“Natural” Not Always from Nature

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Health claims are in the hot seat causing us to pause and look at the true definitions of common ingredient or nutrition related terms we use everyday.  Many are not what they seem. And some don’t mean anything at all.

Recently, the term “natural” was called into question by Consumer Reports.  With roughly 60% of Americans surveyed looking for “natural” on the label when shopping, knowing exactly what that means is paramount.

When we see “natural” we think the food is nutritionally superior; free of hormones, additives, artificial ingredients, preservatives, GMOs, colors, etc. And a great choice for someone pursing a healthy lifestyle or for growing kids.

Sadly, this isn’t actually the case.  In fact, according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)’s Center for Science and Nutrition; the agency charged with regulating health claims and food labels, there is no definition for “natural.” Despite a lack of definition or endorsement of the term, they don’t object to its use with foods free of artificial flavors, added colors or synthetic compounds.

More concerning, officials admit the inherent issue with evaluating processed foods with the lens of a term like natural, “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.”

All the more reason to be your own advocate and seek out the ingredient list on packaged foods with a critical eye.  And to make most of your meals and snacks at home!  Like fresh juices made with just veggies and fruits straight from the earth…Doesn’t get any more natural than that!

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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