Tuesday, 17 June 2008


I have been reading about cereals. I don't eat cereals myself as they cannot be eaten raw and so break the first of my nutritional ten commandments (search the site for the complete list). Basically, if I cannot eat something in a raw and unprocessed state then I do not include it in my diet. I am not totally strict on this - the occasional beer is consumed! But, as a general guide, it serves me well.

Refined carbohydrates are essentially sugar. It that were not enough, processing strips out most of the nutrients that would benefit humans. These and other additional nutrients are often added back in to the cereal towards the end of the manufacturing cycle - often with a whole lot more sugar just for added taste and crispness.

With heavy marketing including inferences of 'natural goodness', earthy imagery of nature and 'active people' for 'adult cereal', and a mixture of fun and cartoon characters for childrens cereal, the cereal market has somehow managed to convince people that it is actually good for us.

If you watch the adverts carefully, they usually carry the vague message that the cereal is beneficial to weight or general health as part of a balanced diet (whatever that is). But I guess cake and cardboard are 'beneficial to weight or general health as part of a balanced diet'. The get-out clause here is 'balanced diet'.

An Industrialised Diet
Let take a step back for a moment. Cereal is highly processed food. From your body's perspective, such highly refined carbohydrate is largely indistinguishable from sugar and will elicit a similar response in your insulin levels. Cereals usually contain high levels of additional sugar and salt. Further vitamins and fibre may be then be added. Does this sound remotely natural or healthy? Is a bowl of sugar REALLY a good start to the day?

Furthermore, cereal contains high levels of the carcinogen acylamide. This has caused such concern that the European Commission and the Confederation of EU Food and Drink Industries (CIAA) hosted a workshop to discuss the how to reduce acrylamide levels in baked goods. I can tell you how to avoid acrylamide in three words - home cooked meals.

De-industrialise your diet and you will reap the rewards.

Industrialised Exercise
Whilst posting this, images floated in to my mind of battery hens (I buy free-range eggs, poultry, meat and fish). I then thought about exercise - and the industrialisation of exercise. I can walk in just about any gym in the UK and, rain or shine, I will see the obese sweating it out on row after row of machine. The machines might be powered and contain flashing lights and displays testifying to how hard the user is working. The machines might be passive, and simply seek to limit exercise to specific range of motion (leg curls anyone?).

On hot days in particular I want to grab some of the people in my gym and say, "Come outside, come to the real outdoors. Let's run and jump! Feel the sun on your body and the wind against your skin." FFS, you can get a REAL workout with just your bodyweight and some space.

I know they wouldn't follow me. Like processed grain, what they do is stripped of much of its benefit. Presumably it will get added on at the end by a period on the sun beds or in the sauna.

Industrialised Lifestyle
I once heard a comment that all a man needs is a library and a garden. This thought left a deep impression upon me. Sure, friends and family are important - man is gregarious. But family are a given and friends come with time. What else could you want in life?

For me I have settled on a library, a garden and a guitar, next to a shoreline, a forest and a mountain. Not totally HG, but enough to let me explore both inwards and outwards.

I obviously have a computer, and have the usual collection of hi-tec gadgets such as a PDA/mobile phone and cable TV, but these are side orders. My main course comes courtesy of my own creativity and that of nature.

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