Bacon for breakfast?

When you think of breakfast, what foods come to mind?

Even if you don’t eat bacon and eggs, chances are they are the first foods that pop into your mind.  Do you know why? The easy answers are that you like the taste and that’s what your family ate for breakfast when you were growing up.  But do you know how bacon and eggs became associated with breakfast? You are probably not thinking of Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays.

Cured pork/bacon had been a staple of the European diet for centuries but it was not considered a breakfast food. Until the 1920s most Americans had a relatively light breakfast, usually coffee, a roll and orange juice. In 1925 the Beech-Nut Packing Company hired Edward Bernays to increase bacon sales.

Edward Bernays - the father of spin.
Edward Bernays

Instead of simply telling people to eat more bacon he commissioned a “scientific study” in which 5,000 physicians were asked if a “hearty breakfast was better than a light breakfast to replace the energy lost by the body at night. As expected, most doctors said a “hearty” breakfast was better. These “results” were reported back to doctors throughout the country, and in the print and broadcast media, along with advertising for Beech-Nut’s bacon. Bacon and eggs were presented as the “hearty” breakfast to boost energy and vitality.

This was an extremely successful marketing campaign that used “scientific” information, a trusted authority figure, word of mouth and our subconscious desires for more energy and vitality which would now forever be associated with bacon. Beech-Nut’s profits soared and the “all-American breakfast of bacon and eggs” was born.

propagandabookToday, 70 percent of bacon eaten in the US is eaten at breakfast. The vast majority of people who feel they must have bacon and eggs for breakfast have no idea that they are actually victims of propaganda. Bernays actually wrote a book called Propaganda. Bernays describes the Beech Nut Campaign

Edward Bernays also worked for The American Tobacco Company. His marketing campaign in the 1920s and 1930s got women to associate smoking with freedom and liberation. He removed the stigma associated with women smoking in public and sold the idea that cigarettes were “torches of freedom.”

Bernays’ spin campaign made it ‘cool’ for women to smoke.

Cigarette sales among women soared and we see the deadly consequences today; lung cancer kills more women than any other type of cancer. More women get breast cancer, but lung cancer is more deadly because there are no effective early screening methods and current treatments for lung cancer are not as effective as treatments for breast cancer. Smoking is declining now because we are aware of the dangers, but many people who would never smoke continue to eat bacon with the unconscious belief that it is somehow necessary for energy and vitality. The consequences are equally deadly.

In 2012 a Swedish study found that eating 2 slices of bacon a day increased pancreatic cancer risk by 20%. Eating a daily 3.5 oz serving of any processed meat (bacon, ham, or sausage) increased the risk of developing pancreatic cancer risk by 38%, and eating 5.3 oz increased the risk by 57 percent.  Pancreatic cancer, like lung cancer, is deadly because there are few warning signs and the disease is frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage when treatment is not effective; 80 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die within a year after the diagnosis.

So, what should you eat for breakfast? The best food choice in the morning is fresh ripe seasonal fruit on an empty stomach. The second best choice is whole grain cereal. Whenever I say this I always get questions about carbohydrates, sugar and diabetes.

Fear of carbs is another unconscious cultural belief, but type 2 diabetes is not caused by eating carbs. It is caused by over production of glucose in the liver. The most popular drug for diabetes, Metformin works by blocking liver cells from making glucose. Insulin is supposed to shut off glucose production while glucagon turns it back on. Animal protein and fat (from foods like bacon) stimulate glucagon and  contribute to insulin resistance.

Last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA-Internal Medicine) a large meta-analysis of three studies involving over 150,000 health care professionals found that those who increased their intake of red and processed meat by just 3.5 servings per week (1 slice of bacon a day) over a 4-year period had a 48 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who had not increased their red and processed meat intake.

Edward Bernays was not a “bad” person; he did not know the scientific evidence linking bacon and cigarettes to poor health outcomes. We have that information now but even those who know the science are confused by outdated concepts such as the glycemic index.

It’s tragic when people tell me that they eat bacon for breakfast because it does not have carbs but they cannot eat fruits. The carbs in fruits are attached to colon-cleansing fiber, cancer-fighting phytonutrients, and blood pressure lowering potassium, in addition to the vitamins and minerals that we need for optimum health.

Choice is only possible when we are aware of our options. You have a choice now, you can continue to be the victim of propaganda or you can choose food for breakfast that will truly give you energy and vitality.

10 thoughts on “Bacon for breakfast?

  • March 10, 2014 at 4:48 AM

    Dr. Rooke- It’s interesting to see how people attack you in an emotional defense of the food they feel emotionally tied to. I dont’ know if I will ever be organized enough to cut out all animal products from my diet but for 2 years I have cut out all meat. I love animals. I feel better in many ways. And in our California drought I feel good knowing that my food requires far, far less water to produce than it did 2 years ago when I ate meat every single day.

    Thank you for your efforts and don’t mind those who would attack instead of carefully consider. 🙂

  • Dr. Jennifer Rooke
    July 15, 2013 at 3:03 AM

    April Showers, I sympathize with you, no one wants to hear bad news about the foods that they like but I strongly recommend that you see the documentary Forks over Knives and read T. Colin Campbell’s book Whole. It does not matter how animal are raised or processed, animal protein itself promotes the growth of cancer cells. Processed meats such as bacon have a double whammy because the nitrates damage DNA and then the animal protein promotes multiplication of the damaged cells. And then there is cholesterol in every animal cell which directly damages our artery walls.

    • July 15, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      Hello Dr. Rooke and thank you for the recommendations.

      I am certainly surprised to hear that you believe that there is no difference between animal protein from animals raised in factory farms vs pastured domestics and wild range fed animals. I guess there must be a raging cancer epidemic among African lions and any other wild animals that feed on range fed meat or wild caught fish exclusively.

      May I strongly recommend the following books so that you can get up to date on the latest science:

      Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan
      The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith
      Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
      The Cholesterol Myths By Uffe Ravnskov

      These and many others are all available on Amazon, and I wish you all the best on your journey towards health.

      • Dr. Jennifer Rooke
        July 17, 2013 at 4:23 AM

        April, I have actually read all of those books because I wanted to be prepared for discussions with my patients and to be sure that I gave them solid scientific advice. I could tell you that those books are based on opinions not science. I could explain the difference between the digestive systems of lions and humans and why lions don’t get cancer from eating meat, but it would not really matter. The belief that eating meat is normal and necessary is deeply held and difficult to change. When science contradicts beliefs there is cognitive dissonance and the beliefs usually win. We then look for support for our beliefs from others who share our beliefs. I know someone who had several recurrences of sarcoma on a paleo diet who continued to defend that way of eating until it was too late. I’ve come to realize that discussions about diet are like discussions about religion, the only difference is that there is solid scientific evidence on one side and beliefs on the other, but it is not possible to argue with beliefs.

        • July 17, 2013 at 9:37 AM

          Interesting response, “I know someone who had several recurrences of sarcoma on a paleo diet who continued to defend that way of eating until it was too late.” Sounds anecdotal to me. But I actually agree with you that discussions about diet are similar to discussions about both religion and politics, and, of course, with so many vested interests involved, the “science” can be found to back up what you want to hear.

          For myself, eliminating all grains and grain fed animals, and vegetable and seed oils along with all soy and other processed food like products has cured my crippling arthritis, effortlessly eliminated excess weight and eliminated my husband’s high blood pressure and excess abdominal fat and today in our fifties we are healthier than we were in our forties. So, as far as anecdotal evidence goes, I’ll stick with my personal experience.

          Thanks for your response.

          • Dr. Jennifer Rooke
            July 19, 2013 at 8:03 AM

            I like your story and I support your lifestyle changes. I would take it one step further and eliminate animal products, but the goal is to feel better and be healthier, you have achieved that goal.

  • Dr. Jennifer Rooke
    July 15, 2013 at 2:53 AM

    “I like Piggy,” I support your concern about GM foods. You should be aware of the fact that the bulk of GM crops in the world today are used to feed livestock and in many cases the modified genes are passed on in the meat. Then there are some animals whose genes are directly modified for faster growth and larger bodies such as salmon and chicken. The only way to avoid GMOs is to stop eating animal products and choose your produce carefully. You can choose not to buy GM corn but you have no control over how much GM corn the piggies that you like are eating or the amount of modified genes that you are eating when you eat them.

  • July 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Sure, stuff yourself full of GMO carbs at breakfast, and be hungry again 1-2 hours later, and then go getcha some more GMO carbs! I wonder how much Monsanto is paying out to Herr Doktor of Propaganda Rooke?

  • July 11, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Interesting, but you really need to differentiate between fresh bacon from pastured pigs packaged without preservatives vs pigs from CAFO’s who have a grain based diet laced with antibiotics and packaged with nitrates. Uncured bacon from pastured pigs is a healthy food. Any animal product from a CAFO, overly processed with chemicals is just that, a processed, food-like, chemical concoction with very limited nutritional value. There is a huge difference between real food and factory produced food.

    • July 12, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      Absolutely spot on. The difference between factory farmed meat & wholesome free range raised meat is like night & day. I suppose Herr Doktor Rooke is assuming the factory piggies & eggs since she doesn’t mention it. Now go load up on GMO carbs, you sheeple tools!

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