February 18, 2010

The Importance of Natural Foods

Natural Foods Diet

After attempting to eat as healthy as possible for the past few years, I have finally managed to make the switch to an all natural diet that consists of “real food.” This post is the first one of my natural foods diet series where I will explain the diet and the process I went through to make the switch.

When it comes to eating healthy, it has been one of my main goals since I graduated high school. It all started when I wanted to bulk up and gain some weight and has since become part of my daily life.

When I started P90X awhile back, I really cleaned up my diet and ate better than I ever have before. However, I ended up quitting the program after Phase 1 because I really hated working out inside. Luckily I managed to keep my motivation to eat healthy and completely switched over to a natural food diet six months ago.

Why Follow This Diet?

There are many reasons why someone would make the switch to an all natural food diet. Eating processed foods that contain high amounts of sugar, preservatives, and artificial ingredients is not a good lifestyle decision.

Not only do these foods cause a variety of health issues, but they also affect your mood, your fitness levels, and your overall well-being. The old saying of “you are what you eat” is about as true as it gets. If you eat natural, healthy food you will more than likely be a healthy individual.

I personally made the change to a real food diet because I want to eat as healthy as possible. I love being in shape and do not want to suffer any illnesses as a result of what I eat.  For the most part, I do not consider it a diet but instead a lifestyle. Eating healthy is something that needs to be done long-term.

Besides the health factors, I also love the idea of eating natural foods that actually come from Mother Nature herself. Not weird concoctions that were created in a science lab somewhere. I remember high school chemistry class pretty well and would never think of eating anything I made as a result of one of my experiments.

I also try to buy organic and locally grown food as often as possible. In the movie Food, Inc., they hit the nail on the head when they said that every purchase we make is like voting. Buying from organic and local farmers is a great way to support the people who care about the environment and treat their employees with respect.

6 More Reasons To Make The Switch

Still not sold on the idea of eating real food? Here are six common food additives that are found in processed foods and why they are bad news for your health:

High Fructose Corn Syrup

It seems like high fructose corn syrup is added to everything these days. Even a lot of wheat breads contain it despite the fact that they are marketed as “health food.”  It has been linked to increased obesity levels, heart disease, diabetes, and has been known to cause overeating in some individuals. It may even contain mercury. Talk about delicious…


In order to avoid high fructose corn syrup, many people make the switch to diet soda and other sugar-free alternatives. Unfortunately, aspartame is one of the main ingredients used to sweeten sugar-free products. I can still remember the days of drinking a few cans of diet soda every day. Man am I glad those days are behind me.

Aspartame produces an excessive amount of formaldehyde in the human body, even in small amounts found in a typical can of diet soda. When consumed, it breaks down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Not good.

Hydrogenated Oils

Believe it or not, as much as 40 percent of the food at the grocery store is made up of hydrogenated oils. They are commonly found in packaged cereals, cookies, crackers, chips, pizzas, and candy. Why are they used? Because they are cheaper than butter.

Unfortunately, these oils are made up of trans fat (and not the good kind). The oils do not occur normally in nature and are produced using harsh chemicals and heat. They can mess with your cholesterol levels and cause a variety of health issues.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is yet another ingredient that seems to pop up everywhere. It also shows up with different names depending on the product it’s in. More or less, it takes the flavor of any food and makes it better. That’s why it’s added to everything including spices, chips, salad dressings, meats, and fast food.

While MSG does not cause problems for everyone, it has been known to cause issues including diabetes, migraines and headaches, and obesity.

Artificial Colorings

Ever eat something that looked really colorful but wasn’t a fruit or vegetable? If so, it probably contained at least one artificial coloring. Colorings are added to tons of different products including candy, meats, baked goods, and drinks.

Some of the worst include Yellow 6, Blue 1 and 2, and Red 3. All of these may increase the chances of tumors and other diseases in the human body. Bad I tell you.

Potassium Bromate

Last but not least, we have potassium bromate. This substance is typically added to bread products to increase their volume and make the crumbs look better (I think). It’s been shown that most of the bromate breaks down in the body, but the little that remains can cause cancer in animals.

It’s also worth mentioning that potassium bromate  has been banned in almost every country except for the United States and Japan.


In the next post of the series, I’ll talk about what I consider to be “real food.”

Photo: mckaysavage

18 thoughts on “The Importance of Natural Foods

  1. Erica

    Sounds like an excellent choice. Nothing good comes out of eating the food additives you listed. I’ve been switching to a healthier diet myself lately, avoiding sugar and diary products as well as eating more raw, organic food. Makes such a difference.

  2. Pingback: Natural Foods Diet - Part 2

  3. Ryan


    Food Inc rocks! I honestly believe that every American should see this documentary. And they can because it is now out on DVD. I just noticed it at Family Video the other day.

    I also use the term lifestyle change instead of “diet”. Diets don’t last, lifestyle changes do.

    If you want to see a great video about fructose, watch Sugar: The Bitter Truth

    The URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM. Dr.Robert Lustig proves that fructose is actually a poison to the human body. Similar to alcohol.

    Lastly, for all those who are not convinced that aspartame is the devil, maybe the fact that it was denied permit from the FDA six times before it was approved will convince you.

    Great post Justin, looking forward to the rest of the series.


    1. Justin Wright Post author

      Hey Ryan, thanks a lot for sharing that video. I’m going to pull it up right now and watch it.

      As far as aspartame goes, it’s definitely scary. I use work in a factory that made sugar-free mix drinks and was always amazed how a tiny bag of aspartame can replace like 300 pounds of sugar.

  4. Pingback: Natural Foods Diet - Part 3

    1. Justin Wright Post author

      For the most part, I think the natural diet has been very close to what I was normally spending on groceries. A lot of the junk foods that a lot of people buy (soda, crackers, chips, etc.) actually cost more than healthy foods.

      I have also found that meat is the most expensive item (especially organic/free range). That’s why I tend to eat meat as a side item instead of as a main entree.

      Making stuff from scratch is also a big money saver. My girlfriend and I make our own crackers and pancakes using plain ol’ oatmeal that you can buy in bulk at a natural foods store. Brown rice is also another cheap food you can get in bulk.

      If you can, I highly recommend finding a local produce stand or farm where you can stock up on fruits, vegetables, and dairy. It’s usually a lot cheaper (and better) than what you can get at the grocery store.

  5. alan

    This is a good list. I know how dangerous and also addictive aspartame can be, but I didn’t know about the others. It just goes to show that healthy food is the way to go. After all, it is what we were supposed to eat.

  6. Bulk Natural Food

    I used to be addicted to sugar, but last year, I followed a no sugar, no grain, almost no carb (except for low-starch veggies and berries) diet for 14 weeks and totally lost all cravings for sugar. I assumed they’d come back, but it’s been a year, and I still don’t crave it – even after eating some pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas!

    Haven’t seen Food Inc. yet, but it’s in my Netflix queue…

  7. glai

    Great Article! Still eating natural and fresh foods are the best way to be healthy and can loose weight. Everyone should try following this.


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