Processed & Refined Foods

Junk foodProcessed and refined food is food corruption at its worst.  Stripped of many of the life-giving nutrients of living whole foods, they render our food supply devoid of any real nutrition.  

Food additives and chemicals such as artificial flavors, colors, excitotoxins, and sweeteners fill virtually every processed food on the market, and many restaurants serve processed foods or foods that contain processed and/or refined products.  

Additives & chemicals in our food...

Food processing has become a very generalized and vague term.  But what exactly is it?  Let's take a look at the definitions of some popular food processing terms:

Preserved Foods

This is the addition of chemicals to food to make it last longer.  Manufacturers of processed foods add a variety of chemical preservatives that keep products on the shelves for weeks and months, if not years, before they turn moldy, hard, or are considered past their expiration date.

Preservatives can be natural or synthetic.  Most preservatives used in refined foods are synthetic.  Healthier foods will often contain natural preservatives such as:

Processed Foods

A food that has been altered from its original state is technically processed.  Simply put, if it is not a whole food, it is a processed food.  But there are different degrees of processing, and depending on how the food is processed, it may still contain many of its nutrients, or most if not all of the nutrients may have been stripped away.  Different types of processing include:

All bread and baked goods are technically "processed" (ever seen a cookie plant or bread bush?).  Some are very unhealthy and highly processed and refined, whereas others are minimally processed and contain 3-4 natural ingredients, all of which are derived from whole foods. 

Enriched Foods

Enriched foods are typically over-processed and chemicalized.  When you see the word "enriched," it means that all the good stuff was destroyed during refining, and the manufacturer has added a synthetic version of the nutrients that were destroyed.  To state that it is nutritionally inferior is a gross understatement.  When we eat foods that a manufacturer has removed fresh nutrients from, and then "injected" back lab-made chemical versions of nutrients to replace them, it serves to show just how degenerated our food chain has become.

A chemical laboratory is not capable of reintroducing all of the nutrients in an original whole-food.  The original food item contained thousands of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, carotenoids, and fiber, which all work together as a synergistic whole.  A fresh, whole, uncooked tomato contains more than 10,000 phytochemicals alone.  When the tomato becomes a refined product, most of these are destroyed.

Fortified Foods

Similar to enriched foods, fortified foods are foods that have had nutrients added back into them.  But unlike enriched foods, the added nutrients were never present in the original food to begin with.  They are added as "extras" and are usually lab-made chemical versions of healthy ingredients that manufacturers call "nutrients."

Today, the term "processed foods" is now synonymous with foods filled with artificial chemicals, and enriched or fortified ingredients.  Essentially, food devoid of any real degree of nutritional content.  Most processed food is very unhealthy food because the healthy ingredients have been processed beyond all recognition.  Apples and corn are two popular examples of how drastically altered a whole food can become:

Fresh, whole sweet corn on the cob has 1 mg of naturally occurring sodium and contains 85 calories. But when food manufacturers get their hands on it, they process it for use in foods across the board, ranging from corn chips loaded with salt, cereals loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup (and corn syrup) used to sweeten thousands of processed, packaged products, and snacks loaded with both salt AND sugar.  The nutrition in the original, fresh corn is non-existent after refining.

Apples are another great example of a nutritionally dense, high in water content fresh whole fruit that is processed beyond all hope of nutritional redemption into danishes, pastries, and processed apple sauce.  To add insult to injury, most canned apples contain added sugar, and sometimes salt.

Why Are Processed Foods So Unhealthy? 

Let's take a look at the top 4 reasons why processed foods are so unhealthy:

They are nutritionally inferior...

Junk foodProcessed foods often have their water and fiber removed, along with many vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are destroyed during refining and processing.  These nutritional elements are part of the integrity of a whole food.  Refined foods are often referred to as empty calories because after these important elements have been removed, the only things left behind are calories and unhealthy chemicals.  Processed and refined foods are usually heated at high temperatures for long periods of time, further contributing to the destruction of nutrients.

When we fill up on processed foods, the body craves the missing nutritional elements, and requires more and more food until the nutritional deficit is satisfied.  This is a primary cause of weight gain and food cravings.  The increased appetite for refined sugar is not really the body calling for more refined sugar, the body is crying out for the missing nutrients.  The secondary cause is addictive chemicals called excitotoxins that manufacturers put into the food to keep us coming back for more.

Ignore the Labels, Pay Attention to the Ingredient List

Food manufacturers often use false advertising to make the public think their food is "healthy," or "natural," or in some way improved by enriching or fortifying.  In reality, the term "natural" is not regulated on food labels by the FDA and food manufacturers are free to define the term exactly as they like.  This means that some of the most unhealthiest processed foods on supermarket shelves have the words "healthy" and "heart healthy" plastered indiscriminately on the product packaging.

The only way you will know if the product is healthy or not healthy is to look at the ingredient list, which the food manufacturers are required to disclose.  If you need help understanding what is good vs. what is bad when it comes to food, check out our healthy house & kitchen section, or check out the High Vibrational Living section.

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They are toxic...

The degree to which the food has been processed often correlates with how toxic the food has become.  Processed food generally contains a variety of lab-made chemicals to replace nutrients, and the body can tell the difference between nutrients in nature and nutrients created in the lab.  Most of these chemicals have undergone no long-term testing when it comes to their impact on the human body.  

The American public are walking chemistry experiments

The industrialization of our food supply with thousands of chemicals directly correlates with the rise of rates of chronic and autoimmune disease in the western world.  Learn more about the chemical cocktails that fill our food chain.

They are stripped of fiber...

Processed and refined foods typically contain very little fiber.  The lack of fiber in refined diets causes many health problems: 
  • Fiber is required to stimulate peristalsis (contracting the muscular intestinal wall to move waste into the bowels).  When missing, sometimes bowel movements do not occur for 1 or more days at a time, allowing toxic waste to build up and encouraging the use of over-the-counter products such as laxatives.

  • Stools are smaller and harder, as the growth of beneficial bacteria is stunted.

  • A greater strain on the digestive system causes irregular, difficult elimination as well as constipation.

  • Those on fiber-stripped diets are much more likely to develop diseases often linked to low fiber diets, including coronary heart disease, gallstones, diverticular diseases, appendicitis, colon cancer, obesity, constipation, and diabetes.

  • The fiber in natural foods high in sugar helps to modulate the speed at which these sugars are released into the bloodstream.  When we remove the fiber, then we experience the sugar rush and corresponding spikes and crashes in our blood sugar levels.

Get the scoop on poop!
What your poop is telling you...

They contain high quantities of the top 9 offenders...

  1. Refined Sugar
    Sugar is now added to everything from processed meats to toothpaste, from ketchup to vegetable soups, crackers, cookies, and every processed food category that exists.  Whether eaten as part of a whole food, a naturally occurring sweetener, or as empty calories in refined foods, sugar is a hot topic that we need to be more educated about. 
  2. Refined table salt
    We may not be able to live without it, but at the current rate of consumption, table salt is a contributing factor to many common chronic health conditions.
  3. Food Additives & Chemicals
    An estimated 10,000 chemicals are used in processed and refined foods.  A food additive is a substance, or mixture of substances that are added to food during production, processing, storage, or packaging.  Learn more about these chemicals and how they affect your health.
  4. Factory-Farmed Meats
    Over 99% of meat in the US is factory-farmed.  If meat is not organic or raised on open pastures, then it is factory-farmed.  When you buy factory-farmed meat, not only are you risking your health, but you are directly contributing to the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals in these farms.  We can make a big difference by learning how to make responsible meat purchasing choices.  Your choices make a difference.
    When we eat factory-farmed meat, not only are we making an unhealthy and ethically questionable choice, but we also contribute to the destructive practices rampant on factory farms.
  5. Genetically Modified Ingredients (GMOs)
    Genetically modified products are indiscriminately filling the shelves of our supermarkets.  Not only do they pose a serious threat to the environment due to the massive amounts of pesticides they require, but a growing body of scientific studies are emerging showing that show GMOs may also pose a serious risk to our health.
  6. Processed Soy
    The processed soy of today no longer resembles the healthy fermented soy of traditional Asian cultures.  Health studies on today's processed soy products have linked soy to a variety of health conditions.
  7. Irradiated & Microwaved Foods
    Food irradiation preserves food by exposing it to high doses of radiation in the form of gamma rays, X-rays, or electron beams to kill bacteria.  Learn more about irradiation and why you should avoid irradiated food.  Take a look at 10 reasons why you should ditch your microwave.
  8. Foods from China
    Some of the biggest food recalls in history are a result of poor quality control of foods from China.  When we buy human and pet foods either sourced from or prepared in China, we take a serious risk with our health.  

    Not only do the majority of processed human and pet foods contain ingredients from China, even fresh produce and seafood is also a concern.  For example, 27% of garlic and 16% of spinach in our produce departments are now sourced from China.  With under 3% of all food from China inspected, we take a serious risk with our health when we consume it.
  9. Pasteurized Dairy
    Once dairy has been pasteurized, the milk proteins become denatured and beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and other nutrients are destroyed or rendered unusable.  The unabsorbed calcium is deposited in the soft tissues of the body where it calcifies, contributing to the skyrocketing rates of osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.

The 3 Biggest Killers are Completely Preventable

Heart of junk foodThe reality is that the top 3 killer chronic diseases are entirely preventable through diet.  What are these killer diseases?

1.  Heart disease
2.  Type 2 diabetes
3.  Obesity

Education on diet and lifestyle habits should be the primary prescription to cure these diseases, with the intent to reduce and eliminate the need for any drugs.  Instead, medical doctors are focused on providing prescriptions not prevention.  Unfortunately, not only is the government taking a backseat stance on providing any education on nutrition to the American people, but they are also providing an educational curriculum to nutritionists and dietitians based on the questionable nutritional principles of the USDA food pyramid.  

The "killer" part of diabetes is not just the disease itself.  It is also due to the pharmaceutical drugs and their dangerous side effects (some of which can create secondary health issues in the future).  Most Americans would be shocked to learn that deaths due to medical errors, prescriptions and their side effects, and surgeries is one of the top 5 killers in the US today.  Perhaps the government should require the same pharmaceutical companies that receive billions in profits from pumping drugs into diabetics, to also fund commercials on the prevention and reversal of the same condition through some simple dietary changes.  Let's not hold our breath on that one. 

 Why choose nature and not drugs to heal:

Turning to Natural Medicine
Oriental Medicine  leaf  Ayurveda  leaf  Homeopathy  leaf  Bach Flower Remedies

Don't Let Convenience Lull You

Packaged and processed foods get many of us through the day and are considered huge time-savers.  They are convenient and portable, and they last for a long time (this does not mean they stay fresh for a long time, it simply means they last longer due to the presence of chemical preservatives).  But the convenience of processed foods is a big price to pay when you pay it with your health.

The truth is that when you choose the right types of food, and put just a little forethought into some basic food preparation, healthy foods really do not offer much less convenience than processed foods.  For healthy snacks, there is nothing more convenient that a fresh piece of fruit - an orange, banana, or an apple.  How about grapes and tangerines?  Tomatoes and sweet red and yellow bell peppers?  A salad chock full of spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, sugar snap peas, fresh sweet corn, jicama, and any other of your favorite veggies takes no more than a few minutes to whip up and can be prepared to last several meals.  Add some sprouted quinoa (easy to find in most health food stores) to pack in a big nutritional punch!  Make meals more hearty by adding boiled fingerling potatoes tossed in your favorite herbs, or how about hard-boiled eggs?  These are a few example of countless quick and easy, highly nutritious meals.  

Once you learn the basics, there is no real excuse for pumping your body with chemicals and starving it of nutrition.  



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