know how pervasive cereal eating is in our culture and just trying to do this a little bit better.

Now again, we're taking steps there in the right direction and because it is so energy-intensive for Magic Spoon to create a high-quality cereal like this, you can only get them right now in these value packs, so make sure to get yours, try it out and just so you have a box on hand whenever you want to have some cereal and it's really this whey protein and you also get free shipping. So that's what we were able to get access to for you guys. Keep in mind, the basis of your diet should be whole real foods but if you want a tasty treat with the nostalgia of eating delicious cereal, you need to try Magic Spoon and Magic Spoon is so confident in the product, it's backed with a 100% happiness guarantee. If for any reason you don't like it, they'll refund your money, no questions asked.

And so, I wanted to go through this history of cereal because it's a passion of mine growing up, and it's something that I totally just deleted from my life once I really found out all of the harmful ingredients that are in our cereals, and also I started to find out some of the stories behind the companies that have made the cereals that have become so popular today. If you look at Dr. Harvey Kellogg, you go into his spa for a nice spa day, and you end up getting your genitalia burned off. That shouldn't happen. You know what I mean? But again, with the diet portion, he was trying to find a way, from what he believed, to get people healthier. We've come so far since that time, but we still have a long way to go. And we can take advantage of the wonderful things that we have coming up along the way, but at the end of the day, this is all a learning experience for all of us, and there's no shame at all in being somebody who's a big fan of cereal.

This is the Model Health Show, and we really focus on nutrition at the highest levels, but everything is an option. Everything is an option. And all of us have a story. And my story, if I could pick a food that has been the most, the thing that jumps out the most in my growth and in my years, it would be cereal. I've got memories tied to those things. So, after school cartoons were great. We had Transformers, ThunderCats, Saturday morning cat cartoons. Grandma, watching the Equalizer and Magnum PI during the school days, sorry grandma, Saturday mornings are for kids. And this was a time, can you imagine, this was a time when cartoons were not available 24/7. You got a couple of hours Saturday morning, it's prime time for kids. Muppet Babies, Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters all that stuff. And having a bowl of cereal in that experience really was... I looked forward to it, I really loved those experiences.

But what's up with, on a Saturday morning after the cartoons go off? It's just the weirdest programming comes on after that. It was like basket weaving convention or something. It's super weird stuff. But these are all part of our experiences, and I'm grateful for you making me a part of your experience, and I hope that you learned a lot today. And some little fun facts that you could share with other people. And of course, again, pop over to the YouTube channel and leave a comment to enter yourself into the giveaway for the $100 Amazon gift card. So make sure you're subscribed to the Model Health Show on YouTube. Leave a comment and you'll be automatically entered.

Now listen, we've got some epic, epic, epic shows coming your way very soon, and just please keep in mind that as things start to shift with this quarantine, that we need to be even more adamant about protecting our health, about investing in our health, our physical movement, nutrition, getting high-quality sleep, and so as we're moving towards change right now, we have to keep in mind that we're going to see a new normal. And you want to start to shift your habits right now towards getting yourself prepared for when things open up and you get back to a day-to-day routine. The time is now so let's not wait. And I appreciate you so much for tuning in to the show today. And once again, pop over to YouTube, leave a comment, make sure you're subscribed for some good stuff. We got so many cool things coming on YouTube as well.

I appreciate you so much for tuning in, take care. Have an amazing day and I'll talk with you soon.

And for more after the show, make sure to head over to That's where you can find all of the show notes, you can find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you've got a comment you can leave me a comment there as well. And please make sure to head over to iTunes, and then leave us a rating to let everybody know that this show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much and take care. I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.

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  1. Great episode. Unfortunately so much of medical cannon is based on long accepted BS based on speculation of doctors from the past with agendas. There is a movie based on Kellogg and his nonsense. If I recall, it’s OK, not great.

    “The Road to Wellville” tells the story of the doctor and clean-living advocate John Harvey Kellogg and his methods employed at the Battle Creek Sanitarium at the beginning of the 20th century.


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