Natural foods are foods that lack refined sugars, refined flours, milled grains, hydrogenated oils, sweeteners, food colors, or artificial flavorings. Some advocates say they choose organic foods and natural food because they feel processed foods promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, among other things. Other proponents feel that natural, healthy foods are a way of life that promotes more conscionable choices.
The Natural Foods Movement includes all foods that are pesticide-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free, are grass-fed/free-range, genetically modified foods free, not pasteurized and made using no refining processes. The problem with this movement is that it is formulated based on the hypothesis that artificial flavorings, sweeteners, preservatives, chemicals, hormones and other additives are bad for the body.
However, there have never been any conclusive long-term studies proving this notion, so the movement has failed to be fully realized by the mainstream. Even so, with the obesity epidemic, many of our favorite foods are being looked at with increased scrutiny as more people decide that vegetarian, vegan, organic or natural cooking is something they’d like to try.
The basic philosophy of organic foods proposes that our modern society is well-fed but undernourished. It is believed that many of the farming, refining and packaging processes we use depletes our food of the maximum amount of nutrients and minerals. Food should be grown in organically-enriched soil that is full of minerals, from either composting or manure, rather than with chemically fertilized soil.
A proper meal should contain protein, greens, dairy and grains, rather than an imbalanced assortment of foods. Food should be eaten for the nutritive content, rather than for calories to simply live. Rather than taking supplements, it is felt that people should be able to get all their nutrition from raw foods.
Natural foods may seem difficult for carnivores, but there are many alternatives. Organic foods stipulate that animals must not be confined 100% of the time, that they cannot eat food that has been chemically tampered with and that they cannot receive hormones or antibiotics. However, strict adherents to the natural foods movement will not eat egg yolks, but will substitute egg whites or egg substitutes instead.
Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods should be used rather than full-fat. Olive and canola oils are chosen in place of butter or lard. Instead of fatty cold cuts or sausages, lean ground meats and skinless poultry are preferable. Fresh or steamed (frozen) fruits and vegetables should be eaten, rather than canned fruit in heavy syrup, fried or breaded veggies.
Natural foods should be part of any weight loss, including raw foods like carrots, broccoli, celery, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce should be eaten regularly to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients.
While many vitamins can be taken as supplements, it’s better to derive them from natural sources. The best way to get natural foods is to shop at a Whole Foods Market or specialty foods shop online. While it’s unlikely that there will be any major shift of the entire population to one of these alternative healthy foods diets, there is much more variety now than there was in the seventies.