How Natural is “Natural?”

Natural foods have been more popular in the previous decade or so. It was simple at first since this tendency was not profitable. As the industry has expanded, one must consider how natural some of this natural things really is.

When food is no longer in its original condition and has been treated as little as possible, it’s almost guaranteed that it contains additives I’d prefer not have in my meals or that of my birds. These ingredients are used to preserve, thicken, color, sweeten, enhance, or change the taste. The majority of them are synthetic, and an increasing number of individuals are becoming sensitive to them.

Animal studies suggest that sodium benzoate, sulfites, and sulfur dioxide, among other things, induce allergies, arrhythmia, itching, headaches, and hyperactivity. MSG (monosodium glutamate), artificial food colorings and flavorings, and artificial food colorings and flavorings may induce allergic responses, as well as brain and retinal (eye) damage.

Both BHA and BHT may cause skin and respiratory issues, as well as reduce vitamin K absorption. I’m not even going to go into the colorings, which may induce allergic responses, thyroid cancers, and hormone alterations, among other things. I could go on and on about this.

As a result, we are reading product labels more carefully and looking for ‘natural’ components. This is where things become complicated, since there are natural and modified natural, as well as synthetic natural or biotechnologically generated substances and additions. I believe I understand what natural implies, but what does “modified, synthetic, biotechological natural ingredients” imply?

As an example, consider the added tastes in many dishes. Natural taste is often a flavor that has been created in a food science facility. Natural does not imply that anything is natural; it just indicates that it tastes natural. If you want genuine vanilla rather than synthetic taste, search for a label that reads vanilla extract rather than natural vanilla flavor.

Ascorbic acid is often referred to as vitamin C. So, why are rosehips added to ascorbic acid? Because it is a synthetically created component of vitamin C, it is not natural and does not contain the whole vitamin. Ascorbic acid has been found in studies to aid but not totally repair scurvy, which needs natural vitamin C in the form of oranges, for example.

Soy bean products are called natural healthy foods, despite the fact that they are so processed that there is little natural remaining. That’s a good thing in this situation, since natural poisons or “anti-nutrients” are abundant in soy beans in their normal condition. So why do we want to eat something that must be processed to death before it can be consumed?

Sucrose is a true natural food. Isn’t it true that we don’t want sugar in our birds’ food? However, sucrose, even organic sucrose, is present in many bird meals. Yes, it’s natural. It’s regular table sugar made from the “juice” of sugarcane, sugar beets, or sugar maple sap.

All of this may be incredibly annoying at times. We have a duty to become educated consumers rather than just believing what we read. Three years ago, I had no idea that vitamin K1 is really beneficial in a variety of ways and that vitamin K3 is quite hazardous. It might be inconvenient at times, but it is also beneficial to know what we consume and feed our favorite birds.

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