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Diet to Eliminate Refined Foods

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Diet to Eliminate Refined Foods
young woman slicing fresh produce in her kitchen - side profile Photo Credit: Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Excessive intake of refined foods increases your risk for numerous health problems. A diet based on unrefined, natural foods, on the other hand, promotes your overall wellness and can lower your risk for infections and disease. Popular refined foods include enriched breads, sweets and potato chips. Unrefined foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. To learn more regarding ways to incorporate unrefined foods into your diet, seek guidance from a qualified professional.

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The term "refined foods" refers to processed foods, such as enriched breads, pasta and cereals and commercially prepared chips, pretzels, crackers, baked goods, candy and soft drinks. A diet that eliminates refined foods from your diet can serve various functions. According to the book "Healing Through Natural Foods" by Dr. H.K. Bakhru, a diet based upon natural, unrefined foods can reduce your risk for diabetes, certain forms of cancer, digestive problems and memory loss, while enhancing your longevity. You may also prefer an unrefined diet since various techniques used to prepare commercial foods and commercial food packaging can have damaging effects on the environment.


Unrefined foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, contain an array of helpful nutrients, which support your immune system and help prevent infections and disease. According to the American Dietetic Association, a healthy diet based on natural foods can also help prevent heart conditions and blood pressure from worsening. Unrefined, plant-based foods provide rich amounts of dietary fiber, which support healthy digestion and satiation--fullness--between meals. An unrefined diet also supports weight management and can help keep your sodium intake in check.

Optimum Foods

An unrefined diet should contain healthy foods from all necessary food groups, including fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily and aiming for various colors of vegetables, such as orange, green, red and yellow, routinely. In addition, aim for at least 3 daily servings of unrefined whole grains, such as whole wheat, bulgur, spelt, steel-cut oats, long-grain rice and popcorn. Optimum protein sources include legumes, skinless chicken and turkey, eggs/egg whites, low-fat dairy products and fish. The ADA recommends regular intake of fatty fish, such as wild salmon, tuna, herring or mackerel, to reap omega-3 fatty acids--fats linked with improved heart health and brain function. Healthy fat sources include avocado, canola oil, extra-virgin olive oil, ground flaxseed, nuts and seeds.

Limited Foods

You may wish to avoid all refined foods or consume them on an occasional, moderate basis. Refined foods to limit or avoid include potato chips, ice cream, doughnuts, French fries, candy, enriched cereals, breads and pasta, instant rice, frozen meals, canned soup, soft drinks and table sugar. Though natural meats provide helpful nutrients, such as iron and protein, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests limiting meats high in saturated fat, as they increase your risk for high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and heart problems.


To adapt to an unrefined diet, become a conscientious shopper. Shopping at natural food stores or staying in the produce, meat/poultry/fish, dairy and bakery sections at regular stores and reading food labels can heighten your awareness and help you make informed food decisions. The Mayo Clinic suggests fresh, natural foods over frozen and canned varieties and seasoning your food with natural herbs in place of salt for best results. Rather than focus on "bad" foods, consider ways you can increase healthy, natural foods in your diet. Learning tasty ways to prepare your foods and creating a pleasant dining atmosphere can enhance your emotional enjoyment.

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