The Truth About The Chemicals In Cheerios

A recent report from the EWG suggests pesticides are in popular cereals. Before you panic, it's important to know what was really...

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • The truth about toxic Cheerios

  • Is eating at night a problem?

  • A surprising way to make exercise a habit

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The Truth About Toxic Cheerios

The headlines seemingly said it all: “80% of Americans test positive for a chemical found in Cheerios.”

But, sadly, many headlines are optimized for clicks, not accuracy. We care more about ensuring you’re protecting your health, so here’s what you need to know before adjusting what you eat. 

Research suggests that the level of chemicals in Cheerios is not dangerous or causing health issues. 

Too often, there is a gap between what is reported and what is scientifically accurate. It’s why we’re not here to break the news — we want to make sense of the news. 

The headlines suggested high amounts of the pesticide chlormequat in Cheerios and other popular cereals. Thanks to Dr. Andrea Love of Unbiased Science for breaking down the practical findings, which makes it clear why the threat is not what it appears.

“You’d had to eat over 600 boxes of cereal at the ‘highest detected level’ of 291 parts per BILLION in a single sitting…Chlormequat is rapidly excreted in urine within hours. So levels in urine just mean we peed it out. But the levels in urine? They were even 10-fold lower than the levels detected in cereals.”

So, unless you eat 600 boxes daily, you’re not taking in an amount deemed dangerous. And because your body rapidly flushes it, build-up over time is also less of a concern.

Now, to be clear, some of you might decide that any level of chemicals is too much. And that’s fair. Your body is your body. However, it’s important to realize that minor levels of chemicals can be found in almost any food, including vegetables. Instead of telling you what to do, we want you to understand the risk. Our job is to help remove stress and support better decisions, so you know when you’re putting your body in a high level of danger. 

The findings do not suggest Cheerios harm your health, but do what feels best for you.

Is Eating At Night A Problem?

The first thing you need to know is that the food you eat at night is not more likely to be stored as fat. There’s a myth that eating after a particular hour (usually 6 or 7 pm) causes food to be stored differently. However, gaining weight depends on the total calories you eat in a day, not when you eat. 

But, the timing of your meal could trigger a domino effect that indirectly leads to weight gain. 

 Research suggests that eating too close to your sleep (approximately three to four hours before) can lead to more disrupted sleep or cause heartburn or acid reflux symptoms. 

When you experience poor sleep, it affects the hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that affect hunger and cravings. Specifically, you’re more likely to feel hungry and crave foods that are loaded with calories when you get poor-quality sleep. 

In fact, in a recent study, 16 overweight adults lived in a lab for a week. Everything was measured, and everyone ate the same amount of food. But one group ate immediately when they woke up, lunch around noon, and then an early dinner. The other group pushed everything back four hours, meaning all meals happened later in the day. 

Those who ate later in the morning and night felt hungrier throughout the day, had lower levels of the hormone that makes you feel full (leptin), and had higher levels of the hormone that makes you feel hungry (ghrelin). Neither group lost more weight because they controlled how much everyone ate, but — in a non-lab setting — you can see what might happen. The combination of less fullness and more hunger could cause you to overeat frequently. 

If you struggle with hunger, a great place to start is prioritizing better sleep and trying to cut off any food about two to three hours before you sleep. 

A Surprising Way To Make Exercise A Habit

When it comes time to get ready for the gym, watching Pumping Iron, listening to your favorite songs, or joining a group or challenge can help increase motivation. But we’ve never heard of someone buying fruit. 

A recent study suggests that people who ate more avocados were more likely to exercise. 

The outcome was something that makes you wonder, what’s going on here? The researchers randomly assigned families to two groups: one group received 14 avocados per week, and the other received three avocados per week. 

Total physical activity increased by 2,197 metabolic equivalent of task (MET) minutes per week in the intervention group compared to the control group.

Is there some special nutrient found in avocados that makes people want to exercise? Maybe, but not likely. A more plausible explanation is that avocados increased physical activity due to a psychological phenomenon known as the spillover or transfer effect. 

By eating avocados, the participants recognized they were making a healthy choice, which may have inspired them to make other healthy choices, like being more physically active.

This concept has important implications. By recognizing you’re taking steps towards improving your health, whether that’s sticking to a regular bedtime, cutting back on alcohol, or, yes, even eating avocados, you can inspire yourself to make even more healthy choices. So, if you’re struggling to build a healthier habit — such as exercise — start with another healthier habit. Once you master that, you might find it easier to begin doing other things that are good for you. 

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell