The Power of Natural Ingredients

The Power of Natural Ingredients

Natural is always better than artificial. We discuss the powerful benefits of natural ingredients and take a look at what it really means to be ‘natural’ food.

The power of natural ingredients has long been studied and documented. Minimally processed, whole foods, have numerous health benefits. They are packed full of nutrients and fibre and have been linked to helping with everything from better sleep to lowering the risk of disease.

More and more people are understanding the power of a healthy diet and are gravitating towards foods that have a high nutritional value and no artificial ingredients.

Buying foods that have naturalon the label seems to be one way to cut back on refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and other bad for you ingredients. Though not everyone has the same definition of natural

Naturallabelling on foods and beverages can be confusing, and unfortunately, no regulatory body anywhere has set clear guidelines for it. So when you see naturalon a product it is important to define what it means to you.

To give you a little help, weve taken a look at the various definitions of natural ingredients and discuss the benefits of minimally processed foods.

What is Natural?

While on the surface it seems like an easy distinction, the word naturalis actually one of the least clear terms to ever be used in the food industry.

True purists might suggest that if it doesnt come straight off a tree or an animal, then its not natural. While others take a more general view and consider natural foods to be those closest to their natural state, even if it has undergone some type of processing.

The truth is, all food that reaches you in the supermarket has been processed in some way, whether its washing, chopping, drying, freezing, or canning [1]. Even whole foodssuch as fruits and vegetables have been cleaned and preserved in different ways.

The amount of processing varies by the type of food and how its made of course, but even with a degree of processing food can be considered natural. For example, meat (even organic) is treated for food safety and cheeses are obviously processed yet labelled as natural. You can imagine how much further this goes. The term naturalstarts to hold less and less meaning when you see a bag of Natural Cheetos.

Though when it comes to minimal processing, it isnt always a bad thing. Washing fruits and vegetables, for example, will help remove harmful bacteria, such as E.coli, from the surface [2]. Minimally processed foods will still hold most, if not all, of their nutritional content.

The problem with processing arises when food is highly processed. Foods that are overly refined are divorced from all the complementary nutrients they occur with naturally and this also often allows for multiple steps involving additives, chemicals, and artificial ingredients which offer little to no nutrition and are considered ‘acceptable’ (though not good) for the human diet.  Highly processed foods also usually have a higher salt, sugar, and fat content and lower nutritional density than minimally processed foods.  A good rule of thumb to apply to any food is; was the processing necessary and what is the intention behind it?  Is it simply to extract or isolate a particular nutrient or range of compounds or is it to engineer an unnatural combination of artificial additives or addictive substances (think added sugar, salt, fat)?

What About Natural Ingredients in Beverages?

From inside the industry, we define a natural ingredient as a molecule present in nature, derived from a natural source and having undergone as little processing as possible. The natural ingredients found in our sodas fall under this definition. Unfortunately, theres no such thing as a REVIBE tree (though we wish there was!).

When we set out to make our sodas, our main intention was that each ingredient should be as beneficial as possible. To achieve this, we selected natural ingredients that should, at the very least, be compounds with which the human body is well acquainted.

For example, the sweeteners that weve decided to use are compounds that occur naturally in the skins of fruits and vegetables or in the leaves of specific botanicals. There is an amount of processing involved in purifying them, but their origin is natural. On the other hand, artificial sweeteners tend to be molecules only possible by creating them in a lab and joining pieces together in a way that Mother Nature never intended.

The natural sweeteners we use are stevia, erythritol, and xylitol. Erythritol is a compound harvested from certain yeasts that has been fed glucose [3] and stevia is derived from a plant [4]. While xylitol is found in small quantities in the skins of fruits, berries, mushrooms, and vegetation. It is also produced by your liver in the course of glucose metabolism every day!

The fibres we have elected to use are also considered to be natural due to their source origins. Our soluble fibre is sustainably derived and separated from non-GMO corn which is naturally rich in it (and would otherwise go to waste!). The nutritional value of this component is shared by a green banana and raw or cooked and cooled potato - both foods naturally high in resistant starch – a particular type of fermentable prebiotic fibre. The same goes for the fruit and tree origins of the other prebiotic fibres we use.

Bottom Line

The term naturalcontinues to be incredibly vague in the food and beverage industry. As consumers what we can do is to be educated about where our food comes from and to understand the ingredient list on packaged products. Hopefully one day there will be a clear and universal definition of natural. Until then well keep following what the latest science has to offer and continue to bring you a product that is made with minimally processed, found in nature, ingredients.