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Non-Toxic Lifestyle

How Do You Define Processed Food?

processed foodby Eric Thorn

A by-no-means-exhaustive search on the internet regarding “processed food” turns up some very divergent and controversial information and opinions on the subject. One camp eschews any kind of processed food; the other touts the safety and convenience of it.

What is processed food? Wikipedia describes “processed food” as any food that is changed from its natural, raw state. Did you peel your banana before you ate it? Cut your apple into slices? Stir-fry your dinner vegetables? Scramble your egg? You just processed your food by that definition. Following are common food processing techniques listed in the Wikipedia entry:

* “Removal of unwanted outer layers, such as potato peeling or the skinning of peaches
* Chopping or slicing, of which examples include potato chips, diced carrot, or candied peel.
* Mincing and macerating
* Liquefaction, such as to produce fruit juice
* Emulsification
* Cooking, such as boiling, broiling, frying, steaming or grilling
* Mixing
* Addition of gas such as air entrainment for bread or gasification of soft drinks
* Proofing
* Spray drying”

Under that broad of a definition, nearly every food we eat is processed. However, most of us tend to define processed food in a much narrower sense. For us, “processed food” is food which has been chemically altered through additives such as flavors, flavor enhancers, binders, colors, fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc., or which has been manufactured through combination or other methods. Generally speaking, if the ingredients aren’t “natural”, then we consider it to be processed.

If you want to make yourself totally paranoid about your food (and that’s not too hard to do), there is plenty of information out there spelling out all the horrors that await you from eating processed food: the cancers and diseases you will get from the dioxins and thousands of other toxic chemicals; the shorter life span you will have; the damage you personally are inflicting upon our planet through your consumption of processed food, etc. There is no shortage of Chicken Littles running around squawking about the sky falling. And, to some extent, they’re right. The chemicals in our food and our environment are certainly not doing us any favors.

But are things really as bad as they make them out to be? The truth is, processing has made the world’s food supply much safer to eat, and has made the storage of food a much healthier and more viable option. Processing kills pathogens, and extends the shelf life of food. Were there to be a food shortage or even a famine, shelf items are going to keep you alive a lot longer than raw food, which will be rotten within a few days. Processing had made it possible to transport food to famine-stricken areas, thus helping to relieve suffering worldwide. Processing even increases the bioavailability of some nutrients, such as lycopene, found in tomatoes.

Despite these benefits, a diet exclusive in processed foods will almost certainly lead to disease. Our bodies are designed to eat natural, raw foods; there’s no doubt about that. Raw foods contain beneficial enzymes and nutrients that are destroyed through processing. Just because a pill contains the “nutrients” of a whole shopping list of vegetables doesn’t mean our bodies get the same benefit as eating the vegetables themselves. Nutrients, enzymes, and other components of the foods we eat work synergistically. We really don’t know how well they work when they’re isolated from each other, or when we ingest synthetic versions.

Twinkie DeconstructedWe should eat as many raw foods as we can daily. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to our meals and snacks is an easy way to accomplish this. However, a totally vegan diet is just not feasible for most people. Time and resources are often strong opponents to good health. Additionally, there is not enough raw food for everybody to suddenly adopt veganism, nor would everybody want to. We must each find the proper balance that works for us.

Eliminating all processed food is probably not going to happen for most of us. But we can make better food choices and supplement our diets with missing components. We can opt for the apple over the apple juice. We can choose a baked potato or salad over french fries. We can choose whole-grain bread over the white fluff that is passed off as bread. We can take the time to read food labels. Chances are, if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be eating it. We can choose processed foods with a very short list of ingredients; the longer the list, the more processing involved, and the more nutrition lost.

Our bodies are amazing organisms, capable of extraordinary things. They are designed to filter out toxins at an astounding rate. They have a highly sophisticated defense system. They have an amazing ability to recover from serious damage. The key lies in providing our bodies with the necessary building blocks to accomplish what they were designed to do-to keep us alive!

About the Author:
Eric Thorn, a successful businessman, highly recommends the all natural Zija Moringa Beverage, 100% organic with vitamins, minerals & essential amino acids. Learn more about Zija visit http://www.zijapower.com.

Buy the book: Twinkie Deconstructed [affiliate link]

Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/75468125@N00/2291289407/

About the author

Natural Health – who has written posts on A Much Better Way.


Discussion

22 Responses to “How Do You Define Processed Food?”

  1. If process food is so bad how come we live longer today then in the 1800s?

    Posted by donna | January 27, 2009, 8:04 pm
  2. @donna:

    Potable drinking water, sanitary living conditions and basic hygiene are a few reasons.

    Posted by Natural Health | January 27, 2009, 9:45 pm
  3. I once read in a random blog that they’d rather eat cardboard than tofu. Some people can’t really appreciate eating raw and healthy foods as they’ve gotten so used to eating processed foods which are undeniably tastier than the former.

    Posted by Erica | May 31, 2009, 8:46 am
  4. @ If process food is so bad how come we live longer today then in the 1800s?

    As stated in the article, out bodies have amazing abilities to filter out the toxins we consume on a daily basis.

    Posted by matthew | June 27, 2009, 5:37 pm
  5. Processed foods with their artificial flavors and colors are like crack. We’ve been trained to eat and like them over decades, and it’s difficult to eliminate them cold turkey and go to more organic and raw foods.

    I would advise a gradual transition, but it will still take a lot of willpower and focusing on the health benefits rather than the differences in taste.

    Posted by Darvin | December 29, 2009, 9:33 pm
  6. That’s right. It is difficult to eliminate processed foods totally but you can control your consumption of it until you finally get rid of it and become even more healthy.

    Posted by ncarreon | June 17, 2010, 4:21 am
  7. I consider processed as food with chemicals or other substances added like you said. In today’s society, it’s hard to stick with just natural foods, we’re surrounded by fast food and basically all food sold in stores are processed. I recommend going to stores that specialize in natural food. Like, here in Indy, we have “Nature’s Market.” Good place to shop for good clean natural foods.

    Zach

    Posted by Zach | June 18, 2010, 10:24 am
  8. Kids that are given processed foods when growing up tend to eat them when adults. The opposite is also true. If they grow up eating healthy foods they are more likely to eat them throughout their lives. I’ve seen this so many times.

    Posted by Natural Healing | October 22, 2010, 3:10 pm
  9. For Thai Cookery
    In order to achieve the greatest taste sensation from your Thai cooking, be sure to start with fresh ingredients. Dried and packaged lemongrass, for instance, is hardly worth comparing to the fresh version (fresh lemongrass is available in all Asian shops and markets).

    Posted by Benjamin | November 4, 2010, 9:42 pm
  10. @Donna
    We have something called advance health technology, if you haven’t noticed. Not to mention we’re living in a better environment than in the 1800s.

    Posted by Anon | January 15, 2011, 6:47 am
  11. Any food that is not grown naturally and left and eaten as is has some sort of processing even just putting fruit in a can although alot of the goodness is preserved it can never be as good as the original product.

    Posted by Simon | February 10, 2011, 10:51 am
  12. I believe that artificially grown foods is very bad, especially if it is raised and modified, although in our time is almost not find a good kachestvennnuyu meal, soybean everywhere and many different additives, but it vyglyadid very nice but very poorly skazyvaetsya on human health, I I think it is better to have a real hard time but vyraschinnuyu than this beautiful himikatoy where a lot of food.

    Posted by judicious | March 17, 2011, 11:28 am
  13. @Matthew: Yes, our body can filter out the crap. But why go for crap when there are better alternatives? Just because our body can do it doesn’t mean we shld subject our body to it.

    Sadly, processed food will nv go away in today’s society, and not enough attention will be given to them. For instance, there are so so many people who do not know that white bread isn’t good.

    Posted by Wayne | March 21, 2011, 9:34 am
  14. How interesting is it that processed food seems to be more available at a cheaper price than whole, fresh foods? This is another problem many face who live with a limited income-its more affordable and more convenient to simply head out to the nearest fast food chain than it is to prepare a healthy meal at home, so it seems.

    Posted by Bill | October 30, 2011, 9:14 am
  15. i never knew that processed food was described in another way. I always thought it was the chemically enhanced food. Well anyway, my grandma doesnt want us to eat processed food since as she say it full of unhealthy junk. but sometimes some processed foods are really yummy.

    Posted by Maechelle | November 16, 2011, 7:42 am
  16. While I agree with and try to follow the philosophy of eating “whole foods” it is interesting to note that by definition beer, wine and other alcohol is a processed food and people don’t complain much about them.

    Posted by Denise | February 27, 2012, 12:05 am
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    Posted by organics food | January 9, 2014, 1:22 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] colors, fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc., or which has been manufactured (http://health.amuchbetterway.com/how-do-you-define-processed-food/). The consumption of food containing these kinds of additives may have adverse health effects.  At [...]

  2. [...] these benefits, a diet exclusive in processed foods will almost certainly lead to disease. Our bodies are designed to eat natural, raw foods; there’s [...]

    Nutrition FAQ « iknowsquat - June 25, 2012
  3. [...] What, Specifically, Is The Definition Of Processed Food? Posted by bgddyjim on December 10, 2012 Posted in: Cycling, Fitness, Mountain Biking, Nutrition, Politics, Running, Swimming, Triathlon. Leave a Comment I love the catch-phrase, “you’ve gotta stay away from processed foods”.  I hear this tossed around almost on a daily basis and it always makes me cringe.  I didn’t know what this meant though – or let’s say the definition is exceptionally vague.  Some of the folks I hear this from are religitarians (fanatic vegetarians or vegans who want to believe in something so they replace God with food prep) who I don’t trust as far as I can throw. When I hear them say that I should avoid processed food, this is what I believe they mean: [...]

  4. [...] with the necessary building blocks to accomplish what they were designed to do-to keep us alive! http://health.amuchbetterway.com/how-do-you-define-processed-food/ Posted in Nutrition « The Power of Wheatgrass…. You can leave a response, or [...]

    What is processed foods? - March 25, 2013
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