Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2018-10-10
on the Wheat Belly Blog,
sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index
of WB Blog articles.
Four enemas and gruel: The birth of breakfast cereal
In the latter half of
the 19th and early 20th century, Dr. John
Harvey Kellogg operated a sanitarium in Battle
Creek, Michigan, a place where you would stay
for a month or two and receive four enemas per
day, three meals of thick gruel (a mixture of
grains such as wheat, rye, barley, millet or
corn), and other treatments to “cure” lumbago,
rheumatism, or cancer. Kellogg also advocated
a regimen of fresh air, exercise, hydrotherapy
and a vegetarian diet that abstained from
coffee, tea, alcohol, as well as sex.
One day, while preparing
a batch of gruel, Dr. Kellogg was called away,
only to return hours later to find his gruel
on the table, dry. Being frugal, he wondered
if there was a way to salvage it; putting it
through a roller, a light bulb of inspiration
went off: flaked cereal.
A guest staying at
Kellogg’s sanitarium, C.W. Post, observed
the corn flake-producing process. He promptly
copied the process and founded the Post Cereal
Company to sell Grape-nuts cereal. This prompted
Kellogg’s brother, Will Keith Kellogg, to
start a competing company to make flake cereal.
The Kellogg brothers began with the Battle Creek
Sanitarium Health Food Company in 1898 that
later became the Kellogg Food Company.
It required many years,
but Kelloggs and Post persuaded Americans to
replace their meat, eggs, sausage, and biscuits
for breakfast with breakfast cereals. Sugar,
then high-fructose corn syrup, became ubiquitous
ingredients in cereals over time, not uncommonly
comprising half or more of all calories,
especially in products marketed to children such
as Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks. The modest
beginnings for Kelloggs and Post ballooned over
ensuing decades to a multi-billion dollar,
international industry selling around 5000
different breakfast cereal products.
Aided by the flawed
rationale employed by our own U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, the USDA and its
food pyramid and plate, dietitians whose
education is in large part supported by
breakfast cereal manufacturers, and doctors
with next to no understanding of nutrition,
many breakfast cereals achieved the status of
health food because of vitamin and mineral
fortification and grain content. This blunder,
of course, ignores the fact that grains raise
insulin and blood sugar more than table sugar.
Yes, there was cellulose fiber that was
indigestible but bulked up bowel movements
and even a few grams of prebiotic fibers.
But breakfast cereals, whether sugared-up
children’s varieties or bran-rich
adult varieties, are nearly all
Fortification, of course, is of dubious
usefulness, given the increased phytate
content of modern grains that block absorption
of iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and
calcium, as well as impaired vitamin B12
absorption—fortification is a meager
attempt to overcome the nutrient-depleting
effects of grains. And given the misguided
fat phobia of the last 50 years, cereals
were low in total and saturated fat, useless
strategies that only distort appetite and
dietary nutrient composition.
therefore define a dietary dark age dominated
by perverted notions of healthy food, breakfast
habits that contributed to the overweight and
obesity crises, the surge in type 2
diabetes and autoimmune diseases, as well
as degraded school performance in children.
So the notion of breakfast cereal started
with two men who believed that four enemas
a day cured cancer and that a diet based on
grains was the key to health and longevity.
It sounds ridiculous in retrospect but
defined the dietary thinking of several generations.
But you now know better.