Environmental Toxins

Processed Foods vs Organic: What’s The Difference?

Canned meats and veggies in one half, fresh salmon, nuts and vegetables in the other side.

According to an article published by Explore Health, scientist Carlos Monteiro of the University of Sao Paolo discovered that 60% of American’s daily calories come from ultra-processed foods¹. The term “ultra-processed” refers to foods that contain artificial flavors, food coloring, artificial sweeteners, and additives used to preserve packaged foods or canned items. Additionally, the report also states that Americans receive less than 1% of their daily calories from vegetables¹. This is because the food industry charges more for healthier food options and premade packaged foods are more convenient for the average working individual who has no time to naturally prepare meals after a long day. However, in the long-term, this does more harm than good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the United States obesity prevalence was 42.4% from 2017 to 2018² and is expected to continue to increase. Along with obesity (which increases the risk of various cardiovascular diseases), processed foods are partially accountable for inflammation buildup and toxicity in one’s body.

At LifeWorks Wellness Center, one detoxification approach that we recommend to our patients is to change their dietary lifestyle with the Paleo Diet. Paleo refers to the Paleolithic time period in which our hunter-gatherer ancestors thrived on harvested crops and natural ingredients that were more prevalent millions of years ago. This diet consists of grass-fed organic foods that are free of pesticides and excludes all foods with additives and chemicals. While this sounds like a very simple concept, many still struggle understanding the difference between processed and organic foods and their health effects. Therefore, here are a few of the main differences between natural and processed foods and why understanding them is essential for our overall health.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are categorized as any edible that contains added chemicals such as preservatives to keep it fresh forever. These foods are normally stored, filtered, frozen, canned or packaged and often contain high amounts of sodium, fat and sugar. As off-putting as this sounds, many people are attracted to the convenience of anything that is premade and cheap because it saves them time and money while simultaneously feeding themselves and their families. Unfortunately, this convenience comes with other prices to pay involving the effects on one’s health. Studies show that processed foods can disrupt bacteria within the gut, interact with the immune system and trigger chronic inflammation that could potentially lead to serious illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease, Diabetes, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, neurological issues and cancer. Furthermore, processed foods can also slow down metabolism and induce brain fog. Processed foods are easily accessible and are found everywhere from grocery chains, fast-food restaurants and even in casual dining locations. Those who want to avoid processed foods often have to do further research into the ingredients, packaging labels, and menu items. Some common processed foods are:

  • Tinned Vegetables
  • Bread
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Savory Snacks (i.e. chips, pies, and sausage rolls)
  • Microwave meals
  • Dairy Products
  • Packaged Meat (i.e. bacon, ham, salami, spam, and pâté)

Organic Foods

The term “organic” refers to the way a certain type of food is grown. Farmers that grow organic produce are not allowed to use pesticides or fertilizers to keep their crops preserved. Organic free-range livestock are fed food that is free from antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals. Many people confuse an organic diet with a vegetarian or vegan diet when in reality, all organic items are natural foods that involve meats, fruits and vegetables. While an organic diet sounds very easy to do, sadly sometimes organic items are difficult to find or are too expensive. However, in the long-term, a diet full of all natural resources will reduce the amount of inflammation in the system while still ensuring a well-balanced meal. LifeWorks specifically recommends the Paleo Diet because all foods on the list are 100% naturally grown and do not contain any items with chemicals or toxins. Therefore, as patients go through the detoxification process, they are not continuously adding more preservatives to their bodies to sustain the inflammation. Foods that are included in the Paleo diet are:

  • Lean Meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork)
  • Fish (wild-caught salmon, trout, flounder, and haddock)
  • Eggs (free-range, organic and omega-3 rich)
  • Vegetables (kale, broccoli, carrots, onions, tomatoes)
  • Nuts and Seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
  • Healthy Fats and Oils (extra virgin oil, coconut oil, avocado oil)

A Natural Diet Makes the Detox Process Easier

At LifeWorks, when patients come in for a consultation, they often don’t realize how many chemicals and toxins are built up in their body. These chemicals are what irritate and spread their inflammation, thus worsening their chronic symptoms. They are provided a thorough detoxification plan to help eliminate all bacteria and chemicals. This normally involves adjusting to a natural diet to prevent the chemicals from re-entering the body. Additionally, it helps the patient lose weight and increase energy levels.

If you or someone that you know is suffering from chronic conditions caused by inflammation, please call to schedule an appointment with a LifeWorks practitioner at 727-466-6789.